December 20, 2013

Spotlight: Caroline David
Let's get surreal.

Caroline David is a graphic design superstar. Maybe I am not the best authority on graphic design since the extent of my photoshop capabilities is inserting an image of Kanye West's head over a background of gatorade bottles, but I think that a quick look at Caroline's website will prove that she is bursting with ideas. This past semester I took a class on Latin American Surrealism. I'm no Andre Breton, but I do feel like there are many surrealist qualities in Caroline's work. Her collages display really cool combinations of photographs (often of hands), computer-designed images, and text (often Japanese). But Caroline explores many mediums besides collage. I was drawn to her digital illustrations because of the bright colors and wide-eyed animals, but also her more recent work of broccoli and ice cream sculptures. In the interview, Caroline mentions creating imaginary objects that don't exist. I would love to play the Surrealist exquisite corpse game with her because I think her art comes from a really funky place.

THE LE SIGH: What is your typical process for creating an illustration?

Caroline David: Usually I will have to see or hear something to start that process, I suppose, as very rarely can I just sit down and make something that I'm happy with. Although I have done that a few times. I'll typically have an idea for something and have to keep it on my mind for a few days until I have the time or energy to execute it. Often times I get bored of the idea or will realize it's stupid before I can do anything about it. But past all of that I will doodle in just pen or pencil and then go to the computer. My analog process is probably not as long or developed as some professionals but I'm not pro and it works for me B-)

TLS: You're a student at Pratt. What have been your favorite courses so far?

CD: Definitely silkscreen. It was nice to actually learn how to print things with real materials and equipment, which was far from what I was doing when I tried to teach myself a few summers ago. Plus my professor basically let us print whatever we wanted, which was a nice break from some of the more structured assignments given in my required courses (many of which were still fun!!). However, I am only half-way through sophomore year so I anticipate taking more ~cool and wild~ classes next year. I want to get into motion design and web programming more, but all in due time, I suppose.

TLS: Has there ever been a moment where you thought about sticking to traditional illustration instead of graphic design work?

CD: I am always surprised when people ask me about being an illustrator. I have never considered my focus to be illustration and I believe it to be one of my weaknesses, and I have thought of it mostly as a casual thing to do for fun on the side. I can't realistically draw for beans. And figure drawing is my actual hell. So no, not really. There is always something missing for me in most of my illustrations...I think it has to do with perceiving and portraying depth. Which is probably why I have leaned more toward phot-illustrative work recently. But then again my perception of what successful illustration can be has changed a lot in the past two years, so I will never give it up but I think I can find more success in graphic design. Plus, I love haw all-encompassing graphic design is. The ability to work in a very broad range of media is something I always want to be able to have.

TLS: You recently interned at Apple. Can you tell us about that experience?

CD: Unfortunately, I cannot legally discuss the details of my time at Apple. But I can say that the designers who work there are some of the kindest, most interesting and talented people I have ever met, and that the experience I had was incredibly insightful. I am so grateful that I was able to be a part of what is basically their in-house print studio, and can't even begin to describe how much I have learned. Plus, my hand and craft skills dramatically improved, which I was in dire need of. Heh.

TLS: What are some of your favorite images to create?

CD: Horses. That is all. Just kidding. I do love horses though, and have made an obnoxious amount of horse art in my lifetime. I do really love nature, being in nature, feeling nature, allowing nature to guide me both spiritually and physically, because nature is beautiful and it knows everything. So I depict a lot of nature. Also, I have always been interested in science fiction and utopia, and have always liked making things that don't or couldn't exist, because I think that that is what makes art and image creation magical. On the other hand, I like making abstract things because HOW COOL is it that you can make something that is not real but is inspired by something real and doesn't look real, and no one could ever know.

TLS: Have you ever made a zine?

CD: Yes. I have, But not in any decent quantities. I would like to make more, in greater quantities, because I haven't yet but would really like to. Also, my book making skills are getting stronger thanks to school and work, so I expect to have a few rolling in over the winter holidays. Actually, last year around this time I was in one of Mike Perry's, from a workshop he did in Brooklyn. It was about friends and food. And I did just do one on Alice Glass, in which I compared her incredible beauty and presence to that of nature's. "Go To Hell Bobby" was a little project for a class, thank you to my good friend and talented illustrator Tim Liedtke for pretending to sabotage his fake friend Bobby for me.

TLS: Where are some of your favorite places to view art in the NYC area?

CD: NYC rocks!!!! Best art fast lane around. Chelsea is always good for some quality art viewing and it is a very nice place too. Jonathan Levine and David Zwirner gallery have fun shows roll in pretty frequently, and in terms of museums, I am a fan of PS1 and The Whitney. Except sometimes I can't stay at PS1 very long. I always seem to get overwhelmed whenever I go there...Galerie Perrotin on the upper east side is also very underrated. Some of the best shows I have seen though have been in artist's studios or other miscellaneous repurposed spaces, which is one of the nice things about living here. It's been very easy to follow the artists and designers I really like regardless of the space in which they may be showing.

TLS: What weirds you out about the internet?

CD: I've gotten to the point where nothing on the internet really weirds me out. But bothers me, yes. I am slowly losing patience with networking and connectivity and interacting with people online. I was actually just discussing with my brother the concept of a social network that does not make you want to yak every time you log on. I'm not sure that is possible really. So I guess my relationship with the web is a love-hate deal. I like looking at things and learning things but people seem to be getting more comfortable with being negative in cyberspace. Not to say that I am opposed to people having negative feelings towards me or my work, by all means let me have it, but seeing people maliciously troll each other for no good or constructive reason is another thing. And then there is the debate of ownership and copyright and what not. A few weeks ago, I saw some dumb pizza thing I made on the tumblr radar, someone had posted it to their blog with no credit. I would've been more bothered except like I said, it was a dumb pizza thing on a dumb seapunk blog and I was almost glad not to be associated with it (looool) but it was just one of those things that spoke to the nature of what we are all signing up for when we use ye olde internete.

TLS: As a graphic designer, I'm sure you spend a lot of time on a tablet or computer- how do you beat TIRED COMPUTER EYE syndrome?

CD: Tired eye syndrome...usually I just lay face down in a puddle and it goes away. Or I go do something outside like bike or walk or just sit on the ground. Or close my eyes. I grew up doing a lot of outdoor activities so I try to do that as much as I can. Sometimes I will stay at my desk and just close my eyes and listen to incredible trap-music, if I do not have time for a break.

TLS: If you could print anything with a 3D printer, what would it be?

CD: Definitely a yoyo.

TLS: If you could do advertising for any brand or object, what would it be?

CD: I would really like to work with Lazy Oaf or Poler as I really like what the make, but I've also always wanted to do album covers or concert posters for a long time too. When I was fourteen I decided that one day I would do the identity for an Olympic Games. At first it was a joke. Then it was serious...I sometimes pretend like it's a joke...but it's not. B-)
Check out more of Caroline's work on her website.

Written by Quinn Moreland