ISSUE 4 / TRAVEL / SANDRA DIECKMANN
PeculiarBliss.com is a stream of doodles and images, featuring creative, original works from sketchbooks and other mediums into one location, with the hope to inspire continued creative thinking. PeculiarBliss Magazine is the quarterly continuation of this effort. This issues theme: â€œTravelâ€? Cover design: Sandra Dieckmann
FlYING MOUNTAINS - VAUGHN FENDER
P E C U L I A R B L I S S ISS U E FO U R
vast journey - Graham Franciose
BIRD MAP - Meeralee Patel
TRAVEL - Sapta Hudaya
travel - Abe Honest
transport for the people - Patrick Savile
Travel - Stephen Meszaros
THE CLIMB - Sabreen Aziz
travel in style - Murray Somerville
clare in italy - Ewan Stovell
travel -Racheal Verdicchio-Morris
Love Boat - Anthony Zinonos
sandr a dieckmann
Sandra is an illustrator, graphic artist and an all-round creative creature living and working in East London. She grew up in Germany in a tiny village surrounded by nature and believes that her versatile approach to creating images stems from her childhood. After studying fashion design in 2006, she realized her passion for illustration and graphic design, and went on to eventually graduate with first class honors. Sandra enjoys observing the world, creating creatures and anything else that involves creative play.
interview BY : VAUGHN FENDER + SHANNON DUGGAN
ORANGUTAN • mixed media
PREVIEW: SANDR A DIECKM ANN
Can you tell us who you are, using adjectives only? I’m asking three friends that are sitting here with me – I feel embarrassed otherwise. They say friendly, caring, selfless, creative, forgiving, outrageous, brave, courageous, extravagant, bomb-tastic, amazing, extrovert, enthusiastic, relentless, very loyal, honest, open, complex, melancholic, annoying, loud, consuming, neurotic, a special coconut, fat and rude, crass, provocative, obsessive. They also didn’t want to leave out bubbly, fun, beautiful, striking–way too much already! Tell us a bit about your life before moving to London.* Well, what is there to say? A lot and a little. A different person, but then that is normal. I have grown up a lot in the last 9 years. Then it was all about caring for my mother who was dying at the time. Caring for the family, keeping it all together including my mind. I had to be an adult at the time before I should have ever had that kind of responsibility. I was very efficient if you want to put it that way. Home life was far from easy and I left when I was nearly 18 and set out alone with some great friends by my side. I think I created my own freedom then. I finished my Baccalaureate in Germany majoring in art and biology, religion and German literature. It was a great time as much as it was difficult. I draw from it today now that my life is easier and I finally feel in love and safe as much as a human being is ever able to. It has made me reflect greatly on everything I do and sometimes I wish I was less analytical, but I guess you are what life makes you. How has, and is, your specific, surrounding community in East London affecting your perspective of life? Big, big question! Everything is and has in this place formed and altered my perspective of life. First of all, I should probably describe my surrounding community. Immediately next to me is Nick, my partner and Liz, my best friend, who I live with along with my boy cat Little Crumb in Hackney. A close group of people are attached to me. I also run a charity shop for the animal charity RSPCA. I meet many people there on a daily basis. Nice, mad and difficult people. My life is very varied. The people I have met here will be part of my life forever if we are seeing each other or not. We have had some mad times. I have learned so much about myself and friendship here and it has turned me from a ghost that was passing through life into someone that is alive. I truly
*SandraBY moved London in 2002 from her hometown in Germany. PHOTO AmytoAnderson
My past and my present have finally connected and I’m enjoying every minute...
feel real now. East London is filled with interesting people and opportunities. It really feels like a down to earth, live little village away from the hussle and bussle of London as a whole. My past and my present have finally connected and I’m enjoying every minute even if I know that nothing really matters. You must make it matter. Find that spot to grow with support. Does living in an urban environment help perpetuate your theme of nature and animals? Yes I think the city enhances my longing for space and nature extremely. I dream and crave green and space and quiet moments and the beautiful creatures that live in the world. I’m not someone that is in love with London. I love what I have here and I’m drawn back to it whenever I try and escape. How did your background in fashion influence and direct your style? I have never really thought about this. Fashion was something that I didn’t grow into. I started focusing on fine art and drawing even while I was doing my baccalaureate back in Germany. I moved into a fine art foundation and then specialized in textiles and fashion here in London. At the time, I had a brilliant old Scottish teacher who was really experimental and hands on. Studying fashion at University I soon realized that it wasn’t for me. It was a completely different experience and the agenda there disturbed me a little. I wanted to use imagery and not spend a night sketching 100 pairs of jeans that meant nothing to me. Every mistake is a good one though in the end because it cleared my head and focused me on what I do today. Now it feels right! If you consider my illustration as stylish then that is just my own aesthetic that comes through. I enjoy dressing up, collecting odd pieces of clothing and being extravagant in the cheapest way possibly. What is in fashion will come and go, just be happy and like what you create. That would be my advice.
We love construing conversations from the images you portray. Can you tell us a bit about your development process? Perhaps walk us through a specific project: the assignment, the procedure, your end result? That’s nice to hear. I love the fact that my imagery is letting you do that. Story telling is something I love. When I start a project, most of the time I have a brief. I hardly ever just doodle. A brief from a client or a personal goal. I try and imagine the image before I start, but often that doesn’t work completely. I talk about my idea and see how the conversation feeds the imagery then I start. Most of the time, an animal or animals are the central part of it. Depending on the situation and story of the image, a particular animal or animals will come to mind if I haven’t been asked to draw a specific one anyway. I then go through my books, the Internet and my archives and fish out poses and expressions I like. Sometimes I find the perfect one, but often I puzzle them together. I create the creature first, and while I’m drawing with pens and pencils and sometimes inks, the landscape or setting will slowly begin to form in my head. Once the animal is finished, scanned, edited and colored I then place it roughly on a page and set out to compose the background. It can all take a long time. I’m a perfectionist and sometimes terribly busy in my imagery. I enjoy this part of play immensely. I use collected papers, painted texture and all sorts of things I photograph and find to collage a piece.
HALF FOX • pencil / digital coloring
How important is collage to you? What does it bring to the narrative of a specific piece? Probably everything if it is an image that is not just depicting a creature alone. Collage brings flexibility and freedom. I don’t have to be certain about a composition and can by playing redirect the narrative of the piece at any stage. It allows mistakes to happen and those accidents have always been like gold dust. You learn the most by keeping it open. It’s like a child playing with yellow and blue and realizing that when those colors run together you get green. There is nothing wrong with carefully drafting out individual elements, but on a whole I think collage works best for me. It also makes you built up a nice archive of textures, colors and memories in a way. It can be a tool that helps tie your style together and at the same time you often find a piece that was added to your library a long time ago early on in your personal progress and that puts your own development into context as you look back. So in a way you can say it is part of your own personal development narrative. If your personality could be one of the animals you draw, which would it be? It would be a bear. That’s what my friends call me. Soft and big and strong. I would like it to be a panda bear. Rare, cute and a little clumsy. If you could live within one of your works, which would it be? I would crawl into the magical wood of the endpapers of my book ‘The Grizzly Bee & The Bumble Bear’ or the dark wood that I created for my showcase on IM//UR. I’d probably cuddle up to the Honeytiger in the treetop and watch the yellow lights sparkle in the branches.
THE BUMBLE BEAR AND THE GRIZZLY BEE • SELF PUBLISHED BOOK
How immersed do you get when you create the expressions/ moods of your characters? Oh very! I can squeak or cry or run around the room and dance. My friends are used to it and join in. When I draw focused, I’m completely gone. It’s like giving something a life. I’m extremely precious about the face. Everything depends on how the eyes turn out. When they speak to me, I’m sold and everything else just flows. When I was younger, I had a postcard of a small brown cow on my wall. I used to come in and stare at it and cry. I enjoyed the tears running down my face. Once I did that when a friend came over. They laughed so hard I could never do it again with that picture.
PREVIEW: SANDR A DIECKM ANN
HEROES • Pencil / Collage / Digital editing
RED PAnDa • Pencil / Collage / Digital editing
PREVIEW: SANDR A DIECKM ANN
CROWNED CRANE • Pencil / Collage / Digital editing
HONEYTIGER RAN AWAY! • Pencil / Collage / Digital editing
PREVIEW: SANDR A DIECKM ANN
Are there animals you refuse to draw? Never. Have you heard of the Waterbear? It’s real! Are you a vegetarian? I’m not at all. I’m a meat and sausage loving German. I was veggie for 3 years as a teenager after our animal– activist P.E. teacher showed us videos that had been filmed undercover in slaughterhouses instead of showing us how to play volleyball. One day at school a hungry stomach, and a friend’s bacon sandwich turned me back. I don’t have to justify myself, but I don’t eat meat everyday and was I a better person I would only have meat at the weekend. Like the farmers did in olden days. As an expensive treat. Something fine and something precious. What is your ideal workspace? It’s large. It’s tall. It’s full of things I have collected over the years. I don’t really hang up other peoples work that much. At the moment, there is some, but those have all been gifts by other illustrators. With a bit more wall space that could change. I have a lot of animal images around and piles of books and fabrics. It’s pretty busy, but as long as there is space on the table I’m happy! Do you work with music on? Something is always on. A VHS movie, the telly (although it’s full of crap), my friends records are being played loudly next door or I’m playing my tapes or Spotify. Sound wakes me up and helps me think. I love playing things that elevate me or even make me feels sad. When my boyfriend is around my acoustic irradiation is most exquisite. He is like a walking music archive and plays all the best stuff. Very inspiring! Do you ever anticipate people’s response to your work? Not always. When I’m really excited at the point of finishing something, I imagine people loving it as much as me. I have learned though that most of the time the things I’m not so sure about are received best.
It’s a little weird really. I like it when the image translates a feeling. That makes me happy as an artist. Most of the time, I’m not happy with anything though. I’m a perfectionist. I just never live up to my own expectations, but I won’t quit trying also. Do you work with an audience in mind? When I have a client or I’m taking part in a project, of course. Otherwise, not really. Often an idea comes to me while I’m just drifting off to sleep or I’m doing something completely unrelated. In those cases I just want the idea to materialize and I’m happy doing that within my own bubble. I guess there boundaries even within that bubble though. Within the creative process, you can’t ignore the fact that you know it is going to be viewed by people that don’t live inside your head. So in a way, yes, I must. Do you collaborate often? If so, tell us a bit about your experiences when collaborating with other artists. In the past I have worked with other artist on a single image and of course on projects in University years ago. I’m collaborating with Jamie Mills at the moment on a series of Endangered Animals. I think this is my first big collaborative venture with only one other individual. I think a collaboration really depends on the chemistry between the involved parties. It’s no good pushing ideas back and forward and always disagreeing. Collaborating with Jamie has been a dream. We have similar interests and aesthetics although that isn’t a must but it helps things enormously. After months of working together, collaborating really teaches you to make compromises and educates you about your own work as the criticism received can be very constructive. I enjoy it greatly and hope that more is to come. I also collaborate and invite artists to work together on a larger scale through my projects Haus Stories, ‘If I was you’ and lately the Creature Curiosity Project.
PREVIEW: SANDR A DIECKM ANN
BEARGLE • Pencil / Collage / Digital editing
WINTER WOLF • Pencil / Collage / Digital editing
ELEPHANT PARADE • digital collage
PREVIEW: SANDR A DIECKM ANN
Can you tell us a bit about your projects ‘Haus Stories’ and ‘If I was you’? Haus Stories is a submission-based project where illustrators or anyone that likes to have a go is invited to draw a single story of a house. Just like a Jenga tower we are placing block upon block to create a beautiful structure that will leave the tower of Babel feeling envious. It’s just a bit of fun and when I thought of it, I Iiked the idea of building upwards and maybe being able to print the entire building on a roll of wallpaper. I enjoy the fact that the creative’s artwork is attached to each other. It’s a thing of beauty I think, a great way to show your creative talent to others and have a bit of fun along the way. ‘If I Was You’ sprung out of the desire to create a narrative between the participating artists. I imagined an illustrated story that connects in a linear way and at the same time manages to bring together different ways of working, juxtaposing styles and materials. It’s like a chain-reaction between the illustrators and artists that are around at the moment, finding out about each other by harvesting the power of the Internet. Researching the previous participant is a big part of it. It gives everyone a chance to show us what they would do if they were the other person!
You have written and published a book with your illustrations (The Bumble Bear and the Grizzle Bee). The publishing experience often brings a new element to, or somehow alters, the creative process. Do you feel that this experience has changed how you approach work or the content of your work? The Bumble Bear and The Grizzle Bee was self-published. I often thought about polishing it up and pushing it further, but as time moved on I decided that I wanted to move on as well and work on fresh material. I still love the book and the idea behind it. It’s been very well received on a whole, but for me it just seems a lot has happened between then and now. The edited version is still in consideration. It was a lengthy and work intense project that involved a lot of research and even work with my target audience of young children. It made me appreciate the complexity of bringing out a published product on that scale. The book research went on for more than half a year. When creating for children, you have to be concise and bring everything down to one point. The process is like an upside down pyramid.
Both projects are great opportunities to look at each other’s work, to get a little exposure and to meet people online and maybe after that even in the ‘real world’ one day. I’ve been lucky enough to have met a few ‘If I Was You’ artists this year which was great. These illustration projects are very much part of the creative community that I move within. My new project the ‘Creature Curiosity Project’ goes beyond that. I’ve teamed up with fellow artist—friend and teacher Liz Clough—in an attempt to bring illustrators and young children together with an aim to spread creativity and selfexpression. It gives the illustrators the chance to inspire and educate a younger generation with their work and exposure to fellow creatives, teachers, parents, arts organizations, charities and whoever else falls in love with the fantastical hybrid creatures.
Sandra meets a new friend.
I looked at reading age and development in children. I researched book titles that work for particular age groups and the amount of text and complexity of writing that you present. I also worked with the children and playfully engaged them in creating part of the story as I mentioned earlier on. There was also a lot of learning about bears and bees and many spider-diagrams trying to pin down what the most important biological aspects of both species are that need to go into the book. The story is also a moral tale about fighting, making up and what it means to be friends. When writing for children that level is very important, as well as being educational at the same time. Then there is learning about fonts that are used in children’s literature and layout. The size of the book was carefully picked as it needed to work for little hands. Considering all those details, of course the book has both influenced my approach and also the content of my work. I’m much more considerate now. Make sense of the following: three books, a bird, a pushpin, oysters, a vintage purse, a Pine Tree, a skull, chocolate, and a pebble. Oh this is easy... I love stories. Here we go: In a deep dark wood, inside an old vintage purse, inside an old lady’s handbag, a skull was sitting under a lush green pine tree considering what to devour first—the sweet chocolate or the tasty bird on the branch above him. He contemplated to—long and the bird flew off throwing an angry pebble at his stony slow head. In the air the bird joined three flying books which told him about their great adventures in the world and the stories they had collected inside their pages. They flew on until it grew dark and the moon rose bright and shiny like a young oyster and the stars sparkled like pinheads upon a velvet pillow.
same thought for a while now. Maybe instead of re-editing the book for print, I could work on the animation. All of this has been a very loose thought as I always feel terribly busy. I would really need to allocate time to catch up on my Flash skills or get together with someone that could teach me a little more. I also started on working on ideas for a short clip about two dogs that I met in Hackney Central a while ago. They were too funny. As I said, I haven’t had the time to go further into it, but I will do. There is some friends that have asked me to illustrate and animate some music videos as well. Loads of things to look forward to! What compliment about you’re work has had the greatest impact? There isn’t a single one I would want to pick out. I don’t think that would even be possible. Compliments I appreciate greatly. They are like food for the soul. When you work hard and you are being rewarded that way, it makes everything worthwhile. You have then managed to create a conversation between yourself and the viewer through your image. The best comments are always constructive criticism. That kind often comes from people that know you and your work best and are not fearful to approach you in that way. There is no better way to learn apart from being experimental, of course. I have a few very loyal followers that the conversation is ongoing with. I’m thankful for their thoughts and input. I think they know who they are ;D What’s next? A cup of tea and a family of wolves! END
Do you see your work evolving to animation? We would enjoy seeing a live version of your book. I’m very interested in animation. I actually have been playing with the
visit SANDRA’s website for more info www.SANDRADIECKMANN.com
travel - Chris Piascik
Wandering - Emily Cappa
way over yonder - Kelly Knaga
Gingerbread on High - Camille Dagal
home - Christina Casnellie
Mexico Slums - Jessica Gill
travel- Joshua Long
Just One Click - Sergio Fernรกndez Gallardo
travel - Lucy Freegard
looking for antelope - Kelly Knaga
time to get outta here - Graham Franciose
P E C ULIA RB LIS S IS SUE FOUR PeculiarBliss Magazine is a quarterly publication. To contribute to the magazine or website, email us: email@example.com
Editor / Designer Vaughn Fender www.vaughnfender.com
Associate Editor Hannah Fichandler
Writer Shannon Duggan
Music Curator Alice “Wonderland” Grandoit www.homebasenyc.net
Contributors Sandra Dieckmann www.sandradieckmann.com www.etsy.com/shop/SandraDieckmann www.flickr.com/photos/sandradieckmann www.twitter.com/sandradieckmann
Sabreen Aziz www.sabreenaziz.posterous.com
Camille Dagal www.flickr.com/photos/camzxxx/
Murray Somerville www.murraysomerville.blogspot.com
Christina Casnellie www.christinacasnellie.com
‘If I was You’ - www.ifiwasyouproject.com Haus Stories - www.hausstories.com
Ewan Stovell www.ewanstovell.blogspot.com
Jessica Gill www.jessicagill.co.uk
Graham Franciose www.grahamfranciose.com
Racheal Verdicchio-Morris www.rachealanilyse.com
Joshua Long www.joshuaelliottlong.com
Meeralee Patel www.meeralee.com
Anthony Zinonos www.anthonyzinonos.com
Sergio Fernández Gallardo www.sfgdesign.com
Sapta Hudaya www.flickr.com/photos/deadduke
Chris Piascik www.chrispiascik.com
Lucy Freegard www.lucyfreegard.tumblr.com
Abe Honest www.flickr.com/photos/abehonest
Emily Cappa www.emilycappa.com
Patrick Savile www.cargocollective.com/patricksavile
Kelly Knaga www.justamidwestgirl.com
Stephen Meszaros www.flickr.com/svenreed
TrAIN - Stephen Meszaros
We are now accepting submissions for the theme:
Content: We are open to all mediums —doodles, photography, digital, paintings, collages etc. All work should be sent by email, please submit work to firstname.lastname@example.org with the title of the current theme. Guidelines: 1. Dimensions: 10 x 10 Inches 2. P lease create your work high res and provide a copy @ 100 dpi. 3. P rovide your contact info with all submissions. 4. O nly send work you want to have considered for publication.
P E C U LI A R B LI S S . C O M