I met up with one of my favourite artists right now. You may see her work ‘reblogged’ constantly on various facebook and tumblr sites, such as http://www.facebook.com/popsurrealists. One of the stars of Italy’s still relatively underground Pop Surrealism scene, I thought I’d find out a little more about her.
JASON: There seems to be a lot of ‘low brow’ art and Pop Surrealism coming out of Italy; or at least the internet makes it come across that way. What is the scene like there?
DILKA: Yes, there are lots of talented young artists in Italy who work in this direction but it’s all concentrated in Rome. There are three fantastic galleries which work with this kind of art. I live in Trieste and people are not very interested in art there; the galleries work mostly with abstract artists. Last year I participated in a group show called “Italian Pop Surrealism” at Mondo Bizzarro Gallery and this was a such a great experience for me. I met a lot of other pop surrealist and low brow artists and became good friends with some of them. Now I have friends with whom I can talk about art and who have similar views to mine.
JASON: When did you first discover art and did you get chance to experiment with art much as a kid?
DILKA: My mother was quite good at drawing, so I think I was born this way. I remember that my parents used to give me paper and pencils when I was very small and I would draw for hours and didn’t need much attention. Of course I was always experimenting. I loved to draw on walls and in books with no illustrations, which was quite annoying for my parents and I used to do a lot of sculpturing with plasticine. I had a very good imagination back then; I used to invent long stories with lots of characters then try to tell them through my drawings.
JASON: How did you first come across the kind art you paint and were people sceptical about you taking that direction to begin with?
DILKA: I think that was about ten years ago, maybe a bit more when I saw Mark Ryden’s paintings for the first time. I wasn’t doing any art at that time; I was working as a graphic designer. When I saw his work it was just like a bucket of cold water; it was so mclose to my imagined world. So later when I started to paint I think he was the biggest inspiration for me.
I never cared about what other people thought about my art. My family and those people I care about have always been supportive of my work and they actually like what I’m doing.
JASON: Is being an artist full-time for you, or do you have to keep another job, like so many do, to pay the bills?
DILKA: I’m a full time artist. It’s very difficult to earn enough money for living just by selling art alone and I still can’t afford a lot of things. However, I really enjoy painting and I don’t think I will ever change my job. Maybe one day I will open my own gallery or something like that.
JASON: When did you first think that being an artist could actually be a career for you instead of a hobby?
DILKA: I always wanted to be an artist. I started my art career when I was 17, then I quit for a while because the art world is quite cruel; lots of envy and talking behind your back. I was too young and couldn’t really take that, so I decided to be a graphic designer instead. But it was not exactly what I wanted, because you have to do what the client wants and it didn’t require a lot of imagination. So here I am as a full time artist again.
JASON: You sell your work through Etsy and how does that work for you? Have you ever been approached by someone wanting to represent you and would that interest you?
DILKA: Yes, it does work well for small things like prints and drawings. It takes a lot of time but gives an artist more possibilities to sell art and for now it’s really the only solution I have.
…and if I get any good proposals from someone who wants to represent me I will definately think about it.
JASON: Inevitably, whenever an artist gains popularity, they also gain copyists. Last year, you came across someone who was painting near replicas of some of your work (albeit very inferior ones) and passing the ideas off as their own. At the time you were quite upset. How do you view that now?
DILKA:I still get upset every time I see it. I know it’s not easy to find your own style, to get new ideas for painting and when someone else just takes something of yours and repaints it - usually not very well - and sells it as if it were their own, it makes me really angry. It’s as if they were stealing part of you, your thoughts, the world you created.
JASON: As someone who has worked in the art industry for eight years, I see it on a daily basis. Many times, some galleries have even sought out these copy-cat artists to sell at a much cheaper rate, with no regards of the ideas and concepts being stolen.
DILKA: I think that copying someone will not take you anywhere. You will never become a real artist if you have nothing to say. Sometimes if I have ideas and then I see that someone has already painted something similar, I won’t take that idea any further and I leave those sketches without showing them to anyone.
JASON: What influences your visual style; whether it be artists, directors, places etc?
DILKA: I take a lot of inspiration from movies, from my dreams, from stories my Grandma used to tell, old photographs, books, music, the places I live, the people I meet …and art.
The biggest influence I think was “The Tin drum”, a movie by Volker Schlöndorff. It’s my all time favourite movie. It’s about a boy who decided not to grow up. I feel very close to him because I also never wanted to grow up and I hope I never will. I am also influenced by Tim Burton, Mark Ryden, Marion Peck and by Italian Renaissance painters.
JASON: How long does a painting take you? Do you work on a few of them at any one time?
DILKA: I paint with acrylics and it takes about 1- 2 weeks to finish one painting. I can’t work on different paintings at the same time, because I can concentrate only on one painting. It’s like I’m sort of living in it when I’m painting it.
JASON: Your style has evolved so much; both aesthetically and technically in just a couple of years…
DILKA: Thank you, I think that’s because I paint just about everyday :)
JASON: You often post music videos on your facebook page. You have fantastic taste… What can we expect to hear playing in your studio on any given day?
DILKA: Everyday something different :o) I think more often you will hear Tom Waits playing, because his music is the love of my life and I never get tired of it. Also I listen a lot of Nick Cave, Coco Rosie and recently Timber Timbre.
JASON: Well… that’s it. Thank you very much for speaking to me. Good luck with everything.
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