Venture into the fantastical world of intricate ink illustration; wherein labyrinthine colour unfolds before you like an ornate, endless tapestry. We embark on an elaborate journey in this world, allowing our eyes to feast on all things delicate–where the feminine intersects with and embodies fantasy. We’re drawn into the divine interrelatedness of the female subject and the natural world, whereby woman is nature; the natural elements are, woman. Here, we are asked to leave our conceptions of time and space behind, allowing the cosmic backgrounds, dreamlike settings, and embellished details, to transport us to the ethereal. This is the dazzling imagination and world of Daria Theodora.
Daria is a Boston-based illustrator, working primarily with inks and digital colour. Her unique artworks garner much enthusiasm and have amassed a following both online and off. She agreed to share some of her artistic insights with our readers at Beautiful Bizarre.
Interview with Daria Theodora
What is your process from initial concept to final product? What medium and materials do you prefer?
I usually start with sketches to fit whatever theme I feel like making at the time. Once I have a good concept, I usually will start drawing on the paper where the final painting will be on, elaborating and modifying along the way, then come the inking and colouring—preferable media: ink, watercolour, and gouache, with some coloured pencils as needed.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
I always try to make beautiful and elegant works, although not everything can result in those.
What inspires you when creating your fantastical backgrounds and foregrounds?
They are mostly influenced by things I saw around the time I work on the piece. For example, if I watch beautiful nature documentaries, I will add some of those elements to my work.
In your work you often depict women interacting with animals and nature – can you expand on creating these harmonious relationships and what they mean to you?
They are what I love to draw, as simple as that.
Do you have a set colour scheme when starting a piece?
After inking is done, I look at the whole piece, and imagine in my head, what would be a good colour scheme, and proceed from there. I’m too lazy to do small studies or even digital composites, which I have to admit are very handy. It is all or nothing.
Who are the subjects in your pieces? What do you want the viewer to experience when looking at them?
There are no specific subjects in my pieces. The elements in the drawing come to be as the piece progresses, or as I try to fit a certain theme.
Tell us about what the experience of being in the creative zone is like for you.
Lots of frustration, especially when the components don’t fit together…components as in the composition, colours, and various elements.
Media are finicky, and to get a good grasp on them, you have to work with them often. With watercolour, the ratio of water and paint will determine the effects and textures.
What stories do you hope to tell through your work?
They are about nostalgia, bittersweet memories, and sometimes, hope for a better future.
What are the most challenging aspects of your chosen medium and what piece has challenged you the most so far?
Media are finicky, and to get a good grasp on them, you have to work with them often. With watercolour, the ratio of water and paint will determine the effects and textures. You can read about those in books, or watch technique videos, but it’s not until you work with watercolour yourself, can you understand it fully. I’m still learning every day.
What artists are your biggest inspirations?
The biggest influence is from manga, which was my daily staple growing up. Artists I like, including manga and comic artists, in no certain order, are Okazaki Mari, Ito Jakuchu, James Jean, Sergio Toppi, Moebius, Norman Rockwell, Kawase Hasui, Yoshida Hiroshi, Soey Milk, Joao Ruas, and many more.
What role do you believe the artist has in society?
Perhaps recording social trends, movements, beliefs, or history on the cross-section of their time.
How has your practice changed over time?
I used to colour digitally after inking. While I still do that for some illustrations, I found out I like analog media better than pulling stylus on glass. Getting my hands stained with paints is not bad at all.
What techniques do you have (if any) for overcoming creative blocks?
Taking a breather, walking, hiking, or cycling, watching films that have good cinematography, or even baking; basically, anything that doesn’t involve actually drawing. But if I’m pressed for time, then random sketching may help.
What need does creating satisfy for you? Why do you create?
Most of the time, I draw because I want to.
How do you know when a piece is done? What criteria do you evaluate it by?
I have in my mind, after working on a piece for some time, what I want it to look like. So when it, at last, reaches or comes close to the image I envision, then I consider it done.
Are you working on anything new? What does the future hold?
I want to try some new techniques with new media but am still indecisive on how to proceed for now.