Dorit Bialer illustration is definitely a reference point when delving into the world of infographics.
Having settled in Berlin a few years ago, Dorit learned the language and built up her clientele. She is also an artist with several shows under her belt, and Dorit Bialer Illustration clearly has legs as it has inspired some press features with journalists and bloggers falling in love with her custom-made Playmobils.
But Dorit’s main bread and butter is actually infographics, and some pretty funky ones at that, either for her clients or gone beyond utilitarian graphic design and turned into art pieces.
Dorit, you are a graphic designer, illustrator and an artist, what came first?
I don’t really remember myself without a pencil in my hand, expressing myself visually is such a big part of my identity, it is an integral part of my language.
I think every creative person begins with art in its ‘pure’ form, since we usually start being creative as kids, most of us are not familiar with the term design until much later down the road. In grade school, my art teachers used to refer to me as the little ‘drawing machine’ since I would finish up all the paper supply.
I was doing infographics as a kid even before I knew what they were: I would create sitting charts of our classroom and on the school bus, they usually were very funny and the kids would pass them around. I kept drawing all through school in every possible class, so by the time I was 18, I had 12 years of practice in drawing.
Since I come from a somehow practical family, I had to find a way to integrate art into a ‘normal job’. I first tried studying animation, but I realised very fast that I was jealous of my friends from the graphic design department so I quickly switched and started my path as a designer.
How do you differentiate art and craft? Do you think your clients and your patrons make the same differentiation?
Clients are the biggest difference. As a designer, I have the main client whose ideas I have to visualise, and the sub-clients – the public – that the design has to deliver a message to. As an artist I am the only client and actually the only one who needs to understand what I am doing, it is a very selfish creative process. The clients coming to me as a designer are searching for someone to make their vision and thoughts come alive, while the art patrons are interested in my ideas. Since the design work is mostly serving a money-oriented industry, the connection between the creative work and a fee is much clearer and understood, as opposed to the art industry where it can be blurry and subjective… but the bottom line is the regular art dealers and patrons are also part of a money-oriented industry and they buy art as an investment. In my eyes, since money is involved, there is not more romance in art compared to design, and it’s fine, that is the world we live in.
How do you follow clients’ instructions while inputting your creative touch, and how do you get your inspiration for your own art?
My clients usually come to me after seeing my work and understanding my language, so usually they are interested in my creative style and input. I try to always find my own voice in the work, even if I am restricted by brand rules. I do it by integrating some of my sense of humor with icons and illustrations. In any design work, I create a story and integrate it with the clients’ story, trying to support it with my point of view.
My art is my way to communicate my dreams, fears, conflicts and insights with the world. The inspiration is usually emotional and has a very personal input that I try to convey through global messages. As I am cynical and into dark humour, humour is one of my biggest tools, and a great asset in order to create intimacy with the viewers. I use graphic design references in my art, I also studied a lot of propaganda in order to create my own propaganda pieces: you can find a wide range of graphic references in my art work, from New Testament illustrations to medieval times, up to contemporary toy packaging and the fast food culture.
You have some social messages in your art, tell us about it.
I guess my biggest message is self-reflection. I try to mirror our social mechanism by exaggerating it. Stop, take a breath and revaluate. The fact that we have been doing something for generations doesn’t mean it is right, we can change patterns in any given moment, we are not powerless.
What about social concerns in your work?
I was lucky enough to work with wonderful NGOs and non-profit organizations since my time as a student, and I hope to always keep doing that sort of work as a designer. As an artist my main goal is to create intimacy with the viewer by discussing taboo subjects and thoughts. I aim to make people feel that they are not alone, and the fears and craziness they feel are the same as everyone else. We live in such a demanding and competitive society, where fear, sadness and disappointment are often perceived as weakness. I say no to that, I say that our difficulties, fears and imperfections are part of our strength and what makes every each one of us a complex and unique person. My favourite moment is when someone reaches out to me in an exhibition and tells me “that’s exactly what I feel”.
What can a graphic designer do in case of creative, aesthetics or socio-political disagreement with their client?
I have my red lines regarding the clients I will work with. For example, I will not work with any business that is mistreating animals or that is promoting the meat industry. Since the competition in the design world is so big, we don’t always have the privilege to choose our clients, but we need to do what we can in order to sleep at night… Aesthetic disagreement is a very subjective matter, since the clients are the ones who is using the design at the end of the process, in my eyes, they are the boss and the decision makers. My job is to always provide them with good options they can choose from… never offer a client a sketch that you are not happy with only to give them more variety; you don’t want to fall into your own trap.
Tell us about your ideal project.
The best phone call I can get from a client goes like this: “Hello, we love your style and point of view, you have complete freedom to incorporate that in our next project”. I love details, typography and storytelling, that’s why infographics are one of my biggest passions. I truly enjoy the chance to tell a story with icons and illustrations, same thing with art – freedom and details are a great way to keep my mind running, preferably also combined with enough time to complete the work.
How do you plan your future as a graphic designer and as an artist?
As long as I am able to live from creative work and have my freedom, I’m a happy camper.
Any piece of advice for aspiring creatives out there?
If you do what you love and are passionate about it, it shows. And be good to yourself, always.