Interview with Art Explorer, Barbara Din
Staff Writer By: Nick Sorbin (nickcharles)
Barbara Din is an artist you should really get to know. Unafraid to push boundaries and to continuously find new ways of expression, she's dabbled in countless mediums and has since found the love of sharing her findings on her artistic journey. I've known Barbara for many years, since meeting her through Renderosity, and have been in awe of her ideas and ways in which she creates. Really, this interview was long overdue. So, please, meet my good friend, Barbara Din, and perhaps her works and ideas about art may inspire you.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself, and when you realized your passion for art?
I live in a quaint little beach town in Argentina, having moved from the busy capitol city 8 years ago. I honestly don't remember a time when I wasn't passionate about art. I've always been attracted to every single artistic possibility, being it visual arts, music, performance arts, literature. I've been a musician the first half of my life. I started singing when I was around 2, and would sing love songs for my kindergarten crush! Visual arts-wise, I've always been fascinated by things that come in many colors (from markers to embroidery floss - anything that you could have many colors of).
When I met you through Renderosity many years ago, you were very much into fractal art. While co-moderating Renderosity's Fractal Forum, I soon learned of your interest in other arts and crafts. Can you tell us a bit about the many creative explorations you've taken?
OMG, do you have all day? LOL. No, seriously. My love for colors and my scientific curiosity led me to dwell in the design world, so I've become a graphic and interior designer. I've always loved computers as well (they were a rare item when I was a little girl), so mixing computers and art was wonderful. When I found fractals I was so happy I could explore the complex and abstract world of "numbers" and render it in such lovely and colorful ways. It was like being a programmer, a photographer and a painter at the same time.
But the "material" world also offered so many things to explore! I've loved paper forever and, among other stuff, I dedicated much time to paper filigree, which is a lovely technique that these past few years has been exploding with creativity from people all around the world. I love that! When I started in paper filigree, there weren't many doing it.
These are just two of the many things I dabbled in, like beading, macrame, crochet, candle-making, jewelry (as in metal, and soldering), printmaking and, really, I've tried so many things I can't even remember them all. The bottom line is - I'm an explorer, not a settler. The magic of discovery is what drives me the most. And finding new ways to combine things that are not necessarily related. That's why having such a broad spectrum of interests is an advantage, when typically, in the way the world operates today, it would be a hindrance.
Can you give us an example of ways you yourself have combined mediums?
Well, sometimes I look at something and I like it aesthetically so much I just have to use it in an artwork, like Oniominio, which uses red onion peels and lots of other non-organic stuff. You can find many detailed pics and a slideshow here.
Mixed Media Decorative Wall Art Details Slideshow - Oniominio by Barbara Din
Other times, I like to combine things that I liked working with separately, like metal jewelry and handmade paper, and painting. Or, quilling (paper filigree) and metal.
Then I may stumble upon effects by accident, and then decide they look cool and want to see if I can incorporate them in my artwork, like fractals in the material realm, in painting! You can see the process of the following piece here.
There are many experiments that are unsuccessful in terms of finished pieces, but they always leave you with more information than before, which you'll be able to apply later. And, they are always interesting! Experiments are the best, man. What can I say? Sometimes I have to jump out of bed in the middle of the night because I have what seems like a great idea and I can't wait until the next morning. If you don't give it credit because you're sleepy and don't even write it down... it gets lost forever!
The key is to stay alert, and be a bit flexible with your initial idea. There are times that you'll end up with a crappy result when it comes to your initial goal, but you can take that as an opportunity to see if there's something else you can get out of it. And, there are many times that you will end up with things you never would've imagined if you just take that apparent failure and use it as a base for something else. Like Fire Tree (pictured below), which was a piece I started and didn't get anywhere. I cut the original panel in half and used what was there as the base for another piece, and I liked the results so much, it led me to a whole series of tree artworks that I really enjoyed painting!
Do you still find time for digital art? And, if so, what tools do you use?
I'm trying, but it's not easy. Not enough time! I haven't made a fractal in a looong time. Mostly, I do some exercises in digital painting, but complimenting traditional art. I would love to devote more time to digital painting, but sometimes the lack of tools makes it a bit difficult (namely, a good graphic tablet).
About tools, I must say, I'm in love with Krita. It is a free and open source program available for all platforms, which was made mostly for painting. It is a great piece of software and it's funded mostly with Kickstarter campaigns. You should all try it out!
Krita does look wonderful. Though I've worked only a little with it, I have introduced it in a couple of articles as I have always been in awe of the Open Source community. Can you tell us a little bit more about what you like about Krita?
Like I mentioned, I also haven't been doing as much as I'd like digitally. But about Krita...the first thing I liked is that when I first opened it and tested a few brushes - they were fast! Photoshop was lagging like hell for me back then, when I only had a 32 bit system and 3 Gb. RAM. I could paint with Krita when I couldn't with PS. Then I discovered the mirror mode and the multibrush. I also liked the notion that you could make and have brushes for special FX, like moving (like the PS liquify tool) or glow, like having the different layer blending modes, but in a brush. The brush engines are so good and there is so much you can do with them. I wish I could play more with that. But without tilting and with only 512 levels of pressure in a tiny graphics tablet it's really hard to enjoy the pleasure of digital painting.
I also like the assistants, like perspective and vanishing point and all those tools that help you avoid struggling and keep your creative juices flowing. All in all, I really love that it is such a professional piece of software made open source and free, it blows my mind and I feel so thankful for it. I think these things make the world a better place.
With a seemingly limitless amount of interests, what drives you to explore so many areas?
When I try to understand something, or try to think of something new, or see something under a different light, there are those little (or big) Eureka moments that to me feel what I think thrill seekers or daredevils must feel when they go bungee jumping or sky diving. It's like a bright little high that shines its light on everything for a few seconds. Those moments I cannot get enough of. And when you try to see everything with fresh eyes, they don't occur sparingly, but pretty often.
Who or what inspires you? Are there any particular artists that influence you?
My sources of inspiration are as diverse as my interests. Anything that comes through my senses might be inspiring. When it comes to artists, I often find myself inspired by the amount of talent that's out there, often undiscovered or not very well known. I am so thankful for the Internet and the way it lets us connect with people that we would never have found otherwise.
When it comes to classics, my absolute favorite is Leonardo Da Vinci. The idea of being curious and trying to understand how everything around us works, and then applying those findings to new creations. Leonardo fits perfectly there.
With all of your interests and explorations, do you have a favorite medium?
About four years ago, I casually decided to go to an art (painting) class. And what happened to me was crazy: I realized that I've always avoided painting (traditionally) and was always kinda surrounding the subject, never going straight into it, but close. With graphic design, ornamental drawing, fractals, digital graphics, I was always close, but never actually there. I think I was denying myself the opportunity because I was afraid I wouldn't be any good. But, I never actually consciously thought or decided that. It just kinda happened. When I started painting for the first time, I fell head over heels in love with it. Now I love painting more than anything. Of course, I still do other stuff, but painting is so complex and there is so much to learn!
Here's another crazy story. When I was much younger, I was asked many times to teach. I did some teaching, and I hated it. I thought I hated teaching and that was that. Many years later, I found myself getting looked at not so fondly when I was in other people's classes and I couldn't help myself but to share things I found and learned. Then I realized that what happened to me when I was younger was that I was teaching things that people "need" for their jobs but aren't that interesting to most, like English (I live in a Spanish speaking country) and computer software. They weren't really interested, and it was frustrating for me.
When I tried teaching things that people were actually interested in, I realized I loved it. I not only love sharing information, but also understanding the different mental processes for learning and finding ways to make people curious. After all this, YouTube was kind of natural. Actually, it was perfect for me! It allows me to explore whatever I want and make it available for people that want to know about it. It is like my dream job, so this is what I would really love to focus on, more than anything.
Patreon is a great platform. Something that didn't exist before and kind of a revolution, because again, it allows people to support creators for what they really are and want to do, and not trying to sell products or follow trends. It seems like a small thing, but the new routes art, and any field, can take because of this is much bigger and potentially more amazing because of the diversity it allows. When the system only rewards popularity, there's a vicious cycle of everybody trying to emulate what's popular, and that narrows everything down, including our minds and our sense of what's possible.
Most people have to bend their dreams into submission to the monetary system in order to make ends meet. This means making art only as a hobby for most, and having to do things "art-related" for many, but very few get to actually walk an artistic road with the freedom to roam where their true interests lie. It may not seem like this would have much impact on the world. But, imagine if most artists had the freedom to go where their inner core tells them, instead of having to conform to what is asked of them, or what seems to be "commercial." How many new artistic movements, styles, techniques and inventions would there be? We're missing all of that. It's like being able to see only in black and white, versus the whole color spectrum.
But now, this can change. With tools like Patreon, artists can do what they really want, and when people support them it's because they like what they do, or how they think, or where they're going, not because they are famous, or some TV ad told them to. It is a direct connection, no middleman. Do you realize how important this is? I think it's a revolution. And I truly hope we all embrace this new kind of exchange, as it is the purest we can have.
What keeps me doing this is the joy that contributing to humanity's creativity brings me, even if it's small. What I ultimately want is to make people think differently about everything they approach. Art is a great avenue because it is fun, but it can be translated to everything else.
Do you have any favorite works that you've created?
That's hard! Maybe I like some less than others, lol. When you're a perfectionist, you tend to be pretty hard on yourself. One series that I had much fun with was the Rockstros, which are faces painted on rocks (Rockstros is a play between "rock" and "rostro" - which means "face" in Spanish).
Any future goals? Is there anything you'd like to do that you haven't already?
Of course! There are many things I'd love to try, and even some that I'd like to go back to. Ceramics and enameling (on metal) are just two that come to mind right now. But these are the kind of things that you need expensive tools and plenty of room to experiment with, so only time will tell.
My future goal is to be able to sustain myself financially by making YouTube videos and with Patreon. I love the win-win potential of it.
Outside of creating, what are your hobbies or passions?
You know what? I don't think that there's anything that interests me that doesn't have a creative or investigative side to it. I'm very much into psychology, sociology, the way our minds work and how that is used and manipulated to our detriment in this system. After much research, I've realized the true potential of humanity is amazing, and we're trapped in this box that's suffocating us and literally killing us. I wish there was a faster way for us to get out of that box.
Do you have any words of advice for other creatives?
The two most important things I can think of now are:
1- Don't be afraid to experiment.
2- Enjoy the process!
This sounds cliché because it's easy to say, but nobody explains to you how to go about it. Of course, it depends on each individual, but hopefully something you see happen to other artists will resonate with you and you'll be able to apply their solution(s) to yourself. I found YouTube invaluable for it. I feel pretty lonely, artistically speaking, because I live in a small town and I don't have anyone to share things and exchange views and thoughts with. But, I have found some artists on YouTube that felt the same way and shared their experiences and even their particular solutions, and it helped me a lot!
I'd love to make some videos or podcasts with more thoughts about these topics.
All supporting images are copyright ©Barbara Din. They cannot be used in any manner in print or online without written permission.