Monday 25 May 2015

New Interview: Illustrator Dana Avni and the Blue Oranges

"I don’t think you can choose to be creative, it chooses you,” says illustrator Dana Avni. Pictured is above are her drawings showing her signature sure line and use of vivid blocks of colour.

Our fashion correspondent in London, Limor Helfgott, speaks to talented young illustrator Dana Avni about her new work, studies and plans for the future

Illustrator Dana Avni. Photo by Amit Shlomovich 
 “I don’t think you can choose to be creative, it chooses you,” says Dana Avni talking about how she began her career. Although born in the Israeli city of Haifa, when she was five years old her family moved to Zichron Ya'akov, a quiet town located in the Carmel mountains. Thinking of that time, she remembers herself always painting and drawing.

Avni describes how a childhood incident made her understand how she was always determined to find her own way creatively, even from a very young age. When she was at kindergarten, her teacher handed out white pages with a stencil of an orange tree, a variety of coloured chalks, and asked the children to draw. All of the other children coloured the oranges in orange, but little Dana painted them blue.

Avni captures creates movement and emotion in her drawings
The kindergarten teacher wasn’t happy and as a punishment locked Dana away in the bathroom for the day. Dana had "ammunition" with her: a considerable number of colourful chalks. So she spent the time drawing on the walls, creating her own world in the small room.

Looking back, the young illustrator says that experience didn’t deter her. The teacher surely was better off letting her paint the oranges blue rather than having to repaint the bathroom walls, but for Dana it was an early realisation that no one could stop her from creating in the way she wanted to.

A light-hearted thread of humour runs through Avni's work 
Today, Avni still likes to be experimental with her work and illustrations. She has found sharing her work on social media like Instagram has been a positive way of exhibiting new drawings, receiving feedback and has also allowed her to meet more people that have contributed to her career.

Currently studying visual communication at Minshar, School of Arts in Tel Aviv, Avni is completing her fourth and final year. She has also started her own business with her partner, Hen Lazimi, also a visual communication student at a different school. They are creating new sketchbook covers and have big plans for the future: “This is only the beginning,” she promises, “There is much more to come”.

Whimsy and good drawing enhance Avni's illustrations
Their current studio at home is cluttered with a variety of stickers, pencil cases, all sorts of writing tools and of course a never-ending range of blank pages to draw and paint on. “My work can happen anywhere,” says Dana. “It can be on the table or even quite a lot on the floor.”  Her creative process begins with her intuition, but then her rational side takes over to bring the drawing to fruition.

 Avni likes to post her new work on social media
Avni wants to improve constantly and create new work. When I ask her if anybody in particular made an impact on her, Dana says she can’t point out anyone specific because her influences are a mix of everything: “Different people, places, experiences, frustrations and success have affected my work which is very dynamic. I don't feel like I belong in a niche."
And what are the plans for the future? Dana and her partner are now planning to move to Berlin this year, to start a new creative life there. One thing is certain, whatever happens, she will always remember the blue oranges, where it all started. 

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