Interview: Tamar Dovrat | Patterns Are Forever


Illustration, Interviews, Israeli Designers Interview: Tamar Dovrat | Patterns Are Forever

Starting from next week, I’ll be sharing with you my favorite 2014 graduates‘ projects. So it is only appropriate that before I move to 2014, I better share with you one of my absolute faves from 2013. It’s been a long time coming but I feel like it’s worth the wait.
Tamar Dovrat, a 2013 graduate of the Visual Communication Department at the Shenkar College wasn’t the average student. While working on her intense graduate project, she also managed to take care of her baby boy AND maintain her etsy shop. We all know that dealing with a graduation project is a lot to swallow. I can’t even imagine dealing with anything else at that time.
Anyways, I’ve been keeping in touch with Tamar most of the duration of her studies and I always wanted to know more about what’s going on behind the scenes. Tamar was kind enough to share with us a glimpse into her mad illustrated world. A world that can be uncertain at times and even scary, when you know that all you want to do is illustrate, but you have to figure out a master plan in order to make it all come together. I’m sure that Tamar and her mad skills, as a pattern monster, will find a way to make us see the world through her delicate eyes and her never ending mundane inspiration that she collects each and every day. In the meantime, let’s hear what Tamar has to say about her creative journey so far. Tamar, take it away!

I’d love to hear about your journey, how it all began.

I grew up in Binyamina and for the last decade have been living in Tel Aviv (with Refael, my partner. My son, Adi and three cats as of now). I always did love nature and it’s wide and open spaces, but at the same time I love the city life and the visual clutter it has to offer. These two poles also appear time after time in different configurations in my work.
I love traveling the world and whenever one journey ends, I wait for the next one, in a new destination. I traveled to Africa, Europe and Japan and have been dreaming of new destinations to explore (something that hasn’t been too realistic for the past few years because of my MA studies combined with an intense daily routine on top of raising a child).
I’m addicted to patterns and textures, and so each random stroll around the neighborhood, ends with a dozen photographs on my camera that turn later on, into illustrations, textures and Photoshop brushes or any other creative use.
I’ve always loved to create and almost everything I encounter and like, I ask myself if I can make the same on my own. I love to explore any kind of handmade process and can easily learn all types of crafts (knitting, weaving, papier mache, sewing, embroidery…). With that being said, for as long as I can remember, painting is my biggest passion. I began my formal studies at the Art Education Department at the Beit Berl College. When I realized that I want to focus on figurative drawing, I was looking for a place where I could take as many drawing classes as possible and that’s when I ended up at the Visual Communication Department and majored in illustration at the Shenkar College. While in school, I was exposed to a wide variety of artists and techniques and to a world of endless possibilities and love that I didn’t think was possible before including graphic design, branding, stationary and textile products.
I always wanted to have my own business where I could illustrate, design and produce special products and sell them. Even though it is taking me a while to fulfill this big dream of mine, it’s hard to hold back and wait until it is complete. I can’t wait for that moment to finally arrive and my biggest wish is to be able to live and make a living out of the thing that I love doing the most.

How do you decide on your motifs and themes for your work?

Every time I think of something I want to draw, I write it down in my diary. That way, I find myself many times caring endless lists of things I want to draw (and have no time). When a big project enters, and I’m searching for ideas, I usually try to see if something from those lists might fit. It gives me the chance to enjoy working while illustrating something I wanted to do anyway.

Can you describe your work process?

The process differs between commissioned work and a personal project, But the basic is pretty much the same.
After the topic has been chosen, I research the subject, read about it, ask around my friends/family (and of course making some more lists along the way…). Then, I start working on an inspiration board. I collect almost everything! Pictures, old drawings, pieces of paper with written ideas on them, textures, junk – anything that reminds me of that specific theme. I also love using fashion as an inspiration. It could be ideas for color scheme or even just a feeling from a certain collection/LookBook. Until I start drawing (it takes a while to get there)…

What is your own typical or unique working method or specific style?

I’m not really a sketchbook-addicted illustrator. Sometimes I wish I was. But I’m not… I envy those who are! I need lots of quiet when I draw. I like my work to look as if you want to touch it, so the textile feeling is very important to me. I also like it to be simple and familiar but yet, something you just can’t help but dive into. I use my own drawings and photoshop technique that looks like old printing methods, to keep the personal touch of my work.
The drawing proses begins with lots of small colored pen drawings on paper/sketchbook. After selecting the best drawings, I draw them again with tracing paper and a pen. This is the jump I make from endless marker drawing and doodles to a finer line, with finer shapes and details – something that is important to me and gives me the drawing language I am looking for. Then the drawings are scanned to my computer along with lots and lots of hand made textures I create myself (usually from lino prints / rollers / screen prints that went wrong / ink and brushes or even textures I photograph). I use photoshop to color and texture my work. Usually I decide on a color scheme before I start, but when I see all the images together on the same page, I then change it sometimes. So basically I try to stick to the original scheme, but fine tuning is needed often. Texture is added to keep the work more a live. The “dirtiness” that textures can create is what helps me make things reachable to the person looking at my work (allot like my own personal “Wabi-Sabi” proses).

Which materials do you work with?

Colored pen, pencils, black pen, ink, brushes, rollers, lino and other stuff I find outside…

What is the most unusual piece you have ever illustrated and which one was your first?

The most unusual is a hard question. I think “By The River” (the 2 ducks) was the first one I felt like I was finally making something new. It was a big drawing and it took a long (and frustrating) time to get from the idea of the “Forest” collection – to the first drawing I considered complete. I love it. AND… usually I don’t say that when it comes to my own work.
My first drawing, or at least the one that started to look and feel like something new, was one from an illustrated series of 5 works on the topic of: “Dreams” (I’m referring to the one with the bicycle). It was a hand drawn series of illustrations about wired dreams I had in the past, and was made for a “Personal Language” course with Itzik Rennert, at Shenkar College.

I’d love to hear the story behind your graduation project and how you came up with the idea.

As I mentioned before, I enjoy working a lot more when it is something personal that I want to work on myself. That was something I tried to hold on to the entire time I studied at Shenkar College. Even when we got the most boring or difficult projects, I used to ask myself: “What do I want to draw?” Even if it felt unrelated, it usually brought out the best result I could achieve.
Same thing happened with my graduation project. It started from a completely different idea that I just couldn’t progress on. But I was too scared to take on a decorative project into the Visual Communication Department because it’s not a common thing. As I strived to find something to work on, I realized it is time for the simplest question to be asked again, what do I want do? And the answer was – Patterns. Everything else came a lot more easily later on. Mira Friedman, who is The best illustrator with a capitol T, was my instructor for the project and together with Dekel Bobrov, the head of the department, came the form of wrapping paper collections and a wrapping kit to each one. Little by little I felt it was a legit project (until the final presentation day where I got worried again of course…). And things fell into place. I took those long lists (like I told you about), searched for connected ideas and topics, made some more lists and then we were down to 3 collections: Africa (something from my past, where I traveled), Tel-Aviv (something Urbanic, where I live) and Forest (something natural and dreamy, an escape).

So we have the Africa, Tel Aviv and Forest collections. Which one is your favorite and which one was the hardest to deal with?

Ummmm… Well, I think that my favorite one is the Forest Collection but it changes from time to time. And the truth is that all of them where difficult for different reasons.
Africa was hard because it was the first one I worked on. It evoked lots of new questions and lots of research focused on it. Pattern type research, color, drawing style, photoshop language etc.
Tel-Aviv was hard because I wanted to stretch the language further. I wanted to add something new, like hand drawing with pen and pencil. So it was a new search of improved language and techniques in a way. Also it was harder to specify my personal color palette for Tel-Aviv since every thing I worked on felt so different. Every corner of the city felt like something else.
And the Forest Collection was hard because I finally felt like I’ve learned so much from the other two. I felt like I need to out due myself with this one but it brought on many new questions. For example – I think that the color selection is much better in this one, don’t you? Hopefully, every new project will bring new questions – this is the only way to get better and move forward. If you have nothing new to ask, you get bored and your work will not evoke emotion in others.

You didn’t just illustrate the patterns themselves; you also designed some accessories to accompany them. What was the thinking behind that decision?

I’m a “product” person. I like to work and create something that is real, and not just the concept behind it. I wanted to create something that will demonstrate those patterns as an object, something that the person looking at my work can understand easily because it comes from a familiar place to him. So I created a “Wrap Pack”. It is a pack that contains all you need when wrapping a present: warping paper, some stickers, an envelope and a card. Also, it was the perfect opportunity to learn some more about design before school ends. It was fun and I think you can feel it, when you hold one of those packs in your hands.

Now that school is over, what’s next? what is your dream? And what are you looking forward to?

The big dream is to have my very own studio so that I can do anything and everything I please by my own drum beat. To have the option to explore new and unfamiliar areas, to keep having things to get curious about and to learn new stuff endlessly. I wish I will be able to create in as many fields as possible such as textile, fashion, paper, toys… And this is actually what I’m starting to develop these days and looking forward to start working on. Are there any investors out there?!

I’m curious to know where does your inspiration come from?

I love nature and that’s my biggest inspiration, but I also love urban environments. I’m fascinated by the tension that rises from the combination of these two.
I also enjoy watching my young boy (only 2 years old). His curiosity is amazing and sometimes he does or says the funniest things – I hope that someday I will be able to include his insights in my art.

What about some web sites and blogs that you visit when you’re in a need for a boost of creative inspiration?

Wow… there are so many!Here are some of my favorites but I’m sure I left out too many: Pattern Observer, Pattern People, Handmade Charlotte, Stylisti, How About Orange, Pugly Pixel, Tea for Joy, Creature Comforts, Design Work Life, Oh Happy Day and of course DesignBreak :)

How about designers/illustrators that inspire you?

Leah Duncan, Donna Wilson, Isabelle Arsenault, Harriet Taylor Seed, Keith Negley, Malota, Blexbolex , Rob Hunter,Muji, Marimekko and Hermes. I also love flipping through magazines like: Wrap, Frankie, Papier Mache, Flow and so on. There are so many more… I see all the time so many talented and inspiring designers. There are so many talented people out there – you can check out my Pinterest and Behance Profile to see so many other things I love and images that inspire me.

Which Israeli creative people are you loving at the moment?

Let’s see: Assaf Benharroch, Masha Manapov,Didi Kfir, Aviv Kinel, Hamelaha, Ettel Bettel, La Culture and so many more… I tend to forget all of them in times like these. So sorry guys! I’m too nervous.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

“Just start drawing”. I was told to do so by my Professor and graduation project instructor, Mira Friedman. And there is also a quote I love that keeps following me: “everything you can imagine is real” by Pablo Picasso.

What’s your favorite Israeli neighborhood and why?

I lived a few years in Kfar Azar. That was perfect for me because I was only 20min away from Tel-Aviv, that I adore, and still felt like living in the country side.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

Having coffee in the garden with my partner Refael and our son, Adi.

Israel’s best kept secret?

Bravdo‘s Cabernet Sauvignon.

And finally, please do share something random or quirky about yourself.

I still don’t have any art hanging on my walls. I’m waiting for the right house to feel like home. So I collect and save for now.

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