Passing on his knowledge to others pleases this Austrian artist immensely…
Dorian Iten reveals how passing on his art knowledge is the best part of his job.
Where did you grow up and how has this influenced your art?
I was born in Austria, but grew up in a rural area of Switzerland. I remember roaming the fields and climbing through the forest undergrowth. The tiny house we lived in was over 200 years old. Being a child in that environment, I forged a deep connection with the natural world. Books about faeries, gnomes and magic spurred my imagination.
You’re a child, you see a painting or drawing that changes everything… what are you looking at?
I don’t remember any moment like this as a child, but I had a powerful experience when I was 21. I had just moved to Florence, Italy, to start my academic training. One day I visited the Cenacolo di Andrea del Sarto, a small museum near my apartment. As I walked past all the frescos, I felt as if my artistic ancestors reached out to welcome me as one of them.
Did other interests vie for your attention as you were growing up? What was the deciding factor?
When I was 14, I launched the first version of my website. I had taught myself HTML and CSS, and enjoyed working with computers so much that I considered studying to become a mediamatiker (a media/ technology specialist). I was probably on the fence until age 17, when I found out about the atelier schools in Florence and decided that I just had to go there.
Can you describe the place where you usually create your art?
For much of the past 10 years, my studio has travelled with me to different cities and countries. Each place changes how it looks and feels, but usually my work area is very organised. I like to have a few original pieces by friends up on the walls, as well as prints of favourite images from Old Masters and contemporary artists.
Is your art evolving? What’s your most recent experiment?
I think it’s always evolving, sometimes faster, sometimes slower. I’m currently exploring a project that involves a 3D scan of myself. It might turn into a 3D print, a painting, a VR experience, or all of it at once. I’m often pulled by many interests, which can be frustrating, but right now I’m appreciating the richness of my work and play.
Concept artists don’t need in-depth anatomy knowledge – yes or no?
My gut reaction is to disagree. Knowledge is power. Studios hire people who can create believable designs. My relationship to art is all about drawing from a deep study of nature. That said, if I broaden my scope from “simply doing a job” to “making innovative discoveries”, I’m sure there are examples of concept artists who are empowered by their ignorance of classical information.
How much enjoyment do you get out of producing teaching courses?
Profound enjoyment. I cherish the freedom of developing my own materials and love the process. When I edit videos I lose myself in the work. I also like the challenge of changing hats. In the morning I’m an instructor, in the afternoon I’m an editor, the next day a marketer, programmer or accountant. It always stays interesting!
What’s the most important thing that you’ve taught someone?
I think the most important thing that I’ve been able to impart is confidence. It’s a beautiful thing when a person begins to trust in their own ability and stops relying on teachers and other external authorities. We must dare to make our own decisions. Only when we take responsibility can we also take credit.
What advice would you give to your younger self to aid you on the way?
First, it’s okay to be quiet and introspective. Don’t beat yourself up over it. That said, share what you think and feel, because the world will reflect valuable information back to you. Second, read less and do more. Third, be courageous. Be courageous. Be courageous!
I felt as if my artistic ancestors reached out to welcome me as one of them
Dorian draws, paints, sculpts and teaches. He serves as the Digital Art Program Coordinator at Barcelona Academy of Art in Spain and publishes free drawing tips every Friday at www.dorian-iten.com.
Ceecee A student piece from Grand Central Academy in New York. Pencil on paper, 2011.