DE­SIGN IN­SPI­RA­TION

Computer Arts - - Contents -

Il­lus­tra­tor Daniele Stolle on how a coloured pen­cils in­spired his ca­reer

As a kid, af­ter kinder­garten, I used to walk over to my mum’s work place – she had an of­fice job. Note, this was dur­ing the pre-com­puter days in East Ger­many. There were type­writ­ers, big green linoleum desk cov­ers, blue car­bon pa­per that would stain your fin­gers and a wicker-style cup with ball­point pens, rulers, geo­met­ric tri­an­gles and a cou­ple of blue and red pen­cils – Cze­choslo­vakian Koh-I-Noor 1561 copy­ing pen­cils, as I even­tu­ally found out later.

While my mum fin­ished her last hour or so of work­ing, I was set down to spend that time qui­etly with the of­fice sup­plies. That might not sound all that ex­cit­ing, but for this five-year-old, it surely was. Tak­ing stock of my sup­plies on this desk I re­mem­ber think­ing, ‘I could spend hours like this.’ And I prob­a­bly did.

I coloured the boxes in squared pa­per with geo­met­ric pat­terns (only red and blue mind you), filled in lit­tle trees and cars from ar­chi­tec­tural sten­cils and who knows what else. This set of sup­plies, the red and blue coloured pen­cils at the cen­tre, rep­re­sented a world of pos­si­bil­i­ties

– a chance to ex­per­i­ment and ex­plore. My own imag­i­na­tion, per­se­ver­ance and my mum’s work­ing time were the only con­straints.

This is how I still see a box of coloured pen­cils. For me they are toys, in the best sense of the word, and a source of joy – just as back when I was a child.

Lately, this all came back to me, as I be­came more in­ter­ested in draw­ing with tra­di­tional me­dia. The orig­i­nal blue and red are still with me, as I dis­cov­ered a box of un­used ones in my par­ents’ house a while ago. I also col­lected my Faber-Castell Poly­chro­mos pen­cils from all the var­i­ous places they had scat­tered. I gave some away as presents and I also bought some new ones for the kids. (Ap­par­ently the ani­line dyes in old copy­ing pen­cils are quite a health risk, and they are not suit­able for chil­dren.)

I started to use them more again, to draw my home, my kids, my life and also for use in the con­cept stages of my pro­fes­sional work.

The coloured pen­cil is one of the most ba­sic in­stru­ments we can use to describe our sur­round­ings, to record events, to work on ideas, to try out new things. You do not need a lot of colours

– though red and blue are a good start.

Our work and its end re­sult as graphic de­sign­ers, il­lus­tra­tors, artists and an­i­ma­tors, is dom­i­nated by dig­i­tal meth­ods to­day. But I think it is easy to for­get or un­der­es­ti­mate these sim­ple, im­me­di­ate tools in a world that of­ten feels once-re­moved, fil­tered by a screen – at­ten­tion these days al­ways comes at a pre­mium. We are of­ten rush­ing into ex­e­cu­tion, and it al­most seems to me that we some­times use our dig­i­tal tools to dress up miss­ing sub­stance with a slick ex­te­rior.

Let’s linger a lit­tle longer, al­low­ing not only our minds to think, but also our hands. They need to work to­gether. Grab­bing your pen­cils and a sheet of pa­per is also a good way to over­come learned con­ven­tions (or trau­mas) that in­hibit the way we draw or per­haps even think, on a deeper level.

It is in­ter­est­ing for me to see my chil­dren draw. They are still young enough to not yet be bur­dened by any sec­ondary thoughts. They draw a mole or a frog and it is ex­actly what they want to show, or bet­ter: to create. Ideas are not sep­a­rated from sub­stance. The medium is a direct cre­ator of joy. Things you want are made into be­ing with the help of a sim­ple coloured pen­cil.

Above: A self-por­trait of Stolle as a young artist. Stolle by Stolle, circa 1987

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