CG: Most of your designs are built around a ‘face’. Any reason why the face is the centre of your design?
LD: Yes, The human face and body (in combination with typography) is one of the biggest challenges for me to work on. It works for me because it enables me to impart my soul into my design. The face in my work represents the human soul. I try to create the face as though staring you in the eye so that a strong connection can be established with the viewer.
CG: Your designs seem to be very loud and expressive. Is that your design style? What do you always try and communicate through your designs?
LD: I used to do a lot of graffiti back in the days and the colours I use, especially the complimentary ones, descend from that era. Call it an old habit. It helps me fuse a bit of myself even in my commercial projects where I am always telling the story of the client, or the story I want him to tell. In my free work, for example, Donutboy, I like to visualise social criticism, dark humor, and rebellious yet justified views. But I also like to work with darker colours, depending on what mood I want to communicate.
CG: What local inspirations do you incorporate in your designs? Any foreign inspirations involved?
LD: My designs are inspired by the early 20th-century movements such as Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Bauhaus, futurism, and pop art. As I mentioned above, I used to observe graffiti and street art when I was younger. I always tried not to look very deep at every work as I wanted to avoid possible unconscious rip offs. It’s important to constantly develop and evolve style with every project.
CG: You seem to make extensive use of bright colours and patterns. Would your designs mean something different in black and white?
LD: Well, the concept and meaning would remain the same. However, if you remove the colour then you are removing the emotional response from it. Not to say that black and white don’t evoke any emotions. Design in black and white enables one to see the pure form without any colourful tricks or deceptions. I have recently started an illustrated black and white type project called AlphaBetty where I illustrate all 26 letters as representing a girl’s name.
CG: How would you describe design culture in Netherlands as compared to the rest of the world?
LD: Holland has a very high design standard. Especially when it comes to typography and graphic design. Nowadays, old fashion and the traditional forms (i.e. 20th-century) are being pushed back to make room for modern beautiful forms and shapes. You could say it’s a design revolution that’s taking place due to the multi cultural society and its diversity. Especially in Rotterdam where my studio is based.
CG: As a designer, are you motivated by the past or inspired by the future? How much study goes into your designs before it actually arrives at a final stage?
LD: I always try to mix my 20th-century inspired designs with future elements to bring an eclectic mix. When creating a design, I always start at the drawing board and sketch for many hours till I find the right shape and form. This is followed by outlining the artwork and scanning it so that I can colour and trace the design on the computer. It’s a good feeling to see a handmade design with a powerful outline, especially with faces and typography.
The colouring of the artwork is the most time consuming and on an average, it takes 2 to 4 days to complete a design. For example, the cover design for this issue took me 4 days. I experimented with syrup on paper to find the right form and shape for the letter ‘g’ and redesigned it in Illustrator. The letter rests on mud and grass, accentuating its shape and representing the floating world. The letter ‘g’, which was coloured using Photoshop and Illustrator, represents the river Ganga, that is a lifeline for millions of Indians who live along its course and depend on it for their daily needs.