The world has become a competitive place. Only those creative enough to constantly adapt, manage to succeed in their craft. Art is no different. Today an artist has to come up with a unique style no one has seen before and, above all, get thousands of followers (either on social media or in real life) to be able to make a living from their work. Then comes the question of priorities: work, creativity, and more importantly, artistic vision, versus being paid for something they might care too much for? We’ve seen extreme cases like that of Van Gogh, who only sold a painting in his life yet continued to portray his vision. Fortunately, things have changed. New technologies have become a space where new artists display their work each day and the viewers can connect easily with them.
Franz Lang, an Italian illustrator based in London, found a balance between expressing her personality and ideas in art and making commissioned works. She constantly works on her own personal projects and drawings, where the canvas becomes a realm with no rules, letting her creativity run amok, depicting whatever's on her mind. However, when it comes to commissions she doesn’t betray her own ideas and vision. She just works with the guidelines given to her and adapts them to her own style. Her inspiration doesn’t really come from the theme she’s developing but from the details that might shape it, like a particular lighting she saw on the street, a color palette in the outfit of a person walking by, a song, a film, whatever element of everyday life she processes and transforms into her unique surreal style.
But talking about the quotidian, which is basically one of her central themes, there’s something that makes Lang’s work different: her merging of the surreal and the routine. If you think about it, both elements can be found within the mind of every person. The surreal comes from our unconscious, that illogical part of us that exists in our minds waiting for a moment to get out. Contrary to it, at least in the way we understand it, quotidian life is ruled by our consciousness, the logic of the mind, those everyday moments we live by and prioritize. But when it comes to Lang’s illustrations, that line dividing both realms of the mind becomes blurred, so they can work hand in hand to create a rare yet relatable experience, mainly inhabited by her unique female characters, who represent all the minor struggles we all face every single day.
The particularity of her work doesn’t only rely on her themes but also on those colorful scenarios that mix figures with doodles, as well as her particular shadow technique, proper of engravings or newspaper printing process. All these elements are actually the ones that help evoke the surreal in her illustrations. Actually, as she explains, her work in the artistic field started as a printmaker, limited to work only with black and white colors. That's how she learned to play with dual tonalities, adding shadows and depth into her drawings and illustrations. This episode in her artistic life also gave her the opportunity to work with traditional engraving and printing techniques in which layers become the basic tool to create contrasts in the forms. As a result, her works consist of that layering process. But instead of working only with black and white, she replaces them with different solid colors. Moreover, she also keeps the classic strokes found in engravings like pointillistic techniques to make her characters unique.
Although she learned and worked for a while with these techniques, let’s say it, in a manual way, Lang now produces most of her work digitally. Still, her ability to achieve textures and shades endows her artwork with that crafty and sketchy essence. In that way, her work becomes a cross-media form where modern technologies and traditional techniques merge, refusing to be overshadowed by the digital world.
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