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  • Writer's pictureKOH-I-NOOR HARDTMUTH

"I try to resist technological progress" • Dalibor Krch

Illustrations by Dalibor Krch are hard to overlook! They're original, funny, and, on top of that, precisely done. After reading this article, you'll probably agree with us that Dalibor was born to be an artist.

We talked with Daniel about his beginnings in art, burnout, travel experiences, and also colored pencils from Koh-i-noor.

Hello Dalibor! How would you introduce yourself to readers who aren't familiar with you and your work yet?

Perhaps like this: “Hi, I'm Dalibor, but people usually call me “MAX.” Nice to meet you.” :)

Nice to meet you too, and we'll ask you something right away. When did you get interested in illustration? Was there something that preceded it, or was it always clear which direction you were going to take?

The direction I would take was decided when I was at primary school, where I had three friends in the class who drew really well, and I enjoyed it too. I wasn't original that much but instead imitated what they did.

Back then, in the nineties, there was a Superman series on TV with Dean Cain in the lead role we really loved. We were also mesmerized by Ninja Turtles, and the first foreign comics also began to appear here. We were mainly influenced by Stan Lee's Spider-Man. Anyway, those friends were my three supporters who gave me direction.

Paradoxically, I am the only one of the four of us who keeps drawing even though I was objectively the worst. Sometimes that's how it is. I also take it as proof that sometimes talent is not everything. Working on yourself also counts!

We completely agree! Where have you gained your artistic experience?

After primary school, I wasn't sure whether I was good enough to study at an art school. Therefore I went to a gymnasium. After that, I knew for sure, but I didn't manage to get into college. I tried several times to get to FaVU in Brno and the Faculty of Education of Masaryk University. However, around 200 people always signed up for FaVU and they accepted one or two applicants, so it was almost impossible. What happened to me at the Faculty of Pedagogy was that the guy who led the fields I applied for then didn't want me there.

Today, I retrospectively think that it was because I had known him as a regular teacher from our primary school, where we had him as a teacher for classes of technical work, making shoe spoons, and such. But he justified the rejection by saying that “I'm an accomplished artist, and he wouldn't be able to work with me,” something I didn't quite understand then. I think a teacher should support students and help them develop their individuality, not shape them according to their own. But from other people who attended art school, I know that it's a common practice. That's why I'm actually glad today that everything I've learned so far is what I've learned myself, and I'm still learning. It never ends.

As for figure drawing, I learned to draw in the city streets, and I have to say that in the beginning, I wasn't any good at it! At Central Station, I drew sleeping homeless people because they didn't move. That's what Petr Jedlička, who we had for drawing at the VOŠ UŘ, where I eventually got into the field of Restoration of Ceramics, emphasized. I didn't have any relation to this field then, I just wanted to draw, and that's why I ceased studying in the middle and, at the same time, also left home and cut loose from my family.

Interesting story. What themes do you like to depict the most?

What I enjoy the most is when themes arise from a somewhat Dadaist method from the game, where a piece of paper that circulates the table is folded, and one by one writes on it: "What, who, what they do, with what, with whom, and where." I remember one theme that emerged just like that, and it ran: “Cute barber draws stars with creative panda - policewoman in the forest” (laugh). These themes are what I mean. Themes that fuel your imagination, and you draw them without being burdened with any deadlines and responsibilities you have in case of custom orders. In the end, you find that even people enjoy these drawings the most. Just because there's the joy of creation that commercial commissions often lack.

That's beautiful, we agree! What art technique do you now prefer?

I try to resist technological progress for now, although I'm aware it saves time and money. But a person who gets used to a graphic tablet loses a hand feeling when it comes to paper or classic techniques. I see it around myself quite often. That's why I combine. I make a sketch and draw on plain paper, then scan everything and complete the colors, textures, etc., on the computer.

Currently, however, I enjoy returning to pure "analog," at least in free creation. Today, programs such as Midjourney can “draw” in the fraction of the time things a person learns for years. But I think that handmade artworks will still have their price in art, which will increase because of it. We'll begin to appreciate the perfection of imperfection. After all, look at the children's drawings. That's just the case. The more I can do, the more I understand how much I deviated from this perfection of imperfection. :) I will return to it in time.

If you had to recommend some products from Koh-i-noor to readers, which would they be?

In the beginning, I liked most a 2B Versatile mechanical pencil. They seemed to me sufficiently universal. As I've started to return to the “analog,” I enjoy complementing colored pencils into my drawings. Even though I create a line with a black brush pen of another brand, I can draw over the black with Koh-i-Noor colored pencils and take full advantage of it. Moreover, it's convenient for me that they are available as individual pieces in a wide range of colors, so I can choose those I need.

I use very light blue most often because when I sketch something with it, draw a line with a pen and then scan it, it's easy to separate the blue from black in the post-production.

Colored pencils and Versatile mechanical pencils are simply eternal! You have certainly been part of some interesting projects during your career. Which one would you like to highlight?

When I think about it, the most exciting experience for me was perhaps when, as a drawing artist, I had the opportunity to go to Uganda with a non-profit for a month. We traveled to fair trade cooperatives, documented the life of growers, collected contacts, and connected them with contacts in Europe and the Czech Republic. There were two non-profit organization representatives, a journalist who wrote articles about it on his blog, and I, who drew. From the drawings I created along the way, a commented educational exhibition was created, which was available to borrow for free for primary and secondary schools.

I'm also grateful for the opportunity that came my way when my friends founded a small brewery in Potštejn and approached me to create a series of robot drawings for their bottle labels.

The labels look great! Where do you find inspiration for your work?

The truth is that it's been too much about illustrator work and placed orders from clients lately. When I create for myself, I draw from the pop culture themes I enjoy and the comics aesthetic I grew up on.

Talking about inspiration, do you have any artistic role models or a favorite artist whose work influenced you?

Sure! I was greatly influenced at one time by the work of Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy, and his at that time absolutely original drawing, which influenced many subsequent creators, myself included. Later, however, I got my hands on the graphic novel "Blankets" by Craig Thompson, who draws with a brush and I entirely switched from hard pencil leads to a brush line I completely fell for, and nowadays, I don't draw any other way.

Where could we see your illustrations, including an e-waste container, various posters, or a coffee cup?

I think that here, in the Czech Republic, are the most visible robots on the CLOCK brewery bottle labels. The illustrations I created for the board card game "Space Race the card game" from the Brno game studio Boardcubator were successful in the world once.

Such interesting projects! Do you have an artistic dream you wish to come true?

Perhaps my biggest dream now is to move on from custom creation and try to make a living from free creation because, over the years, I've been through several burnouts, currently experiencing another one, which is so far the worst of them. So it's about time to slow down, re-evaluate priorities, and attempt to find the lost joy in creation.

In that case, we'll keep our fingers crossed. What are your artistic plans for the rest of the year? Or are you already planning something for next year?

For now, I want to finish a few commissions and then take a longer break, disappear somewhere in the woods, slow down a bit in the first place, and then think about how and what to do next. My exhibition in Brno is due in February, so I want to start working on it in the new year. I have had ideas for drawings already on my mind for some time, so I'm actually looking forward to it, but I need that break first.

Dalibor, thank you very much for a candid interview, and we wish you an artistic break to be as peaceful as possible. We're already looking forward to new illustrations!



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