Visual artist Olya Dyer from The Underground Youth // Interview

Olya Dyer is a self-taught artist coming from the Siberian city of Omsk, through the North West of England and currently residing in Berlin. To put in one sentence what Olya’s up to these days, she’s playing drums in The Underground Youth and working on music related visual art, such as gig posters, album covers and music videos

Can you tell us a bit more about your background as an graphic designer? When did you realise that you could actually live from your work?

My interest in gig posters began in 2007 after I visited the United States, while there I went to see Black Rebel Motorcycle Club for the first time. It was so raw, pure rock’n’roll, full of sex and leather jackets, so sleek and slicked back. I loved the band, but what I really got obsessed with was the atmosphere that they had around them, which translated so well into the visual side of their music. There was this precise simplicity, which is so iconic, undisputed, complete and just plain cool. It was a whole new exciting discovery for me. 

A gig poster can be seen as a one off piece of art for an event, almost disposable. But on the contrary, it’s timeless, it’s like a dear photograph which reminds you of a certain moment in time and space.

In 2011 I joined The Underground Youth on drums, which resulted in meeting Keith Miller, the man behind Bad Vibrations, a London-based promoter. My main collaborator and my very good friend, who helped me to become the artist I am these days. After years of working with Keith and touring around Europe with my band, I met a lot of like-minded people who appreciated my work, I started taking more commissions. And once I moved to Berlin, I finally made a risky, yet thrilling decision to work as a full-time artist. That’s where I find myself today.

What is the process of you creating and drawing a poster? What materials and techniques do you use? 

When I receive a request to work on a poster, I always listen to the band’s music, pay attention to their aesthetics, lyrics, song titles, album covers, etc. Sometimes the influences and a concept are obvious, which is for me never a bad thing at all. Sometimes I’m probably the only one (hopefully not), who can see the intricate details and connections. There are also a few favoured ingredients I try to include in each piece, for instance escapism, solitude and a dash of irony. I wouldn’t say that I have a specific style or tend to use any specific techniques.

What I long to do is to mould other-worldly, the secret and mysterious, more often than not dark, moody atmospheres. Like a puzzle, thoroughly put together piece by piece. And it brings me so much joy!

Has any designer, or anyone else in particular, influenced and inspired your work? 

I’m afraid I won’t be able to pin it down to one. There are so many beautiful people around, whether loved ones in my life or beloved artists, living on my book and record shelves. They all inspire me. Everything around me. From a sad grey pigeon lost in a foyer to the intricacies of weather reports.

I have hungry eyes. Besides, I’m hugely affected by my remarkably vivid dreams, which would stay with me for days, weeks or even years.

And on top of it all, inevitably, there are feelings, memories, scents, conversations, dusty TV sets and films, desires, relationships, everyday routine, they all emerge in my heart at once.

What design /illustration trends are you tired of seeing?

I’d rather say that I’m very easily bored than tired. And I’m bored when I see no mystery. When there’s no character. I’m, most certainly, not saying that each artwork created has to be innovative in style, composition or technique, but it has to radiate the artist’s magic touch. It has to have a depth to it.

Having said that, I don’t refer to anyone specifically. Art is subjective. What bores me, can send shivers down somebody else’s spine and the other way around. This is the brilliance of art. In addition, I suppose, trends by their own definition are tiring. It’s much easier to follow one than create one. 

Do you feel there is a connection between post-punk and psychedelic art?

I guess we’re touching a topic of names rather than meanings. What is post punk art? Is it punk art in a murky colour palette? And what is psychedelic art? Are we talking about these horrible, colourful swirling pattern blankets sold at Camden market in London, or art as a result of drug consumption? Or are we talking about the magnificent work of Wes Wilson?

I find it much easier to work without trying to fit myself into a box of specific style, because otherwise it can become tricky to think outside that box. Everything is intertwined. There are people who spend time trying to establish the connections, I leave it up to them.

Any particular moment where you say “I can’t believe I am making a poster for this artist?”

Do you mean in a bad way? Jokes aside, of course, I had quite a few moments like this. I’d rather not mention anyone in particular because I find it a bit brazen. I find it quite personal. I wouldn’t want to put someone on my private pedestal for everyone to see.

What I would like to point out is that working with a bigger or more successful artist is absolutely not equal to doing a better job. I always strive for excellence. There’s this never-changing obstacle I confront, and that is an eagerness to be better.

This ghost of perfection has been haunting me all my life, he’s unforgiving and doesn’t have days off. And that’s my alarm in the morning, my insomnia and my biggest motivation.
Instagram: @olyadyer / @od_catastrophe
Facebook page:@olyadyerart


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