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Exploring our Y21 Silent Auction: An interview with Abby Diamond

Written by
Alan Lopez
Published
March 12, 2016

Exploring our Y21 Silent Auction: An interview with Abby Diamond

A trademark of every Y Conference is the ever popular silent auction, where attendees have a chance to bid on unique and beautiful items that only a design conference could put together. This year’s batch of goodies is already sitting at 45 items strong – and counting.

We are excited that our wonderful donors have made this collection as eclectic and cool as ever, complete with SOLO Eye wear, jewelry, SoulShine Yoga passes and beautiful artwork that’s all jumping to get into your hands.

Y21 Auction Samples

Pictured above: Rebel Rebel Hair Salon gift voucher, SOLO eye wear and tote bag, Paper Source Creative workshop voucher for 4-6 attendees, Emika Gifts handmade bracelet

Today we’re taking a closer look at Abby Diamond’s donated piece: an autographed print of one of her famous bird illustrations. Diamond is known to the internet as “Finch Fight”, with thousands of followers all across Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and more.  We discuss how she created her piece, as well as how she arrived at her unique illustrative style.

Illustration of a bird with markers

Abby Diamond

AIGA San Diego: Let’s talk about your process first. What is the starting point going into one of your illustrations?

Abby Diamond: Whenever it’s a bird painting, the thing that I think about for those – since they’re little one shots – I think about how the colors will look…the arrangements, and how it’ll be most attractive for someone to look at.

Okay, why birds?

(laughter) I love birds because of their shapes. They’re like tiny little…this sounds really stupid and I’m stealing this from Virginia Woolf…they’re like tiny droplets of life. I love their structure…the geometry of their bodies is gorgeous.

I started paying attention to them more in my science classes. I became more aware of James Audubon, and what he did with bird paintings. I really admired that, and it sort of got me looking at birds more. And my family and family friends…my dad’s always been a bird watcher. As he saw that I took more of an interest in birds in my work, he pushed more of it on me… My parents never discouraged me from my art work. My parents never tried to redirect me into being a doctor or a pharmacist or whatever. They enrolled me into science day camp when I was a kid, and art lessons. I still have a sort of hunger for the same things.

We’re looking at your bird in progress. What’s going on at this point?

When I’m inking, I try and leave all the lines that I feel preserves the gesture of the drawing. Straight, angular, scratchy. There’s a hardness to them.

Illustration of a bird at various stages of completion

When I add the watercolor paint, it’s goopy…it’s round, its slow…its very opposite the quality of the lines.

There’s kind of a “cool factor” to your work. What kind of perceptions do you get from people reacting to your work?

Can you make this a tattoo? (laughter)

The best feedback I’ve gotten from my work is that I’ve been contacted by elementary school teachers who were using my work as a basis for projects. To teach kids about using watercolors and different kinds of lines. Also, a couple weeks ago Michelle Vitali, a college professor…she mentioned to me that a student from another school had asked her about the scientific illustration program in an email, and that one of their professors had based a unit of their work on one of my paintings. So that’s really taken me aback.

Your training is actually in anatomy in addition to illustration. Tell us more about how you’ve blended those two things.

I love hard science and I think comes from loving about the way things work. I’ve never been much of a technical thinker. I can’t think mechanically. I don’t do math, or understand machines. But when it comes to the organic: bodies, plants, and living things – that carries me away. I get so caught up in learning about things…things that are alive that are not people. They’re way more interesting to me than things that are alive that are people. (laughter)

So now you’re using markers?

In-progress illustration of a bird

Yeah, a final touch. Sometimes I’ll actually paint with markers, these markers called Tombow markers. I did some coloring with them then poured water on them and they blended really nicely. So I bought a lot more. I don’t do a lot of monochromatic. I do stuff with one or two colors in mind.

Since your work is so “messy”, when do you decide that it’s done?

When I feel there’s a good balance of saturation. When the head of the bird stands well on its own, and nothing is too interrupted by the paint. I do that a lot…I end up throwing away a lot of paintings because I overdo it. (laughter) I go too far. I don’t pay attention of when to stop.

I’d love to see your “ruined” paintings back-to-back.

You can’t! They don’t exist! I cut them up, and I use them for packaging, so it makes them more colorful.

So what are you looking to do in the future with your artwork?

Well, I really want to do a residency at a bird lab, or in a national park. Last year I applied at Cornell, where they have a scientific internship that lasts for a month. It gives you all this time to be in the research lab. You can draw specimens, or look at ones drawn in the past.

I also love to travel, so I think being given residency in a national or state park for a month to draw the wild life…that would be…fantastic.

Illustration of a bird


AIGA would like to thank Abby Diamond for her time. Her pieces and more will be up for auction on April 1st and 2nd at the 2016 Y Conference in San Diego, CA.

Be sure to get your conference ticket so you can check out all of the other awesome silent auction items up for bidding.

The Homebrewer
Passes to Brewing Classes

Vavi Sport & Social Club
Sports Registration

0.25
Gift Cards & Merchandise

Communication Arts 
2-One Year Subscriptions to CommArts

Knock Knock
Basket of Knock Knock Items

Scout Books
1 order of 50 1-Color Cover Scout Books with standard notebook interior.

Skillshare
1-year scholarships for a Skillshare Premium Membership

Paper Source
Creative workshop for 4-6 people: make assort cards w/matching envelopes, crafting with various tools

Fortis & Yogalux
2 Sets of the Following: 1 Mo/Unlimited Classes, 1 Fitness Assessment, 1 Personal Training Session

Shaper Studios
4 pack of tickets for Group Surfboard Shaping Classes

SoulShine Yoga
Gift card for 5 classes

EmikaGifts
Handmade bracelet

Grey Theory Mill
Handmade necklace

Visions Art Museum
Four catalogs from Quilt Visions’ juried exhibitions (2008, 2010, 2012, 2014)

SOLO Eyewear Sunglasses
1 pair of sunglasses + 1 tote bag

Aloha Printing
$100 gift certificate for printing services

Rebel Rebel Hair Salon
1 haircut (men’s = $30; women’s = $55)

Bellissima Day Spa
$45 pedicure

Jayden Presleigh, The Salon & Spa
$50 gift card; wax treatment ($20 value); travel size products ($45value)

Mires Ball
Original Gerry Bustamante signed screen print

Mission Bay Aquatic Center
Stand Up Paddle Board Rental for (2)

Uppercase
Scarves Throws, Cushions

Metro Cyclery
Electra Classic Beach Cruiser 1 Ladies’, single speed

Uppercase Magazine
One Year Subscription to Uppercase Magazine

JLab Audio
Epic Bluetooth Earbuds + Flex Over-Ear Headphones

San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo and Safari Park Tickets and Treasures Gift Basket

Orange Tree Project
Under the Surface Collection, Live As One Home Pillow, Puffer Balloons Print, Octopus Ink Pen T-shirt, Under The Surface 12 Card Set

Axure
Two (2) perpetual licenses for Axure RP PRO

Neenah Printer
Wooden Box with 19 Envelope Templates Sizes

San Diego Airport

Grace Digital
ECOXGEAR EcoCarbon Bluetooth Waterproof Wireless Speaker

Finch Fight Illustration
High quality inkjet prints of watercolor paintings, measuring 8.5×11″ and 5×7″

T Jay Santa Ana
2-4 original watercolor/ink/collage prints

Angela Benson
Live Planter

Angelo Outlaw
Letterpress Cards

Steven Heller
10 Classic Graphic Design Journals

Louise Fili
Signed Book Copy

Stacey Winters
Handmade weaving (for wall)

Simone Wolowiec
2 illustrated children’s books (signed)

Kelsey Lyn Doonan
1 hr. professional beauty makeup application

Garrett Patz
A set of 9, 5×5 prints. Photographic. A special perspective on San Diego.

Edgar Bak
Poster, 100 cm x 70 cm, silkscreended on a light green paper, one color. Poster shows a very distinctive building for Warsaw, The Palace for Culture and Science (1955)

David Acevedo
Limited edition poster titled “Shape 01 (2015)” from the “Shapes” collection.

Jessica Hische
Poster and Colored Pencils

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