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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
Passes to Brewing Classes
Vavi Sport & Social Club
Gift Cards & Merchandise
2-One Year Subscriptions to CommArts
Basket of Knock Knock Items
1 order of 50 1-Color Cover Scout Books with standard notebook interior.
1-year scholarships for a Skillshare Premium Membership
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
4 pack of tickets for Group Surfboard Shaping Classes
Gift card for 5 classes
Grey Theory Mill
Visions Art Museum
Four catalogs from Quilt Visions’ juried exhibitions (2008, 2010, 2012, 2014)
SOLO Eyewear Sunglasses
1 pair of sunglasses + 1 tote bag
$100 gift certificate for printing services
Rebel Rebel Hair Salon
1 haircut (men’s = $30; women’s = $55)
Bellissima Day Spa
Jayden Presleigh, The Salon & Spa
$50 gift card; wax treatment ($20 value); travel size products ($45value)
Original Gerry Bustamante signed screen print
Mission Bay Aquatic Center
Stand Up Paddle Board Rental for (2)
Scarves Throws, Cushions
Electra Classic Beach Cruiser 1 Ladies’, single speed
One Year Subscription to Uppercase Magazine
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
Two (2) perpetual licenses for Axure RP PRO
Wooden Box with 19 Envelope Templates Sizes
San Diego Airport
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
10 Classic Graphic Design Journals
Signed Book Copy
Handmade weaving (for wall)
2 illustrated children’s books (signed)
Kelsey Lyn Doonan
1 hr. professional beauty makeup application
A set of 9, 5×5 prints. Photographic. A special perspective on San Diego.
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)
Limited edition poster titled “Shape 01 (2015)” from the “Shapes” collection.
Poster and Colored Pencils