Thursday, 19 March 2009

Otto Dettmer- meeting in London

Initially it had looked like I wasn't going to meet Otto Dettmer as we had arranged an appointment prior to the London trip but he had to cancel. Which is why I was all the more thrilled when he suprised me on the Wednesday night by texting me to say we were back on! I was so nervous about meeting one of my all time heroes I did't have a clue what I was going to ask him. Nina is also a big fan of Otto's work too so between us we put our heads together.
It was interesting to see his studio and I remember thinking it wasn't as big as I'd expected. Looking on the walls I saw photocopies of collaged and screenprinted elements from past works so I gathered that he reuses things alot. What was interesting to see was the computer that he works on, it was a very old apple mac from the mid 1990s. His reasons for using it were the high rate of burglaries in the area and he didn't think anyone would want to steal it! But also I felt that he works organically, very simply with collage, screenprint and digital so alot of these new intricate digital techniques are irrelevant to him.
Dettmer has produced many self publicised books one of which I own but his newest book was out on his desk which I was immediately drawn too. He works with alot of white space but what was interesting was this book was different, they were full colour and compositionally his designs bled out of the page. I remember in one of my questionnaires he said he doesn't believe in sticking to a set style, ironically I think he does though becuase it is so recognisable as his but he isn't afraid to try new approaches.
We started to discuss clients that he has worked for such as The Guardian and he showed us a fold out page that he mails to people to promote himself. The page was full of illustrations all with the same two tone colour scheme which myself and Nina thought looked great. He showed us a few magazines with his illustrations in so it was great to see how his images marry with the text. I found him to be very modest as I said that I thought he had a good reputation in the industry as having contacted art directors for the London trip some of those mentioned Otto after noticing a similarity in approach with his, he said he didnt know about that.
Both myself and Nina showed Otto are portfolios, he distinguished a difference between them saying that Nina's style is appropriate to book cover design and my own is suitable for editorial. A common influence to both my own style and Otto's was Russian Constructivism and hes showed us this big book full of Constructivist images. He asked us to consider scale of images in our portfolios, he favoured some of our images being bigger so he see them more clearly.
He advised me to explore screenprint aswell, I said I wouldn't have the first clue about it, he responded by saying "Well why don't you get on with it then!" I thought that was amusing. As we were leaving Otto was saying about him promoting at a book fair in Leeds the next day so I got the impression that he travels all over to promote his books. I did want to go to it but unfortunately I couldn't. I really enjoyed chatting to Otto in his studio about my own work and his, I found him to be a very likeable person, Cheers Otto!

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