Zoë van Dijk's gorgeously moody illustrations that play with light and shadow

Based in Los Angeles, Zoë van Dijk is an illustrator whose work tends to gravitate towards light and shadow, moody imagery, rich full-bleed colour, interesting shapes and figure based work.

"I would define how I work as conceptual narrative: being clever is not always as important to me as conveying mood," she tells Creative Boom. "I wouldn't say that I have a highly stylised way of drawing like some of my contemporary peers.

"I do consistently make specific composition, colour and rendering choices that are, in combination and in their overall gestalt, specific to me but I don't consider myself a standalone with a singular stylistic voice. My work is primarily in editorial where at the end of the day concept is king and I am constantly striving to find solutions that fit the prompt but don't abandon my personal aesthetic."

Zoë graduated from the School of Visual Arts in 2015 and has been freelancing ever since, primarily in publishing and editorial. "But I want to clarify that while I did 'start' freelancing right out of school, it was only part-time for the first couple years. I kept my job as a restaurant server to pay my bills until mid-2017.

"I mention this because I come from a working-class background and I want to de-mystify the 'going freelance' process. I am not at all ashamed of my time in the restaurant industry: I made good money as a server, I was great at it and it kept me afloat during the slow times.

"Building a career in a new field takes time! Giving up that reliable weekly cash income when I transitioned was scary but, all in all, I really enjoy freelancing. I love working with people and advertising directors all over the world, making my own schedule and being my own boss."

Zoë's work has so far been honoured by American Illustration, the Society of Illustrators and the World Illustration Awards. She is currently working on a series assignment for Longreads examining the role of female antiheroes on television.

"It's a very exciting project for me since I love doing conceptual portraits," says Zoë. "I love analysing gender inequalities and I also love TV! What a dream! Since the first article in the series covers a lot of topics and groundwork, I had a lot of potential approaches I could take.

"I strive in my sketches to always include one that conceptually nails it but is perhaps a more basic approach and one that is a little more experimental and requires more trust in the audience and also one that...I don't know how else to put this and this is going to sound incredibly shallow...I just think it looks cool?"

Zoë's process is half traditional half digital. She draws her finals in Photoshop, prints out the rough line work directly on to hot press watercolour paper in a light blue opacity, draws on top of that in graphite and then paints the piece in ink wash.

"From there I scan it back in and colour the ink painting in Photoshop. I like working this way because I enjoy drawing and painting by hand but I'm also indecisive when it comes to colour so Photoshop enables me to cycle through many palettes a lot faster than traditional colour studies."

To find out more about Zoë van Dijk, visit www.zoevandijk.com.


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