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Dalbert B Vilarino

Work / Illustration

“Being open to different influences helps drive experimentation”: Dalbert Vilarino on his restless style

Dalbert B Vilarino has had an unusual journey to becoming an illustrator. Based in Toronto, when the Canadian graduated from high school, he had two options. Go to art school, or study the sciences. He chose sciences. But after studying Biology and Chemistry for three years, he dropped out, and after a year of contemplation, went back to the option of art. “I’ve been freelancing since I graduated in 2017,” he tells It’s Nice That. “Things started off slowly though, and I have my parents to thank for supporting my financially dubious life choices.”

With an illustrative style as varied as his education, Dalbert’s work differs in aesthetic depending on the outcome. “The more personal the project, the more I let myself explore and experiment,” he adds on his process. Never resting on a particular style, Dalbert’s energetic drawings are a reflection of the myriad of interests peppering his thought processes. Recently, he’s been listening to a lot of Lightning Bolt, Cate Le Bon, Kleenex/Liliput and Parquet Courts. On the reading side of things, he’s ventured into Clarice Lispector and Cesar Aira’s territory, and then on top of all this, he’s been researching into the history of photography and looking at microbiology textbooks. So with this assortment of influences, it’s no wonder his work is so mixed.

“I’m fairly restless when it comes to style,” Dalbert continues, “and being open to different influences helps drive my experimentation. Inspiration is everywhere and it’s hard to narrow down what I want to focus on, I try to let as much in as possible.” As a result of this, over the past two years, Dalbert has collected his assortment of drawings and published its wide-ranging images in a new publication.

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Having been told that he should “relax on making overwrought and overthought publications” recently, he decided to compile this simple zine of sketchbook drawings in celebration of his practice in its rawest form. The personal project allowed Dalbert to reflect on the work he’s made in the past two years, and elevate singular drawings that he’d always liked, into something more. The result, “one huge risograph experiment”, consists of 29 colours across 52 pages. With an intention of “trying out as many different colour combinations as [he] could”, as anyone who has experience working with the riso process knows, “it was a total nightmare to plan out.”

Printed with Toronto’s Vide Press, the result is a dynamic burst of colour and composition. Successfully communicating what he set out to do, Dalbert’s zine embraces his raw illustrative expression, and hopes to channel this vigour into other areas of his practice too. “I’ve also worked on quite a few illustrations with SooJin Buzelli for Plansponsor and Planadvisor this year,” Dalbert goes on to say. “It’s invariably involved making fun, imaginative illustrations for subject matter that is related in some way to retirement planning. And some people may think that’s boring, but those jobs have been totally invigorating for me.”

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