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Work / Illustration

Stephan Dybus’ painted illustrations combine humour with misfortune

Stephan Dybus’ work depicts failure, artist suffering, relationships, the struggles in life and draws on his own experiences and misfortunes. “I want to transfer the essence of my inadequacy as an urban hipster/melancholic artistic into humorous illustrations,” says Berlin-based Stephan. “I want to quote from the world that I come from.”

A loose, sketchy approach, the illustrator’s work draws reference from German theatre work, costumes, American comedians, old gothic paintings and architecture. “I don’t like to think of having a certain style. It sounds so decorative,” says Stephan, and instead he simply sees the way he paints as visually translating his thoughts. “You can not just make it up, these things, these characters, these stages have to develop over years, they become your tools to express yourself,” explains Stephan. “I enjoy drawing my little funny miniature characters – they can do anything, they look stupid, they don’t care about it, unlike me, they are free.”

To create the textures in his works Stephan paints in aquarelle, a technique which involves painting with thin, transparent watercolours. “It’s my favourite technique – it’s hard to control and you always fail trying to. Failure in painting is important, it gives everything soul and direction,” he says. “That’s why I think illustrating analogue is important.”

Each illustration starts as sketch, with pencil work being an essential part of Stephan’s process. “After some time maybe something comes up, maybe it doesn’t. But mostly something does come up and you just have to stick to it and at some point you go out to meet someone and while you chat you suddenly have the right idea you were looking for,” he says. These bursts of inspiration, though sporadic, mean that Stephan’s works are unexpected, funny and a little unusual.

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Stephan Dybus