Makers to Know: Jaqueline Diedam

I first discovered Jackie's illustrations on Instagram last year and instantly fell in love with her delicate style. I'm thrilled to have her on the blog today and learn a bit more about her! 

BB: For those of us who are meeting you for the first time, can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you get started?

JD:  I'm Jackie, Brazilian born in the city of Curitiba, in the south of Brazil. I grew up there and during my childhood my father, who is a pilot with huge talent for fast sketching and creating comics, was always giving me ways to feed my creative side. My mother on the other hand, is a person who always had a entrepreneurial instinct, she worked with creatives in bridal and haute couture scene, then interior decoration, and even had her own baking business for years. She would always get to a great position but then change her heart and chose a new craft to learn. With so much input from my parents, since very young I was enrolled in art programs, painting courses, and by 9 years of age I was having private lessons of oil painting. I was certain I was going to be a painter when older. But, unfortunately, I developed a strong allergy to oil paints and simply lost the interest and distanced myself for this area for a long time.

During High School, in the process of trying to find a career, I went abroad for the first time to Spring Hills, near Nashville, TN. While studying there, I was really interested in applying for SCAD, but still had no real focus. When back in Brazil, I chose to study Product Design in the UFPR.  Inside this program I went abroad on a study program for the second time, to KISD in Cologne, Germany. Taking a big risk, I chose to stay and live in Cologne. During the last five years, I've realized that my love for design, was much more intense when I had to visualize anything: processes, products, services. This seemed like a good reason to go back to my starting point, and try to paint again. Watercolor became a great passion for me, and the more I did the more I wanted to do it. 

BB: Your watercolor paintings are detailed, delicate, and soft. What inspires you to be drawn to fashion and travel illustrations?

JD:  I am interested in traveling and fashion, probably because of my parents influence. I love to paint places I've been, and where I want to go next. I think I put a lot of detail trying to visualize my own memories and expectations of a certain place. I do love to recreate patterns and textures on paper, and I know it's a cliche but it also works a bit like a 'shop therapy'. If I am drawing something I can't afford on my artist budget, I kinda own the piece then and makes me feel satisfied.

BB: When you begin a painting, what does your process look like? How long can a painting take to complete, and how do you decide that you're finished?  

JD: It really depends on my mood. Some are fast, and because I work with watercolor the drying time is also quite fast compared to oil painting. Some still life scenes and floral patterns are painted with quick and loose strokes to created a fun, vibrant and careless finish. When working in landscapes or architecture, I tend to take much longer, because of details and textures. I worked on my "Positano" painting, for around 3 months, every day a small area. I also think when I use gouache, I tend to work slower than with watercolor.

BB: What has been a challenge that you’ve faced as you’ve established yourself as an artist, and how have you overcome that?

JD: I think there are 2 main challenges that I've dealt with in daily life as an artist. First, is to be able to find time to do all I want. As I was graduating, writing my final thesis, I had no time to manage a shop. I was doing a lot of commissions on the side, but everyday I received emails asking for quotes, for prints and for editorial jobs, and I even tough I wanted to tackle it all, I simply couldn't manage it all. When I was finished with university, the first goal was to actually make a business plan that would allow me to fulfill my plans. I've now opened my online shop, where I sell prints, and also commissions for portraits, and it was a true battle. Not only to find the right work to sell, but to work with all the bureaucracy, taxes, production and logistics of it. 

The second challenge is to be paid fairly. Owning a small business and being an artist puts you in a very vulnerable position in many negotiations. I get "exposure" and "opportunity" offers almost daily, and this can be very soul crushing. Now, after a lot of experience ( and frustration) dealing with these offers, I've created a thicker skin and became clear about my rates and my value when negotiating projects.

BB: Aside from illustration, you're also interested in three-dimensionally crafted paper designs. Can you elaborate a bit on your experience with making paper props?

JD: I started studying Product Design in Brazil. There was a course in the program, probably the hardest if you ask anyone there, called "3D representation" by a professor that was a perfectionist and extremely focused on details. In the first year, our task was to build 3D models, made of paper. Every week. It was a whole year learning different techniques and I couldn't help but ask " When will I ever use this? Shouldn't we learn softwares and how to create digital models?" . 

I bit my tongue, after 4 years, when I was already living in Germany, me, my boyfriend and a friend had the idea to create a student guide of our city, all illustrated with paper models. The project was a success, and  we are now about to release the second edition with twice as much content. We created sets of postcards and prints, build an online shop, and even had meetings with the tourist board of Cologne to sell our products on their shop. 

I really love to work with paper, and even tough it's an area that is getting saturated, I still consider it to be a fresh way to create visuals because of the freedom you have between 2D and 3D scenes. 

BB: For your thesis, you created a board game about gender and design which sounds absolutely fascinating! Can you tell me more about it?

JD: My main focus during my design studies in Germany was the topic of Gender and Design. This area is extremely important because objects and visuals have great impact on people. One of the topics I worked on before, was to question the problems we have with the color pink today, how it transitioned from a 'boy' color to a 'girl' color ( a fact that most people dont know about) and what it means to society when designers simply 'make pink stuff' for women. 

The board game I created is aimed to be used in conferences and project development meetings, to try and help to open a dialogue with people that do not know about the area of Gender and Design. The game shows the participants why this subject should be an important part of the design process. 

Find more of Jackie's work here: