Meet Alex Dos Diaz. Between working on cover art for the tabletop game Champions of Hara, creating work for the New York Times, and working on his personal project The Ghost Alchemist, he’s plugging through RPG’s and flipping through his collection of art books. Dos Diaz was born and raised in Uruguay before moving to the US at 13, where he would eventually attend the University of the Arts in Pennsylvania, where he currently resides. Read more about Alex's work and interests below, and see his piece in our current show, SWARM!
Hi Alex! What's your workspace like? What do you prefer in your creative space? Do you have any collections that help you get inspired?
Right now my workspace is just the essentials: My desk, iMac, Wacom Intuous and a few books I love to browse through from time to time. I love my space being neat and organized 99% of the time; I can never really concentrate otherwise. I also love to work at coffee shops, especially at the beginning of a project. For that stage in the process I use my iPad Pro and Procreate, which is awesome because I can always go back and forth between my iPad and my desktop.
As far as collections go (besides my art prints), I love getting my hands on collective works from video game series’ I really enjoy as well as other art books. Seeing the awesome concept sketches of character designs and their all around development is just so cool. Though, I have to say I probably own more of James Jean’s stuff than any other artist.
You make such good use of the digital medium: the color use, rendering, and movement in each piece is absolutely gorgeous. Is working digitally something that came naturally to you, and did you work in other mediums before?
Thank you, I did and still work in other mediums, mostly Verythin color pencil and mixed media. I used to just draw all the time, which evolved into practicing inking and water color washes. I discovered digital painting back in 2006 (my junior year in high school), when I borrowed a tablet from my art teacher and started to practice outside of school. After I got through my “digitally realistic rendering fever,” I went back to drawing traditionally, scanning the pieces and coloring them digitally, which I did mostly through college. Painting fully digitally is something I pushed myself into getting used to, and it only started in 2015-16. To answer your question, I guess it was and still is something I am working to get better at.
You mentioned that you’re influenced by video games, anime, art nouveau, and baroque art. How do you find a center point between these different influences, and how do you use them to create something truly your own?
I grew up playing video games and watching anime so that was the thing that started it all. However, It wasn’t until I was in college that I discovered the organic fluidity of Art Nouveau, and the over-exaggeration, beautiful detail, and high contrast that is Baroque art. I don’t really believe anything is truly new or unique, but a remix of pre-existing subjects and styles. However, I believe it’s all about the percentages used in the creation of the work, which varies in every new piece. The trick is not to force a piece to go one way or another; if the subject matter lends itself to the style, then by all means I will incorporate it. As much as I love them all, the truth is there are many things about each of these influences that I don’t like, and that’s where my personal touches and preferences come into the mix.
Many of your pieces are focused on the figure. Are these figures purely an aesthetic subject, or do you try to imagine their backstories and worlds?
I like to set up a lot of my illustrations much like a sculpture, with a central figure and other symbolic elements around it. I just love the way it looks, which may be due to my design sensibilities. When it comes to Baroque art's influence on me, it is mostly the sculptural and architectural part of the movement that made an impact on me moreso than the painting. In particular, I absolutely love Bernini’s sculptural work. I also love these figures and all the emotion and meaning they can bring to the work. In my more recent pieces, however, I have started to play with more narrative compositions. I guess we will see where that goes.
Can you tell us about the piece you've created for Swarm? Was there anything new that you wanted to try with this piece, or anything you discovered while working on it?
I knew from the start that I was going to be doing something more designed and decorative, similar to what I did for the Fortune show. I’ve been really looking forward to spending some more time exploring that style of work, which I honestly really enjoy. I wanted to create something that looked aged and overall more symbolic than narrative. You can definitely expect to see more of it in the future.
What are your favorite creatures of the dark? If you could become one of them, which would you be?
I find most insects super creepy to be honest, but I would probably chose a moth. Besides the fact that they have really awesome wing patterns, I feel I can relate to a lot of their associated symbolic meanings.
What are some of your favorite films, music, other pieces of media? And who are some of your favorite artists right now?
Blade Runner 2049, Arrival, Baby Driver, and Your Name are some of the more recent movies I’ve seen and really enjoyed. I also pretty much love everything Evangelion, Full Metal Alchemist and Gurren Lagann. I can’t say I am a huge fan of a lot of new anime out there today. Music varies a lot for me; I genuinely love a lot of different music except for country music. However, The Devil Wears Prada, Northlane, Being as an Ocean, Kendrick Lamar and The Weeknd have been some of my go-to’s recently, all mood permitting. My favorite current artists are Tobias Kwan, Molly Egan, Ching Yeh, Alexandra Fastovets, and of course many more.
Do you have any other hobbies that you enjoy? Is there anything you've always wanted to get into but haven't yet (art-wise or just in life)?
I love playing volleyball, lifting weights and playing video games, mostly RPGs of some sort. I also love traveling which was kind of a new discovery after my trip to Japan with LGAL (go team Inoshishi!) I am really excited to travel more soon, that’s for sure.
What would be an absolute dream project for you? Where would you like to see your work applied?
I would really love to see my personal project The Ghost Alchemist come to life at some point, perhaps even animated… that would be super awesome! Besides that, doing something for a new game like Breath of Fire, Final Fantasy or Castlevania would be incredible too.
Can you talk about any of your upcoming projects? Anything you’re working on that you’re really excited about?
The Ghost Alchemist is my main priority when I am not doing work for anyone else. I am also working/planning on doing some traditional work, which I am excited about. That being said, it will all fall within The Ghost Alchemist’s realm.
Anything else you’d like to add? Where can people find your work?
People can find my work on my website www.alexdosdiaz.com, but it is a curated portfolio. If you would like to see my process and all other work, you can follow me on Instagram: alexdosdiaz. Fair warning, though: you might run into the occasional picture of the most adorable dog in the world, Clementine.