Besides being equipped with a sparkling personality, Dana Dijkgraaf is the proud owner of a blooming graphic design studio. Her enthusiasm, expertise, and entrepreneurship are reflected in the attention to detail in her designs. In 2017, she participated in the In4nite project — and she will be a part of this project again this year.
Dana: “After my graduation from secondary school, I was extremely conflicted as to what study to choose. I really wanted to be a vet, but when I learned that being a vet means being confronted with people who treat their animals in a different way that you would like to see and hope for, I opted for my other passion next to nature: sketching and image making. My drawers were filled with sketch books, collages, and typography.
It turned out to be the right study for me. I graduated in 2013, and because I couldn’t find a job as a graphic designer right away (this was largely due to the economic crisis), I took up an internship to expand my experience and portfolio. By the time I finished as an intern, I had already started to establish a small customer base that consisted of some minor requests. It was just enough to start my own business. In thinking of it, I really grew into having my own business.
I’ve had my own design studio for four years now, and things are going great. I‘m working on several really nice projects at the moment. I generally work on commission for a variety of brands, for example ArtEZ University of the Arts, Stedelijk Museum Breda, Vakblad Fondsenwerving, Schipper Bosch and several designers. I offer a wide range of services, from designing a responsive website, to creating a book design, and expand my designs into different kinds of media, such as booklets, posters, logo’s, and everything in between.”
I think we tend to underestimate our role as designers quite often, which is more important than we often give credit for. It was during my studies at the academy that I became aware of the position you can take as a designer; not only do you design and make products, but you are also actively re-shaping the world with your perspective and innovative ideas.
Odd One Out
Dana: “I suppose I am somewhat of the odd one out within the in4nite project; unlike the other participants, I’m not a product designer. So I guess my approach to this project was a bit different than theirs.
Normally I create a concept based on a story, starting with a mood board or a theoretical concept. But because the focus was on the material in this case, I started the In4nite project by sketching shapes that were inspired by the structure and the possibilities of the Colback material. I used the translucency of Colback to research the possibilities of layering, for example. My departure point was to make everything I could think of from my own perspective as a graphic designer. I really wanted to approach the material from a graphic design point of view, and let the Colback determine the story-line.
After the sketch phase, I experimented with different kinds of printing techniques, such as silk screen printing; perforated printing; and digital printing. I applied different colours and researched techniques of sewing, binding and coating. I printed the material with a flatbed printer; a very big printer that moves around the material, whereas the material itself stays in one place.
I combined various patterns and designs and arranged these into a collection, making the possibilities of Colback tangible. As a graphic designer, this kind of material-based approach is an experiment and an exploration of my own skills, too. “
Dana: “What I really like about graphic design, is the possibility to work with all these different kinds of people and companies. Not one day is the same — I love to dive into their stories, their worlds, and contribute to their mission and vision with my own acumen as a graphic designer. I really like to create things. When you start from scratch in forging a concept, everything is possible.
To keep the inspiration flowing, I visit museums and read magazines on design, nature and philosophy. They feed me with new insights and support me in creating ideas and working out visual stories. In my opinion, there is one designer in particular who represents the cream of the crop; his name is Stefan Sagmeister. My dream would be a collaboration with him — you might say he is one of my heroes in the design world. His vision and view of the world is of great inspiration to me; he purports a unique perspective on the world through his designs and really can surprise you in a sparkling way.
I think we tend to underestimate our role as designers quite often, which is more important than we often give credit for. It was during my studies at the academy that I became aware of the position you can take as a designer; not only do you design and make products, but you are also actively re-shaping the world with your perspective and innovative ideas. In a way, as a designer you are making imaginary future scenarios tangible.”
Dana: “I would love to explore more materials, and also possibilities for collaboration. I really appreciated the enthusiasm of Low and Bonar, and the openness of this very big company towards working with designers. One big plus is that the Colback material was made abundantly available. I also loved the freedom they gave us to explore the material and to create at our own will. The entire experience of having started from an investigation into the material and ending up on Dutch Design Week was very enlightening.
In light of improving the process, I think there is something to gain in terms of planning the schedule and following up leads. I would also love to collaborate with designers from different fields of work, such as fashion designers and bio technology, to explore more possibilities and create interdisciplinary crossovers.”