[Studio Visit] Barcelona’s DAQ Studio
Marked by love for geometry, volumetric shapes and contrasting colors, DAQ enjoy playing with volumes and impossible shapes suggesting illusions and surreal situations.
Since launching DAQ, David and Anna have worked for clients across publishing and advertising, producing work infused with a style characterised by volumetric shapes and contrasting colours. aiming above all to create visual concepts, transforming ideas into graphic communication.
Here David gives us some insight into their studio.
A day in the life of DAQ begins around 7 o’clock in the morning, in the Gracia area of Barcelona. After a walk around the alleyways of this little village in the middle of a city, once the kids are in school, we kick off the day with a coffee in Plaça Virreina square. It’s a good moment for a quiet chat about what the day will bring, and to go over pending projects etc. It’s a routine that we find really helps us to clearly and calmly organise our work and set our goals. Talking over our first coffee of the morning also allows us to exchange experiences and concerns about our individual work. Though we work on the conceptual approach to every project together, we each have very different responsibilities. Anna handles production, project management and communication, whereas I deal with creative and artistic direction.
Being around other people helps motivate…and it’s good to have someone to chat to about things other than work.
We then go our own ways and travel to the studio, in Poblenou, separately. I tend to arrive at around 9am. I love being here! The district is a mix of a very modern style and an industrial feel that it wants to maintain. Many former factories in the area have been converted into co-working offices, and lots of these focus on creativity, innovation, and technology. It’s a great place to keep your finger on the pulse and maintain connections.
When I arrive, the first thing I do is go through the press and creative blogs and have a coffee with one of my colleagues. We are fortunate to share our workspace with friends. It’s more than just a co-working office! There are eleven of us, who each do different things, which produces some interesting synergies. Otherwise our work would be a very solitary affair.
My personal work is very important to me as it keeps me inspired and motivated, as does travelling. In 2008, I decided to set my work aside and invest my savings in travelling the world to meet other designers and illustrators. I learnt so much that when I came back to Barcelona, I binned my portfolio and started again from scratch.
While I finishing my coffee, I turn the machines on and get started. If I’m working on a particular assignment, I begin with that. The pace of work depends on the client. I work on publishing and advertising projects, and each sector works at a completely different pace. The assignments with the tightest deadlines come from newspapers. Sometimes I have one day to sketch out three proposals plus one more day for the final artwork. It can be very stressful but also very fulfilling. Audiovisual or advertising projects, on the other hand, take longer and involve more people, more meetings, but also more changes and adjustments.
If I don’t have any current assignments I press on with my personal projects. Each is almost as important as the other to me because I can really innovate, experiment and try out new paths. In fact, it is my personal projects that opened the door for me and gave me the opportunity to work with major brands.
I follow more or less the same creative process for all kinds of projects. I always start with the brief. Based on – or not on – the commission, I spend hours or days researching. I then make a list of keywords and start with small sketches using a pencil and sketchpad. I carry on making little drawings until the idea shapes up. Once I’ve got a clear idea, I use the two tools (Illustrator and Photoshop) together to produce the piece.
The most important thing in ensuring my day goes well is first to be in a good mood. If I’m worried or feel bad about a personal or professional issue, I find I don’t perform. The second most important thing is tidiness. I am crazy about keeping things neat and tidy … I know, it is a shortcoming of mine! My work kit is very basic: pencils, brushes, scketchbooks, an iMac and a Cintiq. My Wacom is definitely an essential tool for me too. It allows me to combine my manual and digital work really well. I actually take it with me everywhere … even on holiday!
Very early on, I would devour comics and gradually I realized that I wanted to be a comic book artist when I grew up.
One great companion during the creative process is the tips I have gleaned from other people I admire, who have had a great influence on me, such as my lecturers at La Massana in Barcelona, and Ensad in Paris like Arnal Ballester or Jean-François Depelsenaire; or indeed other people I’ve met during my career, such as Javier Mariscal, Álvaro Sotillo, Jorge Alderete, Kit Hinrichs, etc. Their advice is really useful when things aren’t going well, or when I get bad feedback, or suffering from creative block. I stop, think, and start all over.
When the working day is done, and I have a bit of free time for myself, I always do the same thing. I check out my favourite comic stores. It is my great passion. In fact, my relationship with illustration goes back to my childhood and was closely related to the world of comics. Once I’d finished school, I started studying art and illustration in Barcelona, and then graphic design in Paris. Right from my days as a student, illustration and design – and typography in particular – were key elements and played a key role in my work. Unfortunately, I’ve never actually drawn a comic… it is definitely on my bucket list though!