The Art of Delphine Diallo, Part I: The Start of an Artist

By: Cyndi Amaya

Recently, I had the honor of meeting one of New York's budding new artists, Delphine Diaw Diallo. With featured exhibitions in galleries such as the United Nations, the Opera Gallery, and The Museum of Art and Design, this young Parisian photographer and artist working out of Brooklyn has a talent, as well as an eye for finding art and inspiration all around her. In this two part series, we take a look at Delphine's own journey as an artist and her current search for other talented artists in her newest project "The Gift."

Today we look at her start into the creative world...

How did your journey as an artist start? Did you always know or did it develop over the years?

Yes, I knew. It's something you always know but you don't always trust yourself, you don't have the environment to develop it, or you think that it's a waste of time. We do live in a society where you do need to make money and be successful, so you follow the way of people in order to be a nice student and a nice daughter. But then some questions arise because you notice you have skills and you really want to develop them and sometimes it could take a few years to get the courage to actually trust yourself and follow that creative process.

My father is originally from Senegal, he arrived in Paris in 1975, where he met my mother. My mother was French from a city called Nante and was studying in Paris. Then I came along. My first exposure to art was from my mother. My mom was an artist, she painted portraits, and although that wasn't her career, she would take me to the Louvre every weekend and teach me how to draw all the time. Between 6 and 10 years old, my mom was instrumental in teaching me about art and the artists behind those pieces and their histories. From there and from her I got my basis for my start in art.

I went to the School of Visual Arts in Paris but when I was there, the digital arts focused more on the skill of advertising. After I finished studying there, I found a job in graphic design for a company; but after doing that for 3 years, I realized I didn't want to be on a computer anymore, it was boring- I need to talk to people, I need to share, I need to feel love and meet new people. I also wanted to leave Paris and move one. So I traveled to Africa, to discover my family and that was the first time I felt like I could really create something. I shot pictures of my family, portraits. And when I came back to Paris, I came back a different person because I had finally discovered my other half at 23.

I wasn't working at the time so I finally could focus on my art and I created "Magic Photo Studio" from the photographs I took of my family. When looking at the photographs I noticed there were elements missing from them so I decided to draw and paint other images directly on the photos. I drew patterns and emblems that helped better tell the story behind the photographs. From that story I thought, "Well, I'm not so bad!" So that was the beginning of my journey. Since Paris isn't really a city for young artists, I decided to travel to New York. But I still didn't jump directly into my art after coming here.

What inspired you to truly start working on your art?

It was the time that I met Peter Beard. Peter Beard is a very famous photographer who spent about 25 years of his life in Africa, shooting and using that as inspiration for his work. I met him in Paris and I had had one of his books since I was 13 years old so I was truly honored to meet him. I remember sitting next to him and telling him a bit about my art as well and we ended up talking for 5 to 6 hours. It led up an invitation from him to work on the Pirelli Calendar 2009 in Botswana. Of course I said yes and I went with him to Africa and it was the start of a great collaboration where many times he asked for my input in his pieces, which helped to solidify my role and calling in art.

The journey was amazing and I was able to see the true beauty of Africa through some of the most beautiful scenes I have ever encountered. So I came back from that trip totally inspired after experiencing the happiness and freedom and you come back from that experience, totally pure and revealed to yourself what your future will be. And after being on the high for almost 3 months, I came back and realized I had a lot of work ahead of me.

For more information about Delphine Diallo and her art, visit her website here. Stay tuned later this week for Part II of her interview, where we look at her newest project to find art, "The Gift."

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