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Marta Dahlig

Dark owl Marta Dahlig likes to develop her characters in the dead of night…

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Age: 20
Country: Poland
Favourite artists: Wojtek Siudmak, Zdzislaw Beksinki, Christophe Vacher
Web: www.blackeri.com

Our rising star of fantasy this issue has been inhabiting a fairly dark world, rife with sin. Marta Dahlig has risen to prominence on the back of  exquisitely detailed, gothic-tinged work. More recently we’ve witnessed her ambitious project to put a face to the seven deadly sins. One of these was included in Ballistic Publishing’s recent Painter book.
Working from a base in Warsaw, Poland, the 20-year-old says she is first and foremost an ‘owl’ who prefers to let the creative juices run wild in the dead of night. This approach clearly gives her more spectral images a suitably nocturnal feel. “I love to stay up late with a cup of steaming coffee. Only then, in the dark, can I concentrate fully on painting,” Marta confides.

She says the Seven Deadly Sins series has been her most wide-reaching project to date. Combining imposing characters with a distinct art nouveau feel, the series has an ambitious scope. “The idea came to me spontaneously,” she explains. “I researched the topic on the web to find out more about each of the sins. I’ve always been a fan of art nouveau, so it didn’t take me long to decide that my sins would draw on this style. Each painting, aside from the time spent on planning and designing in my head, took me around 60 hours.”
Aside from the art noveau influence, Marta draws on an impressive colour palette to give her work depth and additional feeling. So how important is colour to the way she goes about building her characters? “To me, colours are one of the key elements of any painting,” Marta confirms. “They define it. I usually spend quite a lot of time thinking of a colour scheme to suit the mood and the kind of feelings I want to provoke. I use dark shades and contrasts for drama, light, easy-going colours for a peaceful mood and greyish blue colours for sadness.”

Besides bold use of colour, another striking feature of her work is its stunning sympathy for the human face. “I draw inspiration from the world around me,” she explains. “In terms of faces, I get them from my mind in most cases. Sometimes, when I need some anatomical reference, I make my family members pose for me.”
Although much of the young artist’s work has a strong painterly feel, technology obviously plays an important part in how her images are created. Using both Painter and Photoshop CS as her main software tools, coupled with a Wacom Intuos3 graphics tablet, Marta says she uses a wide palette of effects and brushes.
“My favourite tools in Painter are the Basic Round Brush and Blender from Tinting, Opaque Round Brush from Oils and Fine Point from Inking Tools. In Photoshop, I love the Hard Round Tool as well as my custom Speckled Brush,” she says.

Marta is waiting to see where her debut in the well-received Ballistic book will take her next. For now, she’s pleased to end her emersion in the world of sin, especially envy. “Envy is the worst,” she scorns. “To me, this sin means acting against the person who possesses what we want – cunning, hurting and back-stabbing for the sheer fact of someone being more lucky. Other  deadly sins, except wrath, are mostly destructive to the actual sinners, whereas envy makes innocent ones suffer.”

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