DFT aka. Differantly is a French creative duo working between Paris and Berlin. The artists’ practice ranges from art direction to one line illustration, product design, wall art and installation. In 2017, they were asked to customize Adidas headquarters building facade, creating large-scaled artworks of the brand’s most iconic models. With their distinctive single line drawing, the duo deconstructs complex imagery into
two-dimensional minimalist art, focusing on what creates a subject’s core identity.
Q. Tell us the story about DFT - why as a duo, what does it mean by “Differantly”?
A. We both met as we were working in Art Direction in Paris. Then we created secret street art collectives. One day, we both chose to quit comfortable jobs to express ourselves in our own unique way. All our work is the result of a joint reflection, a mix of our inner lives and personal stories. Stephane is the one drawing but we are very complementary. It seems like our brains enjoy working together.
The name is a long story and this is not what people usually think. Most people assume it is a statement that “we want do things differently”, which would be a bit pretentious because all artists do things their own way. It actually refers to a personal anecdote ; when we were both children (and not yet knowing each other), for some reason we would always write “differantly” with an a instead of an e. We took it as an ironical early sign of our brain similarity.
Q. You both live and work between Paris and Berlin (although also engaging on various creative projects internationally). Why Paris and Berlin ? Is it because of their artistic heritage, cultural openness or even historical impediment that draw you in?
A. Yes totally. We are originally from Paris, this is our home and its beauty has always inspired us in many ways. Nowadays, we spend most of our time in Berlin and its area. We love this city for its very relaxed and creative spirit, which is quite stimulating. Traveling is also vital for our inspiration.
Q. We learnt that you have been influenced by a wide range of masters and genres. What are some of the latest influences? Why?
A. Lately we have tried to focus more and more on our inner selves. Who are we? What drives us? How to stay faithful to ourselves? In our modern world, it is easy to forget who you really are and it is difficult to stay free. Our identity quest is perpetual and the best way for us to progress is to look inside rather than outside. Even though it may be an intimidating journey, it allows you to embrace your differences, express it and share it with the world. Accept who you simply are.
Q. As a minimalist, you have mentioned about the pain of “letting go” of something that is “not substantial”. How do you resolve this paradox as an artist? Is this type of “agony” necessary in your creative process?
A. For us, minimalism is a way of life so it expresses naturally in our work, we didn’t choose it consciously. We are living in an era of visual abundance and embracing our minimalism feels like a statement in itself. You are right, a certain form of pain is inherent to our work as our style is by nature hard to achieve ; it requires a certain form of perfection. It is probably intrinsic to all forms of art as creating literally consists in giving birth to an idea.
Q. How would you term the relationship between contemporary artists and commercial brands?
A. The border between art and commerce is getting more and more blurred.
We see it like a quite mutual relationship in a way that brands can benefit from an artist image while artists can keep doing their art thanks to these commercial collaborations. The important point being to keep a good balance between the brand’s commercial challenges and the artist’s creative freedom.
In the case of luxury brands, this relationship seems even more natural as they create their own work of art. This usually results in particularly interesting creative exchanges.
Thank you DFT, it was a pleasure speaking to you.
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Next Who's Next? article - 1st November 2018.