We Are The Art Life: Noor Daumier

Welcome back to our column showcasing the art and artists inspired by Twin Peaks, and other Lynch works. This time we take a look at Noor Daumier: illustrator, artist, real-life Bohemian, and game developer, whose art is rich with detail, symbology, and a delicious slice of darkness. She was also recently featured at the Festival of Illustration in the Czech Republic. 

Dale Cooper symbolology

25YL: How did you first encounter Twin Peaks? Can you tell us what you felt about it, and how it affected you?

ND: I saw Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me when I was 16 years old. My mom brought it home on a VHS tape, a crappy quality TV recording with Czech dubbing. I watched it and I had no idea what was going on, but I instantly fell in love. I didn’t know David Lynch, I hadn’t watched any of his films before that day. I guess the greatest impact it had on me was helping me see that there’s much beauty in what’s unsaid in art. I became drawn to artists that hint at things but leave a lot hidden behind the curtain—I feel like that also gives the viewer an option to participate in the creative process. For the same reason I’m a fan of open endings in stories.

25YL: How has Twin Peaks and Lynch inspired your work?

ND: After seeing Fire Walk With Me I tried to get as many of David Lynch’s films as possible. It was 2002 and I lived in a small village in South Bohemia, so getting these films was a challenge. Somehow I managed to get Eraserhead and you know—watching this stuff as a teenager, it left a lasting impression. These early encounters with Lynch influenced me for life. I absolutely love the universe of Twin Peaks, it allows for so much imagination. It’s like a dark, dreamy sibling of Lewis Carrol’s Wonderland…not for children, but also full of hidden meaning, symbolism and a strange sense of humor. It’s so easy to get lost in that world and it’s so exciting. David Lynch is probably one of the most inspiring directors ever.

25YL: Is there a character or characters in the Twin Peaks world that you relate to more, or that intrigue you the most, and why?

ND: Absolutely. I like all the main characters—as we all do, I guess. But there are definitely some a little more intriguing than others. For example Otis from The Return. I loved the entire scene, the small band of people who live in that cabin, the dark, rugged yet weirdly cozy look of it. Who are these people and why do they get involved with Mr. C? Otis’ eyes have the most gentle and nostalgic look. There’s so much melancholy in that scene. I had so many questions after watching that part and I’m glad none of them were answered in the end. That’s where you get to invent your own storyline that complements the filmed one.

Goodnight Hawk. The log lady on the phone.

25YL: You’ve produced a fair few images inspired by Season 3 of Twin Peaks. How was the experience of watching Season 3 for you? Any highlights, or areas you wish you could have seen more of?

ND: Season 3 was an unbelievable experience. I was postponing watching it for a full year because I just didn’t think it could reach to the same quality as seasons 1 and 2. I avoided every single spoiler, wouldn’t read any reviews, and then I just felt like…it was “time”, even though it probably sounds a little stupid, and I watched The Return in 18 days, one episode an evening. And after the first episode I knew already that all my worries had been unnecessary. To me Twin Peaks is the most mystical thing that ever happened to television.

It’s like a window to a whole different realm and David Lynch is like an old Zen master, slowly guiding you through this dark, confusing and beautiful maze.

There’s something going on sort of in the back, something mysterious and deeply wise and you get glimpses of it here and there, but it’s very subtle. It’s like a window to a whole different realm and David Lynch is like an old Zen master, slowly guiding you through this dark, confusing and beautiful maze. And the message is still the same, he keeps repeating it, much like the other old teachers.

As for highlights: Wally’s speech was brilliant. The Log Lady’s death was incredibly poetic and touching. Then of course the entire Episode 8 blew my mind. My favorite is probably Episode 11 though. A lot of exciting stuff happens there.

buella standing in her cabin

25YL: There are often lots of little details in your Twin Peaks works. Are there connections you’re drawing here, or is this for purely aesthetic reasons? For example, BOB’s face and the Eraserhead baby in the Buella image.

ND: I like to put things in the background because I like to think that often the characters in my illustrations are not fully aware of what’s behind them. I think Buella knows about BOB lurking in her cabinet, after all she seems to know more about the Black Lodge than we all do, but I don’t think she knows she has the Eraserhead baby on the shelf. I try to imagine her turning around and finding the baby and how she’d react. BOB and the baby feel like two opposite forces to me. BOB is this dark powerful entity, but he’s actually a pretty handsome man. There’s something raw and attractive about him. The baby on the other hand is a helpless tiny being, albeit a hideous one. Plus, neither of them is entirely human.

25YL: What other influences inspire and affect your work?

ND: Music does, a lot. David Bowie—anytime, anywhere. If I could listen to only one singer for the rest of my life, it would be him. Art inspires me a lot, also…I love Durer, Francis Bacon, Caspar David Friedrich, Rene Magritte… And books. Jorge Luis Borges, Truman Capote, Aldous Huxley, Cormac McCarthy, William Burroughs…The list could go on and on.

25YL: Can you describe the processes and techniques involved in your art?

ND: I use a tablet now so everything I paint these days is digital. I used to carry a notebook with me and draw and write all the time. But that was before I discovered the convenience of digital art. One still has to learn to paint on a tablet, it took me a few months to get used to it and I must admit there’s something lacking…it’s not as sensual as working with ink, colors and brushes, but it’s fast and very comfortable. I use vintage photos as references for how things or people are placed in three dimensional space, if I need that (I’m not very good at 3D imagination), or I take my own pictures sometimes. Mostly I draw from my head, I just sketch something quickly and then keep adding detail.

25YL: You seem to work in quite a variety of styles. Do you start a piece with an image and style in mind or does the process happen more organically?

ND: I’d say 90 percent of the time it’s very spontaneous. I just start with a vague concept, a feeling maybe. I sit down, start drawing and see where it takes me. Except for pictures that are made on request—everything else just happens on its own and sometimes I don’t even notice it. It’s maybe close to automatic drawing on some level. I put on headphones, start listening to some music or a favorite podcast and some time later the illustration is finished and it feels like I had no active say in the process.

25YL: Lynch has said that in order to “catch the big fish” you need to go deeper in the ocean of consciousness inside you. What do you feel about that? Is there anything you do to catch bigger fish when working on an idea?

ND: That thing, about the Big Fish, that’s so true. Ideas are like fish, indeed, but it took me some time to get it. I have three methods of catching one: The first one is David Lynch approved and it’s meditation. I don’t do TM (Transcendental Meditation) though, but I’ve been tempted for a long time to try it. Meditation allows you to go very deep, but from my experience there’s not much to be caught there, as it’s a vast infinite…well, there’s no word for it. The thing is though, you enter that depth and that somehow stirs the waters, and then, once you’re out of it and back to your daily life, that’s when the fish float to the surface. It takes some time.

The second one is very close to meditation and that’s lucid dreaming. Incredible fish to be caught there, otherworldly I’d say.

The last, easiest and most reliable method is running. Just go for a long run and catching a good-sized fish is pretty much guaranteed.

If I were to—and I know that the fish is supposed to be a metaphorical one, but still—if I were to describe the types of fish you can catch with these methods, then after meditation you get beautiful koi carps, in a lucid dream it can be anything from a blobfish to a huge shark, and during running you catch a nice nimble salmon or a trout!

25YL: Can you tell me a little about the “Squares” group of images?

ND: These are my personal illustrated Cabinet of Curiosities. There’s actually a narrative they developed quite spontaneously. At first it was just a disconnected series of illustrations, but now I think of them all as snapshots from an imaginary town. These characters share the same space, but in a different dimension. I’d say these are my comfort zone.

White socks

25YL: I love all your work, but for some reason the piece entitled “White Socks” is the one that sticks out to me. There’s something delightfully dark about it, even though I don’t know what is going on there. Can you say anything about that one, or give me any clues?

ND: Yeah, I have no idea, I’m sorry! I think I found an old photo of children holding hands and used it as a starting point. The rest just happened on its own. I wish I knew what’s going on there. My favorite part is that house behind them. You know, there’s definitely something hidden in there, something…other. It’s a nice old villa and reminds me of my mom’s and my aunt’s house, which is a wonderful place. Full of books, paintings, plants and vintage items. When I was little I was convinced there was a “presence” in there, somewhere in the upper floors…It spooked me but it also felt strangely comfortable. My mom also grew up there and she was sure there was a secret room somewhere, as the house was built by my great-grandfather and he was a very creative person. From what I heard about him there may very well actually be a secret room that no-one knows about.

Magician tarot card

25YL: Can you tell me a bit about the tarot sequence you did?

ND: The tarots were just a fun project for myself. I have a very superficial understanding of tarot cards so I probably shouldn’t be even putting it out there, but I’ve always been drawn to their symbols and the visual freedom it allows for. I remember seeing a lot of tarot decks in a bookstore and it was all fairies and cats and so I wanted to make one that I’d myself want to buy. That was only a year ago but I’d probably draw some of the decks differently if I were to do it again.

25YL: What projects are you working on at the moment?

ND: I just had the privilege of being among a group of illustrators selected for this years Festival of Illustration which happens annually in the Czech Republic. So up until now I was working on illustrations for this event and that was a lot of fun. Other than that I work as a 2D artist in game development. We are now working on a new game and it’s a lot of fun, creative work.

25YL: Thanks for talking with us Noor! Look forward to seeing more of your work in the future.

You can find Noor on Instagram and see more of her work on Behance.

Written by Matt Armitage

Director of Operations at 25YL Media. Webmaster, Editor, Chief Weasel and occasional writer. Likes: Weird psychological horror, cats, wine, and whisky. Dislikes: Most people, rain, cats.

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