At his core, Dylan Bakker, the man behind the popular screenprint label, Lysergic, is a true testament to the idea that there’s an artist inside of us all, even if we don’t realize it. While he grew up with a passion for music and math, Bakker didn’t establish himself as an artist until he was in his twenties. Originally from the Hutt Valley in New Zealand, Bakker spent most of his youth invested in guitar and punk music. He said he leaned heavily on the side of film, books, and music and only began to find his way into art as a way to fill the need for posters and CD covers for his music. Bakker says, “Art for me was some sort of unfathomable thing and still is in some ways.”
In his early 20’s, Bakker moved to Berlin, Germany which is the period of his life he considers the match that ignited the beginning of his art career. He credits many friends he met there for helping him along his journey, transforming him from a “shy, Christian mathematician” into the artist he is today. He said much of his initial learning process involved mentors introducing him to real culture and countercultures. Bakker said, “There were also definitely some psychedelic highs along the way.”
A Day in the Life of an Artist
Now 35, he still calls Berlin home and resides with his partner, Maria, and their children. Like in most families, the birth of his first child significantly altered the way his life and work processes look. While he relishes those moments of quiet solitude with his partner when he can have them, he’s noticed that despite the added layers of noise in his life, the creative machine inside still functions just fine. “The good thing is, with less time for creation, the muse is constantly banging on the door demanding attention, so ideas pile up and there is less existential angst,” Bakker said. He says the best choice he made was to lean into the shift and embrace the joy and chaos of having a young child, disruptions and all.
This popular artist likes a change of location for his workspaces. He has one home studio, an additional studio at a collective workspace in East Berlin, and a market stand at the Mauerpark flea market every Sunday. The state of each workspace varies just as much as the physical location. His home workspace is lovingly referred to as a “courier post depot”, where the freshest ideas take center stage in the middle of the room and the rest of the madness is relegated to the sides and up the walls. When it’s time to make screen prints, Bakker takes a 20-minute bike ride to his collective workspace, which also carries the feeling of “tidal wave movement”, the space flowing in accordance with which artist was previously using the space. Fittingly, he ends the week at his tidiest location - his flea market stand. You’ll know you’re at his stand when you spot the neon tablecloth, piles of prints, bags, buttons, and shirts.
Bakker makes it abundantly clear that, for him, the beauty is in the journey rather than the final product. “I’m more grateful to have the opportunity to create, than I am proud of what I actually make,” he said. His work is primarily centered around screen prints on paper and other textiles. However, his screenprints often are derived from his photography, collage, and drawing projects. He doesn’t create with the intention of developing a new screenprint, but rather discovers screenprint opportunities from his creations. A particularly unique part of Bakker’s process is his commitment to a foundation in non-digital art. He says, “If I make something digital, it needs to have an analog soul, so that’s why I still photograph onto film, collect old books to scan ancient images.”
The screenprint medium appeals to the artist due to his short attention span. Instead of waiting for each “layer of paint to dry” before moving forward with a piece, his work can move at the same pace as his thoughts. He loves the puzzle of mixing colors, creating new combinations and the opportunities to turn mistakes and misprints into something new. Bakker explains the process of creating his art almost like a scavenger hunt, where the treasure already exists, it’s simply a matter of locating it:
“The things are there, waiting to be found. It’s more about the space and tools to capture them. With printing it’s for me about pattern and color. When I make new collage works I like a very still, calm and focused atmosphere for the cutting, then some playfulness to create compositions. When I make digital designs I enjoy the repetition of the scanning, grading, manipulating. Often I do the same trick over and over again.”
Collaboration With Paperwallet
This artist’s introduction to the Paperwallet family was a lucky break, as many of Bakker’s designs do not include his label name and logo. Paperwallet founder, Elad simply happened to see the only bag with Bakker’s information on it one day in Barcelona, Spain. Bakker created the Paperwallet design, “Lunar Path” which is available as a Slim Wallet, Micro Wallet, Clutch Wallet, Flat Wallet, and Coin Pouch.
The artist was excited to craft designs for Paperwallet, “I knew straight away that this was an interesting and exciting chance for me.” He was inspired by Carl Sagan’s romanticized depiction of astronomy for his work on the micro wallet. Before digitizing this piece he worked with collage, developing layers and surprising pops of color to tell the story. Bakker is eager to collaborate on another wallet in the future, but until then, you can always find him in the Berlin market.