Collecting as He Goes: Dieter Brehm on his Process as a Creator & Artist at Dublin

By Rachael Jennings


In the Art Studio, Dieter Brehm, like other Portfolio students, has his own desk, cubicle, and storage space. His desk houses drawing supplies, paper, and ink, and his space is home to many in-progress pieces.

Last year, when Dieter engaged in Dublin’s Portfolio program, he didn’t have a very specific goal in terms of output. This year, however, is different. This year, Dieter aims to create a more balanced portfolio: one that shows “a mix of graphic design and drawing and traditional design to show future employers that [he] can create things both digitally and traditionally.”

While Dieter’s main work involves Adobe Illustrator in its final stretch, he has a long, involved process before the graphic design phase.

“Usually, I will draw preliminary sketches, and then I will produce line work to the point where it’s how I want the lines to look,” he explains. “Then I will scan it in and trace it and add color and effects and styling. [However,] It’s not that I necessarily have to make it exactly like the drawing. I am more comfortable drawing by hand, so that’s a starting place. And then I can jump off from there.”

One of his current works-in-progress is a self portrait. He is redrawing the portrait, which will eventually become a traditional piece with India ink. At the moment, he has light pencil lines, which he plans to fill with watercolor and top with the ink.

“It’s kind of an evolutionary project. I drew a self-portrait freshman year. Conveniently, I have no idea where that project went,” he smiles. “It’s helpful to have a self-portrait in your portfolio. Mr. Schofield, my art teacher, redirected me to make a new one.”

Dieter credits Mr. Schofield in helping him create his best work; significantly, this push to support him comes in a seemingly unconventional way.

“I think Mr. Schofield mostly pushes me by ignoring me,” Dieter says. “You might think that to learn you need a bunch of attention. But he ignores me when I feel like I need help, which pushes me to solve my problems by myself.”

The combination of having a creative space, the ability to experiment, try, and learn on his own, and the freedom to problem-solve as he goes is complemented by what he learns from others. Dieter admires a few artists, in particular, and uses what he learns from them to consider, build, and shape his work.

“There are two artists who influence me in terms of line work and style. A french comic artist Moebius and Scott Robertson. Moebius is kind of a fantastical surrealist who uses ink and not a lot of color. Robertson creates very accurate vehicle constructions in perspective with ink, almost exclusively.”

One aspect of life at Dublin that encourages Dieter’s process is the way that different disciplines nurture and bolster essential passions. Because, here, he is not only an artist. He does Theatre and Robotics, as well. He is a creator.

“I like to create things, yes,” says Dieter. “When it comes down to it, all of these different things that I do come down to creating and manipulating. Robotics gives me that opportunity. It’s engineering, but it’s an artistic form.” And there is crossover. Dieter makes art for the Robotics team. He designed the logo and helped design the website, in fact.

In the process of investing himself in these avenues for artistic expression, Dieter has also  made a few self-discoveries, not the least of which is that he enjoys teaching. Through doing a bit of teaching in Robotics and giving advice to new Portfolio students, he has learned that teaching is fulfilling for him.

“Really, for me, it’s a desire to express my creativity in a whole bunch of different ways [that draws me to these fields],” he says. “Each of these is an endpoint to my desire.”

As for the next steps that follow the balanced portfolio he aims to create, Dieter is looking at colleges and universities that mix engineering, design, and liberal arts. He wants to, as he has at Dublin, continue “to mix STEM things with Liberal Arts things.” He is looking for schools that integrate both STEM and Liberal Arts and allow the pedagogies of each influence and impact the other.

Does he know exactly what he wants to do after life at Dublin?

He does not know concretely, but he says that the exploration of passions will lead him where he needs to be.

“It’s a bit of a voyage of exploration and I know a bit of what I want to do,” he explains. “I am collecting as I go, but I do not know the cumulative end goal. I want to collaborate, to build, and to create art.”

Dieter knows this of himself: he likes to stay busy, and he wants to be always learning—from every project, problem, and collaboration and creation.