DF: If I was talking to someone who had an understanding of art, I would say I am an illustrator who draws evocative conceptual images. If I was talking to someone who knows nothing about art, I would say I draw sad hipsters, doing things for magazines, newspapers, album art, posters, books and more. I’m just drawn to the human experience both real and surreal and tend to draw from personal experience. I can’t see myself working any other way.
CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?
DF: A lot of what inspires me is what I’ve experienced. A walk through the woods, tension between friends, awkward moments, surprises, fragmented conversations on a subway, eating a meal and so on. Everything I’ve experienced is filtered into the visual solutions I create for myself and my client work.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?
DF: For my client work it starts with a brief. What’s the angle or the story or the feeling that I am supposed to get across in the assignment. I’m currently working on a piece about road rage. So once I’ve established what it’s about I start to write lists of what road rage looks like in both passive and aggressive contexts. From the literal to the abstract to the absurd. My sketches included a mini-van with monster truck wheels, a key ring with a brass knuckles key chain and a flipped over car in a parking space. Now as you read that you can start to make the personal view point connections to how each one can be viewed as aggressive yet not what you would expect as literal road rage. Instead I take various idea’s of what this aggression could look like to make something new and refreshing. For my personal work, it’s a lot of writing and drawing and more writing and drawing until I am satisfied with the writing that leads to the drawing that creates the final piece(s). Much more time consuming than a commercial illustration I work on over four to six hours.
CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?
DF: Hopefully my work says something to them and evokes a feeling. That’s all I try to go for with my work really.
CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?
DF: I usually wake up around 6:30 am. I freshen up, make breakfast and waddle around the internet until 8 am. I am usually working on something from 8 am to 2 pm. Typically I do most of my client sketches and writing in the morning because my mind is freshest. Sometimes I am working on a client deadline due before noon. At or around 2pm I grab lunch and usually take a short 20 minute nap afterwards. At 3pm/4pm I am usually working until 8pm before putting down whatever I am working on to try and be a real person for the rest of the night. I’ll try to read a book, see a movie, hang out with friends or really anything. Sometimes I work late into the evening but I live by the rule that no matter how into I am with a piece I have to stop at midnight. Reason being, nothing I make is good after midnight. So instead I will go straight to bed and wake up early to finish whatever I started.
CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?
DF: I have friends who make zines entirely with no plans and they are beautiful. When I try to do it, it looks like garbage. I’m the kind of person who likes to control every aspect of what they are doing with a piece of art so I methodically plan out everything.
CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?
DF: Try to always sign a contract or write a contract for a job you work on. This is so that you’ll get paid for the work you do no matter how sideways the project goes. Mike Monteiro explains it best.
CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?
DF: Personal style and taste are subjective. The content and feeling you get from a piece is stronger than something cool looking in my opinion. To quote Marshall Arisman “Content dictates style.”
CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?
DF: Keeping the faith. It’s easy to lose it if shit hits the fan and you just want to opt out and go straight for a day job. But I’d never be truly satisfied with that life. So I have to believe that things will work out. Otherwise, if I don’t have faith that things will work out then it’s hard to really make meaningful work if you don’t believe in yourself and believe in your path.
CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?
DF: I get to draw and paint everyday while hanging out with my cat.
CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?
DF: I’m inspired by a lot of artist. A few in particular include Yoan Capote, Raymond Petebone, Leanne Shapton, The Clayton Brothers, Julia Breckenreid, Cy Twombly, Margaret Kilgallen, Barry McGee, Clare Rojas, Eric White, Pat Rocha, Jason Jagel, John F Malta, Jason Holley, Martha Rich, Evan Hecox, Jim Houser, Brad Haubrich and Brian Cronin.
CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?
DF: Use it as a tool because it’s a tool. Anyone who says that using technology devalues the art either doesn’t want to learn technology or they personally don’t value work that is created with it. As a commercial illustrator, it’s 50% of my process and it’s totally respected in that field. Even when I create a painting for a gallery, I’m still stitching together drawings to create a better composition to print and trace onto a sheet of paper. In 20 years, technology won’t be questioned as a tool. It’ll just be another way.
CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?
DF: Being creative and always wanting to see the world in the lens that I do has actually made me feel less in awe when I see something pretty amazing. When I am with someone who isn’t a creative person and they see something exceptional they react in a way that is truly excited to see what they see. I just don’t get that way anymore.
CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?
DF: Growing up I traveled all over the country. Mostly due to my step dad being a truck driver. So I got to travel around and see much of the country. As an adult I haven’t seen too much and it’s something I really want to do.
CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?
DF: Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner and Dharma Punx by Noah Levine both changed my life forever. I wouldn’t be the person I was if I hadn’t read them both at 15 years old.
CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?
DF: Nothing major to announce. I’m working on a few zines that will be released when they are ready and I am wrapping up writing a workshop that will be announced in the coming months. Otherwise, just making cool stuff and letting things come to me naturally.
CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?
DF: It means I get to make work that says things that I want to say. We’re not curing cancer with our work. Hopefully we make people think about something, make us laugh or inspire us. Otherwise what’s the point?
CH.89: Any last words?
DF: Make truthful, honest work. Believe in yourself and believe that what your doing is a practice and not a career and everything should work out. Careers are for those who want to fuck over the guy in the cubical next to them to be head of their department. There is no CEO of art or illustration. Just good work and good people who make mistakes sometimes.
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