Artist Proof Interview with Artist: Dan May
Global Location: US
AP: How long have you been making art for and what lead you to start?
DM: I have been creating art for as long as I can remember. It has always been a part of my life, and a part of me. There was never an occurrence that led me to “start” drawing or painting. It always came naturally to me, and has always been innate… it just needed to be nurtured.
AP: Where do you currently live and work ? And how does this influence your work?
DM: I’m still based in Florida, however I’m temporarily living in New York, helping out my father who has a rare form of dementia. It has been a stressful, yet enlightening and meaningful time for me and my wife. We are thankful to be near my father while he is suffering from this illness. Our visits make him smile, which means so much to us. This transitional period has had a profound influence on my work as well. I think that my pieces convey even more emotion than before, and reflect just how meaningful, yet fragile life is through its content. As I look back through my work, there is a noticeable shift in the in the way I am presenting images. While I’m still painting dream-like, surreal settings, the focal point is less on the playful creatures and more on creating images that convey a certain mood, and hopefully a deeper meaning to its viewer. While this may be disheartening to some, I feel that this personal growth will broaden my audience going forward.
AP: Did you have formal training if so what? If your self taught can you tell us what you prefer about being a self taught artist vs having formal training?
DM: I am both a self-taught and formally trained artist. As I mentioned earlier, I have always been drawing and painting, however to further my career as an artist, and to gain more knowledge, I attended college. I graduated from Syracuse University with a BFA in illustration. I think that there are many successful and talented self-taught artists out there. Going to college for art is certainly not for everyone, however, it can promote growth, both artistically and personally. It’s definitely a part of my journey, and I embrace it.
AP: Can you tell us about where you make your work is it in your house, a studio , etc., and how it effects your work?
DM: I create my paintings in my studio, located in my house. I have my office space on one side of the room, and my painting space on the other side. My wife and I both work as a team, and we are working on transitioning her into handling a lot of the day-to-day stuff. In the future I’d like to have a bigger studio so that I can create larger paintings, and really bring things to the next level. I’d say other than that, the time of day has as much of an effect on my work ability as the space itself. I work best when “the world is asleep” and I can put on my headphones and get in full creative mode. I guess you could say I have a unique schedule, as I am often up until 5 am painting.
AP: What are some of you favorite design projects/exhibitions you have worked on to date?
DM: Attending Dragon-Con in September 2010 was definitely a highlight for me. It was great to meet fellow artists and collectors alike. It was very humbling to see the amount of support we received. I shared a booth with an artist friend of mine, Jason Limon. We didn’t have a second to spare the whole weekend, from conversing with fans to selling paintings and prints. The convention was well put together and worth the investment. I look forward to attending again next year! I also had the pleasure of taking part in the Suggestivism exhibit at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana, which was curated by artist Nathan Spoor. It’s an ambitious exhibit featuring over fifty contemporary artists whose work is inherently ambiguous and organic in process. I’m so honored to be included in this show, definitely a highlight of my career to this point.
AP: What is your medium of choice ?
DM: I prefer to paint with acrylics on wood panel. I occasionally use canvas, but I’m able to create more details and use a more aggressive dry brush technique on wood. I guess you could say that wood “handles the abuse” better than canvas.
AP: What is the relationship between technique and content in your work?
DM: My painting style is very detailed and at the same time embraces imperfections and large brush strokes. I often paint with very small brushes and work tediously to obtain a great amount of detail. I feel the subjects in my work come alive through this meticulous form of painting. I also put a great deal of emphasis on light within my work. This helps achieve the depth and emotion that I’m looking to create within each piece. Some may be surprised to know that my technique is very spontaneous and develops organically. I prefer to let my images unfold on the canvas. A painting may start out one way, but end differently than I had intended. I find that I rarely “stick to the script” so to speak.
AP: In what direction would you like to see your work going over the next five years?
DM: I would like to continue to push the limits in my work. Creating larger, more detailed pieces is something I look forward to tackling. I hope to explore new mediums such as sculpture and animation. Overall, I’m looking to broaden the audience that I’m reaching with my art. Whether that means showing in new cities or working on interesting projects I’m up for it all. As long as I continue to see growth in my work I’m happy with where things are headed.
AP: What forth coming projects and or exhibitions do you have scheduled for 2011?
DM: I have a few exciting group shows coming up. One being the Inle group show, curated by artist Greg Simkins. I’m also going to take part in a couple international shows this year one in Barcelona and one in London. When I’m not preparing for a show I’m working on my personal paintings and commissions.
AP: Take us on a guided tour through a day in your life as an artist.
DM: A typical day usually starts around 11 am, as I am usually up until at least 4 am. I have my breakfast while most are having lunch. Coffee or espresso is always a must within my first hour. I start the day doing office work, as well as packaging up paintings or prints. I usually have errands to run, such as dropping art off at FedEx, my framer, etc. After errands I usually have a quick bite and begin painting around 4 or 5 p.m.. I will take a break around 8 for dinner, and maybe get in some relaxation time for a half hour or so watching some tv or reading. After that, it’s off to a late night painting, of course with more coffee in hand!
AP: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.