Where did you grow up and when did you decide to become an artist?
I grew up in the hills of San Jose, CA. Around age twelve we moved to Orange County, CA where I lived up until last year. I am currently living on the other coast in Fort Lauderdale, FL. I've always known I wanted to be an artist (I'm told I wanted to be a pencil when I grew up). Drawing has been a passion for as long as I can remember, but I think the defining moment for me was when the Lion King was released. The film had a huge impact on my childhood, and after that I spent all my time pausing animated movies to draw the characters I saw. Though I suppose I finally made the decision to go to art school sophomore year of high school. I was a terrible student because I spent every minute of class drawing instead of paying attention, so it was a natural progression.
Did you go to an art school or are you self taught? How did you develop your skills?
I'd say a little bit of both? Prior to Art School, I constantly used online resources to learn and teach myself new techniques, which is something I still do to this day. I went to Laguna College of Art and Design in 2006 with the idea of majoring in animation (at the time I wanted to be a 2D animator). After two years of animating and with a good bit of classwork focusing on 3D, I found myself frustrated and lost, so I took a year off and went to community college. I spent that time filling in General Education credits and took some screenprinting/web design/painting courses to clear my head. Eventually, I decided to go back to LCAD, but as part of their newly formed Game Art major. I graduated in 2011 with a focus on concept art. School definitely taught me a lot, and I had such amazing and talented teachers.
Have you always been supported in your artistic path or has it been challenging to let your family and friends understand your choice?
I am extremely lucky to have a supportive family. They didn't pause for a second when I told them I wanted to go to art school. In fact, they were driving me to and from figure workshops for years until I got my driver's license.
What was the strongest influence you had when you were growing up ( artists, movies, cartoons, comics etc.. ) ?
Oh man, all of the above! My earliest memories for inspiration are definitely animated movies. I'm sure I annoyed my whole family watching Dumbo or Lion King on repeat every day. The classic Saturdaymorning cartoons were also a favorite, and are still a huge influence today. Once the internet got rolling I found Neopets which inspired me to get into digital art, and from there things just sort of exploded.
Did you have a favourite subject to draw when you were a child and do you still have one today? If you do, what makes it so special?
The only answer to this is animals! If I had to say why, I think it's because my favorite animated movies were always the animal ones (All Dogs go to Heaven, Robin Hood, etc... also did I mention Lion King?) Since I was so influenced by that, I never spent time drawing much else. I'd like to say I've branched out a bit since my childhood but not as much as I probably should have! I personally find creatures easier to exaggerate, and sigh when work asks for human characters.
What part of the creation process is the most fun and easy and what part is the hardest?
The initial concept/idea is definitely fun. It's always exciting to start something new and throw down all the ideas you've got with a bunch of thumbnails and preliminary sketches. The harder part comes when it's time to dial everything in and nail the drawing down, that takes me nearly as long as coloring does. I'm also extremely dependent on a tight sketch below my color so that basically needs to be clean lineart before I start anything. I think the coloring and detail is my favorite and probably the most relaxing. Nothing like a little Netflix and rendering to get the night going!
What is your longterm career goal and what would your dream project be?
I'd say my ultimate dream is to exclusively work on my own projects. Wake up when I want, not have to worry about someone else's vision, just do what I see fit. I fantasize about that day! I'd also really love to get involved with Disney's Imagineering team too. I didn't cite this earlier, but Disneyland is also a big inspiration. They do an incredible job of transporting people out of reality and each ride invokes such a strong feeling, I'd just really love to be a part of that.
Working for a company or freelancing: what suits you best? And why?
Man there are pros and cons to each, this completely depends on the person. On one hand, studio work allows you some stability, benefits and awesome co-workers to learn from. I personally feel like you grow faster as an artist being surrounded by talented people. On the other, freelancing gives you way more freedom, the ability to work on multiple projects, and of course setting your own hours/pay. For me, I love quiet and doing my own thing, so I probably will go back to freelancing one day.
What advise would you give to an artist who is dealing with an art-block? How do you boost your imagination and keep yourself creative?
Art block will happen! And it will happen again, and again....and again. Sometimes for a month, sometimes a year. I've found the best thing to pull yourself out of it is to to BE INSPIRED. Whether this involves admiring beautiful art, traveling, listening to that one album, or trying a new hobby! I've also found that forcing yourself into different styles can also prove useful. I was in a huge funk for nearly all of 2015 and only made a few new pieces. It can be extremely frustrating, but I've found once you pick it back up, certain things come easier and you even look at drawing in new ways. It's a strange thing.
Many art teachers and schools suggest to their students that a commercial artist should always work in one consistent style if they wish to have a healthy career. In your own experience, do you believe this to be true?
This is something I struggle with daily and I'm not sure there's a correct answer. I can see how being consistent with style would become your signature and help you stand out. But I feel being versatile can be just as important. The upside to being fluent in multiple styles is learning different techniques which you can pick and choose from to create your own personal style down the road. I can't find a downside to being well versed in various approaches, I think the important thing is to just make sure your portfolio looks cohesive so your employers know what to expect.
Who are the artists who inspire you the most today and what are some of your favourite designs out there?
Gosh, I could sit here all day listing them but I'll try to keep it short. I love some of the animation classics like Marc Davis, Milt Khal, and Don Bluth. But for some current artists, I love Nico Marlet for introducing a unique approach to an animated style, Cory Loftis for being able to draw anything amazingly well, Pascal Campion for his lessons on light, Fabien Mense for his clever simplicty, Teagan White for making me wish I was closer to nature, Meg Hunt for smart colors and of course the Creaturebox guys for some punchy shapes. The list seriously goes on forever!
We have a soft spot for hand drawn animation, what is your opinion about the future of this art form?
This is a tough one, I'm not sure what to think. 2D animation will always be my one true love and I desperately wish it would come back, but I'm just not sure it will. There are places it will still thrive (TV, shorts, Youtube vids), but I think our chances of full-length animated movies get slimmer over the years. It's a shame too, since 2D has a specific warmth 3D doesn't. CG seems to be king of the foreseeable future.
Social networks, crowd funding websites, print on demand online service, you name it. New media on the internet are connecting the artists directly with their fans like never before. In your opinion, how is this affecting the industry and what are the pros and cons?
The internet has pretty much changed everything. Only a few years ago working from home making a living on your own personal projects was unheard of, but every year it's more and more common thanks to social media. Not only that, but the resources available now are infinitely more than we had just 20 years ago. The rate at which artists improve seems tenfold to what is was for the previous generation, it's become so easy to learn, grow and connect with like-minded people. It's quite an exciting time and I wouldn't be surprised if studio jobs become less glamorous when it's getting easier to be your own boss and do what inspires YOU.
Finally, Where can we see your art online and get in touch with you? How can we buy your creations and support your work?
You can find me in many places! I'm on Twitter ( @danibrownart ), Tumblr ( @doingwell ), Instagram ( @danibrownart ), my personal portfolio is daniedraws.com, and my online store is on Etsy ( OwlFluff ). Please feel free to add me, or just chat if you'd like! I love meeting new people.
Thank you Danielle :)