Monday, August 25, 2008

Dan May-Interview

Interview #4

Full Name
- Dan May
Location - Atlanta, for now...
URL(s) -

How did you get started doing art?
Drawing and painting have always been a part of my life in some way. My earliest memories involve creating my own little world of characters. Creating art is just something I have always embraced.

Describe your process.
My process is actually fairly spontaneous. I do not keep any sort of formal "sketchbook" (although I probably should!). My ideas are usually strewn about the studio on little scraps of paper. Some of these ideas make it into my work, while others just float around in limbo or end up in the trash. Once I get an idea that sticks, I begin by preparing a board. This involves building up several layers of gesso, sanding, dabbing, rubbing... basically doing whatever it takes to create a nice textural surface to work on. Next, I pick out my color palette and begin painting an atmospheric background... I do this by mixing colors directly onto the canvas... it's a very playful process! Once I'm satisfied with the overall "feel" of the piece, I start adding in my characters and begin to build up their surroundings... which usually involves painting lots of grass. Because the composition and characters unfold on the canvas, the end result rarely looks like my initial thought/idea. Finally, I brush on a few coats of a satin/gloss mix and send it off to my framer.

Tools of the trade? Favorite medium?
These days it tends to be acrylic on masonite or wood... though I'm always experimenting with things.

How would you explain your art or categorize it?
Hmmmm, that's a tough one. I guess my main objective has always been to create strong images that present a certain sense of mystery and intrigue. It's always exciting for me to hear the stories that some of these images evoke. As for categorizing my art... I think I'll just stick to creating it and let others decide where it fits in. That being said, I'm still working on a completely off the wall answer to give people when asked what type of art I create... one that will really make their heads explode.

What products, prints, books etc do you have coming out this year or are out?
I'm working with a company called Gelaskins, they produce really cool artist designed skins for your ipods, iphones, and ibooks. I have a limited edition print coming out through Copro/Nason Gallery which I'm really excited about. I'm also included in an awesome book entitled "The New Mythology", which was put together by friend and fellow artist, Nathan Spoor. And finally, I have a couple of top secret projects I'm currently working on... so you'll have to stay tuned to my website/flickr for updates regarding that stuff.

What inspires you?
Inspiration seems to be all around us these days. Lately I've been thinking a lot about things that exist beyond our perception. We as humans are such small specs of dust when compared to our universe. Our accomplishments seem miniscule when compared to all that is left to be discovered... it's truly incredible when you think about it. I often pay close attention to interactions, not only with each other, but with our planet. These thoughts and observations all seem to give my artwork a certain spark. Other inspirations in my life include my family and friends, other artists and creative types, nature, travel, and above all my incredibly lovely and supportive wife Kendal!

Any words of wisdom for young artist?
Never rest on your laurels. Always push yourself to create your best work, and once you do... make your next piece even better. Learn to accept criticism with grace and appreciation. Stay humble. There's nothing worse than meeting an artist and finding out he/she is a complete jerk!

What is one thing every artist should do in your opinion to become a better artist?
Create something new everyday...

What is your favorite piece of art work that you wished you had done?
I was just recently browsing through Robert Hardgrave's images on flickr. Aside from being one of the nicest guys around, he creates some kick ass artwork! I found myself coming back several times to "Colophon"... while everything Robert creates seems to be magical, this piece is truly epic. Man, if only I had that guy's skills!!

Favorite band(s)?
I go through many phases with music, and tend to be fairly open minded when it comes to my tastes. Here's a small rundown of stuff I'm currently listening to: Blind Pilot, William Fitzsimmons, Bob Schneider, M. Ward, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Frames, Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, The Kooks, Mike Doughty, Soul Coughing, Smashing Pumpkins, Elliott Smith, Beck, The Pixies, Nick Drake, Conor Oberst, Ryan Adams, Band of Horses, Ray Lamontagne, Kings of Convenience, Arcade Fire, My Morning Jacket, The Dandy Warhols, Jack Johnson, Matt Costa, The Decemberists, The Shins, The National, Amos Lee, White Stripes, Kings of Leon, Rogue Wave, Cold War Kids, The Kinks, David Bowie, The Cure, Gomez, Spoon, Bob Dylan, John Lee Hooker, Beth Orton, Tom Waits, Joe Purdy, Josh Rouse, Mason Jennings, Broken Social Scene, Madeleine Peyroux, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Wynton Marsalis...

Favorite artist(s)?
Some of my favorite artists include Dali, Ernst, Bosch, Velasquez, Van Eyck, Bruegel, Carrivaggio, Rubens, Dr. Seuss. As for contemporary artists, there are far too many to name without leaving someone out!

Favorite thing to do when you aren't doing art?
Hang out with my wife, attend museums & art openings, grab a coffee, travel, sleep.

Favorite books, magazines, blogs....?
Haven't read a book in while, but you can usually find me flipping through various art magazines, or surfing sites & blogs such as Hi-fructose, Little Chimp Society, drawn, IllustrationMundo, Juxtapoz, Fecal Face, The Lumper, etc... plus i usually frequent the Artchival forum. I'm also into listening to quite a few podcasts lately. I usually tune in to various paranormal/science/political podcasts; these are great to have on in the background while painting!

What do you have coming up, projects, shows, etc?
In October I'll be taking part in a four person show at Lunar Boy Gallery in Portland and I'm also part of the Grind 2.0 skatepark benefit show at Rabbit Hole Gallery here in Atlanta. In November I'll be part of a killer 10 person lineup at Definition Gallery in Baltimore, and then finally... Copro/Nason Gallery in Santa Monica will be holding my first ever solo show in February 2009!

Thanks Dan!

Next up: Bill Dunlap!


DaveMacDowell said...

Great Interview! Dan's The Man!

robert hardgrave said...

Dan Rules! One of my favorite painters to watch. What he will do next? Thanks for the love Dan.

Jeremiah Ketner said...

What a great interview! Dan is the man!

dan may said...

thanks fellas, always good to hear from you guys!

thanks again for interviewing me Jeremy!

Mia said...

Great interview about a fantastic artist! Can't wait for his solo at Copro!

Libby's Niche said...

Love all the music you listed.