Jeff Daniels is a local artist currently living in Fishtown. He studied digital illustration at the University of the Arts. He is showing some of his art at Phantom Hand and you can find his projects here; art and music at Blackest Lava, or the Blackest facebook, or his band Burden. He loves goofy movies a bit of horror and of course cheeseburgers. That we know, now to learn a little more. I tried going a little farther into Jeff’s head, so we had a little cheeseburger party and played hot potato with his brain.
Q and A
Have you always had a fixation with dark movies or scary figures.
Jeff: Honestly, without getting too dark, I’ve always liked horror movies and things like that. Even ones that were super creepy, like when i was a kid I saw Steven King’s IT and thought it was the coolest thing ever. And then I never really cared about horror or that type of thing until I got older. I guess I’m such an extremist, that when it comes to everything its like. . . serious contrast. I either tend to be super happy bright individual or I can’t find a an in between point. I feel like I use a good amount of energy trying to be polite and friendly all day long and then the rest of it gets turned into frustration or anger, so I try to funnel it into something positive instead of hatefulness or bullshit.
Do you ever just start without an idea of what you are painting. What is your process like?
Jeff: All the time, it usually starts with when im gessoing the canvas. I don’t always have gesso, I usually use white acrylic or black, if I don’t I could give a fuck what color it’d be. And then I go all out with swirlies and twirls. Half the time it’s just a fun part of the process to just start gessoing, and then halfway through you can get an idea of whats going to happen. It’s not like I always know where it’s going to go.
Did you take any field trips to museums or had a favorite artist when you were little, or even older.
Jeff: I can’t think of any field trips or certain artists. I didn’t even understand what art was, I don’t even know what art is now. But I liked motorcycles and going to the circus to see the guys in the globe of death, that was my favorite obsession as a kid. And aquariums and whales. Well, like. . . visually impressive things that made you gasp. Just as a kid the thing I always grew up with was like I could give a fuck about what that guy splattered on a canvas, that guy just drove a motorcycle in a goddamn circle and didn’t kill his brothers, and italian cousins. The Floritini Brothers, the motorcycle dare devils. And then to go along with it the posters that those guys would be on was mind-numbingly awesome. It just shut me down with, “I can’t think of anything better than that”. Evil Knievel meets the Ninja Turtles meets Spiderman. I was always floating around with little boy ideas of what was cool.
On subject matter
Jeff: This shit that im not trying to make good, it’s like I’m busy in my mind appreciating something, I happen to have these things in my hand, and now all of a sudden I‘m making something that everyone else is telling me is better than my other things. And I don’t really see why, it’s all the same to me. But it’s always when I’m appreciating something. When I’m like aw man Star Wars is the best ever, and I’m sitting doodling thinking how good it is and then I end up with an awesome Chewbacca face. It just happened because the lines were there because my mind was there already. Without forcing it. I guess I never really start doing something like “I’m going to do this”. It all just happens and before I realize what I’m making its made. . . And then I wake up naked and there’s a bloody deer next to me.
On art for an audience
Jeff: I’m always trying to think of what satisfies me, that’s the reason I make anything. But I always try to err on the side of what would be popular, I think. Then there’s always this punk rock attitude that jumps in and goes nah fuck that, and then rip it up and poop on it and then frame that and tell people that this is what I really meant to make. There’s levels of bullshit, there’s levels of just, not being alright with a lot of this shit. You know, just painting stuff because I know that it will make money and sell. I don’t want to work down to anyone so I can make a couple bucks. But satisfying myself always is like, kind’ve selfish. So I’m trying to meet in the middle sometimes. Some days I go all the way the other way, some days I could give a fuck. And I think it shows when you look at my art. Some of it satisfies the masses, and the rest of it they wouldn’t even come close to looking at that, it’s too creepy.
What does using digital illustration work do for you as a medium?
Jeff: It’s like collaging stuff with the ability to do transparencies and a lot of it is the ability to draw lines that are straighter and sharper than I could ever draw. You can make duplicates of things. I feel like I can do whatever I want in one form or another in Photoshop, you know, we could time travel if we wanted in Photoshop, put some dinosaurs behind us. Anything is doable there, it’s a cool format to always have on your side,even if you are cutting things out to collage you always have control of the image that way. And I guess that’s what I get out of that. I just have total control. I like to do things with smaller images that have lots of expression and Photoshop allows me to zoom in on those, blow them up , crop them out, and narrow down what you want a painting to be like. Like for Rodney Dangerfield (after the jump) that was a shot from one of his movies, I just screen grabbed it, zoomed in like crazy , and now I have good reference material to get a good face.
Why the obsession with Cheese Burgers? ( He is showing some burger art at Phantom Hand, and is just a plain burgerhead )
Jeff: They’re the best thing ever. . . I’ll go on for hours about burgers. If someone was going to ask me the most important part to making a great burger. It would have to be the proportion of everything to everything else. These people they do these quadruple damn burgers and these half pound burgers, these pound burgers. Get out of here… I want to eat a layer of meat, a layer of cheese, a layer of veggies, a layer of sauce, and a layer of bread , Come on.
Also… Jeff’s computer broke in the middle of the interview and everything may be completely different from now on in his life. Especially with having to spend all his remaining breath finding the dick at the tech support center that tried to rip his soul out through the phone.