Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Daniel, I’m 24 years old, I’m from the Bay Area in California, and I’ve been going to art school these past few years studying to become an animator. As of this writing, I graduate later this month in May, and I hope to get into someplace like Nickelodeon studios.
How long have you been doing art?
All my life! I loved drawing as a kid. My parents owned a lot of Garfield books which I read, and I wanted to be like Jim Davis, drawing my own cartoons for a living.
What brought about your interest into Anthro?
Asides from Garfield, I also really liked the comic Peanuts, and all the wacky things Snoopy would do. So I guess in a way you could say both Garfield and Snoopy turned me into a furry before I even knew what furries were! As an adult, I found websites like Deviant Art and FurAffinity, and I was glad to find that there were many people that had the same interests in cartoon animals as me!
Do you have a fursona or favorite OC? If so, what inspired it?
I actually don't have a fursona. I'm just too indecisive to make up a character design that I think best represents me. However, I do have some favorite characters of mine. First would be my two oldest characters, a pair of guinea pigs named Cinnamon and Midnight. I based them on a pair of guinea pigs that belonged to a daycare I went to as a kid. Cinnamon is a mischievous one, and Midnight is the dorky and smart one. It’s fun to write them because of their differences and let them bounce off of each other. I also really like Domino, my other main guinea pig character. He was based on a guinea pig I once owned that had the same name. Domino is naïve and pretty ordinary compared to Cinnamon and Midnight, but it’s fun to put him together with other characters that are more eccentric than him and watch how he reacts when he’s forced out of his comfort zone.
Who is your biggest inspiration?
Asides from Jim Davis’s Garfield and Charles Schulz’s Peanuts, I’m also a big fan of comics like Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes and how wacky and creative it could be. I also like comic strips that have running commentary on current events like Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County, and Garry Trudeau’s Doonesbury. Sometimes things you see in the news can be really irritating, and it can be relieving to make cartoons out of what you see and poke fun at them.
I have many influences outside of cartoons as well. I like Monty Python’s TV show and the movies they did, and all of their zany humor. I’m also a huge fan of both Star Wars and Star Trek, and the wide variety of characters and stories they came up in their own science fiction settings. I listen to a lot of music too, such as bands like the Beatles and Marilyn Manson. I like how candid they can be, sharing what’s on their minds and not being afraid if some people are offended. John Lennon wasn’t afraid to express how disillusioned he felt with being a Beatle on albums such as his Plastic Ono Band one, and Manson wasn’t afraid to say what he thought was wrong with American culture despite all the false accusations people made against him such as the “rib rumor.”
On Deviant Art, some of my favorite artists that inspire me include
. I like how cartoony their styles are and how funny they can each be.
What are you looking to improve in your art?
Pretty much everything. Since I draw so many animal characters, one thing that’s important to me is to capture an animal’s likeness. Although I draw a lot of cartoon animals, I still want them to somewhat resemble the real life things. So I often look up animal photos on Google for references, and sometimes I’ll doodle how an animal looks in real life to help me design a cartoon look for it. I’d also like to do more backgrounds in my drawings. I went to college in San Francisco, and I liked going around the city and taking photos of places I saw. I think some of the places I’ve been to would make interesting backdrops for my drawings.
Do you have a creative process that you follow?
My creative process is different depending on the kind of drawing I do, so you can say I have multiple processes rather than one. Usually my drawings start out with sketches or rough doodles, and sometimes I’m fine with just drawing out of my head. However if there are poses that I think are difficult or I’m unsure how to draw, I will act the pose out in front of a mirror or film myself acting it out to get an idea of the motion involved. If I draw a character with clothes I‘m unfamiliar with, I will dress up in clothes similar to what I‘m drawing and pose in them. One time I included the Golden Age Green Lantern in one of my drawings, and I actually went outside and filmed myself running around wearing a blanket to simulate his cape. When I do animation, I usually act out the scene to make it easier to decide which poses and actions I like best. Sometimes you have to be willing to do very silly things for your art.
Any words of advice for other artists?
You’ve probably heard the advice “practice, practice, practice!” a million times already. But it doesn’t hurt to hear it a 1 million and first time too. Practice your art a lot! Don’t be afraid to take little sketch pads with you to places and draw whatever comes to mind if you have any spare moments. And draw all sorts of different things, like people, animals, buildings, whatever comes to mind. Don’t restrict yourself to just one thing.
Draw from real life! If you don’t know how to draw something, pose out the drawing yourself or ask a friend to pose for you. You have to be very analytical when you do art. Take some photos and try to break down a person or animal into basic shapes, or take a picture of a building or a street and try to break down the perspective in the shot.
When I feel art block, I like to listen to some of my favorite music for inspiration, or go outside for a walk someplace just to clear my mind. Sometimes a break from your regular routine can help.
Share with us something completely random about yourself!
In 2006, I got to take three trips away from home. Over the summer I went on a high school trip across Europe with several other students, and I got to visit the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and then Vatican City in the course of two weeks. I had a lot of fun seeing so many places and land marks such as the Tower of Pisa, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Mount Pilatus. When I returned to California, I had to leave again immediately with my family to Alabama, to attend my aunt and uncle having their wedding vows renewed.
Later when school resumed, I got an invitation from the Nation Young Leaders Conference (NYLC) to attend a Washington DC trip in October with students from all 50 states. Out of all the students in my high school, they chose me! So I just had to accept. My family and I had been to Washington DC before, but it was great to revisit many of these places as a young man. That is one year I won’t forget!
Thank you ~GuineaPigDan
for sharing with us today!
Who will it be next? Could be you!
What sort of questions would you ask your fellow anthro artists?
Post your questions below!