Meet Dan our man. If you’re lucky enough to live in Melbourne, you’ll find this legend around town. Dan worked with TDK for a year-and-a-half, and is now out to talk nerdy garbage, conquer the design world and continue his upper-thigh tattoo portfolio. After studying a year in Sydney, then Brisbane and then Melbourne, he’s already crammed a lot of life experience into his study. He spoke at AGDA’s First Five Out last year on our behalf with Pennant, Studio Fellow and many more, and took part in the Adelaide to Perth Design Roadtrip last year (#tdktdv) with Frankie, Lachie and Lizzie. GO DAN!
Where are you based and how do you think that affects your designs? Having lived in Sydney, Brisbane and then Melbourne and studying design in each city for at least a year I got a pretty good perspective of how the city you live in influences you. For some reason, Sydney scared the shit out of me. Being a tiny first year student and looking back, it felt like this big monster that was going to gobble me up. Brisbane was so so… but treated me pretty well, with opportunities I probably wouldn’t have received anywhere else. I’m now based in Melbourne after finishing my last year of study. It’s the best move I’ve ever made, hands down. It’s pretty obvious that it’s a city busting at the seems with culture and designy goodness, and I gotta say that affects my outcomes pretty positively for obvious reasons. It’s also full of so many likeminded people willing to talk nerdy garbage with you all day.
Who are your three most inspiring speakers?
A pretty tough question obviously, and I hate to play favourites. But one talk from an absolute legend stuck with me since I saw him way back in 2010, Chris Doyle. Mega babe Gemma O’Brien is always amazing to hear from and Thomas Williams seems to blow my mind every time I see him speak.
What advice would you give students starting out? It’s pretty simple – just get your face involved in everything you can. Find a buddy and start going to events/exhibitions/talks. For me it’s kind of a domino effect from there. You’ll feel more motivated hearing from like minded people, you’ll then feel more confident in your ability, and get the total bonus of meeting people in the industry!
What five things would you do if you went back and graduated again?
I’m going to have to follow suit here (if you’ve read other TDK interviews) and say nothing. I’m definitely very grateful for how things worked out having done three years of study in three cities, whilst at the time I was thinking “what the fuck am I doing?”.
What are some of your goals this year?
Well despite the obvious one of getting a grown up job, I want to continue learning new things. I’ve actually half-fulfilled one long time goal of purchasing and utilising a tattoo machine on myself (sorry Mum). I say half-fulfilled because unfortunately to learn something properly like tattooing you need to change careers and adopt an apprenticeship. So far YouTube is my guidebook and my mentor to creating a portfolio of tattoos on my upper thigh. To balance out the tattooing, where you are thriving for a perfect line with a steady hand, I’ve picked up lino printing where imperfections and fuck-ups are welcomed! Lastly, I think an overall goal of pushing myself to pursue more personal projects.
Tell us more about your tattooing adventures and current influences? Traditional tattoos are always going to be a favourite of mine, artists such as Mike Stockings or Melbourne’s Andrew McLeod have a real sense of this style and are a massive influence on what I illustrate and tattoo. For me, it is still early days, and I’ve got a long way to go.Unfortunately they have a name for people who tattoo outside of studios, ‘scratchers’; an inexperienced, untalented, unclean and untrained tattooer. Though usually found working out of home kitchens, they have been known to find work in disreputable tattoo shops. I don’t wanna be that guy… I think it will always be a hobby or passion project rather than a career!