This week’s featured artist is Dan Everett, who has studied abroad and specializes in bright colors. Everett has been part of the RAW Natural Born Artists’ network created by Heidi Luerra. Get to know Everett, his creative work, inspirations, goals and current projects.
How long have you been creating art?
I have been creating art ever since I was a little kid. My mom was an art teacher and is still a practicing artist. She always encouraged me to pursue art even from an early age. After high school, I decided to pursue a career as an artist. I went to the Delaware College of Art and Design (DCAD) in Wilmington. I was trained to paint like the Impressionist and Fauvist, which entail a lot of spontaneous painting with pure bright colors. DCAD was only a two-year school, so I had to transfer. I loved the Impressionist technique, but at the time, I felt the need to become more academically and classically trained. I transferred to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts for a brief time, and eventually transferred to the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA). During my time at MICA I studied abroad in Florence, Italy, where I pursed my urge to become more classically trained. I became more interested in Early Renaissance paintings during my stay in Italy. I was attracted to the more bizarrely stylized figures and characters of the Early Renaissance, rather than the realistically painted figures of Late Renaissance paintings.
What inspires you?
I have always been inspired by the weird and strange, so naturally my interest in Early Renaissance paintings rekindled a deep-seeded obsession for odd imagery. In Italy, and during MICA I explored different processes of painting, while combining inspired imagery. Most of the imagery at that time was inspired by Hieronymus Bosch paintings, and mythical stories I was reading at the time. During my last year at MICA, I become obsessed with Indian/Persian Miniature paintings, which have their own subtle strangeness to them. Since then my inspiration comes from combining Early Renaissance painting with Indian/Persian Miniature paintings, African masks, and Buddhist Thangka paintings. Aside from paintings and visual art as a form of inspiration, any type of literature keeps me inspired and is essential to my creative process. I draw-in inspiration from all over the world, from reading myths, history, news, my own writing, music, and from my daily life. Usually the combination of all these things gives me a pretty good vision for a painting. All of these things are easy to list looking back on my art, but as an idea is forming for a painting my inspiration can seem very spontaneous and sporadic. I am inspired by new thoughts or ideas. My desire to make a painting or image is driven by my need to capture the initial feeling of being inspired by an idea that is new or different. Even if I remember that idea later on, it will just seem like an old idea, and that spark will be gone, so I must capture that feeling in a painting immediately. It’s a fear of losing that feeling of being inspired, which motivates me to paint. I feel a painting is complete when I look at the painting and I can feel that initial spark of inspiration again just from seeing the image I created.
How would you describe your art to someone who has never seen it before?
My paintings and drawings are heavily pattern based and deal with my curiosity for the power of myth. I am enthralled with history, especially the most recent discoveries, which rewrite history. Such historical revisions make everything we believed prior to be true, now nothing more than an old myth. History is an ever-changing story with new twists and turns developing every day. History and myth seem to coincide with one another in this way. When I realized that history can descend from myths, and history can turn back into a myth; the power of myth began to show its strength. The power of myth can fill the listener with wonder, mystery, and leave them with his or her own imagination as one watches the story unfold and take root in that individuals own unique way. Taking this power of mythical storytelling and applying it to my visual work has been the driving force behind each one of my drawings and paintings. I want to take the power of myth and allow the viewer to climb into oneself and discover where their imagination can take them.
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
I have many painters who influence me, just to name a few, Johannes Vermeer, Hieronymus Bosch, Shahzia Sikander, and Walton Ford. My friends who are artists influence me more than any other acclaimed artist alive or dead. Indian/ Persian Miniatures are my greatest influence over all other forms of art/ painting. In writing my biggest influences are Amos Tutuola, Italo Calvino, Allen Ginsberg, James Russell Lowell, and Charles Bukowski. Reading is an essential tool in my creative process. Almost all of my ideas are influenced from something I read. Zoe-Zoe Sheen, my girlfriend, has helped me grow as an artist. When we meet four years ago I was in a creative slump. My art consisted mostly of black and white charcoal drawings, and my love for color had disappeared. Zoe-Zoe helped me find my love for color and pattern again. I admire Zoe-Zoe’s enthusiasm and colorful approach towards her own art. I borrow a lot of her approaches towards her art and apply them to my own work.
Do you have any artistic goals? If so, what are they?
My goal with my most recent work has been to break the harsh distinction between Eastern and Western art. By combining attributes from both I hope to create something reminiscent of both worlds, but new and different at the same time. My overall goal with this style that I am developing has also been the combination of myth and history, and the moment when the two over-lap. Initially my style seems to lean more towards eastern aesthetics, but western influences are also inherent, and sometimes are the driving force behind a piece.
What lessons have you learned so far from the industry?
I feel that there are many different ecosystems within the art-world. Every place, or city has its own unique way of working. I lived in Baltimore for close to five years, and found it to be very laid back in terms of finding venues willing to present artist’s work, but there was never a large market for people looking to buy art. In Philadelphia it seemed to be difficult to find venues to show in, and the market for buying art was not as great as New York. I recently moved to Los Angeles, and I just had my first show here with RAW Artist (artist collective) at The Key Club. I sold three pieces and a plethora of prints, and I found it to be very easy to network with other people. So far, Los Angeles has shown the most promise for both showing work and a market to support artists.
If you could collaborate with anybody else, who would it be?
I would love to collaborate with Shahzia Sikander because her work deals with similar subject matter. She could teach me a-thing-or-two because she was classically trained to paint Indian miniatures. The last I heard she has broken out into large paper cut murals, which sounds like a lot of fun. Before I got into this body of work, I was doing similar large mural-like collage with trash and splattered paint. Another artist I would love to collaborate with is Walton Ford. I admire Fords craftsmanship and subject matter. Ford achieves Audubon’s naturalist illustration style, while combining his own comedic narrative. It would be a dream to work with both of these artists who I admire greatly, and who influence my own work.
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
The best advice I can give to an artist just starting out is that dedication and patience are two necessities for any artist trying to make a career out of their art. My own experience has taught me that dedication and patience are the only ways to persevere and grow in your work. I feel that, for an artist working in any medium, you must strive for a goal that is always out of reach. That’s not to say an artist can’t achieve a goal, but once you achieve it you must continue to find new goals. Being content, or completely satisfied with your art could be the worse thing for an artist. There needs to be a mystery between the artist and his/her own artwork.
Are you currently working on any projects?
I am currently working on large-scale paintings that I started a year ago, which still have a long way to go. I started these paintings with no direction in mind, and have been building upon them very tediously. To balance these large-scale paintings I have started many small-scale paintings. These small-scale paintings have unexpectedly taken my art into a new direction. My subject matter has shifted to more geometric shapes and focus on animals as the main figure. These paintings are still heavily patterned based, but I am using a limited, yet more vibrant, color palette. I am working with spatial relations between heavily patterned areas and areas of solid color to give the paintings more air to breathe within the composition. The smaller scale has allowed me to play with composition in new ways.
Where can we see your work?
You can find my work on my website, cargocollective.com/DanEverett, and on my tumblr, danpaintsgood.tumblr.com. My first show in Los Angeles with RAW Artist was a one night event that has already past, but a video interview and photos of my work will be on RAW Artist’s website soon. Hopefully I will have more shows in the L.A. area in the near future. If you follow me on my tumblr I will post updates about future shows.