I love back-to-school season! I always try to make sure the September PIK interviewee is someone fun — and it doesn’t get much more fun than Brian Danger!
How I Know Brian
I love meeting Ramiro’s fans because I know that we’ll instantly already have something in common. It’s a great ice-breaker! It’s sort of like pre-qualifying a client — except you’re pre-qualifying a potential friend.
Brian turned out to be really sweet and we ended up having a lot more in common than just our enjoyment of Ramiro’s amazing art. We also dig a lot of the same TV shows, video games, and humor.
Mr. Danger is a part-time freelance illustrator, and I think you’ll really enjoy this e-mail interview with him.
My Interview with Brian Danger
What do you do?
I do various different mediums and styles. I’ve always been keen on a digital approach so I enjoy playing around in Shi-Painter to create some really fine-tuned line art that I then colour in Sai.
People will often find me drawing characters from fiction or pop culture. I really enjoy comic books and take a lot of inspiration from there! I’ve had an on-again-off-again relationship with anime, which seems to be leading to some interesting results lately too.
I’m active in the Tumblr Corgi community as well! I’ve loved those dogs all my life. When I started drawing more seriously to work on my semi-realism pencil work, I’d offer free sketches of Corgi owners’ dogs! Admittedly, I’ve maintained a great relationship with these people and their pets — they’ve been really supportive and kind. I appreciate working with them and doodling their dogs when I can.
How did you start?
For pencil, I started very young. I loved doing portraits and doodles of characters from my favourite books, cartoons, and movies. I did a few family member portraits and enjoyed being able to capture something out of real life. I kind of drifted away from that, focusing then on drawing characters from Naruto or Di Gi Charat. I got pretty hardcore into anime during elementary and high school, so I ended up taking a more simplistic and cartoony approach to my work.
During that time, my friend Nicole introduced me to Oekaki boards (online messaging boards that allows the posting of drawings and chat). This opened up more possibilities to me beyond silly MS Paint doodles. I was able to figure out real pixel art and played around a lot with colouring. Oddly enough, 15 years later, I still really enjoy using Shi-Painter (which is what most Oekaki BBS use) for line art.
After a while, I went back to doodling on paper. I was keen to figure out a solid shading technique used in comic books. I was also really interested to see how people could blend and use pencil pressure to give off such shape. I started out flatly drawing Batman, various Robins, and characters from Battlestar Galactica. I later moved onto Zombies and…well…more detailed drawings of Batman!
Following my inspiration to try out more comic book techniques, I played around with digital watercolours — inspired by the works of Dustin Nguyen. Despite my flat colour palette, I would normally avoid working with colours until I read SECONDS by Bryan Lee O’Malley (of Scott Pilgrim fame) and coloured by Nathan Fairbairn (my local BC colouring hero). His colour choices BLEW MY MIND! I couldn’t believe how such vibrant purples and oranges could give off such a beautiful effect. I just had to play around with it! My shading is almost completely different and I’ve enjoyed setting new moods and working with a more vibrant colour palette. I now try to avoid using pure black and white too. If you look closely at any of my works, I try to use different, darker colours in their place for a neat effect.
Just this year, my coloured pieces have changed. Some to the point where I won’t even have ANY lineart. I’d always been a big fan of pop art, so I created a series called Cutie Potatoes. They are simple headshots of fictional characters, real people, pets, and various other things. I’ve been very happy with how just playing around with something so simple can invoke so much fun and teach me new things about colour.
What’s your favorite part of what you do?
Trying new things in attempts to burst through the ceiling with my pieces. Every time I draw RoboCop, Iron Man, or Daft Punk — anything complicated — I feel a surge of growth! It’s always cool when you can look back on old pieces and see a solid progression. Growth in art is super important to me. I appreciate this about drawing Corgis too. I’ve learned so much about subtlety in fur and proper proportions.
I also really like networking and collaborating with other artists. Seeing what they can bring to a piece or how they do what they do is always really cool to me! When I can sit down with a friend and just doodle over coffee or hang out in Paint Chat, I’m at my happiest. I spend a lot of time talking about art (or dogs) and I love being able to interact with people who do it because they just love it!
On a darker note: I love the chocolatey feeling when telling someone that I draw with a mouse. It started as the norm for me, but seeing people’s reactions kind of made it into the bigger joke — a sense of villainous pride and rebellion. I don’t like drawing with a tablet. I can, but I don’t like it. Anyone someone can do with a tablet, I can do with a mouse. It makes people ANGRY sometimes. It’s a beautiful moment.
What advice do you have for someone looking into doing what you do?
I really should emphasize that I’m 100% self-taught. I’m a firm believer that art should be one part fun and one part self-discovery. It’s completely made up of practice, trial, and error. Networking with other artists and learning new techniques or tips can bring you a long way! Don’t be afraid to try different things and incorporate new things into your style.
I’m always asked my opinion about going to Art School. Art school can be very helpful for those who need to learn how to use tools or traditional techniques with no background. Honestly, if you feel like doing it by yourself: Just do it. You don’t have to be clever to practice or figure this stuff out. It really just takes dedication, critical self-analysis, and a keen sense of adventure.
I see a lot of artists afraid to venture outside of their comfort zones. They rarely advance. I’ve wanted to do comics for years, but never had the nerve to. Last month I said “Screw it” and just started doodling them for fun. It’s been a roller coaster ride in terms of reaction– but overall, I’ve learned so much. I anticipate that I will soon move into doing a more serious narrative.
What’s next for you?
T-SHIRTS!!! One of my big goals for 2015 is to get my art sold on T-Shirts. I’m happy to announce that I have a Spreadshirt.com store at http://b-dangerous.spreadshirt.com. As of this interview, some designs are in the stages of acceptance, but you’ll see a bunch of stuff pop up. I have some serious designs, Cutie Potatoes, and comic panel shirts in the works! I’m also playing around with doing phone cases and mugs. Putting my work on something tangible feels like a bold new step I’d like to take.
Soon, I’ll have both a digital and printed collected edition of my comic “B,” which is currently free to see on my Tumblr.
Honestly, if I could, I’d love to design a vinyl toy series around the Cutie Potatoes, but I’m sure that’s a ways down the road. I love toys and always wanted to design some neat collectibles!
This is all trial and error for me right now, so I have my fingers crossed. I’ll keep pumping art out and trying new things in the meantime.
LINKS for More BRIAN DANGER
Lauren Spear (née Tharp) is the owner and creator of the multiple award-winning LittleZotz Writing. She’s written hundreds of bylined posts helping freelance writers to become BETTER freelance writers. Thousands if you count all the articles she’s ghostwritten (but she’s not allowed to talk about most of those).