You might recognize Dan’s face; he’s based in Norwich and has been creating his fantastical visuals here at various venues in the city for many years now. Recently he’s been working with Jon Hopkins on his world tour and also helped to design East India Youth’s most recent album cover. Not bad, huh? I caught up with Dan to find out how he got started in his career as a visual artist and how he met the musicians that have supported him
How did you come to design the cover for East India Youth’s new album?
I met Will (East India Youth) in December 2013 when he was supporting Factory Floor on their UK tour. I was with Factory Floor performing their visuals and got talking to Will whilst travelling on the bus and we got on well. Some months later he got in touch to ask if I would provide visuals for his own tour supporting Wild Beasts. I jumped at the chance and created a whole new set of visuals for him based on footage that was shot by Joe Spray for his music videos. Since then I have gone to work with him on music videos too and conversations turned to this record (Culture of Volume) and what the cover should be.
What was the process for designing it?
Will had seen the work that Andy Warhol had done in 1985 with a Commodore Amiga, and loved the quality of image. So we set about looking into how we could manipulate an image of him using an Amiga and some similar software. We had photos taken of Will by a great photographer Laura Lewis, and we selected an image to be manipulated in the software. It went through several stages, took a few months, and one blown up Amiga! So in order to meet the deadline I had to rely on the generosity of another Amiga artist to borrow his equipment(Alex Peverett of Team Doyobi). Will was really involved in giving feedback on the images and additionally I worked quite closely with Phil Lee at XL Records to finally arrive at what you see on the sleeve now, so it was quite a team effort. My favourite bit is actually the gatefold image on the vinyl version - a little treat for anyone who gets hold of a copy. I’ve also done images in the same style for the singles that will be coming out soon. It seems appropriate to quote Will and the first line of the record; “The end result is not what was in mind”
You’ve been doing visuals for Jon Hopkins of late; how did that happen?
Jon keeps me very busy! 2014 was s spectacular year for Jon and we’ve been fortunate enough to take the show to lots of places and had a great response from audiences. I met Jon nearly five years ago now, through our mutual friend Luke Abbott. Jon was looking to develop his live show and heard that I did some visuals and subsequently got in touch. It’s evolved an awful lot from there and we now incorporate lighting design and the work of his music video directors and various animators too.
How did you get started as a visual artist?
By accident, I studied Fine Art at Norwich School of Art and Design and actually specialised in painting; I stopped painting before I graduated and was working almost exclusively with Super 8mm film. Not long after I finished the degree I was invited by some friends to project some films at their electronica night, which ended up running for several years. It gave me the idea that I could put my imagery to music and I have developed ideas and techniques from there and opportunities seemed to blossom too.
What advice would you give to anyone interested in getting into creating visuals as a career or even just as a hobby?
Be nice! Seriously, no one likes a diva. Make use of the things you have; surprisingly ordinary objects and equipment can look spectacular if viewed from an unusual perspective. Do your research, whatever you’re interested in try and find out all you can about it. Finally, trust your instincts; if you think something looks good - go for it! You’re unlikely to be wrong.
Keep up to date with Dan’s work at his beautiful, glitchy website, dantombs.net