Dan Curran interview

September 11, 2014

Dan Curran interview

While Dan Curran might not have been working in the poster
art medium for long, he’s already managed to chalk up an unbelievable contact
list of killer acts as well as create some of the most arresting and unique
imagery in the industry.  Most people are
still stuck in the 90’s, with the bright, almost neon, colors and bubbly
cartoonish characters that look like they fell out of a copy of Mad
Magazine.  Curran is taking things back
to bare basics though.  Working primarily
in the block printing medium, his art is both loose and free, while obviously
meticulously constructed and every single poster is hand printed by Curran
himself before being adorned with one of a kind pencil sketch additions
harkening back to the days of real Lowbrow art with guys like Ed Roth and R.
Crumb.  It doesn’t get much more hands
on, or more fun than this!  I came across
one of Curran’s Fuzz posters and was so taken with his stuff I ended up picking
it up along with another one of his Fuzz pieces he did down the line and have
been keeping a close eye on his work ever since.  With the new series of artist interviews I’ve
started, I really only had a small list of people that I was really interested
in talking to, and Curran was at the top. 
Thankfully he took time out while on a recent trip to talk a little bit
about his methods, how he got to where he’s at and what he’s got in store for
the future.  Check out some jaw-dropping
images below and make sure to keep an eye on Curran because I have a feeling you’re
going to be seeing a lot more of this dude in the very near future… 
at some pretty pictures:  
How old are you
and where are you originally from?
I’m twenty three and from Long Island, New York.
What was the local
music scene like where you grew up?  Did
you see a lot of shows, or do you feel like you were very involved in that
scene?  Did it play a large or integral
role in shaping your art or getting you interested in working in the
illustrative/graphic design field at all?
Where I’m from, the local music scene was exploding with Emo
music and I wasn’t attracted to that at all. 
I didn’t really get involved with music until after high school.  There were really no local bands that I was
drawn too, I was more into older punk bands.
What about your
home when you were growing up?  Were
either of your parents or any of your close 
relatives artists or
musicians?  Or was there just a lot of
music and or art around when you grew up?
Oh yeah definitely. 
My mom was really into visual arts and my dad got me into the
guitar.  My grandparents were artists and
musicians as well.  Art and music were
always there, I have faint memories of my parents playing records when I was
very little.
What do you
consider your first real exposure to art to be?
My first exposure to art would be going to the Metropolitian
Museum of Art with my mom when I was a kid. 
She used to work there, so we would go there frequently.
How did you
originally get into illustration?  Was
there a single moment, experience, or maybe an instance where you saw an image
and thought to yourself, “Yeah I can do that. 
In fact, I’m going to do that!”? 
Buying Black Flag albums and seeing Raymond Pettibon’s art
was an important moment for me.  His
drawing style spoke to me, as did the music. 
It made me realize that making art was my thing.
When did you
decide that you were actually going to start working inside the “rock art” or
“lowbrow” industry and what brought that decision about for you?
I decided to get into rock art towards the end of
college.  I remember buying this sick
poster by David D’Andrea for the band Sleep at one of their shows, and I
thought how cool it must be to make works of art for great bands.  That’s really what drew me towards gig
posters and rock art.
What was your
first professional job in the Lowbrow/rock art medium?  Was that a fun thing for you, or was it more
of a difficult nerve-racking proposition for you?
I guess the Fuzz poster was my first professional job in the
rock art medium.  It was nerve-racking
and so much fun at the same time. 
Designing and printing them was fun, but I didn’t have any permission to
make the posters.  I just printed them
and took them to the show with the intention of showing them to Ty Segall to
see what he thought, that was the nerve-racking part.  I went up to him outside of the venue, showed
him the posters and luckily he was really into them.  He even suggested that I sell them and keep
all the money; he was really cool with it. 
All of the posters sold out that night. 
It was the first time I ever made money on my art.
Are you
self-taught or do you have a formal education in art?
I’m mostly educated. 
I used to take cartooning and painting classes when I was a kid.  Art was my main focus in high school, and
after that I want to The School of Visual Arts in the city.  That’s where I got into printmaking.
Do you do a lot of
preliminary sketching or layout designs, or is it more of a getting an idea in
your head and then translating it to the page as quickly as possible type deal?
I get a basic image in my head that’s usually inspired by
the bands lyrics, and then I make a lot of sketches.  I usually work with my initial concept for
whatever poster I’m doing.
What mediums do
you prefer when it comes to making art? 
Are you a pen and pencil type of guy, or do you employ anything else
when you’re doing your layouts and that kind of thing?  I’ve seen several different types of pieces
including but not limited to linocuts, screen prints and spray painted pieces
from you! 
Linocuts are my medium of choice.  My drawings tend to look raw, so I feel like
block printing really suits my style.  I
also really love the act of cutting a linoleum block.  When I’m not making prints I like working
with ink and watercolor; its fun to get loose using a brush with watercolors.
Can you kind of
walk us through the typical creation process for a piece of art?  Do you have any special tricks for conjuring
images from your mind?  How long does it
typically take for you to do a poster or something like that?
Of course.  I’m
usually inspired by a bands lyrics or their aesthetic, so I usually make
sketches based on that.  For example, Thee
Oh Sees poster of the skull with two strawberries in its mouth was inspired by
their psychotic/comical imagery and their song, “Strawberries One and
Two”.  Once my sketch is approved, I
draw it onto vellum to the actual size of the linoleum block.  Once that’s done, I flip the image so its
backwards and I transfer it to the linoleum block.  Since I work with block printing, I have to
do everything backwards when I begin to cut the block.  Once it’s all cut, I make registration marks
on a table for where the block will sit and for where the paper will go, that
way the image is centered perfectly on the paper. Once I have that set I begin
printing.  I don’t have a press, I just a
use a wooden dough roller to apply pressure to the paper for transferring the
image.  When all the prints are done, I
usually add a hand drawn element to each poster to make each one a bit
unique.  It usually takes me two to three
days to finish all the posters; it really depends on how many posters I
make.  Overall, it takes me about a week
of lead time for making a run of prints. 
All that’s left after that is to take them to the show and sell them at
the merch table.
I hear the term
Lowbrow Art attached to the illustrative and graphic design fields that happen
to operate inside the confines of the music industry or display certain types
of imagery but I don’t necessarily agree with or appreciate the idea that term
can conjure to mind.  How do you feel
about the term and how would you label or describe the type of art that you
I never really knew what Lowbrow Art meant when I first got
into it, I just knew it was associated with the art of the west coast
underground, punk, and car culture.  For
me, I was really inspired by that stuff. 
Ed Roth’s art clearly influenced my drawing style.  I know what you mean though, that term
shouldn’t always be associated with rock art because there are many fine
artists with different styles in the music industry.  The term doesn’t really bother me though,
every art form has some sort of label. 
You can definitely say my work is inspired by that movement and the
artists that emerged from it.  I’ve
always been into punk and garage rock, hot rods and skateboarding, so that type
of art was really fitting for me.  I went
to a lowbrow art exhibit once and it was the best gallery show I’ve ever seen.
As well as your
Lowbrow art I know you also make what I would consider to be fine art prints as
well.  When I picked up a copy of the
Fuzz poster I was lucky enough to get a bonus print of that stuff from you,
which is kind of what kicked off this obsession I have with your stuff,
actually.  Do you do a lot of art outside
of the graphic design/illustration field? 
Or, is it more of a situation where you work on that stuff during down
times and in between commissions?
I wondered where that print went, I only sent out a
few!  The print that you got is what I
use for my avatar and the image on my business cards.  That design was actually based on the
Electric Wizard song, “Return Trip”. 
When I’m not making posters for bands, I’m either making illustrations
for myself or making music.  If I weren’t
busy with something, whether it be visual art or music, I’d go crazy.
I know you do a
good number of posters for a wide array of genres.  Do you do commission work or do you just do
posters for bands that you really dig and want to get involved with?
I will do commissioned work as well.  I’ve been contacted a few times by people in
bands who want logos or album art.  The
band posters are really my main focus, though. 
I’ve always wanted to be involved in music and art, so it seemed fitting
for me to start making show posters.
If you do
commissions, what’s the best way for interested parties to get in touch with
you as far as that kind of thing goes?
The best way to get in touch with me is through my etsy or
Blosgpot, my email’s right there.  If you
Google Dan Curran Print Shop, you’ll be sure to find me.
You’ve worked with
some of my absolutely favorite musicians out there today including, Ty Segall,
John Dwyer and Reignwolf.  What are some
of your favorite pieces you’ve done so far? 
Your Thee Oh Sees and Ex Cults posters are both just killer and I’ve got
the Fuzz and Ty Segall pieces I own up in the living room!  Do you have any bands that you particularly
enjoy working with for one reason or another, maybe you jive with their message
or they allow you a lot of personal creation when it comes to the creation of
the image?
Thanks man!  I’m proud
of all of the posters, but there are definitely specific ones that are special
to me.  The Fuzz poster is special
because of the backstory I explained about making it, plus it was my first
poster.  I love the Ex Cult one because
the melting eye of providence design I used for it was actually from an old
print I did, and I love that image.  I
really enjoy working with Thee Oh Sees because they’re fantastic and John Dwyer
is a really nice guy, he seems to be very supportive of the art of gig
posters.  Meeting Ty and Charles from
Fuzz that night was great because they were really down to earth, so I’m
looking forward to working with them again.
You recently
designed a poster for the upcoming Webster Hall Ty Segall show (18. September 2014).  Do you have anything
you’re working on right now that you can talk about or would like to share with
us here?

I can’t wait for that show, his new album is amazing!  I actually made two different posters since
he’s playing two nights in a row.  I’ll
be making a poster for Jeff the Brotherhood that I’m pretty excited about, and
possibly White Fence.
Where’s the best
place for interested readers to pick up copies of your stuff?  I know you’ve got an Etsy page and I’ve
looked through your Facebook page as well but with shipping rates the way they
are I try and provide our readers with as many possible options for picking
stuff up as I can!
Other than my online store, the only way to get my stuff is
by either going to the shows that I’ll make posters for, or by going to record
stores that carry my work.  Lately, I’ve
been shipping some posters to record stores over the country and they have them
on display and for sale. 
Are there any
major plans or goals that you’re looking to accomplish in the rest of 2014 or
Just to keep making as many posters as possible and record
some of my music.
Thanks so much for
taking the time to talk to me.  It was
cool as hell getting to find out a little bit about your creative process and
what you’ve been up to.  Before we cal it
a day is there anything I could have possibly missed or that maybe you’d just
like to take this opportunity to talk about with me or the readers?
No problem, this is the first time I’ve ever been
interviewed.  I think we covered
everything, thanks!
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
© Copyright http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com/2014
Other stuff by Dan Curran:

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