Artist Spotlight #31: Dan Withey

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Photo credit: Simon Goddard

If you tell kids today that Dan Withey’s brilliant art recalls the works of great Reg Mombassa, a lot of them will unfortunately be shaking their heads asking who that is. However, if you tell them instead that Dan’s works are reminiscent of Cartoon Network’s Adventure Time and Regular Show, there will definitely be a rabid queue of them at Dan’s next show. In our latest spotlight, Dan tells us about his working process and why labelling his work is problematic.

Q: Hello Daniel! Can you please tell us a bit about yourself?

A: I was born in Birmingham, England in 1986. I immigrated at the age of 19 to Australia with my mom and dad and two younger brothers in 2004. I studied a Bachelor of Visual Communication (specialising in illustration) at the University of South Australia. I graduated it 2007 and I was a bit stuck as to what to do after university like most people are, so I started to paint and have exhibitions so i kind of fell into being a visual artist. But I’m grateful I did become an artist. I love my job, it’s hard work, but lots of fun.

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Dan’s work from his Hill Smith exhibition, The Realm of the Birdman

Q: Who inspires you? What inspires your art?

A: Everything really – the world around me, and the way I interpret that. I would say that I kind of exist in a jumble of thought, things are always bumping into each other.

Q: Do you have a preferred medium?

A: I like working in acrylic. I would like to learn how to use oils when I get time, but getting some time is a long way off at the moment.

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Dan’s work from his Hill Smith exhibition, From Room to Room

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: Pop surrealism, maybe. It’s a tough one really. I think that’s up to other people to come up with an answer for that as i have a hard time really defining what my style can be grouped with or explained as.

Q: Can you please describe your artistic and creative process i.e.: from lingering idea to putting it into practice?

A: I have a journal with me at all times that I put down all of my ideas into. Then from that I pick a sketch and start developing the concept further then make a start sketching it onto canvas or board then start painting the central characters. Then I leave the painting alone for a while and work on something else,  but i continue to think about it and write notes. I also look at previous work and look at old journals to see if there is anything I can use in the new painting. I keep doing this while I paint until I feel it’s finished.

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A sneak peek of Dan’s works for his upcoming show at Penny Contemporary in Hobart

Q: Where do you see your art practice taking you in the next five years?

A: It’s hard to say really. I have a collection of goals – I want to get into some more galleries, more collections; going bigger in terms of painting size and complexity pretty much what I have always done. Work as hard as possible and to keep pushing myself and keep getting better until my hands fall off.

Q: If you could recommend one artist, who would it be?

A: Brett Whiteley, because his work is amazing. Personally, I get a lot out of his paintings and I’m sure others will, too.

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Dan’s work for his show at Penny Contemporary in Hobart

Q: What is your favourite gallery?

A: Sad to say, but I haven’t been to that many, but I love the Art Gallery of South Australia. They do a fantastic job of bringing really exciting shows to the public.

Q: Where can we find more of your work?

A: I always have work at Hill Smith Gallery here in Adelaide. Also, I have recently painted two murals for Fish Head, which is a restaurant just off Gouger Street (where British India used to be). Also, I will be having a solo show at Penny Contemporary in Hobart in September.

I am also on Facebook and Instagram, and I have my personal website.

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Dan’s mural at Fish Head restaurant

Q: What song would you play at your funeral and why?

A: Knock on wood because it would be funny.

– Masya Zabidi

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