Interview with Artist Dan Tirels

  1. When was the first time you considered yourself as an artist?

I can’t really remember never feeling like an artist, from a very young age I have always drawn and painted, it has always been something that came very natural to me, I used to find it odd that not everybody could draw or even had an interest in being creative. When your own family encourage you, it is often assumed that they do so out of loyalty and a desire not to hurt your feelings so I was never very confident in my own abilities.  This lack of confidence did change however when at the age of 12 I entered a wildlife art competition and won first prize with my drawing of a Gorilla, and had my original drawing published in the local paper. I began to paint portraits of pets, landscapes, musicians (I seem to remember drawing a lot of David Bowie portraits) and anything else that would enable me to earn a little pocket money. I suppose the first time somebody pays you money for a piece of art that is your own work is a big deal and it does give you confidence to think that you are an artist. When I was very young (8 years old?) I have a vivid memory of watching the old classic film Lust for Life about the artist Vincent Van Gogh, it left a lasting impression on me and I think Kirk Douglas’s portrayal of Vincent meant everything, for me it describes that passion all artists feel in their own pursuit of artistic satisfaction.

  1. What type of artist would you call yourself?

That is a difficult one to answer, it is sometimes hard to put labels on yourself and to say that I am one type of artist. I consider myself a mixed media artist. When I first went to art school, I spent the first year of my course learning everything from architecture, pottery, jewellery design and even fashion. I have always discovered new things to learn and that is very important, you don’t want to get stuck in a hole and end up repeating yourself. I studied sculpture for my art degree, but ended up experimenting with installation art, my final year degree show used photography, film, sculpture and a little computer design. I suppose these days I would be happy to call myself a painter.

  1. What is your favourite medium?

I enjoy experimenting with different mediums so it is difficult to find a preference, I particularly like the idea of working with recycled materials and found objects. For a long time I avoided working with oil paint but I would say that this has become one of my favourite mediums to use, I find it very effective when used for the mono-printing techniques shown in my YouTube demos. Charcoal has always been my drawing medium of choice and I often incorporate this into paintings combining this with acrylic paint on canvas or paper.

  1. Do you have a daily art routine?

At the moment a lot of my time is taken up with the production of my YouTube demo videos, they are filmed and edited on a weekly basis. I try to create more artwork to add to my portfolio and it is my intention to concentrate on this in the future. I cannot imagine a time when I didn’t create any work but it is usually spontaneous before it will sometimes develop naturally into  bigger projects.  Try to use a sketchbook everyday, take lots of photographs. A walk along the beach collecting interesting things has led to some good work and I can’t imagine not finding inspiration from this.

  1. Where do you find inspiration?

I find inspiration from many different sources, it is always good to be inspired by other artists and attending exhibitions is important when you can (unfortunately not at the moment) I would say that most of my artwork has been inspired by the coastal landscape, it has always had a fascination for me, I collect found materials, take many photographs and feel inspired whenever I walk there. I love the changes through the seasons, the weathered effect on different surfaces, the movement of the sea, the patterns formed in the sand, the wildlife and many other elements that make up this fantastic environment, a place that I will always be drawn to.

  1. How has your work progressed over time?

I think you need to continue to evolve as an artist, try to discover new ways of working. I like to think that I have made progress   and hopefully improved on some techniques, it is good to look back on work and see the changes over the years and it is interesting to see how your own particular style develops, you seem to naturally find your own levels and work on favourite methods, I always think it is good practice to work out of your comfort zone to give your creativity a boost.

  1. Do you have a common theme?

Not really, I would say that my work has been influenced over time by different concerns, I love working on abstract compositions and enjoy how people react to them and respond to their own thoughts and feelings regarding the artwork. There has always been an element of representation in most of my abstract work, they often begin with a drawing of a human form or figurative starting point.

  1. Who are a few of your favourite artists?

This is another tough one, I have varied tastes and it is always a bonus to discover new artists, the internet is a great opportunity to explore little known artists and it is amazing what you can find with a simple Google search. The very first artists who I became drawn to were the surrealists, Dali, Magritte, I love the work of Picasso, David Hockney, Andy Warhol. The sculpture work of Alberto Giacometti, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Antony Gormley. One of my favourite artists is the English painter John Virtue who works on these incredible large scale Monochromatic landscapes (worth a Google if you are unfamiliar with his work) The reasons for the appeal of various artists work have a lot to do with how they make you feel, sometimes I am drawn to a particular painting because I can imagine myself reproducing the techniques or experiment with the same colours. When you come face to face with a stunning Rembrandt portrait this can move you like nothing else. I also love to see local art shows that feature group exhibitions by unknown artists, you get to see art that is sometimes more honest than a lot of the major exhibitions.

  1. What advice do you have for artists new to art or returning to art?

This is something that I myself have experienced after taking a long break from art. I studied art at degree level and specialised in sculpture but became a bit despondent with the whole art scene, I felt it was all a bit London based and if you didn’t have the right contacts it was difficult to get anywhere. I virtual gave up and created nothing for years. I went on to study animation which is something that has always interested me and this eventually led me back into painting and sculpture. I work as often as I can and feel enthusiastic about passing on the creative tips and techniques through my YouTube channel or website. The best advice I can give is to NEVER give up, and try not to be put off by any negative comments.

  1. You teach a variety of art classes. Can you please tell us about them?

Well I’m lucky to have a very enthusiastic following on my YouTube channel so it has been something that I have been interested in developing over the last few years. I like to show the work of other artists who have inspired me and to demo their techniques, such as Picasso’s Linocuts or David Hockney’s digital paintings. The channel began with a quick 5 minute demo of a mono-printing that I developed as a poor art student when money and supplies were a bit limited. I enjoy trying to show the use of recycled materials, and the aim with all of my art demos is to encourage anyone regardless of art experience to just have a go, it can be rewarding and sometimes therapeutic, it is a great way to get rid of stress, and in the current climate that is definitely what we all need right now.