Wednesday, 10 June 2009

5.0 / Season of the witch / Danny Sangra

What: Artist & Art Director
Where: London, United Kingdom

How he fell into it…
It started when I fell off a chair at my Mum's hairdressing salon – one of those barber shop chairs – when I was about eight. After I fell, I was pretty shaky and an assistant sat me down and gave me some paper and asked if I could draw something – it was a Tom Johnston in the News of the World. Before that I didn't really draw. I was pretty average at everything. My Mum soon realised that this was one of the only things that I really loved doing. She used to get secretary-friends that would come to the salon to bring me old computer paper with the holes in it. Every week she would get me an A4 pad from Sainsburys. There's not much I do. But whatever I decide to do, it consumes me. I'm pretty much like my dad in this way. We're like that. With me, it was either drawing or basketball. Nothing else.
I've just always done what I liked doing. I draw because I like to draw. When I don’t want to draw, I just don’t draw. I think it’s held me back, money-wise. Other people are happy working as illustrators. If someone sent them a brief, like draw this guy skateboarding for this advert, they can do it. I haven’t got anything against that but I can’t do it the same way and whenever I did do it I didn’t feel comfortable with the drawings. That’s why in the Bahamas, where I was resident at Popop Studios in Nassau, I went back to just drawing again. I’d forgotten how to just draw for the love of drawing.


London calling...
I wanted to get out of Leeds. I didn't feel comfortable even though I grew up there. I love my family but it was time for change. I felt like I suited St. Martins. It really was the best choice for me. I didn't have too much tutoring. I wasn't told too much about what to do. It suited me well.

I wanted to go to St. Martins when I was 16. When I started my foundation course they didn’t want you going to St. Martins because if you went down to London you'd become 'whatever people become in London'. Instead, they where telling me about Buckinghamshire. But when they took us down there on the coach, I decided it really wasn't me. It was like a little village.

I was the only one on my course who ended up going to London for a St. Martins interview for design. There was just a feeling I got when I arrived there. I was really worried about getting in and I was never bothered about stuff like that before. But I got in and it was right for me. The competition seemed higher down here. But I feed on competition. I've always been competing for stuff. I need it.

For me, just looking at the people I know now and what they do, St. Martins is just a complete social experience. The majority of my close friends have all done really well but I think that's because everyone's helped each other along the way and there's underlying competition to put something out there all the time. In order to put something out there now, I always want it to be of a certain level. I knew that the first video I put out had to be great. I couldn't just produce what anyone could after university. Competition ups the ante.

Career advice…
There are lots of hidden jobs that people don’t know about. There should be more information about those jobs in the creative world. Like in film – the people who do the clapperboards and the film loaders. They’re all integral and well-paid jobs. The funniest thing is that a lot of people doing those jobs, don’t want to do them. They only know about those jobs because they’re after 'the other job'. There’s a bunch of people that would fucking kill for those jobs rather than be working wherever they’re working.

Student tourguide…
I felt growing up in Leeds, I didn’t know my options. I didn’t know how you could get into filmmaking. I didn’t know how to start doing things I was interested in until I got to London. Now I see young kids in the same situation and it's good taking them around to meet different people who are working in the industry and hear how they started doing what they do.
I used to draw like Jamie Hewlitt for the first and second year at college. Everything I drew just looked like his. But it was annoying because then that Gorrillaz thing came out and it didn’t seem so special then. Now I just try and draw like Kirby (Jack Kirby). When I look at his book, Kirby: King of Comics, I get so jealous. I get like that all time because he can draw at a such a high level– drawing four to five comic books a month. He makes me want to smoke cigars while I draw. He was a proper man, drawing time-traveling robots. It’s amazing!!! There were so many stories about him. He was a legend. There aren’t enough legends at the moment. You can see everything that everyone is doing. I was chatting to Dave (Dave I.D) and he was saying, 'Do you remember when celebrities were celebrities? You couldn’t touch them. There was no way that you would ever meet that person. You would never meet Michael Jackson or anyone like that. They where so far removed living some crazy lifestyle. Now you know exactly what everyone does because there’s a reality TV show about it'.

Dave.i.d - Why Weren't the Message Sent from danny sangra on Vimeo.

Love what you do…
I think it's down to your mentality. There are people who don't know about the other side of doing what you love for a living. They don't know the side of it where you might hate it. You need to see both sides. There's a group of people that don't do that. They're followers. They don’t understand work in the way they need do. They only know how to draw or to do what other people tell them to. And there's another group that only wants to do their own thing – strictly their own ideas and projects.

There was nothing else that I was going to do. It's been the only option. I've never thought about it. When you focus on something, you sort of become it. Because of the way that I was treated and perceived in and around our estate (as someone who draws), I think I became that person. There was nothing else I could do.

Putting yourself out there…
It’s weird. You really need to push it. Everyone starts off at the same place. I came into it at a really awkward time. I wasn't old enough to be a part of Will Barras and Mr Jago and all that scene. And now you have the YCN lot and people like Chrissie and people from that ilk. I came out somewhere in the middle. With the new digital era and access to so many websites to showcase yourself – a reason why illustration agents aren't doing as well. Before you needed an agent to take your book to places and get it seen. Now you just need a decent website and anyone can access your work. It's easier for a client to go straight to the artist.

Why didn’t I…
Today I saw the trailer for Holy Mountain by Alejandro Jodorowsky. I was so jealous it was unbelievable, I can't even put it into words. I was speechless. It pained me. I get so jealous of things like that! Do you know what else I was really fucking jealous of? All these trailers, I'm really into trailers right now... 'Where the Wild Things Are'. I get jealous of
most things by Spike Jones', I get jealous of but this in particular or anything by Wes Anderson

And anything by Wes Anderson!

I did loads of characters but never did stories that were ever more than a page. I've always liked clothes. I'd try and design my own basketball clothes or T-Shirts. Or I'd draw on things and magazines, which all started at my mum's hair salon. I recently painted my mum's place – the entire salon. It was filmed and everything. I was really ignorant thinking that no one would get it in Meanwood (Leeds). The response totally blew me away. It was insane and made me think twice. Every time I went there I thought the salon looked shit and it made me embarrassed and upset me – I was going round different countries painting offices and studios and what ever and I couldn't even paint my mum's shop. It took me three days. It was full on. It was the first time that she'd seen me do what I do.
I want to put out a few short films maybe the next show I have will be purely moving image. I also think I'll go back to playing basketball. I don't do any exercise these days so I think I better start. Also, I keep meaning to buy a new microwave. I may do that. Reckon I can just pick a cheap one up from Argos.

METRONOMY - RADIO LADIO from danny sangra on Vimeo.

Latest Exhibition…
Season of The Witch is my new exhibition. The name doesn't directly come from the Donovan song even though I do love it. It actually comes from something I heard Martin Scorcese talk about. He wanted to orginally call Mean Streets 'Season of the Witch' but he was then told it sounded too pretentious. I thought, 'Well, it sounds OK for me'.

The work is all drawing and painting. It's my most honest show of drawings I did in the Bahamas and styles I developed after my 18 month hiatus. I kind of disapeared last year. I lived in different cities around the world because I didn't know what I was doing anymore. I had lost my direction and looked for a new way of looking at things.



Sometimes you just have to cowboy it

Season of The Witch
Thursday 11 June 2009
6.00pm – 9.00pm
47 Lambs Conduit Street


Sarah said...

Loved the exhibition x

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