David Danz: Inventive Illustrator; The Arts in El Dorado County
Growing up in Sonora, illustrator David Danz studied at ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena before working for several years in Marin County and eventually settling in Placerville with his wife, Sandy, and their four children. With Sandy’s help marketing, Danz was able to become a full-time illustrator. “I decided to focus on the woodcut/linocut style, which was only a small portion of my portfolio, [since it] received the most attention,” shares Danz. “[At the time], there were only a handful of illustrators in the country who worked in that style.” Danz has since provided his unique style to big-name clients like Blue Moon, Chevron, PG&E, Cost Plus World Market, and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright.
HLB: HOW DO YOU BALANCE A CLIENT’S WISHES WITH YOUR ARTISTIC EXPRESSION?
DD: As an illustrator, I’m hired for a certain look and style—scratchboard, woodcut, wood engraving, etc. Most of my clients have seen my work and know what they’re looking for. There are times when assistance is needed at the conceptual level, so I often generate numerous rough sketches to help them visualize different possibilities. I may be partial to a certain idea or direction, but the client is the boss and has the final word.
HLB: WHERE DO YOU GO WHEN NEEDING INSPIRATION?
DD: I’m inspired by imagery around me. Having an iPhone with a camera and access to immediate digital documentation is a wonderful thing. Whether traveling up Highway 50, having dinner in Downtown Placerville, or just looking out my front door, I’m drawn to the beauty that surrounds me and how light affects [a scene].
HLB: ARE THERE CHALLENGES YOU’VE HAD TO OVERCOME?
DD: There are several obstacles I deal with on a daily basis. The first is trying to keep my work fresh and up to date. When one has been working in the same medium and style for 30 years, it’s easy to just settle in and create artwork the same way. Trying to expand, push boundaries, and take chances are all things I struggle with. Another obstacle is staying current with marketing trends. Years ago, a young illustrator starting out could call up a design firm or advertising agency and easily obtain a meeting with a creative person to show them their portfolio; today, it’s all about social media—if you’re good at using it, then you’ll be successful in marketing your work.
HLB: WHAT DO YOU HOPE VIEWERS TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR WORK?
DD: [I hope people] feel a sense of curiosity as well as an emotional connection. This doesn’t always apply to my illustration work, as I’m often just documenting or revealing something, but I also love plein air painting and have dabbled in creating watercolor landscapes over the years. I have plans of eventually letting go of commercial illustration and transitioning into the freedom of painting and producing imagery of whatever I’m inspired by.
by Heather L. Becker
September 22-23 & 29-30
– Open Studio Tour.
Visit 43 local artists at 12 studios from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at this self-guided tour. Meet and talk with them about their medium and latest creations or purchase a piece of art. Hosted by the Placerville Arts Association, admission is free.