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A Magazine for Sheffield

Daniel Danger: The Horror & Sadness of New England

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Daniel Danger's ghost-like figures haunt the pages of this month's issue. Working from New England in the US, the illustrator and printmaker captures a real emotional depth, the horror aspect of his art offset by a sadness reflected in the titles of his pieces.

We spoke with him to find out more about his creative inspirations and his passion for the paranormal.

What is your background as an artist?

My background in the arts comes heavily from my family. My father was a high school art teacher and someone who was always wrangling some kind of project. He could be building chairs or making molds of fish or carving a full-size totem pole. My mother ran a large pottery studio out of a converted garage, which was filled with a half dozen kilns and a few tons of clay. On weekends through the summer and fall we would travel as a family to arts festivals around New England, where they would sell handcrafted lamps, lanterns and bowls. We'd sleep in vans and steal breakfasts from hotels.

Who or what are your main inspirations?

My favorite artists growing up were E. H. Shepard - whose work I have tattooed on both of my forearms - John Tenniel, Louis Wisa, Bill Watterson, Jack Kirby, Jim Lee and Jeff Smith, all of which remain really important to me. I was really inspired by Sierra and LucasArts PC adventure games, and the idea of narratives through progressive environments. Once I was introduced to the gig poster world, I was immediately attracted to the work of Jay Ryan, Jermaine Rogers, Frank Kozik and Tara McPherson.

I've often said that New England is its own genre of horror

How do you go about creating a piece and how do you choose titles?

Most of my personal work is done on clayboard, which is a thin layer of white clay on a cradled hardwood that I ink and then carve into with a series of tiny etching knives to create reductive line art. I'll start with a rough mock-up of my idea, create something of an outline skeleton, and go section by section, inking and carving, line by line by line by tiny line. It's common to spend literally hundreds of hours on a piece.

Writing the titles is probably my favorite part of the whole process, as it lets me stretch the lyricist part of my brain. Sometimes it comes years before the piece is drawn, sometimes I'll spend days trying to figure out what I'm trying to say after I've finished.

Many of your prints feature ghost-like figures. Can you tell us more about your interest in the paranormal?

I've often said that New England is its own genre of horror. It's quieter, it's sadder, it's deeper and layered and cold. It's filled with stories of awful things happening in sparse rural locales, and those memories and events imprinting upon the places. The figures aren't always 'ghosts' in the traditional sense, or even a scary sense. The ghost stories I grew up with, rooted in real places, were always about inhabitation, loss, communication and somber events, and I was always attracted to that kind of storytelling.

What are your plans for the future?

It's been quite some time since I've really put together a fully-realized gallery show, so that's my number one priority for the coming year. I have probably 20 pieces in various states of creation. Past that, I've got some work for some films on my desk, I'm working on another solo record, trying to write an odd book of narrative prose, getting the house my fiancé and I just bought into something resembling a proper home, and trying to get at least a few hours of sleep a night.

Zoe Knight

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