We had the good fortune of connecting with Dan Drossman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dan, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I’ve always held the belief that you can succeed at anything that you enjoy doing and that you’ve spent a lot of time doing. Since I can remember, I’ve always made art, and I’ve always loved the struggles and the excitement of creating something from nothing. In my mind, I don’t think that I will ever lose that, so I might as well pursue it as a career. This doesn’t mean that I haven’t had other jobs to support myself in fulfilling my goals as being a full-time artist, but regardless of what percentage of my income is made through art I’ve always made art and tried to have it be my primary source of income. That will never change.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I would consider myself to be a process-artist, relying on my intuition and feeling to guide me to the end-product rather than having a preconceived idea as to what the image will look like or what I want it to become. I usually begin all of my works by making marks, feeling the push and pull of the strokes and the pressure of the line. The painting will eventually start to move in one direction, and I’ll derail it and take it in another direction, and repeat until it takes a form that I’m satisfied with. The artwork leans more towards not only of feeling as opposed to intellect but of feeling more reliant on chance and the unknown. It’s both exciting and uncomfortable at the same time, which is where and how I like to be when creating. Lately, I have been implementing collage into my work. I’ve been taking old sketches, photographs, and paintings which previously had no real meaning for me and adding them into my paintings in a way that makes differentiating between the different mediums difficult. There’s something about taking something from the past that may be insignificant or even unliked and repurposing them into the present day so that becomes meaningful. This process has helped me understand that everything from our past has meaning, and if you can use those experiences (good or bad) to positively shape your present and future it can change your perspective on any lived experience. As far as challenges, there have definitely been struggles, for sure. However, I think most of the struggles have more to do with internal battles like indecisiveness and confidence rather than sales and recognition. Not to say that those things have come easy, because they haven’t. It’s just that they don’t take priority over the need to make my best art. Those internal struggles keep me from creating, and if I’m not creating then sales are most likely not going to come anyway.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
There’s so much to see and do here, but usually when I have visitors there are a few must-see must-do’s that I love to share. Curtis Park Deli on Champa Street is one of my favorite places to grab breakfast or lunch. Not only the food, but the staff are so welcoming and friendly that you just want to go in to say hi. “The Park” sandwich and an americano is usually my go-to but there’s a lot of deliciousness on that menu! For a great day trip, I usually hit up The Paint Mines. It’s only about an hour and a half away but feels like you’ve traveled to Mars. Beautiful landscapes of colorful clay formations that seem to change intensity depending on the time of day and how the light hits it. Words don’t do it justice. Dinner and a drink at Avanti Food & Beverage for sure. A great spot with great food and the perfect deck to enjoy the cityscape. Lastly, A trip to Central City and the Blackhawk casinos is a great place to have a wonderful time losing all of your money.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
At the top of my very long list of shoutouts would definitely be my parents, who not only supported and fostered my art, but also my creative mind. They never swayed me from pursuing my life as an artist, and instilled a great sense of confidence in who I was as an individual. Being unique and going against the grain was something that they encouraged and appreciated in me, which I’m thankful to this day. There are a few professors that had a very profound impact on my art, and thank them tremendously for their education and inspiration. During my undergraduate program at Guilford College, Roy Nydorf was THE professor that influenced and inspired me to take art seriously. He was one of those teachers that motivated you to motivate yourself on an intrinsic level. Many educators in my past would focus on teaching me what to learn and what to think. Roy taught me how to learn and how to think for myself, which in my mind is probably the most valuable lesson that I have ever taken from a mentor. I will never forget Jake Berthot. He passed a few years back, but he was my professor during my MFA program at The School Of Visual Arts. It’s hard to put into words what he did for me. As an artist, Jake completely dismantled my ideas of art. One of the biggest lessons that he taught me was about suggestion in art. When do you suggest, and when do you state? This helped me understand and appreciate abstraction on many levels, and my work completely opened up and changed for the better in my mind. Tommy Lanigan-Schmidt was another professor at SVA, and he gave me the book “Art As Experience,” by John Dewey. That book forever changed me as an artist and a human. I think what it allowed me to see for the first time was the deep connections between art and life. From that point on, the lines between the two began to fade and fade.
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