DAVID: I draw a lot of my emotions. That was the main reason I started drawing more consistently. I've drawn my whole life but around the beginning of the year my mental health started to seriously deteriorate to the point where I was making some pretty bad decisions and messed up my life so I was like, "I need to redirect all this energy into something more productive." I was going to draw something every single day and post it on Instagram. I did that with my account that is now private because that's where I regularly lose my shit into stuff that I'm not gonna post on my main account. My art is just to convey feelings and emotions that are a little too hard to explain or too abstract to say in words.
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It sounds like around the beginning of the year is when you really started. Had you already been drawing before?
I've been drawing my whole life. It's always been my past time but I've never really done it for anything other than to have fun. It's always been, "Oh I'm gonna draw this" and it's like, a little stupid butt haha. Have you seen Superbad? I drew this realistic, vascular dick in my friends notebook while he was in the bathroom so that whenever he opened it up the first thing he saw would be this dick. Then he was like, "That's really good." He started telling all these people, "Dude, David draws really good dicks." He would actually come up to me like, "Hey dude, draw a dick" and they would take the drawings that I gave them and tape them up in the bathroom stalls. I became known as the guy that drew really good dicks. It was like 5% of what I drew. The rest didn't get much recognition.
Has there been anyone who's helped you?
All my friends are really supportive of me. I have another friend that I talk to on a daily basis that has the same problem with their mental health that I do and she's been really supportive of me, even walking me through the process of posting my stuff on social media. Part of the reason I even considered art as a means to vent is that whenever I was married I got my ex-wife into art. I bought her paints and an iPad Pro so she could really pour more of her time and energy into it. I saw how all that helped her so I guess that was always sitting in the back of my mind, like, "Maybe I'll do that. Maybe it'll help me like it helped her."
Who has inspired you?
As far as influences go, I'm a product of my childhood. More so, I'm a product of my environment. Anything that I play, watch, or read gets absorbed into the registry and might present itself some way later on down the line. A lot of that was just growing up on the Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I grew up on Newgrounds
so the more disturbed and demented stuff like Leo and Satan from Chris O'Neill, Egoraptor... Just all those guys that were popularizing flash animation at the beginning, before YouTube started making it hard for them to monetize their stuff. Any piece of media that I consume is going to become an influence later down the line.
One of my biggest influences -both as a creator and just as someone I look up to as a person- is Jeff Rosenstock. His music has inspired me to be honest through my art and to not be afraid of appearing undesirable as a result.
Punk rock musician and songwriter Jeff Rosenstock
Were you ever afraid to start putting your work online?
Yeah, honestly. Last year I was very self-conscious about it. I wasn't very happy with any of my technical skills. They were present but I wasn't really honing them. Then at the beginning of the year, everything hit the fan. I developed this mentality like I'm just gonna do whatever. I can't spend all this time worrying about what people are gonna think and the only way I'm gonna improve is if I do it consistently. If I'm drawing, they're all being piled up in the corner, and no one ever sees them, I'm never going to receive feedback. I'm not going to know if I'm doing anything right.
I'm not the kind of person who can sit here and draw faces over and over to get good at drawing faces. It has to be applied to something, Instead of drawing a bunch of faces, I'm going to draw one big face, put as much detail on that as possible. If I mess up a few times, that's a mistake I'm going to learn from. I'm going to apply what I learned on that piece to the next piece.
One day I'll be pissed off so I'll just throw something down, start blocking the lines, then filling and shading where it looks good. Then I'll do everything really fast and finish a piece in like an hour and a half that looks pretty cool. Then I'll have another piece where I definitely want to have a subject and I want to give off this vibe so I'll take more time drawing it out and place things where I want them to go, make everything centered and focuses, then spend anywhere between 8 to 10 hours finishing the whole piece total time. Obviously I'm not going to sit there for 10 hours and do it. I have a short attention span.
How long does it normally take you to do a drawing?
That last one that I did was like 9 hours but the days it took because I work all the time, getting home, and drawing... probably 12 days.
Do you work on multiple pieces at a time?
No. I started a piece and was like, "I'm gonna make this a side project and gradually do it alongside other things." I totally lost focus on it and don't see myself ever returning to it even thought I spent 7 hours on it already.
What keeps you drawing?
If I'm not doing something I'm losing my mind.
What has been your favorite part?
I take a lot of pictures in progress. From the pencil lines then basic outline, gradually filling it in. I take pictures the whole time so I can see what it started off as to what it became. It's this really cool process, seeing all the elements of the piece coming together to form this coherent thought. Even looking back on things that I first posted on Instagram and being able to see I've improved this much in this amount of time. Where am I going to be in another 6 months, a year, 10 years? What am I going to be creating then? It's something to look forward to.
What's something that you've learned that you wish you would have known when you first started?
It's all a constant learning process. I'm always gonna be learning something new. I learn something new with every piece. I wouldn't have it any other way. That process of learning, growing, and taking step towards something better... It's better than just stepping into it having this savant-esque talent of being able to draw everything right off the bat. It's like playing a video game with cheat codes instead of actually progressing through it.
What are your strengths?
I'm a really self-deprecating person so that's a hard question. I'm gonna say I'm a fast learner. When it comes to how I learn things, it may not be conventional. I'm not pouring over books and doing studies but every time I make a mistake I absorb that and I'm like, "Okay, I'm not gonna make that same mistake on the next drawing. I'm not gonna do this because it clearly doesn't work that way." My ability to critique myself is probably my greatest strength.
What are your weaknesses?
Short attention span. Even in work settings, they'll be like, "Go ahead and fill out this section." I'll get halfway through and be like, "This is boring, I want to move to a different table." I'll start to slow down and lag at the end of that table because I'll be ready to move to a different table. My interest in something has to be constantly refreshed. My desk is a big clusterfuck. I've got beer bottle caps and various little things all around my desk and I'll stop drawing and start messing with them.
What would you say to somebody who would think negatively about your work?
It's all subjective. The only opinions that matter to me are the ones of people I care about. Whenever people say stuff I'm like, "That's your opinion." When I see someone trying to do something that is expressing themselves and pouring their thoughts and creativity out, showing that takes a lot. Not everyone develops a total I'm-at-my-lowest-point-in-my-life, I'm-just-gonna-do-whatever-I-want mentality. A lot of people are going into it with extreme anxiety. They might even be shaking and sweating whenever they make their first post, worried about what other people are going to think. For me to say anything, to criticize it in anyway that's not constructive -I'd feel like a bad person.
If someone were to be like, "You're not going to go anywhere," clearly their heart and head's not in the right place. That's entirely negative and not worth entertaining.
Art is very hard. Anything anybody creates whether they consider it art or not is a big deal. Maybe some people aren't as anxious about putting it out there, being vulnerable, and expressing that but I feel like creation and art in general is very vulnerable. I make no false statements. I'm a very broken individual and I try to convey that through my art. A lot of people are trying to be positive on social media. They seem so well put together, they're being positive, and they're conveying these feelings of self-love, self-care stuff. That's all well and good but you do have to acknowledge where you were at a point. I'm honest with everyone through my work and how I display myself on social media. I'm this person who's constantly about to break. If somewhere down the line I'm put together and very happy I can look back on all this art, what I was posting on social media, how I was losing my mind on a daily basis and be like, "This is where I was. Now I'm happy and well put together."
How would you define success?
I grew up in a household where my family was like, "David, you're so smart, you're squandering your potential. You're squandering that big brain of yours." Sometimes they would tell me, "You should go into politics." Politically, I almost line up with anarchism so I definitely don't want to. For a while I was like, "I want to be an aerospace engineer," because I love space travel. More specifically, our solar system. Being able to explore like it's a big playground, rocks floating around the sun. There's so much to be discovered. But you know what? I don't think my brain is all that special. All that is gonna get done regardless of if I go into that field. At the most, I'm just gonna be doing a job some other GT kid with a love for space could do. Someone else is gonna do that, but no one could create exactly what I create on a piece of paper. Everyone's going to create something entirely unique to themselves when they go into art. I rather do something that makes me happy, something that makes me feel accomplished, unique, and like more of an individual. That was a long detour but success is just anything that makes you feel fulfilled. It doesn't necessarily have to be money. You could be successful jumping on freight carts and being a hobo if that makes you happy.
What makes you feel accomplished?
I don't know. I have a tendency to look at my art and I might be happy with it for five minutes, but then look at all the mistakes. I guess what makes me feel accomplished is those little moments of being content with a piece. Even though I'm not going to feel that way in another 10-15 minutes, I feel accomplished in the moment. I guess that's why I finished a piece yesterday and I'm immediately starting another piece today. I'm chasing that high of being happy with the piece. I know that sounds hedonistic and negative but I watched a video a while back...
I can't quote it exactly, but basically, whenever you're becoming a designer/ artist/ videographer/ photographer/ whatever, you're going to look at a piece and be like, "It's not that good." That means you have good taste. It means you can acknowledge the flaws in your piece. You know what you want to create but you're not there yet. As long as you look at a piece and don't like your own work, it means you have an opportunity to grow.
Why do you think that the feeling of accomplishment goes away?
It's like working out. I don't work out so this is the worst analogy for me to pick, but I guess you gradually lift more weight, right? One day you lift your max. That's all you can do and you feel accomplished for having done that. You're sweating and you're like, "That workout kicked my ass but I did better than I did yesterday." Then you go home and you're like, "I could do better. I will do better." It's perpetual discontent because you're always growing. It's how I function. Another person might be like, "I did really good and I'm gonna do better the next day!" Really motivational, youth-pastor-esque. If you're always happy with what you're doing and still gonna grow, more power to you. Me, I've got a really depressive nature and I'm very critical of myself.
If you're hard on yourself, don't let being hard on yourself keep you from growing. Use that self-deprecation and self-critique to grow. Turn something negative into something positive.
What are your dreams?
To be happy. My mental health and emotions are a big factor into my art. Being content and happy is a big struggle of mine. To find a point in my life where I am content. I know there's always gonna be hardship but every time I go through more hardship I learn how to process it better. At the beginning of the year I was chugging 40s and passing out in cornfields. I even got arrested for public intoxication. Now I have a room, I'm paying rent from sleeping on my parents couch. I have a place to live. I hope that one day learning from all those mistakes and growing is going to lead me to a point where I can say I'm happy.
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