I had the pleasure to meet a few days ago Dan Kitchener aka Dank, famous British Street artist. He was on his way to USA to create his next Street Art mural. Here is Dan Kitchener interview for StreetArt360.
Hi Dan, great to meet you. Do you prefer Dank or Dan ? Dank is your street artist name?
Dan or DANK, not Daniel! 🙂
First, can you tell us where you are from and where you’re based today?
I am from Essex in the UK, and I am based here, altho never seem to be in Essex much these days!
Dank, how and when did you discover art and create your first artworks?
Art is something that I have always done since very very early childhood. So I have been creating art since I was 1 years old really, 42 years! It’s all I have ever done, all I have ever wanted to do, so I feel very lucky to be doing something that I have had a passion for my whole life!
Where was your first mural? Is it still available to see today?
Ha ha! My first mural was when I was 16 years old, and I was asked to paint a mural in the 6th form common room at my school in Essex. It was quite a large wall, maybe 20ft x 10ft, and for me it was a real challenge, which I relished! I actually ended up painting a surrealist style piece, called sands of time, with pocket watches and sand dunes, and a night sky, kind of a mash up between Dali and Magritte and De Chirico….I was very proud of it, this definitely switched my mind to large canvases and walls!
Do you paint with spray cans or do you use any other techniques?
I like to be very diverse in all mediums, so try everything, as I like the knowledge of a medium in order to then choose the suitable technique for the project in hand…for my wall work, I did use post markers and brushes on some works in the early days, but spray paint was the medium I gravitated towards for large scale works, simply as it allows a huge breadth of marks and blending that brushes cannot replicate. It has a beautiful smoothness and fluidity too, very physical process painting a large wall, almost like a spray paint work out! I also used to paint a lot with graffiti writers and in this environment any other medium was frowned upon, so this forced me to learn techniques and really explore how spray paint works, I am so pleased I was in this scene as it really gave me valuable skills using spray paint, I love it, it’s such a great medium!
Do you primarily paint murals or do you paint on other canvas ?
As I say diversity is my strength, and I like to paint canvas, walls, sketch, use oils, water color, acrylic, all sorts of techniques, it’s which ever tool is suitable for the image I am trying to create, I don’t limit myself to techniques or surfaces..I am also a big digital painter, all freehand, always freehand! Everything has to come from me, no shortcuts or effects, this translates across all my work, even to the large scale murals, where I freehand the whole piece by eye, no guides, projection or stencils! 🙂 The craft is so important to me, honing skills and not cutting corners, it’s not just the end result that interested me, its the journey to get there and learning all them, challenging myself with freehand all the time. I used to work in TV, film and music videos so have 12 years of 3d / 2d animation and art direction, which certainly has helped my painted art works, in terms of lighting and composition, it all comes together into a big melting pot of techniques that I can dip into whenever I like!
If you can describe yourself, would you say you’re a Street Artist, a Painter, an artist … or something else.
Artist, hate labels, feels disposable and a but gimmicky, artist encompasses what I am entirely…
Where do you get your inspiration ?
Everywhere, I am so lucky to be able to travel to new countries most months and paint and get inspiration. I often run in the mornings ( I am a big marathon runner, 25 marathons so far! ) round a new city or place I am visiting, to see the city quiet and still before it wakes up, its fascinating to absorb this energy and very inspiring. I am also massively inspired by light, it’s actually the basis to all my work, exploring the relationship between light and composition and atmosphere / mood – I experience the scenes I am painting first hand, taking all my own reference photography and then trying to convert the mood I felt in my painting, I think this adds a sense of place and realism to a scene. For me this goes back to the idea of a craft, I like to control all aspects of my art, from sketches, my own photography in cities or with models and then free handing the mural and painting it, all solo, not with a crew or anyone filling for me! I’m a control freak! But for me its vital the whole image comes from me…as I mentioned running is a big thing for me, I run marathon most months, and have so far coupled 25 out of the 100 marathons I am aiming for, its a time I can almost zone out an think about my work and also gain inspiration, its such an amazing time for me. When I paint large murals abroad, I often do 4-6 mile runs most days I paint, it totally energizes me and allows me to problem solve in my head during the run, so I know exactly what I’ll be doing when I am back at the walls, cans in hand!
I’ve notice that you paint a lot of city scenes “under rain” why is that ?
I am from the UK, it rains a lot! My fascination with light comes in here, lighting at night has a very different quality, dreamlike, sometimes quite lonely and ghostly… rain accentuates this, exaggerates the light and the reflections, and can create some surprising and unusual effects on wet roads etc, I am always surpassed by what I see in a rainy night scene…in Tokyo last February, I literally lay in a puddle on the road at night to get some amazing shots, totally worth all the confused looks at me and being soaked…
And also Asian women and Geishas. Is there any reason for that ?
Japans culture and history has been part of my life since childhood, growing up with black and white samurai movies and tv series, water margin, monkey etc etc, and then manga comics and anime, I have been hugely influenced by Japan, without knowing. I am very into history, and love modern history as well as roman, Greek and ww1/ww2. Japan and the samurai has fascinated me due to such an amazing culture and history, and in aesthetic terms, I find the geisha so beautiful, something so serene that I love to capture in my art!
Where can we discover your murals around the world ?
Wow, Tokyo, Hong Kong, London, Pittsburgh, California, Barcelona, Vienna, Paris, Frankfurt, Berlin, Moncton / canada, aria napa/cyprus, Amsterdam, Belfast, Spain, I have so many all over the place and all over the UK!
What is your personal favorite mural artwork ?
Usually my last, as it’s my freshest in my mind, I love my Belfast geisha mural and then my largest mural to date in Eureka, California
Did you collab with other artists ? Do you have any artists you would like to collab with in the future?
I have done, but In truth, my work is a single vision and a single concept that I have felt or experienced and it doesn’t end itself to collaborating. I used to paint characters in graffiti productions, which really work as each person did their thing and then was brought together by a background or color theme, for my mural work they are expressions from me, that I can really break down or collaborate on….
Do you have a “favorite” city where you love to paint ? Is there a dream place around the world you would like to go for a mural artwork?
I haven’t paitned in NYC yet, so I’d love to do that, the home of graffiti, I missed out painting 5 points, and now it’s gone,
Do you have any exhibitions and upcoming art fests in the future?
Not telling you,! Hoping to have a big solo show next year, in truth solo shows are so much work and pressure, I much prefer painting murals and travelling, I need a real passion to be able to produce the work for a solo show. So maybe next year! 🙂
Dan Kitchener Artwork Gallery:
Pictures by Courtesy of Dan Kitchener aka DANK
Read More about Street Art in UK