Danny doesn’t only unleash his creativity on a snowboard. He’s also possessed when it comes to drawing.
Can you give a short introduction of yourself?
– My name is Danny, a man older than I used to be, still claiming
to be 666 years old. I grew up in the forest outside of Oslo next to a small hill, similar to Talma except for the fact that it had strict ”no- jump” policy so we learned to make the most of the icy bumps we had. I’ve been drawing since I could hold a pen, and now I work as a professional snowboarder with a overwhelming interest in what some might want to call art.
If you had to label yourself as an image maker, what would it
be: artist, illustrator or even a graphic designer? Or something completely different?
– I actually have no idea. People have called me an artist, illustrator and designer, but I’m having a hard time labeling myself like that.
I just love to draw. The lack of any type of education around this
is why I just do what I do without having the right word for it. Re- cently I learned that I work with pointillism, I just call it drawing with dots. Drawing is just something I have been doing by myself, almost like a type of meditation.
Do you have any favorite artists? Or is there a certain period of art you’ve fond of ?
– I love it all, but at the moment I’m a bit more drawn towards ro- manticism. The beauty of exaggerated everyday situations within grand nature strikes a nerve with a nature boy. When it comes to favorite artist it changes all the time, but I think Gustave Doré, Claude Monet and Theodor Kittelsen would be among my favorite artists.
What’s great about them?
– Tough question which I have no good answer for, but I guess what makes any artist good is that they manage to produce some- thing that brings out certain emotions and feelings. All these guys manage to portray an atmosphere that you somehow recognize, but still feels very strange, almost mystic.
Is there any Finnish artists or bands you like?
– This sounds like a big suck up, but I’m a fan of Jari (Salo). Besides that I’m a metal head so naturally both Children of Bodom and Finntroll are bands I’ve spent a lot of time listening too. But I think my favorite Finnish act has to be Hanoi Rocks. Fredu Sirviö introduced me to them back in the days and I’ve been a big fan ever since, I even sported a Michael Monroeish hairdo for a while. Yeah, it looked just as dumb as it sounds.
You mainly do drawings, although I’ve seen your photography as well. Do you work in other mediums?
– I paint a bit as well, mainly aquarell with the occasional attempt at oil and acrylic, but ink and paper is definitely my favorite. When it comes to photography I try to experiment, trying to capture a different reality. Seems very out-there hippie-talkish, but I love that you can tweak what’s happening to show a different perspec- tive with photography. You can turn an everyday situation into whatever you want, either it being super-happy or super-creepy.
Have you done any comics? Your characters would work magnif- icently in a comic.
– No comics in the traditional sense, but I have sketchbook with me where I do small cartoonish sketches about funny stuff I see around me. There is so much stuff that goes down all the time if you just take a look. Pointing it out and exaggerating it a tiny bit
is pretty fun. But comics sounds like a good idea, I’ll just have to figure out how to be funny.
Has Norwegian folklore or just being from north influenced you?
– I guess the fairytales are a result of the North, so I would say both. The darkness and nature has definitely shaped us up here, and I feel that the folklore has strong links across the borders. Like I mentioned, I grew up in the woods where I would walk to school in the dark while or imaginations would run wild, thinking we
saw wolves, trolls and witches all over the place, haha. I’m nothing more than a result of my surroundings.
Jamie Lynn’s riding and artwork were a huge inspiration for me in mid 90’s. I guess he’s had some influence on you, too? Is there other artist involved in snowboarding whose work you like?
– Jamie Lynn has been one of my favorite personalities in snow- boarding since the day I started as well. He had the coolest style and I loved the fact that he was an artist. I remember getting one of his first pro boards, and trying to paint the way he did. I still try to do my methods like him, and I got a Jamie Lynn coffee mug which I love to sip the darkness from while drawing. I also love Robin Bankz, Michael Hakker, David Benedek and Nick Dirks stuff. I’m sure there are tons of people I’m forgetting now, sorry. David is on another level though, he’s like a modern renaissance man.
How has your artistic style evolved over the years?
– It’s an ever-changing process, personally I don’t really see any big difference. Of course I think I know more about how to draw stuff, but still I feel like I start on scratch every time. The biggest difference is that stuff just takes way longer to do now, but that’s because I managed to come up with the idea that I should draw only using 0,1 pens. Not the smartest idea, but I like it. Back in the days I was thinking a bit more vectorish, if that makes any sense. I was more into bigger and bolder lines, shapes and areas whereas now I’m obsessed with details. Details have always played a big part, but it’s more extreme now I think. Damn… that made me just fear the future a bit, I’ll never be able to finish a drawing.
Do you usually have a clear concept in mind when you start to draw? Or is it more based just on intuition?
– I usually start with a vague idea, draw for ages and then come
up with a better idea when I’m close to completion. I’m happy about the fact that I have finally figured out this about myself so it doesn’t come as a surprise. I also tend to choose an idea that
You’ve been involved with some K2 snowboard graphics in the past years. Can you tell a bit of the process designing them?
– It varies from year, but it started with the K2 Happy Hour I think. I just did a bunch of funny small sketch drawings that I sent them, not really sure what we were gonna use them for. But the head de- signer had the idea of just doing a board with a bunch of fucked-up drawings from whoever wanted to contribute, and I guess I turned in shitloads. They were all stoked on the drawings so they ended up being the main graphics for the board. The boards sold quite well so they got me to do more and more graphics, and now it’s a natural part of our relationship. Basically I get a board line that I come up with an idea for, then I draw it. Not a very interesting pro- cess really, haha. But there is more stuff coming: stuff with more of a concept and an idea rather than just a drawing.
I loved the poster you did for The Last Ones, Videograss’s new movie. How did that process work?
– Like with anything else, it started with a completely different idea. I drew up some early sketches that I threw back and forth with main Videograss man, Justin Meyer. The whole idea behind the title is that we represent a type of snowboarding we feel, basically like dinosaurs refusing to die. No disrespect to DWD (Dinosaurs Will Die snowboards) by the way, haha. In the end, he let me do whatever I wanted, and I basically got the idea of doing a “don’t fuck with us” drawing, and I have always been a sucker for banners wrapped around stuff. I think a good way of putting it is that it developed along a natural path for me. Don’t fuck with us, we’re scary living dinosaurs, and then I felt like we needed a black metal inspired logo consisting of the names of everyone involved “because together we are Videograss”. Cheezy, but that’s how I come up with ideas, haha.
I miss the graphics of early and mid 90’s. I might be glorifying the past, but graphics back then were more bold, fun, rebellious and surprising. They felt more meaningful. What do you think about current snowboard graphics?
– Board graphics have been very boring after 2000 something, and I’m sure it came with the growing popularity of snowboarding that meant involvement from more “professional” people from outside the scene. I have a loosely based theory, developed after several meetings with design and sales people, that statistics are like kryp- tonite to interesting stuff. Statistics tell you what people want, and what they buy. Sure, it’s a safe and good way to keep sales up but you’ll never come up with something new and exciting because you’ll just continue doing small tweaks to what has already been done. On the other hand, I feel like we’re entering a new era where we are getting really cool stuff. Maybe it’s because of the dip in sales and people realized you have to come up with something that get people excited again. We’re on our way to taking snowboard back!
Do you have an all-time favorite graphic?
– Peter Line’s rainbow board. So simple, so gay, so great.
Yep, that’s an amazing board. Are there similarities in snow- boarding and creating art? Both require some sort of creativity – is it possible to compare them?
– I think snowboarding should be compared with art, at least that makes way more sense to me than calling it a sport. The most boring part of snowboarding is when people practice a set of tricks and do them over and over on similar park jumps or rails in a contest. I can’t help to compare it to a karaoke contest or those connect the dots drawings. The most interesting part is when you see someone come up with something new, even if it’s the simplest trick. If you manage to do something that makes people stop and think “I wanna try that” I feel you’re doing it right in snowboard- ing. The equivalent in art would be doing something that makes people stop for a second and just letting it sink in. It’s all about giving people a different perspective and producing something interesting.
You’ve also done album artwork, beer labels, even some tattoo designs and what not. Is there a particular thing you enjoy illus- trating the most?
– No, it’s all cool, and everything got it’s set of challenges, but I remember loving doing that beer label. The balance between set-rules, in my mind for what a beer label needs to contain, the symbolism behind everything and then how it will end up looking on a bottle was pretty fun. The label should really show what kind of beer it is, something most labels fail to do. This was supposed to be homemade hobby-brew, with small emphasize on profession- ality. Even better was that I got a case of beer, they make a pretty decent IPA.
Are there still some dream cases you’d like to illustrate or design?
– I love wine and coffee, and would love to have illustrations for something like that. Would be pretty awesome, haha.
Have you thought about being a full time artist/illustrator/de- signer after your full-time shred days?
– Yes, it is definitely an idea that sounds interesting. It’s pretty crazy hearing people asking me this, because I still look at it as just me drawing, pretty much like my snowboarding. I have never seen myself as a pro snowboarder. I’m just a guy that snowboards, and I’m just a guy that draws. But who knows, I’ve been lucky enough to get to work with something I love, and I think that’s what you always should do.
Good illustrators have a recognizable and original style – you clearly have one. Still, do you ever feel “caged” by your style?
– Thanks! Styles develop over time, so I don’t feel caged in any sort of way. I do my thing, and at the moment this is what it looks like. The only times I feel “handicapped” by my style is when I see how much time it takes to get stuff done. I love the look, feel, limita- tions and possibilities of dot work with ink, but it takes a fucking lifetime to do everything.
You mainly use two different styles. There are these cartoony characters with “normal” linework and pointillism, in which you referred earlier.
– They work as relief for each other. When I’m tired of doing these very detailed landscape drawings I do cartoon drawings for a while, it just feels like getting a glass of water after being thirsty for a while. And the same goes for when I have been doing those cartoon drawings. Then it feels like getting some proper food after only eating candy. I guess it also depends very much on my mood and whatever I might listen to. The darkest detailed stuff comes when the darkness hits Scandinavia and more and more black metal starts streaming out of my speakers. That’s also the reason for why I do more funny cartoon stuff for K2. Their deadline is in the spring, so I’m more cheerful then, haha. I draw what strikes a nerve with me and growing up in the 80’s definitely leaves its trac- es. I grew up in a time where metal was on the top 20 lists, and I’ve been wearing skull t-shirts since before I even knew what puberty was, so it’s just heavily embedded in the way I think. I don’t really think about it being two different styles really, they are two sides of me, and you’ll find humor and darkness in both drawings, even thought they might not be too easy to spot for everyone.
Black metal inspires you. Do you think about the ideologies behind the music? You know, the problem of separating form and content. Does it matter what the artists, in any artform, beliefs or their intentions are, if the actual artwork is “good”, “beautiful” or “touching”?
– I absolutely love black metal, everything about it, but I don’t pay attention to all that silly stuff. I’m all for the individuality aspect
of black metal, the “be what you can be” thing, but I mainly ignore the intolerance stuff. Not a big fan of organized religion, but not a big fan of anti-religion either. I think people should be able to do what they do, and believe what they believe. That’s also why I have no problem listening to artists that have a completely different view on stuff than me. You should be able to separate art from per- son’s ideas, even if their ideas are portrayed in their art. It almost seems like people are afraid of adopting these ideas if they hear them too much, which is pretty nuts to me. I know what I stand for, and listening to people preaching intolerance won’t change my core values.
Is there any symbols or imagery that you wouldn’t use?
– In theory, no. But naturally I wouldn’t blatantly use something that would easily be taken the wrong way immediately. Take symbols misused by the nazis for instance. It annoys the living crap out of me that all these great symbols that have been used throughout history to add meaning to people’s lives now have been reduced to a symbol for nazism. So basically that’s where I feel like I’m forced to draw the line, even though I’m pretty irritated by it. I’d love to use these symbols but I know the only thing people will see is nazism. Besides that I’m not too big of a fan of using sexual imagery. I think it’s often an easy way out, cause people got a fucked up relationship to sexuality and it’s easy to play on. I’ll use nakedness if it says something more than just “here you go, some boobs”. What makes a symbol unusable to me is if it clearly will be misunderstood. What makes a symbol that will be misunderstood usable again is if that misunderstanding is based on ignorance.
Since the metal influences are strong in your work, there are a lot of symbols of death, isolation, sorrow and the grim side of life. Do you process your feelings and relation to these things with your artwork? Is there a “bigger” thing you want to communicate than just drawing visually arresting images?
– Not consciously, but who knows what is going on down there in the deepness of my sub-consciousness. I was actually thinking about it the other day, and I think one thing I often work with
is the irrational fear of the inevitable, namely our death. We’re terrified, but it’s actually pretty silly because we’re all gonna die. It’s the most natural thing in the world yet it scares the crap out of us. I guess it’s this fear of both the unknown and knowing the truth that drives my artwork. There’s no point of being scared, just fuck with it and have a good time while it lasts.
That’s about it. Any last words?
– Live life like you’re gonna die, because you’re gonna. – William Shatner.
Thanks a lot Danny!
– Thank you Pauli!
Text Pauli Kervinen
Photography Gro B. Larsen