Saturday, March 10, 2012

Dylan Davis--Illustrator

Home Base in Florence 
Dylan Davis

Name:  Dylan Davis
City/State: Minneapolis, Minnesota
Website: profile:


I was born in the small city of Mankato, Minnesota and grew up in the smaller city of Saint Peter, Minnesota, about 10 miles north of Mankato.  In 2008 I moved to Minneapolis and began attending the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, eventually deciding to major in Illustration.  In the first half of 2011 I studied abroad in a remote town in western Ireland, for a total of 4 and a half months.  For two weeks immediately following, I traveled to other countries in Europe.  I am currently entering my final semester at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Architect's Vision

Tell me about your work? What are you currently working on? How is this different from past projects?
My work has varied over the course of my 3 and half years at art school, but a few characteristics have remained consistent.  I enjoy opportunities to include humor in my illustrations.  I will sometimes draw characters in a “cartoony” fashion, if it fits the type of humor. If I have time, I will include details that reward the viewer for exploring the piece.  My pieces that I consider to be more “fine art” (as opposed to illustrations) tend to be more serious or self-reflective, but they usually include this same attention to detail.
In my most recent semester, I took an introductory course for basic animation, and completed a few small pieces that combined digital and hand-drawn techniques.  In the semester prior to that, in Ireland, a I made a series of  short, experimental stop-motion films.  I hope to do more animation work in the near future; I may incorporate some into my “Senior Project” at school and possibly into other future illustration projects.
Speaking of my Senior Project, for my “finale” at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, I am planning to make a series of 4-5 maze illustrations.  I am still trying to decide on what the themes will be, but I will be drawing inspiration from some places I visited in Europe in 2011.

"What is Art?" is certainly too big of a question to ask here, but what do you hope your audience takes away from your art? What statement do you hope to make?
I find it immensely satisfying to be able to explore a piece of art and discover things you might not have noticed at first glance.  So, in some of my illustrations, I hope that the audience experiences this same joy of discovery.  I also hope that the viewer can feel amused or entertained by the humor I include in some of my pieces. 
Golems of Normandy

What was the best advice given to you as an artist? 
One of the best pieces of advice I've received is to keep making and doing, and don't worry about the “bad” ideas that may result during the brainstorming stage.  When I'm doodling small thumbnail ideas for an illustration, I try not to worry about whether every idea is a “good” one or not.  I just keep doodling.  This helps to get the “weaker” ideas out of the way faster, and can sometimes lead to another, stronger, idea.   

Tell me about your work space and your creative process.
My workspace currently consists of a studio at my school, with a decently-sized table, and a few shelves and cabinets on either side of me.  I try to keep the table space free of unnecessary tools and materials, and leave as much room as possible for my current project.
My creative process typically begins with doodling a few initial ideas as thumbnails, and then turning to the internet or a book for reference images and research.  I often keep my laptop nearby for this purpose.   Once I have settled on a thumbnail idea that I like, I make a larger (but still smaller than full size) sketch.  I then use a projector to transfer this to a larger sheet of paper, and this will be at the final size, or sometimes larger than final size.  Once I have completed the drawing, I usually scan it to the computer and color the piece in Photoshop.
 Inside the Hunter's Home

Who are some of the Minnesota artists you enjoy?
I could name at least a dozen classmates from school off the top of my head, but I'll try to narrow it down a bit.  Teagan White is a friend and classmate whose level of technical ability is amazing, and her sense of color and design is incredible (   My second pick would be my brother Dustin Davis (  His illustrations are fun to look at, often contain amusing or interesting ideas, and have an interesting feeling of child-like wonder (usually conveyed by the drawing style).

Other Minnesotan or Minnesota-based artists whose work I admire: 

Jennifer Davis 
Zak Sally 
Taisha Bosher 
Carl Thompson

If I were to follow you around to see art in Minnesota, which places would we go? What would we see?
I enjoy some of the special exhibitions at both the Walker Art Center ( and at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts ( I also have enjoyed what I've seen at the gallery Altered Esthetics (  When I'm visiting my hometown of Saint Peter, River Rock Coffee place usually has some nice local art (


Where do you go online for good art resources, whether to find a new artist, or to see what is going on in the art world locally and otherwise?

The artists and articles featured on the Drawn blog ( are a great source for inspiration, and for local art events I have found to be a good guide (

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

For the near future, I will be completing my final courses at school in order to earn my Bachelor of Fine Art degree in Illustration.  As previously mentioned, this will include a series of maze illustrations for my Senior Project.  I will be searching for full-time work after graduation, and part-time and freelance illustration jobs between now and then, but what type of work is yet to be decided.

(Also, See some of Dylan's video work.)

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