Dan Dos Santos talks ad work.
Where did you grow up, and when was it that you realised you had a talent for painting?
I grew up in Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the US. I loved drawing as a child. As for when I specifically realised I had a knack for drawing, that was probably when I started school and realised most other kids couldn’t draw. Until then, it simply hadn’t occurred to me that other people didn’t draw all the time, too.
Did your upbringing influence your style of painting in any way?
My upbringing didn’t really influence my style as much as the era I was born in. I was raised on 1980s cartoons, such as Transformers, ThunderCats and He-Man. In addition to great cartoons and comic books, various artists and styles of the era also left an imprint. Artists such as Earl Norem, Jim Lee and Patrick Nagel still influence my work.
Why does fantasy art float your boat?
I think fantasy art is a very wide genre... encompassing anything that isn’t real life. I don’t take as much pleasure in imitating things that already exist. I like to create new scenarios, new worlds, new people. Fantasy art enables me to be as creative as I want to be.
How do you think your art style changed over the years?
Honestly, not that much. I like to think that I’ve gotten better, but I’m not entirely certain my sensibilities have changed much. Though I’m admittedly blind as to what my own style actually is, so assessing it is a bit difficult.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far? Any low points?
I’ve had lots of highlights, such as winning awards, and working on the very properties that influenced me as a kid – Star Wars and Magic: The Gathering, to name but a couple. Yet the best moments have definitely been getting the chance to meet some of my artistic heroes, and realising that they are now my peers, and even better, my friends. Julie Bell and Michael Whelan in particular – but I admire so many artists’ work in one way or another, that it’s silly to isolate just those two when that feeling really encapsulates so much more.
What’s been your most challenging commission or assignment?
Pretty much every advertising job ever. It doesn’t matter if it’s a movie poster, or a pharmaceutical ad. Advertising work will test your skills, your speed and your patience like no other genre.
Are internships something that all established artists should consider?
Definitely not. Just because you’re a good artist, it doesn’t make you a good teacher. Teaching is something I happen to be very passionate about, and I’ve had interns for most of my career. But I know lots of professionals that just aren’t cut out for it. The creative process is deeply personal for a lot of artists, and sharing that process with someone else takes a lot of trust, time and commitment.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Invest in Google.
How would you sum up your work, in under 10 words?
Strong, sexy women in colourful, dynamically lit settings.
Just because you’re a good artist, it doesn’t make you a good teacher