First Im­pres­sions

Dan Dos San­tos talks ad work.

ImagineFX: Sci-fi & Fantasy Art magazine - - Issue 130 | January 2016 - Dan Dos San­tos Dan Dos San­tos’ award-win­ning work spans nov­els, comics and film. You can see more of his art at www.dan­dos­san­tos.com.

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

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