When I first came across Dan Flanagan‘s work, I was seduced by two things — the colors and the subject matter. We got to sit down with Dan this past weekend and see inside his world…
Interview and photos by NAKID Fashion editor – Rachel Lynch
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Where are you right now?
“I’m in Bushwick, I literally live in my studio.”
What’s it like living in Brooklyn? How long have you lived there for?
“I’ve been here for six years now, it’s great. NYC is some kind of legend, I’m so lucky for my time here.
So your home is also your studio/workspace?
“Yeah, I love it. I don’t like having to commute.”
Can you tell me a bit about how you grew up?
“I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin. I had a very fortunate childhood. I’m trying to repay the universe right now.”
When did you first start making paintings?
“My aunt Nancy Flanagan is a great painter so I grew up with her work, I was drawing and painting early on.”
What kind of art inspired you when you were younger? Did you see something that made you realize you wanted to be a painter?
“I was mostly into cartoons and also weird graffiti under bridges and in alleyways around where I grew up. I got the chance to go to the Prado museum in Spain when I was fifteen, and Goya’s late paintings made an impression. To me that was what I wanted to paint like. Like a miserably lonely, insane man from 200 years ago.”
Did you study art in college? What was that like?
“I did, I was really lucky to do that. It was fantastic. It blows me away how much people sacrifice to educate young artists. How the older are looking to pass on their own work through students.”
Tell us a bit more about your painting style – how did it develop?
“I continued to draw and just follow my drawings really closely, and also tried to get them going on a larger scale. The minimal style is a result just returning to the beginning, and starting over again and again.”
What is a day in the life of you like?
“I wake up and start working right away. I take lots of breaks and just sit here. Around 5pm, I panic because I maybe still haven’t done anything, and then the actual work happens. I never feel comfortable ending the work day, because I know I will just have to start over again.”
What’s the current body of work about? Why all the dicks?
“I just liked the ‘peen’ when I first did it, it’s kind of hilarious to me. It has character. It’s like a portrait, so there is room for ambivalence.”
Does sex inspire you?
“Absolutely. But it’s not the gratification of sex necessarily, but desire itself, and all the forms it takes…”
How would you define sexuality?
It’s life. Life is sexuality. It’s the same… I don’t believe in sexuality being limited to sex. Drawing pictures is one of the best ways to define these things actually.”
Anything else you want us to know?
“I will quote Diane Arbus, ‘Nothing is ever the same as they said it was.'”