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Daniel has been a solid member of the LIB crew for a while now. Here's his perspective on his art and being part of LIB.

So where do you draw your inspiration from?

Mostly from Saul Leiter, actually.

And who is or was Saul Leiter?

He was a photographer from the fifties working until he died in 2013 in New York. A street photographer who was one of the first photographers to work with colour as an art form. And his pictures are quite painterly. He plays a lot with reflections in mirrors and objects being in and out of focus. I just love his

colour and compositions.

Leiter mirror.jpg

That’s interesting because, when I look at your prints I can definitely get a vintage feel, let's say.

Daniel Artwork 03 web.jpg

A couple of my prints are actually directly based on his photos.

When did you discover Saul Leiter?

It's a very good question. I remember that I went for an interview at a design company in London and they gave me one of his books.  I feel like I probably knew him before that. But that was the first time I got one of his books. The book is called Early Colour and it's still one of my favourite books of photography. I guess it's probably been a good 10 years. At least as long as I’ve been living here in Berlin.

These images remind me a lot of New York. New York features in several of your prints, right? Does this come from having been to New York?

No, but it's on my list. Right at the moment I'm not too bothered about going to cities, but New York is the one place that holds some special attraction mainly because of Saul Leiter and a few other street photographers from that period as well as popular culture, you know, films and TV. I’d just like to see if it matches my imagination. It’s

funny, I realised recently in Let It Bleed whenever customers from New York come in they always seem to like my work and I appreciate the New York attitude. It feels like there's a certain kind of humour that marks them out as a bit different from the rest of the country. I would love to go there to make a series of prints and drawings based on

being there as opposed to just looking at photos in books. Even try to visit the area that Saul Leiter used to live in and see how it looks now and take photos and sit around drawing.

Yeah, that would be interesting.

I'm trying to get back into analogue photography as well and searching for the right camera. I got a point and shoot recently, which I just got developed a film from and the pictures aren't bad, but I definitely need more control over the analogue process.


Does your photographic work influence your illustrative work?

Daniel Artwork 05 web.jpg

I’d like it to, but a lot of the photos I’ve taken so far have been with my phone. The feeling of the photos taken on my phone just isn’t the same as with film. It's missing something, I guess. And then the other side is that I need to take more of a gamble with things. Commercial considerations sometimes restrict what I produce as the photos I would really like to take are not generally recognisable as this or that particular place. In the past few years, I feel like my financial success in Let it Bleed in terms of what sells is often based on images where people can see that it’s obviously Berlin. I'm going to have another show at Let it Bleed later in the year and that should be the perfect opportunity to try and make work that is still perhaps recognisable as Berlin, but maybe more just like a weird perspective or something that's only clearly Berlin on a second glance.

Or like an impression? 

Yeah, just a close-up of something or perhaps a moment captured. I guess without any recognisable landmarks.

Do you think sometimes as artists we can feel restricted by previous artworks?  Something which has sold well, but sometimes we can limit ourselves and become afraid of trying out new things.

Yeah, for sure. That's why at the moment I'm doing this residency. Trying out new things here in the forest in Frohnau. I'm trying to force myself to work differently. I would say the main difference now is that I often start a piece without really knowing where it’s going.

 With a lot of my artwork that I have previously produced, I’d been more clear about how it was going to end up looking. It was more a case of just executing a series of steps, but now I'm trying to look more. Look more and and do less. Or at least take more time to look.


So you're trying to take a more explorative approach. Would that be fair?

Yeah, more explorative and more analogue.

When you mean analogue, what do you mean?

Like paintings. One-off pieces. The last few years I've been selling

my work in Berlin and London and it’s all about limited edition prints. After a while you see the same piece of work over and over again and it gets quite tiring. It's been interesting making a piece which is just one painting, without any reproductions. The texture it has, the colours and even things like when you walk from left to right depending on how the light hits the picture it changes what you see. Also when I work on a painting I have it on my wall so I’m seeing it all the time, whereas when I work on my iPad, unless I open it and consciously go back and look at a piece, I can easily forget how it’s looking, I guess. There’s a big difference.

Some people might wonder what creative people do on a retreat like this, but it sounds like for you, it's an excuse to really to let rip and free yourself a little bit.

Yeah, and to slow down, I would say.

And being in the forest helps.

Being in the forest definitely helps. It means in the morning I can go

out for a walk or a run. If I'm getting stuck or if I'm getting frustrated, it's very easy to just go out and listen to the birds. It's easier to take a break, I guess.

And do you think being in a different environment makes you more sensitive to shape, form and colour?

Probably, but I also made a conscious decision not to really paint or

draw the surroundings around me here.

     I don't want to actually do anything based on this place at the moment. But there were times when I was walking around and it's been very grey recently, but there is still colour in the forest. So I've been trying to  make mental notes of the colour palette that I find in the forest, which is lots of tones of grey and brown, but then there's also this greeny moss which can be a very fluorescent green.

I haven’t got around to it but I did have an idea of almost sampling

these colours from the forest and then trying to create a piece of work with them.

That sounds really interesting. You're kind of heading in a more abstract direction, would you say? But with perhaps some figurative elements? Or you don't know, I mean the point is, you don't know?

I'm actually trying both while I'm here. Some of my work is very

abstract and some of it is more figurative and that makes for an interesting dynamic. With the more figurative stuff I can work on it for a long time,

whereas with the abstract work it’s much harder to know when it's

done, when it's finished and when to stop. But it's quite fun at other times because I'll just take a brush and make one or two marks and then

that's it. Whereas when I'm doing more figurative work, there is an

element of overworking elements because it needs to look like something “real”. It’s interesting. Doing both and trying to find some balance between the two because I'm not someone who enjoys doing very detailed realistic work.  But also doing completely abstract is not where I am. I think when I do abstract in the end I'm always kind of looking for something, asking myself what I can see in the piece.


Saul Leiter also has paintings, abstract paintings.


Oh really? I didn’t know that.

Yeah, they're really nice. They’re mostly to do with shape

and colour. It’s very interesting how he combines them together.

Are there any other artists, apart from Saul Leiter who have influenced you, not necessarily as direct influences, but have inspired you in some way? Hard question, I know.

I recently watched a documentary by this director called

Nicholas Philibert. He's a French director. It was particularly the

way he shot this documentary and the characters, which were really

interesting and moving. I mean, I think in general I've always been inspired by photographers and film makers more than by other artists or illustrators.  Maybe because I find it easier to take inspiration without copying. I guess when its film or video, you can. What's the word?

Transmogrify it?

Yeah, I think so. Or just take certain characters out of it as I've done with this one particular film. I took screenshots from the film and I've just been looking at those. Trying to find my way of expressing my love for the characters and the atmosphere in the film. It revolves around a mental institute in France. And they're all very unique characters wandering around.


To learn something about your creative process is pretty interesting. I mean, what do you actually do in this case? You’re watching the documentary then you pause it and make a screenshot. And then do you print that out or just keep it on the screen?

While I've been here I've been projecting images on to a canvas. It's the first time I've done it. It's actually quite fun. Because normally I would print it out. Projecting it onto a canvas has similarities with the way I work with my iPad. Because on the iPad I have the picture and then ….I'm not tracing it as such, but I’m using it as inspiration for the artwork.  Well, for the beginning, I guess. When I first start the piece I use the picture. It helps me to get a strong composition.

You’re trying some new techniques. Are you also working on a larger scale?

I am, yeah.

Does that make a difference?

Yeah, it does. It means I'm using bigger brushes. So far at least it means that the work is a bit looser and not so tight. I've also got like three or four pieces on the go at the same time. Some on the floor and some on the easel. If I'm working on the easel and I don't know what to do next I will just go down onto the floor and try and

put something there. So it's much more physical as well. Which I enjoy

because sometimes if you're working with a computer or on an iPad for too long it's just your hand that's moving, whereas when you have

bigger pieces that you’re working on…

You can do yoga and paint at the same time. It's a double whammy!

Exactly. Go start a course of that. There's a market for that in Berlin.

I'm sure there already is one. So, I was just thinking about your working process and it made me think about SDW. The screen printing studio in Kreuzberg. You help run that, right?

Daniel Screenprinting web.jpg

Yeah, we're a collective in the same way that Let it Bleed is except

we don't make much money. Well, we do but we're not selling our

work there. We do commissions and teach courses. Evening and weekend

courses so people can come back and use our open studio facilities.

Do you find that the screen printing process influences your work?  I mean, have you been using techniques within the realm of screen printing in a similar way to as you’ve been doing recently?

Not for a while. I haven't found the time, but I want to. And now I live around the corner. So that's the idea. It's much easier to just pop round early in the morning or late in the evening for a couple of hours. I’d like to try out mono printing too. It’s a technique, which kind of goes against the tradition of screen printing because screen printing is about doing multiples. But there are ways that you can just paint directly on to the screen and create one-off prints.

What does being part of the LIB bring to you personally?

I would say a big thing is the community. Like having the vernissages every month together. Because as an artist you spend a lot of time by yourself which I do enjoy, but then at the same time I also need to have contact with other people. I also like it when we build something together, like our second shop The Bleed, which just opened in the middle of April.


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