Friday Interview: Dan Butler! June 24, 2011 11:25

Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you've all had a good week! This week I'd like to introduce you to Dan Butler, an artist based in Queens, New York. He's the screenprinting talent behind our popular Providence print, and also some of the t-shirts that we carry.  Read on to learn more about Dan and what inspires him! 

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about what you make.
Hello, my name is Dan Butler.  I'm from the midwest, Kentucky born, Ohio raised.  I have a BFA in photography from Ohio University, however while pursuing my degree I found silkscreen and fell in love with it.  Several years ago i started to silkscreen again, after a few years away, and discovered I still loved it!  I enjoy drawing historical architecture and urban objects like street lights, signs, etc. and then making silkscreen prints of them. 

Describe your studio for us.
My studio is also my living space, which I think is common for a lot of artists.  I live in a studio apartment in Queens, NY (just moved here from Brooklyn) and I've been adjusting to the new neighborhood and work space.  It was strange to make work in a new place but it turns out I'm still an artist after moving to Queens!  I keep it pretty spartan in my apartment but when I'm working it looks like a disaster of paper, ink, tape, scissors, and boxes.  My kitchen pantry is full of screens, inks, supplies and artwork.  The elevated 7 train is within view of my window so it provides a constant chatter/hum in the background which is white noise but it adds some kind of nostalgic element to being an artist in New York City.

Tell us a little bit about the process that went into creating your Providence print.
That was a fun print to make!  I had never been to Providence, or Rhode Island for the matter, so seeing it for the first time was awesome.  I remember driving into town with my friend and I was giddy seeing all the old architecture and the layout of the city.  I was struck by how European the city felt.  I was only in town for the better part of a day and I wanted to make a drawing in Providence in hopes that it might hang in Craftland - drawing coolness permitting.  Kristin, from Craftland, was really helpful with suggestions about what to check out and even loaned me her umbrella since it was raining off and on.  I wandered around looking for the areas speaking to me and decided I loved the city hall building with it's textured copper trim and also the bold red Biltmore sign in the background was perfect.  Three hours later I had finished the drawing and within a few weeks i had finished the silkscreen of it.  I got quite a thrill when i learned the Providence Mayor and a Rhode Island Congressman both received this print as a gift and have them hanging in their offices! (Editor's note: For a photo of Dan's print hanging in Congressman Cicilline's office, click here.)

What do you do when you need some inspiration?
Stepping out of my normal routine really helps.  Taking walks in neighborhoods I've never seen before or going on road trips, if I can afford to get away, really energizes me.  Today i was walking around in Red Hook, Brooklyn and I came upon some killer food trucks, Papusas!, and took in some local organized soccer and baseball games which I love.  Also, I'm a big fan of certain kinds of music so I'm often listening to albums or artists that fill me with awe.

What advice would you offer to someone hoping to take their work from hobby to business?
Hmm... Good question.  I think being generous with what you can offer people is where it all starts.  Finding out how you can make your work available so people can be affected by it.  If possible try and find all the avenues artists are utilizing to make their work visible or for sale.  That in conjunction with talking with other artists and finding out what they did is really helpful.  

What does handmade mean to you?
I often think of handmade in terms of cooking, or homemade meals.  It just tastes better!  Handmade art or crafts hit me in the same way. I can feel a sense of the effort and the discipline the artist made to create a piece.  Handmade artwork and craftwork has depth and weight for me.

How did you first become involved in Craftland?
Devienna!  I was doing an event in NYC when I met her and she proposed I get in touch with Craftland.  I did and thankfully they (ya'll) wanted to carry my stuff!  I'll never forget the first time I got a call from Craftland saying they were sold out of some of my pieces and would be needing more.  It was a really good feeling to say the least.

Guilty Pleasure?
Would the fact that I like Andy Warhol's artwork be a guilty pleasure?  I might consider him a guilty pleasure since his work and presence are so saturated.  But I love his prints and the man knew how to use color!  I'm honored to be interviewed and thanks for asking!

Dan's prints featured in this article are available for sale in our online shop. Check them out here and here