Interview with artist Dan Henk
Special thanks to Dan Henk for the images, our meeting in Austin, this interview and his support to Red Door.
The way I draw is hugely inspired by the work of John Totleben, Mike Kaluta, and Bernie Wrightson. Frank Frazetta and John Harris have been huge inspirations on my painting, and the list of tattoo artists who influence me grows all the time.There are so many good ones out there now, it’s hard to pick a few. Starting out, the guys I liked best on the scene were Guy Aitchison, Aaron Caine, Tom Renshaw, Deano Cook, Jay Wheeler and Stephane Claudesaigues. Some of my current favorites are Tommy Lee Wendtner, Paul Acker, Carlos Torres, and Steve Moore.
I’ve been reading forever, and I could go on a long rant of authors that influence me, but to simplify it, some of my favorites are John Steinbeck, H. P. Lovecraft, Neal Stephenson, Alan Moore, and Richard Matheson.
What about the shades and tones of your work. Do they hold specific meaning to you, and do they relate to your personal life?
Most people who do good artwork have a palette they prefer. I like to use slightly muted tones, and refer to my style as illustrated, as opposed to hyper realistic. I often sharpen the contrast, ad warmer tones and cooler tones, and play between a mix of super detail at points, to an almost surreal diffusion at others. Subtlety isn’t really my thing, I go for the visceral scene that will reach out and grab you.That comic book, older horror movie feel. The kind of stuff that always drew my attention as a kid.
What’s your creative process like?
I usually have way more ideas than I have time to draw and write about. I tend to throw around an idea. run with it until I fell I’ve hit a stumbling block, at which point I put it aside and work on another project until a fresh angle pops into my head. Then I dive back in. That might take a few hours, or it might take a week, but I always strive to put out work I am personally proud of, time isn’t really the factor.
What are your creative triggers? what inspires you? or… what leads you to make work?
I travel a lot, and I find the constant change of locals and cultures is a big influence. I see plenty of the world, and often the feel of a certain scene will spark something. I run all the time, and often some of the best ideas will coalesce while I’m out jogging.
Seeing other good work, whether it’s a book, movie, drawing, tattoo, whatever, always pushes me as well. I’ve seen a movie, and immediately gone home and started drawing or writing in a flash of inspiration. I’ve also been on a plane, or in a South American jungle, and something will pop into my head, and I’ll pull out my iPhone and make notes.
What changes, advances or progress have you seen in your work throughout the years
Well, hopefully I get better! I don’t think my idea of what makes good art or a good story has changed, I just find new approaches and ways to refine it. I really see the difference when I look at some of my older work that I was so proud of, and I’m like “I could do way better now!” It’s all a matter of trying to make each work a little better than the last.
Where are you currently located?
Words to live by:
“Words have no meaning, when they are said by shallow minds.”
You just have to get your stuff out there. Do every interview that comes your way, even if only 10 people see it. Post your work regularly on all the social media sites. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. Attend conventions, network, and do stuff for free if you have to put out work you want people to see. Advertising is not wasted money. Stickers, t-shirts, business cards, fliers. Try everything, and one day, you’re suddenly there.
Music wise, Ghost, Down, and the Misfits legacy tour I all saw recently, and they were great. The latest movies I enjoyed were Godzilla and Pacific Rim. The new albums by Carcass, Deftones, Clutch, and The Sword are good, although I feel like a lot of mainstays have dropped off. Books I recently enjoyed include The Swarm, Daughter of the Hounds, and Lucifer’s Hammer.
Deadguyllc on Facebook, DanHenk on Instagram, I always have updates on my website www.danhenk.com, DanHenk on twitter, and DanHenk on goodreads!
Buy my book you cheap bastards!