Dalton Doodles

Creator Spotlight 
Date / Time:
May 2, 2020
Pacific Arc Team

Dalton Doodles

How did you know you were interested in art?

I don’t recall a particular moment when I was younger where art specifically became a point of infatuation with me rather than it was something I was always kind of doing it for as long as I remember. I was VERY interested in dinosaurs though, and you could say the art followed that! 

Did you have art studies, or were you self-taught?

I feel like I’m spiritually a self-taught kind of dude. I really have to just figure out my own way of doing things in the world. I guess that would be just me leaning closer and looking harder into the things that are interesting to me. Most of my fundamental arts education just came from public school like most folks. All I wanted to do was take drawing classes. I even took the same studio drawing class twice in high school just because it gave me an excuse to go do the only thing I ever really felt was mine to have and hone. I did take more graphic design oriented courses during my brief encounters in community college (an area that, while I did not naturally fit into, I now wish I would have paid more attention to given the sheer versatility of it especially my own independent work). I would say the best creative education I got was from The Ghostshrimp Online Workshop that I took back in 2018. Ghostshrimp (the dude who did many of the iconic backgrounds for the cartoon Adventure Time, including the treehouse).  He really is keyed into creativity in a very special kind of way - that guy just gets it. So having him as a mentor over the years has been a huge catalyst to my growth I would say.

How would you describe your illustrations in three words?

Venomous Eye Nectar!

Who are your inspirations?

Nick Edwards sketchbooks were the ultimate catalyst for how I both approach filling the pages of sketchbooks and also just creating busy in the best way, character crazy illustrations. I’ve always been attracted to things with lots of stuff going on in them. T-wei is the absolute god of shape and character design, which I think is another place a lot of my tastes lie .Q Hiyashida, who is the manga artist behind Dorohedoro, is a huge inspiration for me in terms of creating endearing characters that aesthetically look like an emo high schooler drew them. Her work makes me want to be more messy about my own use of line work. Pibmo does a very similar thing for me in creating beautiful things using seemingly messy or loose line work, all while using digital colors like it’s a mixed media palette. Great characters too. 

How do you cope with creative blocks?

I think creative blocks for me look like making a lot of marks but nothing is feeling right. The magic is kind of missing or I’m uncertain about the direction I’m trying to go. It’s almost inevitable that I’m going to have some projects that I have to draw something 1000 times before one good thing comes out from it. I heavily subscribe to the idea that that period of not knowing is just part of the creative process and not so much a personal downfall. That being said, I think you just have to do some real life stuff too and fill that creative tank up. It’s okay and probably very necessary to take a step back when you feel you are hitting a wall. I love going on walks and overall spending time in nature, especially when these kinds of moments happen. Playing video games, hanging out with friends, doing the dishes, playing with your pets, going to a park, have to just go exists for a bit so that you can bring it back into that creative work! I think going through rough creative periods enough and being on the other side of it again and again really is what helps get through those times. Knowing that you’ve felt that before and it turns out okay every time as long as you don’t quit entirely offers some relief. You’ll arrive at lush creative lands eventually. Remembering that feeling of putting the pen down to the page and things just spilling out I think is important because you’ll get back there inevitably, as you always have before.

Could you describe your process?

I like to start with some kind of free associative wordlist making, writing down any and all words or phrases that come to mind when I’m thinking about the particular prompt. At this phase I’m not judging or withholding anything that comes to mind I just jot it down even if it’s completely irrelevant. That strange word or thought could be what bounces your brain off into that really cool idea. I’m pretty much searching for words that recall an image in my mind or evoke some kind of emotion. This then leads into just filling the page with as much necessary nonsense as I can, sketches, scribbles, scratches. Every bad drawing or idea I put down will only make that ULTIMATE idea lying dormant beneath the ice caps more powerful when it is time for it to awaken. Giving it the space and time to grow and morph within the cocoon of my subconscious is important too. I believe that’s simply a matter of being aware of the discomfort of either not knowing what you’re going to do at all or being hung up on an idea that is good and passable and your parents might like it but you’re not hot and heavy head over heels for it. “To be able to stand not knowing something long enough to let something alive take shape” as the oh so powerful comic artist, Lynda Barry, puts it. I try not to sell myself short of what I know is lurking out there beyond what my reaching conscious mind can grab. I think the best ideas will surprise me, evoke a certain kind of excitement that I can feel so strongly in my gut, almost like a message from outside myself. I try to carry this kind of attitude throughout the creation of the piece, just trying to listen to what it needs me to do to be what it will.
As far as the technical stuff goes I use a .07 mechanical pencil for my sketching, ink stuff out with something like a Micron Pen, and color my stuff initially traditionally with alcohol based markers, to which I will then scan into my computer where I’ll do any kind of color corrections or editing in Photoshop!

What is one of your favorite pieces of your work?

I did this big pig drawing for Chinese new year back in 2019 and that one just has a special place in my heart, I had spent the whole day just so focused in on it, like the rest of the world just didn’t exist for awhile. I think anytime I can get into that space is the most ideal. It’s as if your studio space is floating outside of the heavens, drifting through time.

What kind of projects have you worked on recently? What was the most challenging? The most rewarding?

I just finished drawing all the Pokemon from Generation 3 on a poster which was a project I exclusively did on Twitch livestream. I did my first live drawing painting event recently too. It was challenging in the sense that I have never used Posca paint pens on a larger canvas scale like to create a freestyle piece so I was really learning as I went. Also took the Ghostshrimp Magnus Dopus Online Workshop where I created an 18 x 24 in. drawing of this dragon that was probably the most complicated piece I’ve made. I’m finding I really enjoy larger scale work that I can just spend more time on as an individual piece. I think that piece was the most rewarding in terms of seeing it through to completion despite the bumps in the road it presented along the way. 

How long does it take you to complete a piece?

Really depends on the scale and complexity of things which I feel like is kind of a straightforward answer. I notice I take my time a lot more on drawings than I used to, but also the overall technicality of them has increased too so it seems very necessary to give it the time it needs to be what it wants to be. Sometimes days or weeks for character designs, occasionally months for full on illustrations!

Inspiration – necessary, or a myth?

In terms of whether inspiration is necessary to make creative work I think it’s fair to say as far as getting started is concerned, it is not required in the sense of a epic lightning bolt moment of inspiration. I think it’s a matter of showing up at the page where that muse can meet you and bestow some magical madness onto your mind. Not to say we can’t find some kind of inspiration in the limitless realm of life we live in to get the gears going. I just think you can’t wait around for it to pick you up, put you on its shoulders, and fly you to the moon. You have to just start building that rocket to the stars and, hopefully, it’ll show up with that high-grade alien space fuel when you least expect it.

What criteria do you use to critique your work?

 I feel like there is some part of my gut that just knows when a sketch is the right sketch and I try to just go by that mostly - gut feelings and intuitions. I believe also that having a specific person in mind when I’m making a drawing and whether or not I think they would be excited on it works too. 

How much attention do you pay to the feedback of others on your work?

Most of the feedback to my work is probably just in the form of comments on Instagram which are generally pretty positive or supportive. I’m pretty oblivious to that stuff most the time and just do what feels right. 

How many hours a day do you spend drawing?

This varies but I think average 2-4 hours is a solid time frame. I’m not always getting super into a drawing everyday though so this can sometimes just be a little bit of doodling for the day between admin/business work.

Do you still have time to draw only for your pleasure, except commissions?

I like to think this is a lot more in balance now than it used to be since I started to be more picky about the kind of work I was taking on. I used to have a hard time saying no and would end up spending too much time on something I didn’t even want to show anybody by the time it was all said and done. I don’t generally find commission work very enjoyable so have made an effort to make my personal work the core of my art practice. I think that can seem self indulgent or something but I think if I’m having fun with what I’m working on then people will appreciate that way more than me trudging through something I’m dreading the whole time just to do it. In terms of making things purely without purpose and fully for pleasure I definitely find the time too, even if it feels like I’m procrastinating in face of an eternal to-do list, I think getting lost in a doodle connects me back with myself and my art at its core and that bleeds into everything else ultimately. 

When someone commissions a project from you, what’s the first thing you do? Where do you start?

I usually just do a bunch of sketches and studies regarding the idea or subject matter in mind.  The sooner I do this, the better! I’ll look up some kind of references or make some general kind of mood board for what the client is asking me for (or if there isn’t a specific target in mind, exploring some direction for myself!). Figuring out the feeling I’m trying to convey is really important, whether that’s what feeling I want the piece to contain or a specific feeling I want to invoke when someone looks at the thing. I think the more clear I can get on the target for a project the smoother the brainstorming process can be. It’s hard to make something just “cool for cool’s sake”. Wordlists help a ton too in this!

Is it important for an artist to reserve some time to draw for themselves?

I go crazy if I don’t make the space for myself to draw whatever, and burnout is very real in that sense. It’s like any other kind of self care activity that feels off track at times but ultimately sharpens and refreshes your mental blade of wellbeing in a way you often didn’t know how bad you needed it until you do it. I tend to lean harder on the side of making time for myself to do things like this.

What do you enjoy the most about what you do?

The freedom that comes with being an independent artist I believe is what’s so super important to me. I’m always wanting to go to places on a whim so having work that I can take with me anywhere really compliments that flexibility. I just need to be happy. Honestly, getting paid to draw crocodiles and anime girls is its own reward.

Any upcoming projects/work you’re excited about?

I’m going to be assisting in the Ghost Shrimp 12 Week Online Workshop that’s coming up here. This is super exciting considering that taking the workshop back in 2018 was a huge part of my creative career development! I’m also doing some live drawing events where I’m essentially just freestyle drawing on canvas. Doodling or doing more freestyle kinds of art is really a backbone of who I am and what I do as an artist so I’ve been really excited to start taking this practice into more of the live real-life space instead of just live-streaming.

Any advice to young artists?

Carry a sketchbook with you everywhere, it is your companion, it is your way to connect and collect and reflect on this strange world around you. It will breathe with you, explore and capture your external and internal world with it. Also style is inevitable as long as you keep making stuff. So seriously, don’t stress too hard about it.

Where can people find your work?

You can find my work @daltondoodles mainly on Instagram and sometimes on Twitter and if you want to see some real juicy crazy stuff check out my Patreon where I share a lot of my sketchbook workings! 

Stay sweet out there.





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