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Making a Street Artist


[MUSIC PLAYING] NARRATOR: Support
provided by the Glick Fund, a CICF fund focused
on inspiring philanthropy. Additional support provided
by the Christel DeHaan Family Foundation, in honor of
the children and families of Christel House. [MUSIC PLAYING] We’re here in Indie to meet
an incredibly multi-talented artist named Dan Thompson. Dan is known across
the US, not just for his amazing skill
as a graffiti artist, but also for his mural
work and illustration. I can’t wait for
you to meet him. Let’s get inside. The spray can is
available to everyone, probably in your house. I think the thing
about spray paint is it’s the easiest, in a way,
it’s the easiest thing to do. It’s the closest
thing to drawing. If you want to do
it, you just do it. The tool it’s only as good as
his your ambition to use it. It’s only as good as the problem
you set out to solve with it. Once I found that tool, I
immediately saw the problem that I was now going
to paint outside and I was going to paint big. And that was the way to do it. My name is Dan Thompson. I’m a painter and
illustrator, a muralist, and I work within the
group called FAB Crew. There are two of us. And we’re known for
a lot of public art. When I was in high school,
I would take a week off from my job unpaid so that I
could go spend all my money and go climb under a bridge
and go do a 50-foot mural. There was nothing that–
as a like hard-headed, just super like misanthropic,
disengaged teenager– nothing else held my attention. And that just seemed cool. Because now we can run
around and kind of stay out and have a purpose. As an adult, the more people
questioned it and thought it was bizarre, the more I just
wanted to do 10 more of them. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I do walls,
I mean, even when you think about
graffiti or lettering, if I’m doing lettering or if
I’m doing something that’s like a typography
piece for myself, it’s not about a letter
at all really to me. It’s a shape that all shapes. It’s a little piece
of real estate. This one might have stripes
and this one might be melting. And at the end of the day,
it’s just an illustration. I know that I’ve got creativity. And I’ve got an ability
to solve problems. I work really well in a team. And that stuff is
what has kept me in a position to have
opportunities to be creative. There’s a lot of stuff
I do that doesn’t require any pre-planning. My favorite kind of painting
is completely free style, meaning I start
with nothing in mind and I just put some dots on
the page or some strokes. And then I look and
go, what do I think that looks like to me now? Or how do I make this thing
that’s just a flat blob, how do I add three colors
to it, a little bit of spray and a couple of brush
strokes, to make it now feel like something
without it being anything. When it comes to murals,
they’re not all planned. But more often than not,
when the stakes get higher, you really have to set
yourself up for success. So when you’re
doing a wall that’s 80-feet long and 15-feet
high, whether you’re getting paid for it or
not, if you do that wrong, that’s a huge swing and a miss. And it’s just a serious fail. And it’s obvious. And so you want to do it right. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I was a kid,
it was always like, I would love to see
my name on a bus. And I have been able to
paint a couple of buses, like school buses or
whatever over the years. But to be on a city bus would
be like the crown jewel. The first time you see that,
like yes, to drive by your work and see it is crazy. But most of my murals
and public art, you have to know where
they are to see them. These buses come to you. And that’s the craziest part. And there’s a person who
has been for a few years sometimes a bus passenger, it’s
the craziest thing in the world to be waiting for the bus
and see your baby that you made roll up to pick you up. There’s so much you can learn. Art is a doorway to every
kind of information. There’s a very real need for
art and a very real attachment that art has to every
kind of information. So if you’re curious, I
mean, it’s hard to explain. But if you don’t
think you’re an artist and you don’t believe that’s
your destiny, the only way to do it, the only reason to
do it is because you enjoy it. If you ever were satisfied and
you ever got what you wanted, you would just quit. You have to fail and
continue doing it. Being able to work and
get paid for my skills, I don’t know that there’s
any way you can keep doing it if you didn’t do it. Because it just takes too much. If you want anything in
life, you have to work. And if you can’t get paid
for what you like to do, you’re going to do
what you get paid for. I think it’s just human nature. And I’ll be the first one to
tell you, I enjoy it for free. I do, I make my
living as a painter. But the only time I walk
away and I’m really happy is when I’m not
getting paid anything. When I’m coming
out-of-pocket, that’s when the work is best for me. For this project,
I’m going to let you decide what you get to do. Project 1 you can get
started on right at home. It only involves markers
and some colored pencils. Now, Project 2, though, is
a little bit more involved. So we’re going to head outside
because it involves some spray paint and some other materials. All right. You choose one or both. And let’s get started. [MUSIC PLAYING] Ever wonder how creativity,
innovation, and theater make their way into
roller coaster design? We’re here at Holiday World to
get a behind-the-scenes look to find out why. Follow me. [MUSIC PLAYING] My name is Lauren Crosby. And I’m–

Stephen Childs

2 Comments

  1. These are making me miss Indy, well besides the winter weather. Probably one of the most humble talented humans, but should of got him to do a drum solo. Quick suggestion for future video, History of Subsurface Jam that Dan and Ben put on. Good look into large scale mural fest with tries to the local and Midwest communities.

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