One very talented young man has recognised the absence of clarity of meaning behind most modern illustration and has chosen to address it, juxtaposing a refined focus with sophisticated, witty aesthetic sensibility. Danny Allison’s illustrations are laconic, dry and direct. His strong photographic background marks a profound heritage in his style, sometimes giving his compositions a poignant realism, and often adding some very welcome Python-esque comic relief.
Question: What drew you to illustration/design? Danny: It just happened. It wasn’t something I had planned, I've always been creative in some form or other and the path I've taken has led to illustration. My plan was to become a photographer, but that happened and the goal posts moved. Life is like that. Question: Do you have any formal design training? Danny: I studied a national diploma in photography at Blackpool and the Fylde art college, then went on to do a higher national diploma in photography at Mid Cheshire, and ended up doing a degree in illustration at Preston University after being denied a place on the graphic design course because my design style was too unstructured. A blessing in disguise I think. Question: Where are you originally from? Danny: Cleveleys, a very small seaside town on the north west coast of England that neighbours Blackpool and the ex fishing town of Fleetwood. Now I'm on the move, drifting with the wind carrying paints, pens, scalpels, spray cans, a scanner and a laptop. Let's see where I end up. Question: Where do you live now & what drew you there? Danny: I'm writing this sat in my new studio in the Yorkshire hills but I have recently been travelling and illustrating my way around Australia for the last 12 months. I went to Australia to escape the doom and gloom of the recession in the UK, and let me tell you, it hardly dented Australia (both socially and economically). Question: Where is your studio and can you describe it for me? Danny: It's half indoors, half outdoors and is separated by saloon style doors. When it's sunny I am sat outside with nature, when it rains I am inside surrounded by manmade technologies. I prefer the nature side the most. Question: Who or what is your biggest inspiration? Danny: Photography gets me excited on a daily basis. I don’t really get too excited drawing inspiration from other illustrators. I look more at motion graphic artists, graphic designers and fine artists. I feel my style reflects all of the above. Question: Do you collect anything? Danny: Music from every corner of the globe. I can never get enough and I need the audio company as I'm often by myself working. Question: What are your interests outside of illustration? Danny: I love boxing, thai boxing and weight lifting. The polar opposite of what I do during the day as an illustrator. I need to sweat, and de stress by being physical. It balances out the mind and body as illustration gives the mind a constant workout.
Question: Tell us about a favourite project you’ve recently completed. Danny: The Fela Kuti front cover portrait illustration for the October 2010 Songlines magazine. All done by hand, screenprinted, spray painted and painted with acrylics. It's great when you establish a good working relationship with art directors who trust you and give you free reign, especially on a front cover. That's real trust and feels great as an illustrator and I feel it's when the client gets the best results. Question: What would be your dream job/commission? Danny: Working on a big advertising campaign that lasted a few months and designed to work for print, motion and screen, something I could really sink my teeth into and work with animators and graphic designers. I like working as part of a team and love learning new skills. I'm currently studying various techniques to bring my illustrations to life as I believe this is where it's heading with publications moving to ipads and phones etc. Welcome to the future. Question: Who is your art hero? Danny: I have to be honest and say Andy Warhol. Call it cliché, call it boring, but his early works and most of his screen prints that aren't famous are mind blowing. If I had the money his works would be hanging on my wall right now. His style has definitely influenced me in both my photography and illustration. Question: What's the best advice you’ve ever been given? Danny: You don't stop playing because you get old, you get old because you stop playing. Question: If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Danny: I would go deep under the ocean face to face with neon beasties. Nature's oddities really fascinate me, way more than places or people. Exmouth on the west coast of Australia would be ideal for me if there was a city close. If you have never been, I strongly advise it. Zero tourists and paradise on earth. Sharks and turtles within 5 meters of stepping in the ocean. Question: If you could travel back in time which period would you visit & why? Danny: It would be a time where things were simpler, where I wasn't bombarded by useless information at all times whether I liked it or not, where marketing didn't rule the world, where I wasn't told what to buy, when to buy it and so on. A time more wholesome than now. Maybe a time when my grandparents were children. Where kids still had fun with a marble and bits of string. I feel things are getting too complicated, disposable and unappreciated. Question: What's your favourite quote from a song or book or someone? Danny: "People are afraid to pursue their most important dreams, because they feel that they don't deserve them, or that they'll be unable to achieve them." Paulo Cohello. I see so many people give up on ideals and dreams because they are scared they will fail. If you haven't read this book, go and buy a copy now. Answered a lot of my questions.
EMI Records, Budweiser, BBC, Marlboro, Time Magazine, The Ecologist, Manchester United, Nature MagazineFavourites
: WellConnected Cafe Glebe on Glebe Point Road, Sydney. Amazing food and the place has authentic unforced creative atmosphere.
: National Geographic
: My travel blog
: Any independent that's not run by a fat cat.
: Scalpel, camera, photocopier, spray paint and acrylic.
: Natural History Museum