We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniel Landerman and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Daniel, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born and raised in Northern California on an agriculture farm. My dad was a wholistic dentist and a farmer, also born and raised in Nor Cal, and my mom farms and practices Ayurveda and Jyotish (Vedic astrology). She was born and raised in Mumbai, India. As early as I can remember I’ve had the influences of both American and Indian cultures, albeit mostly American. But the spirituality of the Hindu culture always resonated with me and grew up meditating and saying mantras often. The biggest impact has been the benefits of that spiritual nature and how it’s allowed me to navigate the American cultures I grew up in and currently find myself negotiating. It gets a little hectic at time working in advertising and being able to clear my mind in a second and center myself in such a high-octane environment is priceless. It helps me turn the act of drawing into my daily meditation so work rarely tires me out. I often find myself ready to draw more after a 10 hour work day. The other aspect of Hindu culture that I think has really shaped who I am is the mythology. My mom would read us the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and they were such epic stories I feel like they really imprinted on me as a kid. I love epics. Even the one-off sketches I do as warmups I envision as being little snippets or vignettes in some kind of grand adventure. To this day I have a very hard time coming up with short stories. They always end up as a couple of scenes clipped from a larger narrative. From those Hindu myths, often illustrated, probably also came much of my visual aesthetic. My characters’ designs are always strongly influenced by South Asian shapes and motifs. I don’t try to fight it. I love those visuals.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I feel like I’m a bit all over the place sometimes. Professionally I work as a sketch artist and illustrator in advertising where I help visualize key art for film, TV, streaming and video games. Personally I draw or paint or write whatever fits my mood at the time. I launched a Kickstarter campaign on July 9th for a book of selected sketches and paintings from the last few years (www.kickstarter.com/projects/spiridon/daya-the-art-of-daniel-landerman). I’m working on launching a Patreon soon. I’m also working on getting some apparel products online, hopefully in August, but it depends on where productions stand with all the COVID-19 lockdowns. This all points to my being happiest when I’m creating stuff. At times it leads to some artistic chaos and lack of focus because illustrating is a little different than writing which is different than sketching and professional work is different than personal work and it all needs to be balanced somehow. I can’t say that I have it down yet, but I’m working on it. It’s been challenging at times, but it is also what kept me sane and driven through the years. Some of those years were harder than others. I graduated from Art Center in December of 2007… right into a recession. I got in just in time to land a regular client, but that wasn’t really enough to pay all the bills and the rent and the criminally high student loan payments. There were a couple years of regular collections calls and sometimes not making rent till the very last day of the month. There were a few times I had to borrow the rent money from friends or family. Through all of that I did my best to use the frustration and stress to get better at drawing and painting. I knew I could turn it around, I just didn’t know how long it would take. There was a lot of taking jobs I didn’t care about in order to keep some paychecks coming in. I had a client fold up shop and leave the country when they still owed me $1500 which would’ve given me a month of breathing room at the time. There were clients that just didn’t want to pay on time. The problem then is how hard do you go at them? I needed them as clients still, so I couldn’t push too hard, but I needed to pay rent so I still needed to push at least a little. There was a lot of “walking a razor’s edge” going on. I was working mostly from home back then and I realized that was hurting my relationships a lot. In advertising there can be a high turnover rate and people come and go. When they go to another agency, the hope is that they’ll take your name with them and increase your client base, but if you don’t put in the face time, the new people never get to know you. I decided to start going in to studios again. Even though that meant an hour commute each way in most cases. It was worth it. Work turned around and before I knew it I was turning down work… but only after accepting enough to keep me busy for about 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was all a learning experience. I learned what it really meant to be a professional, an adult and a working artist. I also promised myself I’d never live under that kind of stress again. I didn’t ever want to talk to a collector again. In 2014 I was offered a full-time position at BOND Creative (www.WeAreBOND.com) and I couldn’t really turn it down. The stability was very appealing even though the freelance work was going really well. I knew it could dry up at any time and I wasn’t really into the hustle anymore. I haven’t regretted that decision. I had already learned how to push myself artistically and professionally and I’ve made sure to keep it up. I constantly push myself to best that I know how which allowed me to more than double my salary in the space of 5 years. Mostly because I always want to feel like I’m earning my paycheck, rather than being “owed” a paycheck. I enjoy pulling my weight in the high-octane ad environment… even though it does leave me NEEDING a vacation a little more often! But that’s cool. I never got to vacation when I freelanced because I was afraid to go out of town. Now my work encourages us to take some down time and it allows me to gather more inspiration for my myriad extracurricular projects. I can’t complain.

Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
You’re talking to someone that stays home and draws all day, haha! But my girlfriend and I do love going out for cocktails and delicious food on the weekends. Or we did before COVID-19 kicked us all in the balls. Los Angeles has so many great places for food and drinks I feel like my itinerary would depend on the friend. It could involve The Huntington Museum and Gardens and the Norton Simon (I live on the East Side), or a hike on the Santa Anita Loop or the Bridge to Nowhere. The Arts District DTLA is always a safe bet. Eat Drink Americano has delicious food and cocktails. Wurstküche has those amazing sausages and a great beer selection. BRERA does not disappoint. 71 Above is a great place to show off the city visually and have some pretty great cocktails. Pizzeria Mozza is about the best thing ever! On the East Side we might hit Hippo in Highland Park or Magnolia House in Pasadena (their Fish & Chips are killer!). Of course I’m just hoping all these places are still open in a couple months. We’ll see. The landscape of hotspots is probably changing, but for now those are some of my top picks.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to give a massive amount of credit to my Mom. She was studying art when she lived in India and always encouraged my brother and I to explore creativity in all its facets. She never once tried to push me in another direction. I also have to thank my drawing teacher from my early college days at DigiPen Institute of Technology, Abbott Smith. Most of my life my art teachers tried to push me into still lives or some form of abstract expressionism or color fields or who the hell knows what. Abbott was the first art teacher I had that actually really liked the subject matter my illustrator’s mind would come up with. He pushed me hard when I needed it, tore me down when I needed it, and encouraged me when I needed it. I really don’t know if I’d have the professional chops that I do without him. Another art instructor I had, this time at Art Center College of Design, was David Luce, and he changed my way of thinking. I always felt like David had a way of balancing the seriousness of painting with the ridiculousness of the world we find ourselves in. I’ve NEVER been a social commentator type of artist. There are people that can do that far better than I can, but I think it’s still important to reflect our world in some way either by telling a visual story that’s needed, or a visual story that’s happening. David taught me to see both. I don’t always inject them in my work, but I do at least always think about it. There’s a lot of internal contemplation that happens as a result of studying and conversing with him. I owe David Luce a lot. Lastly, I’ve been posting my art online since I was 17 years old in 1997. It’s been a while. The endless support I’ve always received from the various online communities over the years has always pushed me to do better. If they love an illustration I create, then I want to do another one that they’ll love even more. I don’t want to let them down so I always delve deep to see what I can work on and where I can improve. They mean a lot to me.

Website: www.danieldraws.art
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/daniel_landerman/
Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/artdl/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DanielLanderman
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanielLandermanArt/
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/c/daniel-landermans-desk
Other: https://www.twitch.tv/daniel_landerman