We had the good fortune of connecting with Dan Hodges and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dan, why did you pursue a creative career?
I was the art kid in school. I discovered I was really talented with photography. I worked at a local photo museum, in Massachusetts, and maintained the dark room throughout high school. I shot a lot of editorial photography, and was always trying to recreate shoots from W-Magazine and other colorful fashion spreads. I originally went to business school for my 1st year of undergrad, at Tulane, and loved New Orleans. But, I missed creating and transferred to Parsons School of Design, and for 4 years I lived the New York hustle. While in Design school, I was first interested in collaborative creative teams for nonprofits. But, I began to pick up more illustration classes during my foundation year. I was always drawing throughout childhood and have been fascinated by an encyclopedia of cartoons and animated movies released to date. My 1st big project, I got a team together to make an animated short, and worked with a licensed therapist to talk-down anxiety attacks meant for children’s hospitals. It’s hard to describe in words but I created this type of octopus made out of blue-light that visually calmed someone out of an anxiety attack. This type of work really resonated with me and I decided I wanted to pursue animation. Indie cartoons, shows on adult swim: Think Rugrats, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Ren & Stimpy, or really any raunchy, boundary-pushing cartoon. I wanted to be a part of that. Switching my focus over to that world, for the next few years I made a series of shorts and built a character design portfolio, thinking I would get hired at somewhere like Cartoon Network out of school. With the pandemic, that didn’t go as planned. Fresh out of design school, I freelanced, worked as part-time teacher, but also applied to MBA programs, looking to combine my unique creative background with my producer-esc and directive nature. Now, at Babson’s entrepreneurial grad program, I am pursuing a career path in advertising and brand management too ultimately become a creative director.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a cartoonist, my art is built with vibrant colors and careful line-work. Cartoons have always fascinated me and influenced my style. My work pushes the boundaries towards a loudly false reality. With hyper-colored, overstimulated media, my animation feeds into this obsession while also breaking traditional values to glorify humor and distortion. Being a satirical satanist at heart, I love visualizing my very own circus of characters. I frequently converse with myself, “Make a caricature of something artificial.” “What’s ironically toxic in society?” My life goal is to send my audience into an inter-dimensional, physics-defying reality full of rainbow drenched cartoon characters. Professionally, I am a recent Parsons School of Design graduate, with a BFA in illustration. Design school, submitting to film festivals, and building a website of my work took a lot of my time. But at the same time I balanced some really creative part-time jobs. I was a production intern for a Disney kids show. I really loved working there. One of my design internships truly turned into a full-time job creating original prints, animations and wearable products for vendors of “Drag Con.” I worked closely with artists from the cast of RuPaul’s Drag Race and other independent LGBT artists. Recently, I landed a freelance job to animate a short for my favorite TV show: Rick and Morty. I designed a mini-commercial in my own style, and gathered a small team of animation students. It aired in the UK this past November. It’s only 5 seconds but I’m really proud that something I made actually aired on live TV. I applied to every animation studio there is, post undergrad. I got a few freelance gigs in the process, but I realized how unsustainable and competitive the industry was. I was basically a freelancer. Truly, I’d rather make my own show. I took a part-time teaching job for hybrid learning, and was 1-on-1 with a child who had autism, as well being a private tutor for digital art classes for young kids missing out on extracurriculars during COVID. I applied to several MBA programs. Got into Babson and was convinced by a hefty scholarship, for an accelerated MBA-type program focused on entrepreneurship. Now, I am pursuing a career path in advertising and brand management too ultimately become a creative director.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Living in Bushwick, prior to the pandemic, was the best time of my life. When friends came to visit, I would start my day at a late brunch, at Le Garage. Getting a mimosa, a side of sausage, and dip them in the syrup from my French toast with caramelized pineapple. Next, I’d hop on a Revel scooter, left all over the area, and ride to a strip of thrift shops, like L Train Vintage or Domesday Express. Get a few cheap slices of pizza or chicken fingers at OMG Pizza. Have cocktails at the apartment before heading out on to the drag bars. I’ve always had a great time at Metropolitan or its sister bar, Macri Park. The now, Rupaul’s drag race famous, Kandy Muse, Aja always give a great performance. The drag shows start as late as 1am, but there’s great male performers and quirky club-goers who make the night leading up to it. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Gary Leib: Animator, Caroonist & Part-Time Faculty of Parsons School of Design.
All work drawn by Dan Hodges