We had the good fortune of connecting with Jimmy Danko and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jimmy, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
If we’re talking about following our passion, I don’t think giving up is ever part of the equation. The only choice is to keep going. As an artist there was a moment where I danced briefly on the precipice of giving up and it felt like I was stepping away from my life force. Afterwards, I thought “never again”. In the search to “know thyself” there must also be an unfaltering belief in one’s self. Each time we let doubt creep in we take a step away from who we are meant to be. With any uncommon path there is uncertainty and failure as we chart our path forward. The key is to remember that these are the things that in the long term actually strengthen your resolve and belief in yourself. They are necessary processes for growth and success. At the end of my life I don’t want to look back and think “What if I had stayed on the path? What kind of amazing creations, both big and small, could I have brought to life?”
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
This is a pretty interesting time for my art. With the help of my partner Georgianna who is a Creative Director and brand specialist, I’ve renewed my entire perspective for my creative process and voice. I’ve also uncovered unconscious narratives that I’ve been wanting to express my whole life, and can now more fully lean in to the application of what I’m most inspired by. The core of my art has a deep kinesthetic aspect. I love the physicality of building and of having art that occupies multiple dimensions in space and different or contrasting surface materials. I enjoy using old world techniques like rich oil paints paired with hyperrealism juxtaposed with vibrant graphic elements. Much of my work explores our collective perception of memories and cultural imagery. It is an incubator for my inner world, and represents stories of exploration and adventure that have bubbled up as disjointed recollections from comic books, platoons of toys, and drawing pads throughout my life. My artwork is also heavily influenced by my time working in graphic design and advertising. Taking cues from commercial signage and design, many of my pieces are constructed of wood and steel, and often incorporate layered elements that extend beyond the traditional two-dimensional painting. The result is a harmony and dissonance that both nods towards a playful nostalgia, but also hints at something more subversive. In our lives, objects like a plastic toy soldier or a can of Dr. Pepper, over time, becomes a peripheral element of how we chart the past and present defined by relativity or current context. I present them back to the viewer as monuments gleaned from our collective unconscious. My aim is to present these themes as a shared history in play and wonder, open for individual interpretation. But more importantly to remind us how the forgotten small things have peppered our lives, ultimately shaping who we are. At its core art has been one of my greatest teachers. One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned along the way is to try to be cognizant of self-imposed rules and restrictions I may place on myself. I remind myself that there are no rules and try to give myself more of a break from time to time. When you start from that perspective in life, you see that almost anything is possible.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Over the course of 2020 and 2021 my relationship with how I interact with LA has had to evolve because of COVID-19. Despite my inability to frequent my favorite haunts, the list of things to do are low key, but remain solid. First, there’s never enough tacos in my life. Guisados is hands down my fave place to grab those. High on the list of other takeout possibilities would be Thai Patio on Hollywood Blvd, and PizzaNista near my art studio in the Arts District if Downtown. Just as important as the quest for food, is the necessity to escape from home from time to time. A trip to the west side to take in the ocean air at one of the many beaches that dot the coast is a welcome reprieve. While music venues and museums remain closed, a number of galleries are open for viewing by appointment. In any given week there is usually somewhere to safely indulge in artwork. I encourage people to reach out to galleries as you might be surprised how many are currently open. This is a perfect time to take advantage of getting to have an entire gallery to yourself (and a friend), which is a pretty magical way to experience art. Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The list of people I have to thank for where I am today on my artistic journey is endless, but there are a few who especially come to mind. Chris Bouton, CEO of Vyasa Analytics in Massachusetts, is not only a long time friend, he is also a collector of my work. His belief in what I do and our many esoteric conversations have played an integral part in my winding path forward. Issa Ababseh of Pop Fine Art, has been a friend and tremendous confidant as I navigate the inner workings of the artworld in LA and abroad. His passion, knowledge and reach in the emerging and established fine art world, as both a collector and gallery owner is invaluable. Ursula Koberg was one of the first collectors of my work, and faithfully has cheered me on from day one. One of my favorite writers and inspirational figures is retired Navy Seal, Jocko Willink. His writings and podcasts on leadership, self-discipline, martial arts and physical fitness have helped me develop solid routines that keep me on task and moving forward in life, but they also translate perfectly to the studio. Lastly, there is no one I have more to thank than my life partner Georgianna Allen. Her love, creative vision, and uncompromising belief in me are priceless gifts that I am grateful for everyday.
All images are my own. @jimmydanko