Furies Magazine: When did you get your start as an artist?
Daniel Counce: I began drawing before kindergarten but I didn’t really think about it until the Ninja Turtles and Mario Bros came around. So I’d say in the early fall of 1990 approximately. I know there’s a nerd out there that’s saying neither of those things came out in 1990 but whatever. I was in kindergarten. My junior year of high school was when I started to paint with acrylic on canvas. The first painting I sold I believe was in January of 2008 to a greedy gallery owner, and from then to 2012 I sold most of my stuff to her out of desperation so If you wanna see this stuff in person good luck.
FM: Is art hereditary in your family?
DC: Art is not hereditary in my family. Although my parents did meet in art class when they were in high school. Aside from my mother and father absolutely no way art is hereditary. They are creative and do some art, which is fascinating to me, although it would not be consistent with what is considered the fine arts. My father is a carpenter and my mom is pretty crafty, but if you ask anyone before them they’d tell you its the devils work, or for rich gay people. And this is exactly how I was branded a black sheep by grandparents, uncle,s etc. I’m neither rich nor gay.
FM: Do you force yourself to work or do you wait for inspiration?
DC: Both. I have epiphanies and force my self to finish whatever I’m working on before I bring the epiphany to life. Sometimes forced creativity is needed and sometimes where i can shine in the dark. If you sit around waiting for inspiration you’ll die old and boring. I force myself to be inspired. Money is a good motivator too. Honestly as long as people see my work, and whether or not they can relate, is more important than cash in the long run. If I inspire someone to think it might manifest into the viewers own breakthrough and then the sneeze becomes a hurricane. I’d also add that generating work is somewhat a seasonal thing. Spring and fall are more Music related where Summer and Winter is usually visual in my output. Peoples’ challenges or commissions inspire me as well.
FM: Where do you turn when you’re lacking inspiration? Is there a book, a movie?
DC: I just live and exist. As you all may know, Memphis is a creative vaccumm of work, sports, and drugs, but inspiration’s out there. I usually climb up into my memory castle and think of stories I haven’t told yet. “50 secrets of Magic Craftsmanship” by Salvador Dali is a good one. Mostly I think of brain excersises, or try to improve on things I haven’t really been successful with. For example if i think I’m at painting various hairstyles, I’ll work up some hair related compositions and go from there. Movies don’t really do much for me. Unless Im studying a certain something that can be seen in a movie. Most of my ideas come from bein’ beat, broke, and down trodeden; trying to cushion the rigidity of the world that mankind built for itself. In other words, the viscious cycle that is reality; having to have a job, in order to make enough money to make it to work. Essentially scraping by for survivals’ sake. To paint is to escape and share the dream, maybe even to experience it in some way. Everyone else is a puppet too, I just blow off steam with art, as opposed to the lack luster of drinking away boredom, or for that matter bein bored. Everyone suffers. Not everyone writes opera jams or paints. ‘Bout once every two months me and my wife go hang out with “friends,” which gives the both of us inspiration for writing music, or creating artworks for the following 8 to 12 months.
FM: What type of music do you like to listen to when you’re working?
DC: Thanks to the interweb I can listen to anything. My favorites range from Slayer and Burzum to the White Stripes and Thee Ohh See’s or Curtis Mayfield all kinds of shit. The regulars are always like, the Dead Kennedeys, Queens of the Stone Age, Gogol Bordello, Pearl Jam, the Melvins. Nothing by anyone younger than me, and nothing that has fake instruments. Everything else is good. Minus modern country music. That shit sucks. Fundamentally I could get into Brad Paisley though, cuz’ he and god have it all worked out, I can dig that idea cuz me and god don’t speak anymore and I think he’s cool with that….
FM: What is your workspace like?
DC: My workspace is a 10×12 bedroom in my parents house (where I still live). My studio doubles as me and my wife’s entire living space. Creative people don’t get paid, and in Memphis No one pays.
FM: What do you need to focus?
DC: Nothing really. If i have a need to get something done I’ll finish it usually. Stopping is the problem. It’s hard to start a project but its way harder to stop. Especially for things like work, family reunions or fake holidays.
FM: Has your work ever interfered with your personal life?
DC: Sometimes I think it does. I honestly feel like if I were not creative and very active I would have a better job, family etc. Its the whole black sheep thing again. Since I have a different perspective etc. I don’t seem to fit, my opinions don’t matter and my family or friends don’t relate, therefore less communications and connections, eg. less comfortable life style. People dont care about art or music anymore. The worlds’ focus now is on glammour and money, my focus is art, creativity and honesty. Psy’s whole deal and Gangham style is all about how he’s wealthy and from the rich part of town. People want expensive purses and to not think about anything ever. So yeah my work has interfered with my personal life. I can’t talk about football or church so I’m essentially friendless. I may be slightly exaggerating but i think that me and my wife have such a warpped view and a dry wit that most people take our most facetious comments, which to us are insanly hillarious as our true world views. I think this along with my generally quiet nature, makes me very misunderstood by the general public, not that they are to blame. I find myself having endless conversations of others’ perceptions and how different they are from what I took from seemingly the same incident, I’m rambling so, “What was the question?” Ah yes, I think my work, or better yet my thoughts, often interfere with both my professional and home life.
FM: What current projects are you working on?
DC: I’m currently working on music and songs. Art wise nothing really deep. Im making mixtapes of my songs to leave at record stores for people to take for free so the cd covers are about all I’ve done lately. It’ll all be comission based or by request until i have a breakthrough or get tired of writing songs. Then I’ll paint seriously until the season changes.. Im considering doing some counterfeit art to sell at an antique store, or re-tellings of classics like “Judith beheading Hollofernes” or “Las Meninas”
FM: What are your future plans?
DC: To keep on keeping on, get a real job, get married, move to Portugal. Move out of my parents home. Make everyone happy. Die in the gutter a broke genius. Build time machine and rob people. I dunno as far as I’m concerned, and in the kind words of John Lyndon Rotten. “No future No future No future for me” and In my own words “Hope is disappointment in disguise”. I really see nothing worth talking about in my future. Im 30 and I live with my parents, work very hard at a job that has no benefits, can barely support myself as it is and see no future improvements unless there is a zombie outbreak, then I’ll be f*cking royalty. Being clever doesnt pay… Evidently money is everything. but I do have true love so I honestly dont really care about the future. From my observation I see all of my peers with only 1 thing. One guy has his own house and thats all. Another friend has 4 kids, and thats all. The next guy has his dream job thanks to trade school, and thats all.
I have Love and thats all you need.
Daniel’s work has been featured in the Memphis Flyer. You can also look at his facebook page.