Bio

Third person version of my story:

Danny Gregory has written several internationally best-selling books on art and creativity and is currently writing his thirteenth. He lives in New York City.

Danny spent three decades as one of New York’s leading advertising creative directors and has created award-winning, global campaigns for clients like Chase, American Express, IBM, Ford, Chevron and many others.

Through his books (Shut Your Monkey, Art Before Breakfast, Everyday Matters, An Illustrated Life, The Creative License, etc) and in the several large online communities he oversees, Danny has shown thousands of people how to ignite their inner artists, embrace their creativity and tell the stories of their lives. From Indiana to Indonesia, people who haven’t drawn since grade school have picked up the creative habit and have gone on to publish books of their own and show and sell their artwork.

Danny is a co-founder of Sketchbook Skool, a  video-based art school designed to inspire creative storytelling through illustrated journaling. Taught by the world’s best illustrators, artists and educators, Sketchbook Skool encourages its global community of over 50,000 students to draw and keep a sketchbook regardless of skill level.

Danny was born in London, grew up in Pakistan, Australia, and Israel, and graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University.

More in-depth and personal version of my story:

I spent most of my life not believing I had the right to consider myself an artist in any way. But then I started drawing about twenty years ago and it changed my life. It led me to travel, to meet people, to get books published, but most of all it transformed the way I see the world around me and how I experience every day.

I believe that everyone has the same opportunity. Not to become a Professional Artist but to make art into a regular part of your everyday life. It doesn’t matter what your elementary school art teacher said, or your parents, or your boss. You have it in you to draw, to play an instrument, to write poetry, whatever you choose. You can and should express your self. Regardless of what you fear anyone else may thinks of the results, you can become a creative person and achieve a new view of the life you lead.

I often wonder what the world would be like if every adult was as creative and free as we all were as kids. I think it would be calmer, lovelier, more peaceful place. And I’d like to do something about it.

Several years ago, I started writing about my experience of creativity and sharing it on my website, dannygregory.com. Within a few months, the Everyday Matters group was formed and now thousands of people get together regularly to encourage each other in drawing and painting and making beautiful things. They chat on Yahoo! and Facebook and they get together in cities and towns around the world to collaborate and share.

I wrote my books  to help the sorts of people I met. Some are students, some were artists and designers. But most were just people like me who had suddenly decided, when they were well into adulthood, that they wanted to return to making creativity a regular part of their lives. Most of them don’t want to make a living painting or have their drawings hung in galleries and museums. They just want to have the pleasure and satisfaction of creating things.

More chronological sort of version of my life story for those who like their bios linear:

From foetus to freshman:  I was born in London, which we left when I was three or four. We moved briefly to Pittsburgh, Pa. then to Canberra, Australia. When I was nine, I went to live with my grandparents in Lahore, Pakistan. Next we went to a kibbutz in Israel then moved to a small town called Kfar Saba. As the Yom Kippur War broke out, we relocated to Brooklyn where I went to a Quaker high school. I was editor of the school paper and organized a Marxist study circle. I graduated from Princeton University, summa cum laude, with a degree in Politics. It was my 21st school.
When I was eleven, I began my first job – assisting the vet at the local slaughterhouse. I’ve worked in a record store, in one of New York’s finest restaurants, and my congressman’s office. I was a White House intern (Jimmy Carter lusted for me only in his heart) and a McDonalds’ fry cook.

Ad man: I have worked in a half dozen advertising agencies. I have been a Senior Partner of Ogilvy & mather, Chief Creative Officer of Doremus and Managing Partner, Executive Creative Director of McGarryBowen. I live in New York and Los Angeles with my son Jack Tea, my girlfriend JJ, and our miniature long-haired dachshunds, Joe and Tim.

Art man: I started drawing in earnest when I was in my mid thirties and, once I got the nerve up, hit the streets of my hometown, New York City, and started to draw buildings and people and animals and hot dog stands. I always work in a bound book, always in ink (dip pen), often in watercolor, occasionally in marker or pencil.
My son— now 20 and a painting major at RISD— loves to draw too, and we go out on sketchcrawls with old pals like Tommy Kane. We travel to different neighborhoods and perch on our foldings stools and record the City. Over the past decade, I have filled a hundred or so books with drawings and little written captions and anecdotes and the practice has transformed my life.
I have travelled the world, met lots of other people who either draw or would like to, and had adventures galore — all thanks to drawing what I encounter in a little book.

Author: I have published a handful of books, several about drawing and creativity. One, “Everyday Matters” was a memoir of how I learned to draw after my wife had a serious accident (she was run over by the #1 subway train which broke her back). The book seems to have caught on with a lot of people and I have been asked to write a couple more about illustrated journaling: “The Creative License“, “An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration From The Private Sketchbooks Of Artists, Illustrators And Designers,” “An Illustrated Journey: Inspiration From the Private Art Journals of Traveling Artists, Illustrators and Designers.”  After my wife Patti died, I wrote a memoir of the year that followed. It’s called “A Kiss Before You Go: an illustrated memoir of Love and Loss.”

A few years ago, I left my job in advertising to focus more on my art. I am now working more or less full-time on several new books, an online art skool, giving speeches and workshops on drawing and creativity, and every other day or so, I pop out an essay for this website.

In sum: Here’s the main thing I’d like you to know about me: I love making things and helping other people to find their way to doing the same. I hope you will join me.

20 thoughts on “Bio”

  1. Hey, Danny.,
    Just curious: when you paint/sketch pictures of yourself or others do you go by a photo first? How do you do self-portraits? Also, I’m signed up for your sketch skool.

    Thanks

    Elliott

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  2. Thanks Danny for sharing your story, it’s really inspiring! I have a similar path as you, and I ‘m happy I found Sketch Book Skool 🙂 keep up the amazing work! It’s nice to have people to look up to, that also got off the “conventional wagon”.

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  3. That is a great Story. U do what u like. I am very much inspired. Me too suddenly started drawing and I am good enough in it. But I am unable to give justice to both my day-job and my passion about sketching…

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  4. A-MA-zzzZING bio! Danny, I look forward to keeping an eye on your thoughts and instruction. I spent my ‘first career’ in design and advertising (oh MAN!!) and have ten years since come back to my love of watercolor and teaching small groups in my studio. To the point: Watching your posted videos, I am SO impressed with your ability to put creativity into words. I stumble and spit and wing my arms around searching for the words I can ‘feel’, but sometimes can’t formulate. You, sir, must work from both the right AND left sides of your brain . . .and it is masterful. Thank you for taking on the extra task of helping the rest of us catch your verve on creativity. I will do my best to pass it on (after I use it myself)!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Danny – I came across your blog because I am considering using the same template (HIVE) for a blog I am developing to showcase my writing (essays, comedy, sketches, commentary, etc). Then I started reading your bio and got drawn into your story and your work. I very much enjoyed it. I found it very inspirational as I am in my mid-thirties and aim to do much more with my writing (aside from journalism and political consulting) going forward.

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  6. ::applause::
    “I spent most of my life not believing I had the right to consider myself an artist in any way.” — Your words bopped me right in the head. I’m still struggling with this issue after several years of “doing art” (beginning at the oh-so-advanced age of 57). But each day it gets easier. Your words have helped, today. Thank you!
    And that’s a terrific self-portrait!
    🙂

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  7. Hi Danny,
    I just read “A Kiss Before Dying” and impulsively decided to put your trailer for the book and a short excerpt on my ‘going to goa’ blog today to share with my readers before checking with you to see if it is okay to do so. Here is the link if you want to see: https://goingtogoa.wordpress.com/2015/03/15/a-kiss-before-you-go/ My beloved Scott was also an artist who did not really think he had the right to call himself one. He would always say, “Katy is the artist, not me.” In his last year of life all of that changed. Our story is about our love and his art and the ‘trip of a lifetime’. Now I am looking to put my life together again. I’ve only just recently gotten back into my studio to paint…like learning a new language. Your story resonated so much with me and I thank you for expressing it so beautifully. I also know that pressure from well-meaning people who think the best is yet to come and try to tell me what the universe wants me to do now. I’m with you: Fuck the Universe! Thanks for your books.

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  8. OMG! I was walking in Central Park this morning with Sande Breakstone, and we got to talking with the walking, as we are wont to do. Your name came up. I doubt that you remember me, but I certainly remember you. From Ogilvy Days. Hello! And I’m really enjoying your blog.

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  9. No one could are would even dare to try describing your world with your unique experiences and abilities. I appreciate that you chose to do it for me and others. Thank you for another view for me to learn from.

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  10. Beautiful! Picked up your book Art Before Breakfast, very inspiring!
    Thank you for your honesty, and focusing on the idea that it’s the process of drawing and the magic that this brings to our minds. The result is almost besides the point.
    Rochester, New York

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  11. Your love for art made me think of my dear friend, the late great Juan Luis Buñuel. Not just his films, but he was a clay worker, loved to draw, paint, etc… You may wish to check out his book “Good Friends/Cheap Wine” (think I’m missing something more of his title – but none the less…) I’m sure he talks about his love for art too.

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