Meet me in Virginia

I will be leading a workshop at the amazing Workhouse Arts Center in Lufton, VA this weekend.

I’ll also be giving a talk that’s open to the public on Saturday night, April 8 (Patti’s birthday!) at 6 PM. I’ll be showing hundreds of drawings, sharing stories, and signing books — and I’d love to see you there.

Here are the details about the event.  It’s in Building W-16, 9518 Workhouse Way, Lorton, VA 22079

Beyond excited

I am thrilled to be traveling to Berlin to deliver a keynote talk at the amazing design and technology conference, Beyond Tellerand. I am also excited to attend the conference which is full of amazing speakers, designers, technologists and human beings of all stripes.

I’ll be speaking next Tuesday but, alas, the conference has been sold out for a while.  But there is a waiting list….

Back to 7th grade

Last week, I did an artist-in-residency at the United Nations International School here in New York.  I haven’t spent time in a school since my trip to Vietnam last spring and it was nice to hang out with young creative minds again.

I talked with a few groups of high school students, kids who were serious about art and preparing their portfolios for college.  I told them about Jack’s experience at RISD and let them page through a big pile of my sketchbooks. But most of the time I worked with 6th-8th graders — doing fun drawing exercises, talking to them about the purpose of art in their lives, showing them how to make comics out of their everyday lives, explaining how they could use journals to explore the world.

This age is a crossroad for creativity as tweens (ages 10-12) change so quickly from children into teenagers. In 6th grade, they are still interested in drawing and imagining and reading comics, still unselfconscious enough to plunge into any new activity with enthusiasm. A few months later, as puberty begins to roil their brains, they are focussed instead on how others see them, entwined in group dynamics, masking a loss of confidence with cynicism. It’s harder to get through to kids at this age, to get them to sink into the pleasure of drawing without constantly kibitzing with their friends, to listen to directions and suggestions, to avoid self-flagellation and choruses of “I’m no good at drawing.”  When the dust of preadolescence clears, former crayon artists will have divided into those who will continue to paint and draw and those who will never try it again.

I try to step into that fray to show that drawing can still be fun, still matter, still have a degree of cool and that  it’s not just for a select few who think they have talent. I ask the kids who say they can’t draw if they do draw. How often do they draw outside of art class? I ask them if they can remember drawing with crayons every day when they were 4 or 6. I tell them drawing is like learning to play a video game or shoot a basket, that failing is part of how you learn your way. I show them my own failures, how I improved, and all that drawing has brought to my life.

It’s an interesting challenge and increases my respect for middle-school teachers all the more.

Oddly, this was the first time I had ever worked with kids in New York, but many shared my perspective as a “third culture kid” who had grown up in lots of different countries. I explained that living on four continents and going to a dozen and a half schools before I was thirteen had shaped me into the person I am and had forged my perspective as a writer and an artist, my interest in investigating the things most people take for granted. Growing up as an outsider is the best perspective for an artist to have. New York is a city of outsiders, the perfect place for an internationalist to put down roots.

I have visited a dozen schools in the past year or two. I always come home exhausted and a lot smarter.

The last breakfast and the rocking classroom

I just wanted to remind you that the sale on my book, Art Before Breakfast, is about to come to an end. It’s available at most online books stores including AmazonOn February 1st, the price returns to normal. Meanwhile, here’s what you’ll get for less than the price of short latte.

winter16badge-300Also, I am excited to be joining Faith Ringgold (!) and a bunch of other creative superstars talking at the AOE’s Winter Conference. It’s an amazing opportunity for art teachers to hear some fresh, innovative perspectives that will rock your classroom.

I’ll be speaking at 11 am CST on January 30th. Hope to see you there!

Caps off!

Last week I really had to project my voice. I was invited to speak to a sprawling group of several hundred creative people in nine locations in California, Texas, Virginia, Washington and New York — all at the same time!

cap-oneThrough the miracle of videoconferencing, I was able to talk to all of these designers at Capital One bank at the same time, while they were able to comment live on what I was saying and even share the drawings they were making while I spoke.  It was a wonderful experience for me and here’s what they had to say about it:

“Today was totally great. Your work, sense of humor and overall energy was really loved by Capital One’s Digital Design Team. They are usually a TOUGH crowd!
“Danny’s such a great speaker. He is dropping some deep knowledge! Drawing as a metaphor for life!
“I’ve never been a draw-er, but he’s making me want to hit the art store on my way home.
“I love how observant and thoughtful he is!
“Mind blown!
“This is so inspirational.
“This is fantastic!
“Thank you so so much for bringing him here…”

Can we adopt this guy as our Godfather?

Blush.

If you want me to speak to your company, group or school, personally or virtually — get in touch and let’s see if we can work it out.