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Interview with Daniel Herr

By September 24, 2019Art

Interview by Julia Cipriano

Daniel’s show, Basic Economy, is currently on exhibition at The Java Project Gallery.

Below is our brief exchange, which touches on the inspiration and creative process behind his show. That said, a description doesn’t begin to do his work justice – go see it in person while it’s still on display in the gallery. Enjoy!


You described the paintings in Basic Economy as based on “places, travels, journeys.” Is each piece inspired by a different place / experience, or is there a thematic link? 

It’s just that I’ve traveled a lot in recent years, really. I have so much material to work with, whether it’s photos or drawings done on site, that it seems silly not to use it. I do always like to “go” somewhere when I paint, as cheesy as that sounds. I try and keep a whole painting contained in a specific place psychologically.


How does drawing relate to the final product, a painting? Your artist’s statement mentions that lately, you’ve relied more heavily on drawing, as it allows you to create work that falls outside the realm of intention. Can you say a bit more about this process – do you first free-draw and then pull inspiration for your paintings? Or is it more technical – you sketch / draw on your canvas and then paint over it? 

I like to do a lot of drawings that aren’t part of anything. I’ll fill up a book and leave it in a stack, do something else. A lot of times it’s like doing calisthenics. Sometimes I’ll take a drawing and decide I want to translate it onto a larger surface. It will either work or it won’t, but at least I’ll have something to start with. I like the idea of re-creating the spontaneous act. Sometimes I try and make the same drawing over and over, until it’s unrecognizable. It all comes down to coming up with a strategy for making an abstract image that isn’t meaningless.

Can you tell us briefly about your process – how you move from conception to completion? Do you generally work in the same way, following a similar trajectory, or does it vary from piece to piece, or project to project?

I don’t have a set process. I feel like I kind of reinvent the wheel every time I make something, or it feels that way anyhow. Aside from priming the canvas and keeping regular studio hours, I see each painting as a unique experience.


How does the title connect to the work itself? 

I was thinking about travel but also in painting sometimes people refer to mark-making as “economical.” I liked the way the two words sounded together. You see it all the time at the airport or looking online but if you apply it to describing painting itself it changes a bit: The “basic” idea or “economy” of drawing..


How does this series connect to / contrast with your larger body of work – medium, subject matter, style, etc?

It’s pretty typical of what I’m working on now. It’s just a small selection of each state of the process. The big work is the sort of epic human-scale adventure, the mid sized works are a little more tightly edited, and the drawings are quick impressions done in the studio or on location.  

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