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dan woodger

Hey Dan, first of all, how are you?

I’m doing well thanks, man! Spring is my favourite season so I’m always feeling pretty good this time of year!

For those that do not know who is Dan Woodger?

I’m an illustrator and animation director living and working in Kingston upon Thames. I’ve been working in the industry for 10 years and have built a portfolio of work around my colourful, humorous, character-based work.

Give us five interesting facts we may not know about you. Have you always wanted to become an artist?
  • I was a junior golf champion

  • I travelled to Utah on my own when I was 16 and stayed with a Mormon family for 2 weeks.

  • I won a music competition at school when I was 8 years old for playing ‘My Heart Will Go On' by Celine Dion on Trombone. I played so badly I’m pretty sure the judges gave me the award out of pity.

  • I can’t do that thing where you put your fingers in your mouth and make a really loud whistle but I’ve always really wanted to be able to do that.

  • I don’t think I’m interesting enough to have a fifth, the fourth was scraping the barrel, to be honest.

What inspires your art style?

I’m a 90’s kid so I grew up around all those old cartoons on Nickelodeon, Rugrats, Hey Arnold, Doug, Real Monsters and The Simpsons, so it’s a combination of those things that influenced my style and inspired me to do what I do.

You have worked for many huge clients, do you have a favourite?

It’s too hard to choose! I really enjoyed working with MTV and Samsung, but I don’t think I have a favourite. The best kind of client collaborations come when you strike a good relationship with the art director, if you trust and respect each other's opinions and creative vision you can make really fun work together.

In our conversations, we spoke about mistakes and failure which is something I have touched on, in my previous blogs. How important do you think it is to embrace failure?

Yeah, I just think it’s so important for artists to not be afraid to make mistakes. Mistakes and failures shape who we are. You learn so much about yourself and your work, what works, what doesn’t. Whilst I personally enjoy using social media as a tool to share the things I make, it seems to add a level of pressure, and a tendency to only share ‘perfect’ work creeps in which can be paralysing. Try your best to ignore that, especially if you’re just starting out and unsure about ‘your style’. Just make and share whatever you like, roughs, sketches, doodles, scribbles, random thoughts, get comfortable creating unpolished things because an artists ideas and thought processes can be just as valuable as polished artwork.

Leading on from this has there ever been any points where you think that this is the wrong path? Are there any lessons you’ve learnt from this?

Yeah for sure, I’ve had loads of ups and downs over the years. There’s one big one that stands out for me. About 5 years ago, I started getting really lazy with the way I used certain tools in photoshop & illustrator, I was relying heavily on shape tools and making things super symmetrical. Suddenly I took a long look at my work and realised I didn’t like where it was heading, it was TOO clean, too rigid. So I made a conscious effort to pay closer attention to my style, I brought a bit of wobble back into my line work, I tweaked the shape of my hands and legs, added a bit more detail in some places, and simplified in others. After 6 months or so I started moving in a direction I was much happier with. It just reminded me that as well as being my hobby, this is also my job and I think there’s a delicate balance to maintain, treat it too much like a job and it can become rigid and a bit lifeless. So now I just make sure to do a little ‘style check’ once or twice a year, kind of like an MOT for a car, just to take a broad look over the work I’m creating to make sure I’m still liking the direction.

For my final question, what's next for Dan Woodger?

A few exciting things in the works, I’ve just started on a mammoth, year-long project for a game company which I can’t wait to start shouting about. And hopefully more animation, I’ve got the animation bug and just want to make more & more!

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