The path towards becoming an artist varies from one individual to another. For the majority, it starts from an early age. Most would have had their first taste of making art through formal education such as art classes and that becomes the starting point for many. For Seattle-born artist Danny Minnick, drawing is second nature and he could easily sketch out his favourite cartoon characters when he was only in third grade.
However, an unfortunate event with a teacher in his younger days left Minnick feeling despaired and wronged. He was told to draw an image of his hand freestyle and because his artwork was perfectly drawn, his teacher asserted that he cheated. Minnick did not and the incident made him feel guilty, resulting in him drawing less over time. After the incident, he would still doodle but that passion he once had was no longer there.
Another of Minnick’s most fond experiences is skateboarding. With his natural aptitude for the urban sport, he competed professionally and enjoyed a successful career from it. On top of that, he was also acting as a stunt double. In 2010, he tore his Achilles tendon and the incident altered the course of his life. The injury meant Minnick could no longer partake in competitions and he shifted his focus to recovering.
Two years after his injury, fellow professional skateboarder Chad Muska introduced Minnick to his studio space and the concept of making art. Muska was already dabbling in contemporary art, similar to other skater-turned-artists such as Mark Gonzales, Ed Templeton and others. Minnick spent most of his time at Muska’s art studio and that was when he renewed his fervour for painting.
He uses an array of art materials like oils, acrylics, oil sticks, Krinks, sharpies and spray paint to create his body of work. Eventually, he held his first show titled “17 pieces” and the rest is history. Minnick’s artworks can be described as a medley of colours, thick paint, highly pigmented, fragments, splinters, brush and splatter work.
Oftentimes, art connoisseurs and collectors would mention Keith Haring, Willem de Kooning and Jean-Michel Basquiat when commenting on his art. Minnick tells us he is humbled to be compared with these artists who are widely celebrated in the contemporary art scene.
“I strive to shine the shoes of such titans,” he says. “They have without doubt influenced and inspired me in everything that I do. If I can come close to such legends then that will be a special day.”
A quick search online for Minnick’s artworks online and one will see the resemblance to these big names — bold brushstrokes of Willem de Kooning, cartoon figures of Keith Haring and the graffiti-style painting of Jean-Michel Basquiat. The medium of which Minnick’s art is conceived is through large-scale canvasses. Using that allows him to create pieces on a grander scale that can have a formidable presence and bold, visceral impact.
Minnick adopts “abstract expressionism” as his art style. This artistic movement developed and flourished in the 1940s and 1950s. Characterised by the gestural brushstrokes and an impression of spontaneity, these qualities set the ground for a clever cast of characters and hidden images that appear in the artworks of Minnick.
A common motif that is seen throughout Minnick’s works is the trademark stick-like figures, often with a “+” symbol around the pelvis area. Along with that, the colours he chose are also vibrant. Perhaps it is his multi-hyphenate professions, he approaches his works with little ego and a childlike sense of wonder and curiosity. The whimsical nature of Minnick comes through quite effortlessly and one can feel and see it in the work.
When asked what emotions he hopes the viewers experience when looking at his art, Minnick says, “I would like to think they get an intense feeling of pleasure and hope.” The process to which he goes about creating is atypical — it is as though he works backwards and almost like using reverse psychology. It could be interpreted as he already has a message he wants to convey and his works are an extension of his thoughts.
For other artists, the interpretation of their artworks is up to the viewers. They are free to unriddle what they see in front of them. More than that, Minnick’s ability to hone in on an emotion, stranded in an active moment of time, is what really stands out in his pieces. This unique proposition makes him a highly-sought artist for collaboration and to collect.
On the topic of collaboration, one would be remiss for not mentioning his close relationship with street art legend Al Diaz. The prolific graffiti artist is not only a school friend and close companion of Basquiat, but also the first to bring graffiti tags of New York under the name SAMO in 1977 to life.
Minnick’s partnership with Dias has had an influence on him. Al Diaz became a close friend and confidant of Minnick. “His first hand experiences of the 80’s New York street art scene and close relationship with Jean-Michel Basquiat make our collaborative work something special and unique.”
Counting personalities such as Nick Cassavetes, Michael Citrone, Gus Van Sant, LeBron James, Jamie Hince, Cash Warren and lately Jessica Alba as his collectors, Minnick attributes his success to a “mixture of karma, fate and a lot of hard work”. He’s also thankful for the fantastic support he had received from Lionel Ritchie and BDXChange.
Making his first foray into Asia, Minnick is thrilled to be working with the Singapore-based art gallery and boutique advisory firm, Art Works. “I have nothing but love and respect for a gallery with the integrity of Art Works. They have been great to work with and really supportive in developing my following in Asia.”
Demand for art pieces in Asia has seen a growing trend as the population accumulate more wealth and this leads to the embourgeoisement of society. Economic factors become less prominent and self-expression of post-material values takes precedence. Artworks are an avenue for people to explore this new venture — and also as a form of alternative investment.
Come next year, it will be an exciting time for Minnick as he is continuing his collaboration with BDXChang. Though he does not divulge much about this exciting project, he did ask us to “watch this space”. And sure we will!