New Artist Showcase: Danny Quirk

This is a post in a series of interviews featuring up-and-coming illustrators, in a celebration of the first annual Illustration Week.  Enjoy!

Danny Quirk



Your work is incredibly realistic. What is your process of completing a painting?
Everything is a staged photograph, collaged/comped in Photoshop, and that finished ‘comp’ is my sketch. From there, if I have time I’ll draw it out, or else graphite transfer the image onto paper. From there, just start painting away. ha. For the Marines series, bought uniforms/guns/props (all current to date/location) and used that as reference. If there’s one thing I can’t stress more ESP for realistic artists, it’s DO YOUR RESEARCH/ HAVE SOLID REFERENCE.

It just makes a world of difference in the final.

The anatomical ones are actually lots of fun to do. Generally speaking will ‘dissect’ a region of the body and photograph it. How I go about this is I’ll draw the anatomy ON the body, exactly where it would fall under the skin in permanent marker. From there, paint flesh tone latex over the anatomy, and have the subject cut it/peel it open, so when photographed, there will be the exposed anatomy in slight perspective as it would move with the body.

What gallery shows has your work been in lately? How did you pursue those opportunities?
They started off a lot with restaurant gallery places, and kind of worked their way up from  there, a really awesome place everyone should check out is G2 Ave A, it’s  free to show in, and the artist keeps 100% of the sales (shown there 3 times so far). From there showed in the 320 studios, and then did a showing of the military pieces in the 69th Fighting Regiment’s Armory. There were others in-between, but I won’t bore y’all with that. haha. But one MAJOR thing learned from these is network your asses off. Go to shows, be proud of your work, and talk to people, form alliances with those who are similarly different to you. It’s easy for galleries to turn down 1 artist at a time, but the more you have coming in, with strong work of similar themes/different styles (or vice versa) they’re less apt to turn you down, giving yourself another opportunity to be seen, and fact of the matter is, you just never know who could come through and see it.

How did you get into drawing Celtic knotwork?
Haha, it’s kind of embarrassing, but I was always fascinated by it, but never knew how to do it… My freshman year at Pratt, there was this girl I was totally head over heels for, and decided I’d break the news with an elaborate Celtic love letter. haha. Needless to say the feelings weren’t reciprocated, but it got me hooked on learning more about knotwork/means of construction, and to this day, it’s probably my favorite genre of work to do.
What excites you about Medical Illustration? Do you have any advice for other illustrators looking to get into the same field?
What I love about medical illustration is it is probably the ONLY field in illustration (or art for that matter) where work outweighs the worker. Plus, hyper technicality/realism is the only acceptable way to produce it.  Sadly, it requires a lot if extensive schooling (which is generally the main deterrent) but as soon as you’re out, almost guaranteed a JOB, not freelancing, but a real job. ha. Starting pay is roughly $60,00 a year, but if you’re talented/knowledgeable, not uncommon to exceed $250,000 a year off the work. Generally these top dogs work with law firms/pharmaceuticals, but that’s actually where most the ‘work’ comes from. Law firms need artists to illustrate/educate the jury in medical malpractice cases, and pharmaceuticals need artists to show how their products work. ha. One thing I’d offer to those interested (I totally regret not doing) is DON’T major in art, major in science/minor in art. There’s much more of an emphasis on science aspects and such that you’ll be at a massive disadvantage upon being accepted. First year is basically graduate level med school, which is why I’m taking a bunch of science courses as we speak. ha.

If you could meet any artist, dead or alive, who would it be?
Hmmm, being a massive Tool fan/appreciator of his work, I’d say Alex Grey. But that’s a borderline cliche answer coming from me. ha. Dead though, it would definitely have to be Jean Baptiste Boughry… He was an anatomist/surgeon/artist, and spent 25 yrs making his book “Atlas of Human Anatomy and Surgery”. It’s  pretty much my Holy Grail. Work is amazing, deliciously detailed, and totally worth every penny. It sucks as an anatomy book though for anyone not familiar with the body because nothing is labeled, but absolutely gorgeous work. If only I could have been one of the hundreds of flies on his wall and seen his process.

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