When he drew his first caricature of his grade school teacher as a young kid, he thought was doing something new. While he soon learned otherwise, Dan Springer has created a career out of exaggerating the characters of people – the famous, the everyday and canines, too.
GP: Can you share your relationship with Tar Pit, the cafe?
Dan: I live in the neighborhood. I’ve been going there for coffee since it first opened. The coffee is really good there.
GP: Yea, it is. It’s roasted by Ploughshares Coffee. Your photo exhibition first came to my attention through Twitter from Tar Pit’s feed. Your caricature work is amazing – tell me about how this collaboration came about?
Dan: I saw art up in the space. And, getting an exhibition in spaces like these can be easy. I basically asked, and I went through the barista and then I got to Kerry, the owner. A few months later and now I have a show. Its really good for allowing your work to have exposure, and a lot easier than taking it galleries.
GP: Can we talk about that? I believe the coffee shop can carry the same weight as exhibiting in a gallery. Can you share your thoughts on the importance of showing work in a coffee shop?
Dan: Any exposure is good. But, you get people who come in here more than once, because they are coming for coffee and then they sit and they are sitting with your work. At a bar or something people are social and drinking, and it may not necessarily be seen. I think more coffee shops should have artwork; there are so many talented artists around here.
GP: Speaking of art, there’s a liveliness to your caricature with a depth that seems to also feed off of who you, yourself are.
Dan: Every artist puts himself into his work. What is it that they say – every image is a self-portrait, I believe.
GP: That’s really profound. How then are you differentiating from the character of the person and then the caricature of the character when you are creating?
Dan: There’s the character and then the caricature. If its an actor, there’s always a persona he’s being that’s a caricature outside of who the actor themselves is, outside of that. So, there are layers. But the goal is to bring out whoever the character is.
GP: Do you remember your first caricature? Can you take me back to that time?
Dan: My first caricature was when I was young and in grade school. And, it was of one of my teachers. Caricatures are exaggerated and I’d exaggerated her mouth. Here I thought, you know, because I was young I was doing something so different and didn’t realized that it was already an art form. I dI used to experiment with blind contour caricatures when I first got out of school and I thought that was going to be my style for a while. This [caricature] actually became my style.
GP: How do you decide whom to caricature?
Dan: Sometimes it comes from an event I’m doing, like I did a whole dog series at a party. Other times, like with the Coen Brothers—I was inspired by the cover of an magazine. So, I bought that magazine just for reference and then I drew it and then gave it a different background, which was The Gaslight Poetry Café, which historically shared its space with The Caricature Coffee House.
GP: Adding history as a reference for the context of your caricature. Do you do this a lot?
Dan: No, but I would like to do more.
GP: About how much time does it take you to do one?
Dan: Caricatures that have two people definitely take more time than if its just one. And, ones that have more intensity or like a background, like the Coen Brothers one, take more time as well.
GP: What are you drawing with or on?
Dan: I’m drawing in a sketchbook, usually 8×11, and I use colored pencils. And for the show, I just ripped them out and had them framed.
GP: What inspires you?
Dan: So many things: really good actors, music, other artists and nature.
GP: Is there anywhere else where one can see your work?
Dan: Yes, I have a couple of pieces in some bars in the city— Rumours and Faces and Names. And then doing shows like this brings more attention to my work too.
GP: What’s next?
Dan: I’m headed to New Jersey to draw some caricatures at an event for the weekend event for the 4th of July holiday.