A CONVERSATION WITH AN ARTIST: [THEY USED TO CALL HIM] RAD DAN
Interview by Beau Flemister.
If you’ve ever wondered where some of Haydenshapes’ most unique design names or some of Craig Anderson’s board sprays came from…it was from the mind and hands of an Australian artist they call Rad Dan. On the brink of his art show (now showing here), “They Used to Call Me Rad Dan,” by Daniel R. Watkins’ we caught up with the man himself, (Daniel Watkins) who told us about inspiration, advice, and how he came up with the name of the Hypto Krypto from a magic book…
Haydenshapes: Yourself and Haydenshapes go way back, right? How’d ya first meet Hayden?
Rad Dan: I’m pretty sure it was through a mutual friend (Watman). But I was probably about 17 at the time out in the surf at Mona Vale. Hayden and I got talking then.
You designed the FutureFlex (formerly FiberFlex) logo, among others, like the Hypto Krypto for the Haydenshapes brand.
Ha, I totally forgot I did them. Yeah, that’s true. I suppose I did a few others like the Shred Sled, too. It was so long ago. But it was around the same time I was naming other products, and I had bought this book of Magician trick names, so I thought it was a good start to get my brain moving. I was just pulling words out of the book and shuffling letters. That’s where Hypto Krypto actually came from. But ultimately, giving magician trick names to Haydenshapes boards was a good fit.
Who’s been your main inspiration for your unique board art/sprays? I feel like there’ve been copy cats since your style…
Aw, everyone is going to rip and copy. I’m guilty of this too. It’s how you reinterpret it, and what output you want it to give. But I drew a prodigious amount of inspiration from music and culture platforms. As for identities, Ozzie [Wright] was a clear one, being a young kid growing up on the northern beaches. Robert Crumb, Warhol, Ed Templeton, Duchamp, the whole 70’s punk/metal music scene. Those would be the main ones.
When do you think you realized that you wanted to be an artist?
I never really pursued art when I was young. I guess I used to paint art on all my boards, as they were absolute shit heaps, and that made them look new. Then I used to get asked to paint friend’s boards, walls, shops, commissioned works, because they liked my style. Then I met Hayden [Cox] and he started to pay me to paint whatever I wanted on boards. I learned that people have different skills, and you can broaden and improve your own skills, and make money from it. After learning that, I treated it more seriously, then went and studied art for the next 4 years.
Wow. And what are a few exhibitions you’ve done over the years that you’re most proud of?
I only just started the past few months consistently posting my art on Instagram. I used to think it was bragging if you did, but people kept asking me to show more.
But I have had art shows in L.A., multiple shows across Australia, and showings in the EU, as well as Japan.
Do you have a favorite medium to work with?
Lately, I’ve been heavily into this horrible Bootleg Screen Printing [laughs]. I have the most barbaric screen-printing method. I just love how no two screen prints are alike. You think you’re getting one image, but then you get another. It’s like collaborating with yourself. And that’s probably the most narcissistic thing I will ever say [laughs].
Any advice to young artists or aspiring creatives?
Be aware of social media and online content and how much inspiration you draw from it. It’s great but it’s also a curse. Read philosophy, listen to music you wouldn’t normally listen to, stare at the sky…I dunno, everyone is different, just don’t do the same thing day in day out. Unless that works for you…
What makes “good art” and inversely, what makes “bad art?”
I think everything in life is art and it all comes down to interpretation. Just make it genuine.
Tell me about your current show in Sydney at China Heights gallery.
It’s all about “False Idols.” The theme has a lot to do with my take on self-advertising and social media influences. I find that they can promote such bad taste sometimes and kids are so easily influenced these days. Everyone is claiming to be an inspirational idol to all, all in the name of lucrative returns. And this is exactly what my recent show addresses. It was ironic that I had a pseudo name, so it was fitting to call the show “They used to call me Rad Dan, by Daniel Watkins.”
Lastly, what have you been riding lately?
I’ve actually been bodysurfing lately, full Mark Cunningham-style. I feel like an ironman [laughs]. Nah, I tore the cartilage in my ribs surfing a couple weeks ago, so no actual board for a little while.
(Throwback Image: Ando and Hayden standing alongside the quiver featured in Slow Dance).
Purchase original works by Rad Dan right now via his current Exhibition at China Heights.
Follow him on Instagram @rad_dan_