Visual Artist and Animator Daniel Dover Talks About His
Visual artist and animator Daniel Dover has a fervent imagination that displays a multitude of worldliness and wild ideas that surpasses one’s belief. From his famous animated escalator installation at the entrance of Tel-Aviv’s city hall to the far reaches of animation and well beyond, this artist shies away from no creative endeavor.
Dover has been working furiously in the past few years to develop and bring to life his most coveted project yet – his first animated cartoon show, titled ‘Bernard & Ralph – and the Beach-House Gang’. He is also still creating dazzling new artwork in his studio and home in New York City and even talks about new plans for another escalator installation in the big apple.
The show ‘Bernard & Ralph – and The Beach-House Gang’ – Is about a group of dysfunctional animals who suffer from various social disorders. It follows their wacky misadventures as they attempt to get their lives back on track while living together in a communal halfway house. This show deals with a very sensitive subject but in a humorous manner, to shed light on a prevalent issue: depression, isolation, and other common mental issues we deal with in modern society. It’s all very complicated, but extremely engaging. The far reaches of Daniel Dover’s imagination are truly something to behold. He is developing several other cartoon show concepts, dealing with many different subjects and geared toward a wide variety of audiences, from kids to adults – and he claims, even some for robots! He is already working towards a number of production deals to bring his innovative creative characters to life on a variety of platforms.
Dover comes from a very diverse background of work and began his professional career doing street art murals and installations across his hometown. While most street art at the time was confined to South Tel Aviv’s industrial district, Dover’s work could be found right in the center of town. His first project was a series of life-sized characters adorning gas masks, which were scattered all over town in popular locations. This project drew great interest from the local community as well as global street-art enthusiasts and was later exhibited in Dover’s first solo exhibition ‘No Time For Tea’, at the legendary Breakfast Club in Tel-Aviv. In a short time, his work became identified with a wide range of urban interventions, and his street art images grew increasingly diverse. “The Plastic Zoo” was another large-scale project supported by the Tel-Aviv city municipality, in which Dover created sculptures of animals using recycled plastic bottles. The eco-friendly project was later showcased at the Recycling Park in Israel and was covered by press across the globe.
Whether it’s stunning visual artwork, deep and sophisticated cartoons, or even animating a whole live escalator in the public realm – this artist seems to bring it all to the table. Dovers’ unconventional attitude towards his creative outlets and subject matters never fails to keep the viewers glued to their seats and yearning for more. Although he’s already made his mark in many different art fields, Dover keeps finding new ways to surprise his fans – and create even more enticing and engaging artworks.
Daniel Dover Q&A:
How did you get your start as an artist?
DD: After college, I was studying traditional animation by myself for a few months and wanted to take a short break before completely losing my mind indoors. I thought it would be a fun change to quickly do a little street art project I had previously planned, and things kind of took off from there.
What kind of skill set does it take to be a visual artist?
DD: In my opinion; an original sense of aesthetics, good depth of field perception, and knowing how to tell a story or describe a certain feeling, whether in one frame or a bunch of them running fast (not too fast though, 24fps is just fine).
Where do you get the inspiration for your artwork?
DD: The issue for me is more about how to focus and decide on which inspirational whim I want to follow. There are endless sources really, varying from other visual artists, music, film, cartoons, or just weird human interactions all around.
Do you ever collaborate on any of your projects?
DD: I do try to keep a healthy diet of some collaborative work every now and then, as it gets a little tedious only working by myself all the time. Occasionally it’s fun to only do the design work if someone has a great concept that I connect with, and can find some way to contribute to.
What is your work ethic like?
DD: I really love what I do, so I dedicate myself to my work in a ridiculously unbalanced fashion, which is just the way I like it. I only wish I could do just a little bit more.
What is a typical work day for you?
DD: Pretty much never-ending. My daily schedule varies by project. I try to keep a healthy routine of around 10 to12 hour workdays for the most part. During the mid-to-final stretch of a project, it usually deteriorates pretty quickly into 14 to 17-hour workdays. I also happen to like coffee a lot.
What is your favorite cartoon?
DD: The Ren & Stimpy Show. It used to air just before bedtime when I was growing up, best nightmares ever.
What is your favorite type of animation?
DD: Traditional 2D animation, preferably on celluloid or wrinkly paper.
What kind of skills does it take to be an animator?
DD: Mostly dedication and keeping track of the frame count. Self-flagellation and tendencies for extreme isolation can also be valuable assets.
What’s your process as an artist?
DD: Neatly chaotic. When working on my own projects, the process does usually start with a silly idea or a joke. At certain times it’s immediately clear how to implement it as a visual image or the basis for a more comprehensive project. If not, I’ll tend to keep it as a note in my folders, in case it comes in handy for a different silly idea or future project.
What’s your process as an animator?
DD: Basically the same, but much more laborious. The joke really needs to be funny in order for me to get motivated enough to animate it. If it is, I work in a
pretty traditional way; writing the story (if there is one), sketching out the shots and key poses in thumbnails, creating a preliminary soundtrack plus voices, and then hopefully not losing hope before I start fully animating the whole thing.
What would you say influenced you the most in your career trajectory?
DD: Definitely watching too many cartoons. In the first 15 to 18 years of my life, it seemed like a waste of time to the outside observer, but I finally proved them wrong.
What kind of research do you do before a project?
DD: Endless. In most cases I like to use as much reference as possible and delve as deeply as I can into the world I’m about to visualize. Daydreaming comes in very handy during such periods of work.
What types of material do you use to make an art piece?
DD: I like to use a very wide variety of mediums, as I find the concept dictates the form in many cases. Pencils and paper will always be my go-to, with ink and watercolors coming in second place.
What’s the funniest thing that happened to you while you were in your creative process?
DD: I think almost everything that happens is funny to me during the creative process. That’s just basically what it is, having fun with silly ideas, and then finding a way to implement them in a relevant and meaningful way, which is sometimes less funny, but still kind of necessary.
What is the most joyous time you have had so far in your career?
DD: Generally every time period where I was working non-stop. One of my favorites was definitely during the time I used to do street art around Tel Aviv. It was kind of refreshing to get out of the studio for a while and breathe some fresh spray paint, and also fun since I got to hang out with friends and do a lot of physical exercises.
What has been your favorite project that you have worked on?
DD: ‘Bernard & Ralph – and The Beach-House Gang’. While also by far the most grueling one, it was a decade-long dream to produce, so I took great joy in every miserable moment.
How do you see your career going in the next 5 years?
DD: I want to keep producing ‘Bernard & Ralph – and The Beach-House Gang’ as cartoon shorts, in hopes of turning it into a longer-form show given the opportunity. I would also like to keep developing several other cartoon show concepts I’ve been working on lately, ranging from bizarre adult cartoons to more traditional psychedelic stuff for kids.
How do you find your drive?
DD: During long midnight conversations with my guilty conscience.