I love the chats with artists that come full circle. You know when you’ve got to the end of the interview.
That’s how I felt when I recently went and had a chat to DNT. In talking about how he started in art he said‘ I’d always drawn since I was a kid’ with influences being comics and TV at the time. With a dad who travelled round the world DNT was exposed to different cultures and countries throughout his childhood but he added ‘We always had three months in the UK and three months in Italy.’ The longest time in one country was the three years from the age of fourteen that he spent going to school in Bristol. From there he took to the road earning a living as an artist travelling the world whether it was airbrushing Vespers and helmets in Italy or painting on canvases or walls.
He really started to take art seriously after becoming a single dad. He started with an access course before choosing to study Drawing and Applied arts at UWE from the sizeable number of Universities that accepted him. Of studying he said ‘ It taught me how to work things out in a logical way with what I wanted to do with my ideas. I got to look at other people’s work and understand how they did it.‘ Of his work he says he still seeks inspiration in others then twists it and turns it into his own. ‘I flip it, change the meaning’.
His references and influences are wide from the contemporary Caroline Joe, Dev Marni and Vargan’s pin up girls on the planes of the 40’s along with classical artists like Goya, post impressionist Toulouse-Lautrec, to Japanese anime and films. A fabulous palate of influences of techniques and styles.
In many of DNT’s pieces he takes classical art, styles and ‘imbues them with’ his urban art take. You can see his Italian roots in his use of classical references in his work. He explained ‘There are classical poses which had a specific meaning, also the language of the symbols in my work.’ Like the classical artists he also takes meaning form the names of animals and flowers which he interweaves though his work. But for him it is private ‘If you like puzzles you can work it out’.
What is also important to him is learning and exploring with different techniques, learning new skills to get the pieces ‘exactly as it is’.
A popular street artist he loves the freedom of working outside. Of key inspirations on his work he talks about Blek Le Rat and Inkie in the urban worlds, and the generosity of street artists in giving time and advice when he was starting out.
Along with his work for ‘May the 4th be with you’ at The Matchbox Gallery in Bristol this year you can see his work at Upfest again, Leicester, Wonderfields where he is working on statement pieces in July, then September he is off to Bali.
And so I knew our interview had come full circle as he added ‘If you like painting and travelling then street art is a pretty good way of doing it.’
Star Wars May the 4th Be with you – Curated by Mr SLEVEN
Featured artists: SP Zero 76, Shab, Lemak, Kid Crayon, MR Skillmatik, KLUE, DNT, Mr.SLEVEN, Myles Allanson, GUTS’art, Jimmer Willmott, Jee See Paul Sargent Illustration , Phil Moody Illustration, Ian Moore, F. Adams.
Opening night: Thursday 4 May at The Matchbox Gallery, Bristol
6pm till late
The exhibition will run till the 3rd of June
Opening hours Wednesday to Saturday
12 till 6.