Israeli-born illustrator and animator Dan G.’s work instantly captures your imagination.
Familiar objects in unfamiliar contexts stimulate your senses and require second, third and fourth looks. She plays so roughly with symbols of gender and sexuality that they’re truly turned inside out and you’re forced to question everything you thought you knew about established norms. Captivated by her work, we reached out to Dan to learn more about her passion for animation and her desire to push the envelope for what it means to be female both creatively and professionally.
Hello! You recently moved from NY to California. Could you tell us a bit about what brought that about?
Shalom! yes. I’ve moved here to start the MFA program of experimental animation at CalArts.
What does animation allow you to express that illustration can’t?
For me, even though I’ve been animating for about a decade now, it’s still as exciting as ever to see a still illustration come to life. Illustration is really important—behind every animation there’s an illustration. There is freedom to both mediums which I like, it really depends on what I’m trying to achieve. Sometimes I want to create an insanely detailed illustration that is too complex to animate and then sometimes there is a movement that makes no sense in real life which I’d like to try and create with animation, but I often have to give up a lot of illustrated details… but then again, nothing is impossible!
I feel like so much of the female experience is shutting off your true identity in order to fit in perfectly with different people and situations. Are the use of masks and obscured faces in your work pointing to this at all?
That is a very relatable and true sentence. “The female experience” is so broad and I can only speak of my own. Being a foreign women in this culture in the USA I’ve had to put on certain masks to get job, to get by, to date etc. so there is truth to that. But the masks in my work represent layers of depth—an inner infinity. There’s so much within us we’d never be able to show because it doesn’t exist in a visual way.
Is art a sort of “mask” for your own identity?
Yes. The visuals I choose to create are very different then how I present myself in public. I find my freedom in the reality I create.
What (if any) statement are you hoping to make by portraying traditional fetishes juxtaposed with violence and decay?
I’m not trying to make a statement. I would just like to see those situations so I create them. Then they exist.
Additionally, do you ever feel any push back from being a woman who so openly comments on sexuality in her work?
Many times based on those “sexual” works people assume I am a man. I get funny emails or offers and then there’s the moment of surprise …“Oh you’re a girl?! How could a girl approach sexuality in such a non-sexy way?”. But it’s like meditation—when your thoughts flow in and you’re just standing on the outside watching them.
So to answer your question—the more sexual works don’t feel like an obstacle. “Being a women” in itself feels sometimes like the obstacle. Putting a certain price on my work in freelance jobs, something equal or even lower than what other dudes in my field would charge is denied 95% of the time. It’s troubling, but I keep walking forward. I have faith things will change, but its slow.
Animation is honestly a great mystery to me. Can you tell us a bit about how the process typically works for you?
I can understand that haha! Classical drawn animation is quite a slow process as there are usually 12-24 drawings a second to create that fluid movement. An idea usually starts from something I’d like to see happen, like a cherry being eaten on soft lips or a butt dance in blood water. Then I decide what color theme I’d like it to be in. Lately the color red feels very accurate to me—very endlessly inspiring. Once I have a base, the process is very organic and every idea feeds a new idea and suddenly I have a sequence. My best ideas I have happen during physical activity—that’s the only consistent thing I’ve noticed.
How did you land on your current style? I’ve really never seen anything like it.
My style evolved a lot during the last 5 years I’ve spent in the US mainly based on how much I was exposed to anime and graphic novels. I’ve been able to grow into my own weird self here, no limits no rules. It’s just so fun, I love creating detailed things—that’s the kind of visual creations I like to see.
I notice that you don’t typically illustrate men, but rather your hyper-feminine symbols (pearls, shells, desserts) are often marred by “masculine” elements such as guns and knives. Is there any particular meaning behind this choice?
To each their own meaning I hope. I’m not interested in illustrating man. There’s enough of that. There aren’t enough badass strong complex females, people of color and gender-free characters. I’d like to see more of that in mainstream media which is why I’m motivated to keep creating under that theme.
Do you have any current artistic goals?
Yes. After finishing my short film “Vicarious” I decided I wanted to learn more about 3D and VR so the experiences I could create would be more immersive, like a waterfall. That’s why I am pursuing further education at the moment. I want to broaden my perspective. I don’t think I’m going to do 3D character modeling from now on, but yeah, if my 2D characters could exist in a 360 degree space that would be incredible.