Daniel Sanger – Artist

Daniel Sanger from Melbourne paints in oils and shows at Pivotal Galleries he has had shows over the past 5 years in galleries – He says he has always been making art for as long as he can remember. Daniel has also entered the Archibald prize with his portrait of Santo Cilauro

Daniel’s Website is www.danielsanger.com and his blog is http://danielsanger.blogspot.com/


Daniel’s works explore contemporary subjects and themes. They are predominantly figurative with much emphasis on mood and feeling. Daniel strives to forge strong connections between work and viewer, allowing the viewer to invest their emotion within his art.

He achieves this with such devices as the subtlety of a subject’s gaze, body language and lighting. Daniel studied Graphic Design at Charles Sturt University and has a Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design. Daniel has also studied at Melbourne School of Art and Swinburne University.

Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
Nothing social, though it has have a strong Japanese influence.

What are you currently working on?
Have just finished works for group show at Pivotal – so am about to start a body of work for a Pivotal solo.


What fascinates you?
The face. I always seem to spend most of my time painting the face first, leaving the rest of the painting until much later. To get the face to a stage where it begins to pop and come to life is always such a thrill. The eyes are always the make or break in my works. Once the eyes are successful I know everything else will fall into place. I have worked like this ever since I was a child, constantly copying faces from photographs etc..

Now give us a more descriptive outline on your current works.
They are of a Pop Surrealist nature with Japanese influences. I was very inspired by Joe Sorren and Mark Ryden. So much so I was in regular correspondence with Joe Sorren in regard to current style via email, obtaining valuable feedback and validation.


Why are you an artist?
It’s just something that is there and has always been there ever since I can remember. In a weird way I feel I owe it to the 10 year old me who wanted desperately to grow up and become a professional artist. It gives me great satisfaction and define who I am.

How did you get into art?
Obsession with drawing form very young age.


How important is art for you?
It defines who I am.

What is it about Visual Art you find compelling?
That it’s just paint on a canvas, though it comes together to be so much more.


Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?

Have you always been interested in art?


What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
Graphic Designer.

Is there any one thing that has given you a big buzz in your art career so far?
Getting in the paper is always nice 🙂


What is your earliest memory of art?
Drawing trees in prep.

Was art a “thing” that was encouraged in your family?
My dad was an excellent drawer – so was always pushing me and developing my skill.

Was there a big turning point in your art journey that caused you to think that “it’s all worthwhile”, or “oh yeah I get it…”?
First show where I sold quite a few and received many compliments. Helped validate what I was doing.

What caused you to choose the medium you currently work in?
I have used many mediums, though oil is by far the best. It works how I think basically.

You know you are successful in Visual Arts when…
You get recognition.

What can you tell us about your planning and making process for making art, and has that altered over the years?
I am more fastidious in my planning than a few years back and feel I have a clearer direction than I once did.

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
The ideas come quickly and easily, though I have such a clear picture of what I want the work to be, that I am incredibly fussy and obsessive when putting the idea on canvas.

How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork?
Very important. Like a map really.

Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task?
It always starts out such an exciting and positive experience. Though toward the end I am totally in panic mode, constantly questioning my work.

Some say the lifespan of many “artists” post educationally is about five years, any thoughts on that?
I guess life creeps in and one must pay the bills. Though I’m sure when circumstances allow them to, they will pick up the brush again.

Tell us about your connection to your subject matter, way of working, concepts etc?
After numerous sketches etc I carefully get the basic outline completed on canvas before jumping in. I am quite slow and fastidious, being my own worst critic.

What has been a turning point in your career thus far and why?
Getting into Pivotal Galleries was a great thrill, giving me a great sense of validation. It really made me feel like I was on the right path.

If you could have any piece of artwork in your personal collection, what would it be and why?
I would actually like an intricate landscape drawing my father did when was 12 years old. I remember always looking at as a child, though it has since gone missing.

Can you name a favourite artist or three… and why?
Joe Sorren. I find his works so gentle and dream like. I’m always exploring his works, finding something new each time I look at them.

Have you had any “big breaks” in your career?
I think my 08 Archibald entry opened some doors for me.

All artists seem to have struggles, tell us about any you have had?
Being my own worst enemy – always only seeing errors in final work.

What sort of research and or reference material do you do for current works and has that changed over time?
Take ref photos, photoshop manipulation and sketching. Years back I would just jump in without a net.

Musical influences?
I love many types of music. Though always find I play fast and loud tunes when beginning a work, and then slow ambient music while fussing over detail. I do love The Panics, Pixies, The Smiths, The Black Keys, the Shins – list goes on…

How important is it to you that your work communicates something to the viewer?
All I hope for at the least is an emotional connection.

What can you say about your work that might not be evident to the viewer?
It took a bloody time to do! LOL Some don’t pick up on the Japanese themes.

What can you tell us about your creative development process?
It’s a very long process that gives me a clear direction of what the painting will be – a blue print if you will. Sketches, ref photos, photoshop are all involved to give me visual references that will dictate the work.

Respond to the notion “Art is a device for exploring the human condition”…
Art consciously or unconsciously tells us more about ourselves than we know or care to admit.

Do you connect with other Artists?
Connecting to other artists online has had a major influence to my art. Friendships and bonds with other artists has given much direction and opportunity.

If you stopped doing art right now would you miss it?
Hell yes.

What discourages you from doing art?
I can only paint when happy. Unlike most artists, I find I produce poor work when flat or down.

Is motivation to work an issue for you and how do you overcome it?
No, always motivated to paint when an idea hits.

Do you have a challenge knowing when a work is finished?
Yes. I would never finish a work if I wasn’t for deadlines.

Your first “decent” gallery representation, how did it come about?
Another artist saw my work and approached her gallery to represent me.

The business or marketing side of Art can be a challenge to some, what are your thoughts?
I find it quite easy and enjoyable due to my graphic design/marketng background.

What is the most unexpected response you’ve received from a viewer of your work?
I find the disapproval of the nudity from a very small number quite perplexing.

Tell us about getting caught in a creative “slump” and how you got out of it?
I find I must take a long break to recharge batteries if a slump occurs. A week off can make all the difference – time to clear the head.

If someone says to you “Oh your work is decorative and lacks any meaning…” your response would be…?
Passive – though inside Grrrrrrrrrrr

Tell us about your studio environment (too big, too small, enough storage or not, the light, the position, how you found it etc)?
Too small, too dark and not enough ventilation.

What would you say are the top three things, which make you successful as an artist?
Motivation, persistence and attention to detail.

What moves you most in life, either to inspire or upset you, which might be connected to your art?
Day to day life experiences. Positive experiences lead to happiness and motivation.

Do you prefer a perfect smooth technique or a more energetic expressive technique and why?
I like a balance. Too smooth can be sterile and lifeless. I like a bit of expressive brush work to help evoke emotion.

How important is society, culture and or history to your work?
I am very much influenced by current exhibitions I see day to day. The right work will spark an idea immediately.

How do you think art can change people or their perceptions? It can trigger memories and connections that were once forgotten.

Technology (websites and social networking sites to name a few) has become an important marketing tool for many industries and individuals, what are your thoughts from a “You Inc” perspective and your art sensibility.
I wouldn’t be where I am without the internet. It has opened many doors, allowing easy contact with many artists and galleries.

Do you work from life, or from photographs or from imagination or some other method?
Photographs and imagination.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
If you love it, don’t give up.

How many artworks do you produce in a year?
40 or more..

How long do our works they usually take to complete?
Depends on size and deadline. can be 3 months to 3 weeks.

How did you approach your first gallery?
Via email.

What did your prices start off at?
Too cheap to mention.

Can you respond to this quote “Anyone who is half assed about art should get out.” (Janet Fish).
Totally agree. It should be an obsession.

Do you have ideas turning over in your head all the time or…
All the time! Always day dreaming.

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Compiled and edited by Steve Gray © 2009+

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One Response to “Daniel Sanger – Artist”

  1. Debbie Hill on July 3rd, 2009 11:45 pm

    Hey Daniel,
    great interview…keep daydreaming it’s one of the most useful and free resources!