So, if you wouldn’t mind, tell me a little bit about your life. Where did you grow up? When did you start to gain an interest in art and design, and when did you start to pursue it as a way of living?
I grew up in Erie, PA and was interested in creating as soon as I could hold a crayon. Most children draw and are creative. I just didn’t let go or grow out of it. There was no Plan B in my goal of creating artwork for a living but for most of my life I thought that was going to be comic books. I still have a section of my mind roped off and designed for fulfilling that dream but I haven’t gotten the opportunity yet.
Along with design and art creation, you’re also a tattoo artists, correct? Which came first? Does either occupation “fit your fancy” better than the other, or give you more creative freedom in what you do?
I am a tattoo artist but I didn’t begin tattooing until a few years ago. I was actually known for my tattoo designs before I was able to personally put them onto people. I’ve had a long standing love for American Traditional tattooing that pre-dates me ever picking up a tattoo machine. It’s enjoyable to be able to go between illustrating / designing and tattooing to break things up and keep things from feeling stale. Tattooing is what I do when I get burnt out on everything else. So I tattoo very little, booking only 4 or 5 appointments per month.
You’ve done some ridiculous art for some ridiculous artists (“ridiculous” equaling “fantastic”). How did you get involved in the music industry and, more specifically, Facedown Records? What drew you to them?
I was involved in hardcore in the early/mid nineties as a founding member of a band called xDisciplex. I cut my teeth designing our shirts and record covers. After a few national tours and making new lifelong friends people began to ask about my artwork. One of these friends was Jason Dunn founder and owner of Facedown Records. His band, No Innocent Victim and xDisciplex had toured together in the summer of ’98. Essentially I got involved in the music industry through a one-thing-leads-to-another kind of route. Everything has happened very naturally.
What is your favorite type of music? Do you have any particular artists that are favorites of yours to work with, and why? What are three of your favorite designs that you’ve ever come up with – regardless of whether they’ve been for the music scene or no?
I find that many styles of music fit various moods. When I first start working in the morning I like relaxed music like Massive Attack or Nick Drake. Throughout the day the BPMs and aggro increases and so I usually just end up listening to Merauder or Crowbar.
How do you go about coming up with a design? I guess what I really mean is… how do you go about maintaining creativity in what you do – and originality. When I write, I often get into a slump where I feel as though I’m just writing the same thing over and over again, and cannot seem to find something new within myself. How do you maintain that “creative genius” – if you will?
I spend a certain amount of time reading and looking at various magazines for inspiration. I don’t necessarily mean illustration or design magazines either. Inspiration can come from so many sources and I think I just see it everywhere sometimes. It often feels like I live among sparks and gasoline. Panic will come because I’ll have too many ideas and not enough time to use them all. Of course, I do get the occasional dry spell as any artist would. Also, I’ll sometimes get projects where it’s clear that the client wants me to retread ground I’ve already covered. In those cases it can be challenging to make them happy and still do something I can be proud of.
Tell me a little bit (or however much or want, actually) about Black Rose District… you’ve said that you “make the art and concepts center stage” – what exactly do mean by that? Is there a specific concept based around the company as a whole?
Black Rose District is an outlet for my own apparel designs. I do so many designs for other companies, bands, labels, etc. that sometimes I just want to do something for myself. When I’ve said that I want to make the art and concepts center stage I mean that branding the name “Black Rose District” isn’t number one priority. It was fun creating designs based on the 10 Commandments and the Seven Deadly Sins without having to put some kind of logo over the artwork. I like for people to just see an interesting and cool shirt. The fact that it’s Black Rose District is sort of the after-thought. I do want to venture into a little more branding for the company but I don’t want that to overshadow the ideas of the designs.
I’ve been asking bands and artists these next two questions in every interview, and I think that I’ll just make them a permanent fixture in these TGIF Interviews, because I feel like they deal very much with a heart issue in individual/artist life: First (and I suppose this has just a different bent on the very first question), when did you decide to become a Christian? Can you tell me about your life in that sense – a testimony of sorts?
I was born into a family of believers. When I was very young my mother asked me if I wanted to accept Jesus into my heart and all of that. Of course I said yes. This is the age that children believe in Santa Claus also. Years later when I had grown a bit and started to form my own ideas and identity there came a time to decide if what my parents were telling me was “not really for me” OR if it was simply the truth. I’ve found that Jesus is real and he’s been with me my whole life as a perfect Father and friend.
Secondly, I think that one of the most interesting things about becoming an artist or a group of artists that people know and recognize is the idea of influence. The fact that, suddenly, people relate to or scrutinize or agree with or criticize your opinions and viewpoints and art and creativity, and that spotlight becomes ever brighter as you gain more fans, etc. Is it difficult knowing that you are under the radar at times, so to speak, and how have you seen yourself grow and mature as an artist and as an example that people look up to and recognize?
I struggle with this a bit. I’m an introvert so I avoid large amounts of attention for the most part. I don’t let myself get too excited about anything and often never realize how cool something is until long after it’s passed. I tend to not let myself get too stoked on someone’s kind words because by that same token I’d have to be just as hurt by someone’s criticism. You can’t turn one on and the other off. There are many people who I look up to professionally and personally. If I can fill that role for another person half as adequately as those people have done for me I’d be thrilled.
Are you a reader, Mr. Quiggle? Are you reading anything right now that you’d suggest to anyone? What are five of your favorite books?
I love reading. My wife teases me that I never finish reading anything I start and she’s mostly right on the money. It comes down to being interested in so many things and not having time, or the attention span, for all of it. I read a lot of underground comic anthologies. Reading two different ones right now. Also reading turn of the century fairy tales by George MacDonald. I recommend him for any fan of C.S. Lewis. I’ll also read non-fiction stuff dealing with stuff I want to improve on in my life. How to handle money, raise a daughter and be a good dad. Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Meg Meeker is great. Wild At Heart by John Eldridge was very edifying. I have a good stack of books with markers three-quarters of the way through them all.
How about movies? If you could be any of the X-Men, which one would you be and why?
Most dudes would probably go straight for Wolverine. He’s got the healing factor thing going on that makes him almost invincible. However, that man is constantly in a lot of pain. Just because his bullet holes heal doesn’t mean that the bullets don’t hurt like the dickens. Colossus would be the character for me. Skin turns to metal at will. Drop me from an airplane feet first into any situation and I’m going to come out of it well. No bullet holes.
What has been the most trying thing that you have faced and/or continue to face in your line of work – spiritually, emotionally, or otherwise. What do you struggle to get through? On the opposite end of the spectrum, what has been the most encouraging thing? What do you love the most about what your do that keeps you going and fulfilled and pushing forward with a purpose and passion?
One trying aspect about what I do is just balancing time between personal work and work for hire. Fortunately I feel like I’ve merged the two pretty well so that I can stand by my body of work. What keeps me moving forward is that I have so much that I want to do and try. I have notebooks full of sketches. I want to do a really unique children’s book. I want to create a comic book. It’s all about time and distribution of energies. In a way I hope that I never completely feel fulfilled at what I do, otherwise I probably wouldn’t maintain the need to move forward.
What’s in the future for you, my good sir? Any crazy ridiculous projects that you have coming up that we can look forward to? Anything that myself and whoever reads this that wants to can be praying for/over you?
Hopefully the future contains a lot more work and surprises. I’ve just finally gotten around to redesigning and updating my site (davequiggle.com) after nearly 3 years. I had gotten used to just updating my myspace because it seemed that there were more people viewing my artwork there than on my site. Lately though Myspace feels like it’s just bands and companies. Not individuals. So I’ve refocused my efforts back at my own site. Right now I’m designing a custom guitar that will be showcased at the NAMM convention in California this upcoming year. Working on shirt designs for Metallica right now. Every year that goes by the work that I get to do keeps getting more and more exciting. I’ll be making frequent posts on my site about all the fun stuff I have coming up.
Thanks so much for taking the time for this interview, Dave. I hope that everything continues well for you.
Please show Dave your support. Check out his myspace and the friends that he designs for, as his newly updated website at: http://www.davequiggle.com.
© Copyright 2009 HM Magazine. All rights reserved