IT: So Dave tell us a bit about yourself and how your artistic journey began and the places you went artistically to get to where you are now, the style you are so settled in and how you balance the commercial art world with the art world.
DH: I was never very good at anything other than drawing, so it was a completely natural progression to become an illustrator and designer. After many years doing bits and pieces of artwork on the Sunshine Coast - including some cartooning for ASL and other surf magazines, I moved to Sydney to take on a job as Creative Director at Sony Music. I had a great 4 years there before leaving and co-founding a studio called Debaser. We specialised in creative direction for the music industry and ran very successfully for 11 years. We worked with some of the country’s biggest names, including Empire Of The Sun, Powderfinger, Paul Kelly, Birds of Tokyo to name a few. We picked up 12 ARIA nominations and 4 ARIA Awards for best cover art. This role required me to work in a wide variety of styles and taught me to be adaptable across everything that was required in developing the visual language for a band or artist.
Above: The traditional pen to paper Dave uses for all his designs early stages.
The problem with this adaptability arose when I disbanded Debaser and moved to New York to focus on illustration. I was told by agents and buyers that while my work was great, it didn’t have a solid cohesive style so they were unsure of where I would fit. One Creative Lead described my style as schizophrenic. I then spent the next few years in the US developing the style that I’m known for today. It took a while, but I’ve developed an approach and techniques that I think are pretty unique to me and I’m happy with the decision to focus on what I can do rather than being influenced by anyone and everyone.
IT: Our prints have very specific stories or briefs behind them, take us through the process that you run through from concept to completion.
DH: Indies Trader had some really good concepts and a clear visual direction in mind. It’s always good to work with a client who has a specific brief to work to. A lot of times I get a brief somewhere along the lines of “I’m not sure what I want but just something cool” which sounds like a great brief on theory, but it’s a lot of flying blind. So working with IT was really productive from the start. As always, I work on initial ideas with paper and pencil. While everything eventually ends up in a computer, I find I get much better ideas with the old school way of scratching away in a notebook. Once we were happy with the ideas and styles, I then redrew and rescanned the images and finalised them all in photoshop. We ended up with a collection that I’m really proud of - one that’s varied in concept and visual language, but still has a cohesion to all the pieces. They’re also pretty damn cool!
IT: T-Shirts are a bit of a departure from you most common type of work can you tell us about some of your other work and what it has involved and the type of clients it has involved.
DH: It’s actually come full circle. My very first job out of Art College was designing t-shirts for a sportswear company and I spent many years after that designing surfwear and other surf related work. The work I do now is a lot different though. I still work in the music industry, but I’m fortunate in that I no longer have to accept every album project that comes in. I work with artists who make music that I’m passionate about and who trust my creative vision for their projects.
A major part of my work these days is creating illustrations for advertising campaigns. I’m represented by agents in the USA, Europe and Australia and these guys get me in touch with major companies who are looking for specific illustration work. This year I’ve been working with Coca-Cola on their summer campaign. I got to work with Ferrari creating work for their official magazine which was fun. I also have long running working relationships with companies such as National Geographic, American Express, AT&T, ESPN and Kiehls among others. This corporate work sounds like it could be quite dry compared to the music industry, but the opposite is actually true. When a company from the other side of the world approaches me, it’s because they know and trust my style and this means they are after something that is unique to me. This always results in a real freedom to do what I’m best at and not having to work to someone else's style or approach. I’ve also just dipped my toe into the world of NFTs which is wild and exciting.
Above: The point that the hand drawn art becomes digital.
IT: The surf connection and the ocean, tell us about yours and what it means to you.
DH: It’s huge. I grew up on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland and always lived close to the beach. I started surfing at about 10, and some of the greatest memories I have are of being in the ocean. These days I live about 5 minutes walk from the beach at Bondi in Sydney, and although I now have to battle the crowds in the south corner instead of an empty line-up, it still brings me the same joy that it did all those years ago.
IT. Check out Dave's epic new NFT's HERE