The Illustrator Behind the Plugins - Meet Dan Meth
Each month Puremagnetik publishes a new device - a piece of music or sound making software that, we hope, inspires experimentation and motivation to explore something different within your existing palette of tools. But while we work on the code, Dan Meth is in his studio illustrating something equally inspiring for the device interfaces. Our agenda is to bring our sound goals in line with the aesthetic ones - so that when you open a Puremagnetik plugin, it's a fun and engaging experience.
Finally, we had a chance to sit for a quick Q&A with Dan....
Tell tell us a bit about your background and your career as an illustrator.
DM: I've been illustrating professionally for the past 2 decades, and unprofessionally for another 2 decades before that. Drawing's been my passion since I was a toddler. I studied Illustration at Syracuse University and since then I've made my living creating cartoons, animations, murals, storyboards, caricatures, and even a couple screenplays. My clients range from cable TV networks to comedy websites to multinational corporate monoliths to underground hip-hop labels. I'll work for almost anyone because that's just how much I love to draw.
What is your process when you are approaching a new illustration? Which tools do you use?
DM: My process is usually like so: sit down with the assignment brief and start doodling in my sketchbook until an idea that excites me starts to emerge. I'll usually print out a couple reference images if required. When possible I like to draw on paper with pencil and ink and then scan that and color digitally in Photoshop.
You have visually encapsulated the Puremagnetik collection of devices into a comprehensive fantasy narrative. There are superheroes, villains, robots, aliens, malicious bugs and a bird. Where else do we take this? Is Zerone, Octavlord's renegade daughter? Is Shadow a prophetic being sent to rescue humanity from The Vanisher?
DM: Micah of Puremagnetik has a vivid imagination as well. When he makes these plug-ins he starts to feel the presence of the character or scene that the sounds conjure. So he gives me a rough description of what he sees... a cosmic prophet, a futuristic city, an old-timey dirigible, 80's grid etc. I like getting direction because it often leads me towards something I've never drawn before. Nothing pleases me more as an artist to hear that you've captured a scene or a vibe the client saw in their mind. Micah and I have a long history of collaboration and for many years he helped compose and produce songs for my web cartoons.
You've been hard at work on a graphic novel - The Regolith. Can you explain what it's about? Where did the concept originate? Where can we read it?
THE REGOLITH is an epic sci-fi tall-tale that I started writing and drawing a few years ago. I wanted to make a graphic novel where I tied together all my interests into a sprawling saga; pop music, UFOs, American politics, religion, dinosaurs, and relationships. I've been weaving all these disparate interests into what is hopefully a cohesive story, like an mega-budget HBO TV series. Since I started, the world's become a much stranger place in ways that have 'trumped' my vision. When I began THE REGOLITH, 'conspiracy theory' was a fringe element found only in the deep crevices of the internet. Now we seem to be living in a world where we all must choose which conspiracies we believe. Reality keeps pushing me to make my comic weirder and weirder! You can read it on Instagram at @the_regolith
or wait for the book, hopefully to be published in 2021.
Do you have a shortlist of comics and graphic novels that have most inspired you - a Dan Meth essentials list for our readers?
DM: There’s almost too many to name so I’ll just free associate my favorites: Watchmen, Marvel comics, Moebius, Mad Magazine, the old EC comics like Tales From The Crypt and Weird Science, Judge, Dredd, Akira, Dr. Seuss, Dick Tracy, B. Kliban, Tin-Tin, Gary Panter, Geof Darrow, Heavy Metal Magazine, Ralph Steadman, Juxtapoz magazine, Charles Burns, Dan Clowes… I could go on for pages.
What else are you working on now? Is there anything we should be on the lookout for?
DM: I’m also working a couple different TV show pitches and some gallery art pieces. There’s also this other top-secret comic book about a real-life celebrity singer that I’m halfway through drawing. Also, I work as an art director at an ad agency in Amsterdam, so that keeps me quite busy and entrenched in the commercial world. And of course there's the piles of sketchbooks that I carry around and add drawings to. My philosophy is to never stop 'making' and try not to think of any of it as work.