Earlier this week, I posted Dannika Rose Sullivan's latest print release (Soak). Dannika is a self-taught artist from Portland, Oregon. Her pastel pencil portraits often depict strong female figures, which enables the viewer to find an emotional complexity, that goes beyond the subject's superficial allure. Keep an eye on her social media for original and print releases.
To view works by Dannika, please see below:
LD: Have you found social media has introduced new collectors to your work and art collecting in general?
DRS: Social media has played a major role in introducing my art to collectors and people interested in art. If it wasn't for the posts to Facebook or Instagram early on in my career as an artist, I wouldn't have gotten commissioned nearly as often or sold as many pieces, and I certainly wouldn't have gained as much exposure.
LD: Do you have any advice for new art collectors or individuals who are contemplating entering the hobby?
DRS: I have to say I'm not much of an art collector at the moment, although I have a few prints of close friend's work, I would love to be able to afford to actually buy original pieces I love, instead of spending nearly everything on necessities. I would just advise new art collectors to buy pieces that they really feel inspired by, or provoke a unique feeling.
LD: Why is it important to make your art affordable to individuals from all backgrounds?
DRS: Going back to my previous answer, I'm an individual who would love to collect art from other artists, but I'm also trying to support myself as an artist at the same time and so cannot afford to buy original pieces. Selling my art at affordable prices just seems like the right thing to do. I want my art to be as accessible to others as possible, while maintaining the ability to be able to create. If my artwork resonates with someone, I don't want the price tag to be an obstacle between them and owning my art.
LD: When I see your work, I see strength in your subject’s expressions, often while they are in situations where they may be considered vulnerable. Is there a conscious effort to show strong, powerful female figures?
DRS: I'm certainly drawn to powerful women in my work, although I don't think it was necessarily intentional at first. I draw faces because they are the closest thing that humans can get to actually seeing someone else's emotions and my intention has been to try and make their expressions meaningful to the viewers of my work. Often I end up putting these women in water because it can be both peaceful and frightening. I for one, am not particularly comfortable with water, I can barely swim and have heard one too many drowning stories. However, I love the lights, colors, and shapes that it creates and I find it quite entrancing, and I've found that my artwork often reflects this duality of beauty and unease.
LD: As a follow up to question #4, I must admit that one of my favorite pieces is ‘Smile’ and I will be first in line for a print, should they be made available. I know many women who have described instances where they’ve been told to ‘smile’ by men, as they walk down the street. Is this a commentary on situations like these? (To be honest, that’s how I interpret it and I think it’s badass)
DRS: Harassment towards women like that is definitely one of the main points I was trying to convey with 'Smile,' but throughout the process I began thinking of even more meanings behind it. I sometimes hear from people that the women in my drawings are too sad, or that I should make someone smiling, but often I'm most inspired to draw during the difficult times in my life, when I don't feel like smiling or making happy art, and it feels nice to be able to draw someone who doesn't have to put on a happy face all the time and looks the way I feel. I like to think of this piece as kind of a sarcastic "okay she's happy now" to all the people who wanted pretty, smiling faces from me. It's interesting to see who likes this piece as well, because I've run into a couple of people who told me that they wished I hadn't added the smiley face on top of the subjects face, while others love it. I've wondered if the people who didn't like the smiley face were just looking for a pretty thing to look at, whereas those who like it are the ones looking for the meaning and the feeling behind the piece, which, now that I think about it, kind of relates back to the whole superficial way we look at women today. Do we want to just look at a pretty face, or do we want to know what this person is feeling and thinking?
LD: As an artist, what are your goals and what can we expect from Dannika Rose Sullivan, in the future?
DRS: My goal is just to make as much meaningful art as I can, and reach as many people as I'm able to. I will soon be switching from pastel pencils to oil painting, as oils are easier to maintain and less transferable. I'm looking forward to cleaning up my style and experimenting with new colors and techniques, and I'm really excited to get started!