WOTS: Are you working on any new projects that you can tell us about?
DH: I’m always working on 20 different things at any given time—TV show ideas, new songs, music videos, etc. Most are not at the stage where I can mention anything. But I can certainly tell you about drawing Otis Dooda 2: Downright Dangerous. I’m having a blast! I’m also planning a video for Potted Plant Guy which I hope will be done by some time in July.
WOTS: What artists do you look up to, and how have they inspired your work?
DH: In the kids’ book world, my heroes are Shel Silverstein, Dr. Seuss, Richard Scarry, Margaret Wise Brown, Eric Carle, Roger Hargreaves, Clement Hurd. Charles Schulz’s Peanuts is also a big inspiration. He’s someone who did so much with so little space. These scratchy little doodles, which were as natural for him to draw as his own handwriting, added up to a whole world of personalities and emotions and became a truly great work of art. Towering above them all for me is Jim Henson. He left a massive impact on the world and as far as I can tell is universally loved. I think what they all have in common is that they gave so much more than whatever was asked for on each project they did. You can tell if an artist is just “phoning it in” and doing a job or if they’re a little bit crazy—irrationally pouring everything they’ve got into a book or a TV show out of some personal need. I like the crazy ones.
WOTS: Describe your studio or usual work space for us.
DH: I can walk to my studio from my home in Queens. The pre-war buildings and tree-lined streets gradually giving way to dingy auto repair shops and a stretch of industrial buildings. Inside one is an immaculate and ornate hindu temple. Another is a poultry slaughter house. The business that we’re directly above does “Hood and Duct Cleaning.” I love the weirdness of it all. An enterprising neighborhood artist friend of mine organized the space so a dozen of us could have reasonably-priced studios that weren’t in danger of being converted into luxury lofts any minute. We’re in a converted office space, so there’s AC and heat (something the last two studios of mine were sorely lacking). It’s quiet. I’m the only one there some days. My studio mate Helen is there about the half the time that I am. She does prop styling for magazine and silkscreen prints of her drawings. We chat a little and catch up and then listen to NPR and work quietly. I have a nook that I built myself with a curved wall partially covered by soundproofing foam. There’s a drafting table across from a long wooden computer desk which I built for myself. In this cozy little space, I can draw, scan, print, create animations, videos, websites and record music. I can hardly believe what I’m able to make happen there sometimes. In the shared space, we have some rolling industrial tables for spreading out and doing larger projects (Helen once filled the whole space with spray-painted pumpkins for a magazine shoot). In the far corner is my band saw and other woodworking tools. As someone who literally worked in the closet of our apartment when my children were first born, this space feels like a dream come true!
WOTS: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
DH: Hmm… That’s tricky since I’ve spent my whole life trying to listen to my heart and have it guide me to the kind of work I most wanted to do. I’m not sure I’d be satisfied with anything that doesn’t involve drawing, singing and playing most of the day. That said, I’d love to teach some more. My ideal scenario would be to teach kids for a few hours every month. I love kids, but can only handle small groups of them or large groups very infrequently.
WOTS: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
DH: I like to rap and breakdance.
WOTS: Which do you prefer more, your musical work or art?
DH: Another tough one. Art is soothing and solitary, but borders on loneliness. I can’t do it for very long without going nuts. The ideal is to be drawing while surrounded by people who know to leave you alone. 🙂 Music is social and collaborative and definitely more fun. But I’m an introvert and take in people’s personalities pretty deeply, so I can only take so much of that, too. I like having both to run to when I’m had my fill of one or the other.
WOTS: We here at Writing on the Sidewalk tend to procrastinate, where do you fit in Procrastinator or Proactive?
DH: I’m super proactive and have no problem being self-directed and getting stuff done—sometimes a little behind schedule, but usually not by much. That said, I do believe that creativity flowers when you feel free enough to waste some of your time doing frivolous things. So there’s plenty of Facebooking, watching Netflix, playing with Legos and drawing with sidewalk chalk at the park. I’ve notice that right now there’s all these studies being heralded in the business world saying that “play” is the key to true innovation. I could’ve told them that… I’ve known it for years!
WOTS: Thanks for stopping by to visit.
If you’d like to learn more about David and his art or Otis Dooda please check out the links below.
Writing on the Sidewalk