SDk: Alan, you’re an English artist living in California – why did you choose to make your home there?
Alan Daniels: I had done a lot of work for Paper Moon graphics, pictures of cars and girls. The company was based in California; in October 1980 my wife Beau and I went to Los Angeles on holiday, fell in love with it and made the decision to move there. We did not have a lot of money and were very uncertain as to whether we could pull it off. However, we were very fortunate that we had quite a few collectors of my work. One was an immigration attorney with offices in both London and LA. We traded paintings for his help in arranging for us to get green cards so we could move there. Richard Lobel of Coincraft Galleries in London bought the complete collection of my commercial work; this helped tremendously financially. We were very well supported in our quest to live in California.
SDk: You’ve rubbed shoulders with Ridley Scott and Harrison Ford... so to speak. How did you come to do work for Blade Runner, and what was that work?
AD: When we lived in England I had an agent in London, the Young Artists agency, and most of the work I was doing for them was science-fiction
based. Ridley Scott hired several of the artists from the agency to go to California and work on some of the concept ideas surrounding the movie. I was brought in later to work on the matting of the movie and the poster concepts.
I spent a lot of time on the movie sets to get a sense of what was being created. It was exciting to see how scenes were put together, to meet the actors, see the morning rushes, watch the set development, and see the special-effects generation. They would supply me with a single frame from the movie and I would create the environment around the action. This was then given to another artist who would re-create the imagery onto glass and then combine it with the live action.
This was a time of wonder, wires and magic. It is still one of my favourite films and does not seem to date, but when watching it I sometimes remember seeing the scene being shot, and images of Harrison Ford climbing onto the roof of the building with a bloodied and broken hand, filthy and wet from the waist up and wearing immaculate white shorts and tennis shoes below the framed scene.
SDk: Our literature writer for this issue, Marilyn Jaye Lewis, worked for Ralph
Ginzburg and Avant Garde – so did you, although presumedly freelance. Can you elaborate on what it was like to do work for such a cutting-edge magazine, and describe your art and publishing experiences during that era?
AD: Just about everything I painted at that time involved the airbrush, to the exclusion of using any other media. It was all beautiful women and beautiful cars during that period. I married the most beautiful woman – I am still searching for the most beautiful car. I have always been a freelancer and been very fortunate to always be in work.
Avant Garde contacted me and wanted to do an article on the fetish elements that were becoming stronger in my paintings; this started from an interview, and led to the subsequent publication of several images. Most publications were great to be involved in during that period – I was pretty much left alone to do whatever I wanted. Who would not like to be in that situation?
The “men’s” magazines were also great to be involved in – they still had a sense of the erotic left in them, and they were a good showcase for my work. I eventually quit working for them when their approach to the erotic became gynaecological.
SDk: You paint the women who appear in your dreams. Not only that, but you say they “dictate” to you their looks, their attitudes, and the scenarios in which they wish you to depict them. When did they begin appearing to you? Can you please tell us all about the process of producing a painting, from a first dream?
AD: Images of what to do in my work have always appeared in my dreams. Some days you wake up and there is no choice but to paint. Once working on an image I continually try to let the image dictate the direction in which it goes.
/ Images of what to do in my work have always appeared in my dreams. Some days you wake up and there is no choice but to paint. /
The women always are there first; in allowing them to develop as the drawing proceeds, a sense of their environment and situation starts to develop as well. It is difficult to stop over-controlling the painting. Some of the initial looseness and excitement of the drawing process I try to keep evident in the final piece.
SDk: Why “hussys” as the term for “your