Dan Kitchener (or DANK if you see his street work) paints the most incredible cityscapes on the most incredible scale. He’s painted throughout London and across the world and the people remaking Bladerunner should probably get him involved making backdrops for them.
Hey Dan, how do you get your work so photo realistic?
I start most of my work with an initial sketch, loose composition, in my sketch book or now on my iPad. I then use this as a loose basis for Photoshop on my Mac, where I use a graphics tablet to digitally paint the image. It’s all done freehand with no reference, as I like to capture the mood and atmosphere spontaneously, rather than labouring over exact details and architectural accuracy. I wanted to capture the idea of dappled beams of light streaming through tiny spaces in all the black abstract mechanical forms, creating small pools of light on the rail tracks.
Do you scare yourself with how real your paintings turn out?
Ha, well I quite often just paint these intuitively so never really look at them until they are finished. I also seem to have developed the right cut off point, so not to over work, once I stop and step back, I do get an enormous sense of satisfaction when I see what I actually set out to achieve initially,
How do you go about what you do?
Well I seem to work 24/7 on some form of creative pursuits! In the day I animate and create various motion graphics in London, I sketch when ever I have a spare minute and I am usually painting in my studio, or on walls/streets at the weekend, so it’s a full time, never switch of approach to my art and work. It’s full on, but I love it.
It’s hard enough to do such photorealistic pictures on a canvas, so how do you transfer them to massive walls outside?
It’s just a matter of scale. I guess I just see the larger walls as pages from my sketch book or blank canvases, I don’t let scale scare me, even though I am afraid of heights… it’s a confidence thing, just see the blank wall and fill it!
How much paint do walls like the ones you’ve done in Kentish Town one take?
Lots. My work uses a lot of colours, so I always have a huge range of shades of colour and then layer them up over and over again, to create depth and form. It’s a time consuming process and means I do have to transport loads of cans around, but it’s the best way for me to work!
A lot of your work involves wet and rainy streets – is this a window into your wet and rainy soul Dan, or do you just like the reflections that that allows you to paint?
It’s always raining in my soul… and I do like the reflections the rain creates, the colours and distorted reality it creates. It takes an everyday, mundane scene and then someone twists and distorts it, a bit like me, twisted and distorted! I love the idea of taking a snap shot in time, freezing a moment in the chaos of rush hours and then seeing the beauty within that scene, people rush past and never stop to see it. I guess that’s where I come in, my job allows me to seek out these moments and then paint them, making people aware of them…
If you could paint any wall or side of building in the world, where would that be?
I’d like to paint something huge and epic in Tokyo. I have painted several commissions there, but on a small scale, I’d love to perhaps paint a rainy London scene on the side of a huge building, that would be great to see. I love the ideas of taking cities from around the world and then painting them in other cities; kind of cross pollinating the world with art. I am lucky to have been to some amazing places to do this, I’ll be painting in Hong Kong next year as well as some other cool places, so will be bringing my art to some other countries, very exciting.