Dan Baran [sniperdog]
What do you do? How do you define yourself as an artist?
As an outsider, I am most interested in abstract painting and, secondarily, in simple depictions of pastoral landscapes, resembling primitive folk art. I draw and paint with various media and supports and have also done assemblages and clay sculpture. My goal is originality and variety of technique from one work to the next. I don't believe art should be used mainly to make political statements, and I don't believe that the government should hand out grants to fund the arts. Art will survive without govenment types trying to control it. Nobody likes to be taxed, especially when they're not even aware of where all their money is being funneled. Starving artists in this world power do not exactly look like starving children in third world countries. (Give to Save the Children, 1 877 239 0250.) If I can't make a living as an artist on my own, I won't quit my day job. If others want to use tax money to make their art, I would not hold it against them, but I'd rather be on the outside.
What is your message?
1) Walls without paintings are like floors without feet. 2) Don't buy art, make your own. 3) Stop and see the roses. 4) No taxation with or without costly representation. 5) Cripple the politicians--POWER TO THE PEOPLE!
Your biography in four lines.
Born and living in New Jersey, graduated college 1970, drafted, three years in U.S. Army, retired from accounting in government employment in 2001. Began painting in 1950's. Studied under Daniel Serra-Badue in 1960's, and since the 1990's have been able to spend more time painting. Looking for representation.
Do you upload your work to the web? If so, where could we see it?
www.DanielBaran.blogspot.com. I lost all of my older art on the web due to an automated spambot program that mistakenly deleted all of my blogspots as spam. Hundreds of photos of paintings are now lost forever! On the bright side, these paintings should now be considered rare and priceless since they are no longer available to be viewed by the general public and hoi polloi, not to mention art world elitists. And so, on November 5, 2010, I started a new site and will soon start to list new and original paintings at: www.DanielBaran.blogspot.com.
How is an idea born? For you, what is inspiration?
I can't say how an idea will come, it usually comes to mind when I least expect it. As soon as an image or an idea forms, I put it down on a piece of scrap paper so that I don't forget to paint it later. Sometimes I'll see something and I'll misinterpret what it is I'm looking at. When I see it in a better light, I sometimes think that it would have been better to have been whatever it first appeared to me to be. I then will create the thing that never existed in the first place, the thing that I though I saw, but didn't! I cannot plan a time to paint--the urgency of an idea causes me to have to paint it, and I have to start right away. If ideas stop coming, I will take a break. Painting on commission or taking requests for certain subjects never turn out exactly the way I would like them to. I think the reason is that the freedom to keep the painting loose is lost.
What role does technology play in your creative process?
Technology is my middle name. It plays a role in helping me to sell paintings using the Ebay auction site. I then use that money to buy more supplies and continue to put new paintings on Ebay. Then, when the new paintings sell on Ebay, and I use that money to buy more supplies and continue to repeat the process all over again, etc., ad infinitum. I'm surprised no one else ever thought of this. Eventually, I should get more viewers and bidders, and the works could develop a hefty following. When I die, I will be rich. In the meantime, I hope I don't get thrown off the whohub.
What is art?
Art making something that didn't exist five minutes ago. Everyone is an artist. If you make a sandwich, you're an artist. If you make a good sandwich, you're a good artist. If you eat the sandwich, it's performance art. Generally, making something to decorate a bare wall is what many would say art is about. Good art is original and interesting and could confuse or amuse. And bad art is still art and could be just as important.
When do you get your best ideas?
I get ideas when I am in a trance while driving, staring at a blank spot in the sky, or just relaxing. The ideas come without any help from me. Ideas have to keep coming during the creation of the work. If the ideas stop, the work stops. It may continue to stop indefinintely, until ideas start to flow again. Painting without a direction is counter-productive. Sometimes I pinch myself to get ideas flowing, but it doesn't work, it just hurts and leaves a mark.
How do you evaluate whether an idea is good or not?
A good idea compels me to draw or paint as soon as I can. A lot of ideas will come and go, but a good will be carried through to the end of a work. If I start with a half-baked idea and try to make it work, it shows up in the work in the same way, i.e., half-baked.
Three creative ideas that you would have liked to have created?
The three creative ideas that I would like to have created would be 1) Yin, 2) Yang, and 3) the circle. I would have then fit my Yin and Yang inside my circle and filled them in with contrasting black and white. Anyone could use my Yin and Yang, but I think I would copyright my circle. That way, anytime anyone would want to use my circle in their idea, they would have to pay me for it. I think the circle could have many uses. Seriously.
When and how did you begin to see yourself as an artist?
I have always been interested in filling up blank spaces with shapes, lines and color, as far back as I can remember. I never cared much about staying within the lines, too conforming. When others started to look at my art for more that a minute, and when I noticed others didn't want to try it themselves, then I guess that was when I began to see myself as separate, an artist.
Why do so many artists and creators have such volatile personalities?
Art is always frustrating and a stuggle while you are doing it. At times, it is necessary to yell, throw things and stomp on the work if it is not doing what you want it to do. This is hard to turn off, so if someone wanders too close, they could be mistaken for a work of art. If you see an artist approaching, it is best to slowly back away. I have never had this problem, however.
Do you consider yourself postmodern?
If I had to choose, I believe I would be considered postmodern and prefuturistic.
How should a work of art be evaluated?
I think an art work should be evaluated on how it holds a person's interest, how original it is, and how soothing or disruptive it is to a peron's sensibilities. An interesting work is like a puzzle, and time must be spent on the work to solve it and appreciate it.
Must an artist reinvent him/herself everyday?
No, that's ridiculous. I just wait for my cells to die and make new ones, and every eight years I'm a whole different person. It takes longer, but it just makes more sense to wait it out.
Which artists do you admire and how do they influence your work?
Klee, Kandinsky and Homer. They influence me in that they serve a full seven course meal in every painting. If the viewer takes the time to stop and sit down in front of a painting, wanting to absorb and understand what is going on, then you have turned an inanimate object into one that lives and breathes.
What do you think about public funding for the arts?
I despise public funding. What ever happened to POWER TO THE PEOPLE? Today's youth march in the streets yelling POWER TO THE GOVERNMENT! Don't they know that when the government latches on to your wallet, they will never let go? Our world has been turned on its head and, if we don't change now, every one of us will be broke. You shouldn't want the government to take your money and waste it on their latest trendy creations. Just because you wish we were living in a money tree Utopia, doesn't make it so. They don't use public funding to make blimps. I don't like blimps, I don't want to ride in blimps, and I don't want them stealing my money, (that I work hard for), to fill up the sky with blimps. If we continue taking money from people who aren't interested in art, do you think that it will force them to suddenly become interested? Let them hold onto their money, maybe they will be able to buy their own art supplies instead of paying for mine. Just imagine all the great artists that might be out there that will never materialize because of the existing huge, monopolistic art industry, closed off to everyone except the connected elite. Public money is just stolen money looking for a new way to be wasted. If you hate hard, back-breaking work, you can become a poet or a painter. Stop complaining, you are already ahead of the game! What about the poor family guy who loves hard, stressful work who was laid off from GM? His kids are really going hungry We have been listenting to the starving artist and starving teacher propaganda for so long, we truly believe in it. Get real. Go to-- http://www.nea.gov/grants/recent/index_state.html to see how much is missing from your wallet, minute by minute. If art organizations need funding to exist, that just tells me that they are not up to snuff, and extinction is natural and good for this planet. The best will survive on their own. Our money is pumped into admisitrative costs in the NEA and a multitude of other layered federal departments, and fraudulently wasted all the way down the line to the state and local levels. I lived it in my Federal and County careers, seeing no show and ghost jobs with obscure titles leading to multiple pensions for the connected. Read my lips, YOUR GOVERNMENT is all about WASTE, CONFUSION, CORRUPTION and DUPLICATION OF EFFORT. Extravagant spending should end and our tax money should be returned to its rightful owners, everybody, individually to get the economy moving again. Art will survive without charity grants being wasted at the top, and funneled down to a select few. Give the government credit for having a hand in your art? Allow BIG BROTHER to lean over your shoulder and breathe down your neck to make sure you're painting what they expect you to? Those power-hungry, beaurocrats' ultimate goal is to have control over EVERY aspect of human life--and now they've finally discovered the power of art for their own rotten, selfish needs! Disgraceful! And, if I personally ever get public funding, that would be awesome. But don't get me started.
Is art necessary?
Art is not necessary, it is a condition that exists. An empty house will not fall down without art on the walls, and you can't eat a painting. Some art is even seen as unnecessary because it can be harmful to undeveloped minds. Government will plead that art is the most necessary thing in the world, and will empty your pockets for you just to show that they are here to save it for us! Art is everywhere, like oxygen. Humans, unlike animals have always and will always be driven, by an unstoppable, innate force, to create works of art. We wouldn't die without art, but there is no way art can ever go away, so why such a question about art being necessary? Are you the government?
Does it pain you to let go of a piece you have sold?
It did at first, but I take pictures and keep track of the location of the paintings. That way, there is a chance I can still buy them back, if I don't get scalped. If I don't let go of them, who will be able to see them? Just me? But when they're hung in office space, hotels, nursing homes, etc., a lot of people will have the opportunity to drool over them.
Is a work of art purchased, or is it better said, that it is the artist who is bought?
The art is what is purchased, most definitely. Many artists may want to be bought, but I don't like the connotation that outside influences are capable of changing a person's direction. If someone has money for me, however, I'll let them call it anything they want.
In art, there is no guide. How do you know what the next step is?
If I am at an end of a stage in the piece and start wondering about the next step, I stop. I might stare at it for a week and not see what should be next. Then, one day it becomes obvious, and I continue. Sometimes it takes longer, and those works are put out of sight. When pulled out again, I can usually see where the piece is supposed to go. If I go to the next step before I'm sure of what it is, the work is forced and false. But then I'll just sell it as bad art, which is good.
How do you feel about the fact that the pieces exhibited in contemporary art museums are often of artists already deceased?
I think its great. These artists are probably not in it for the money and have no relevant political connections. If you are an artist who is still alive, and you're in it for the money or for politics, run for office.
What role have the figures of art dealer, gallery owners, representatives, and intermediaries in general played in your career?
They can all give the art a boost, but depending on others to make your art important is not a good idea. Ideally, success is when art speaks for itself and people haven't networked or campaigned to push art works into the public's sights. You can't live with them and you can't live...etc.
What types of jobs do you usually do?
Wash dishes, clean out gutters, mow the lawn, take out the garbage.
Which of your jobs or tasks do you most enjoy?
Taking out the garbage.
Do you personally collect any items?
Not too much, just some old photos postcards, small retro items and furniture.
Which websites do you frequently visit?
www.newyork.yankees.mlb.com, www.giants.com, www.nationalreview.com, www.kiva.org.
What advice would you give to those just beginning?
The beginning is the hardest. You will not like anything you do in the beginning and the beginning will seem to have no end to it. If you save everything, you can see your improvement and even go back and fix your early works, once you catch on. Stay with the style you are most comfortable with, so you will find your niche. Don't try to figure what anyone else wants to see. Keep at it, don't give up.
Belmar, NJ, USA