STUDIO VISIT DANNY MINNICK

Ballard: What has skateboarding taught you about painting?

Minnick: No fear, I have no fear.

Ballard: Just keep trying until you land it.

Minnick: Yeah. I mean if I don't like it, I'll just paint over it. It's like filming skate tricks, if you don’t like it you just film it again until you like it. I was just at dinner the other night with Sean Sheffey, Danny Way, and Colin McKay and we were talking about when we were kids and what we learned from Mike Ternaski, like skating, filming, trying to get these three-second clips. Like it's a repetition, repetition, repetition. Try it, try it, and finally land. But now I get older, I learn about meditating and meditation. That's a form of meditation at a young age, you're repeating something over and over again. Something that makes you feel good, and you don't even realize that kind of work you're doing as a kid. But then as you grow older you, you can look back and be like, wow, I was meditating through skateboarding. That's how I got where I am. And always had a positive thought of where skateboarding would take me. Especially growing up in Seattle, very negative city, a lot of drugs and bad things happening. A lot of rain, nine months out of the year it rains in Seattle. So that's why I would go to Vancouver a lot. That was the first indoor skate spot, and that's where I learned to skate, like vert and mini ramp and all that stuff with Aaron Deeter and the iconic Fallout Team and you know, it's interesting how it comes all the way around.

Ballard: How long have you been painting now?

Minnick: Over 10 years now, The first time I painted a painting was in 1995 or 1996 in LA when I was staying with an artist friend of mine. It was a painting of the Hollywood sign with someone jumping off it, it was the view from the house I was staying at. It was interesting because after I sold the painting I found out an actress jumped off the Hollywood sign after she didn't get a part of the movie she auditioned for, and then the day after she jumped she got the part in the movie, but she killed herself before she could find out. True story.

Ballard: You started stretching canvas for Chad Muska, right? 

Minnick: Chad was deep into art by this time and he was going back and forth from Los Angeles to New York. I was watching his dogs while he was gone and then when he was in town, I was in the studio with him, he showed me how to stretch canvas and he gave me two canvases to paint on. During this time I went to this audition and met this casting director, I had paint on my pants and she's like, are you a painter? I said, yeah. I said I'm just painting. And she's like, can I see your work. I showed her my paintings and she said her husband owned a gallery in Burbank and she would introduce us. So I met with him, showed him the two paintings and he gave me my first show in 2011. It was called 17 Pieces, I spent the next month painting 15 more pieces and that was my first show.

Ballard: How many pieces do you think you're doing in a year now?

Minnick: I really can't even count or even know what month it is, sometimes what day it is. I don't know. Probably 250 pieces

Ballard: The hustle is real?

Minnick: Yeah, the hustle is real. At least 250 pieces, probably more.

Ballard: What keeps you motivated?

Minnick: Just my life, being free and being able to do whatever I want to do when I want to do it. Hang out with my dog, come to my studio, talk to some old school friends, go to the Actors Studio, work on my craft, come to my studio, work on my craft.

Ballard: So you're painting mainly in New York and Los Angeles.

Minnick: Yeah. Mainly just New York and Los Angeles. In New York, I have a really cool friend named Harif Guzman. He has a studio in Soho Arts Club. When I go to New York, usually he's out of town and I got that spot rented out or I watch his dog, Flip, who's a good studio manager, one of the best and he's a pug.

Ballard: Louie (Pug) is the studio manager here?

Minnick: Yeah. Louie is the studio manager here and Flip is a studio manager in New York. Louie is just like “whatever”.

Ballard: Seems like your style of painting has this theme, does this character have a name?

Minnick: Yeah, it's Character. That's his name.

Ballard: Character?

Minnick: Yeah, it’s just a positive character I came up with. I was working on two paintings back to back, two large nine-foot paintings and I turned around and painted that character on the wall with an oil stick. My body was so tired and my bones hurt, I did the character holding up a body and it was dreaming about skating. It's a nine-foot by nine-foot painting that Nick Cassavetes owns. That's the first time I ever did the character. And Nick was like, “dude, you're onto something. This is rad”. I was working in a small 400 square foot studio and I just did a repetition of them all through the studio. And then once I Instagrammed it, Nick said: “cut a piece of the fucking wall out and I'll buy it”. And I'm like, what? My next show was Break the Walls at the Pacific Design Center and it was literally all the pieces broken out of my studio from my walls because they were tearing the studio down.

Ballard: Has a lot of your work been on studio walls or painted over?

Minnick: There was this one painting that was already sold to a gallery and I painted over it, I was asked to do a portrait of Joe Namath for a Joe Namath Foundation charity auction. So I literally painted over this painting, I only kept this one part of the eye and then did Joe Namath with the helmet and the field goal and stuff. Then the galleries was like, hey, we sold that painting and I was like, well actually I painted over it and donated it to Joe Namath Foundation. The gallery was so bummed. Even if it's a dope painting or whatever, sometimes I just paint over it.

Ballard: So that has happened more than once?

Minnick: Yeah, that's happened a couple of times. It's like, sorry, painted over it. That's the one that's painted all black over there in the corner, What's a trip is that some paintings that I really, really like, and really, really love, the paintings that I really don’t want to let go of, people won't like them as much as the other paintings that didn’t take as long or whatever. I'm just like, wow. The other one, I love that painting. Then the other painting that didn't take as long or whatever, they're like, Oh I want this one. It's a trip. You just never know.

Ballard: You're just going to keep hustling then.

Minnick: Yep.

Ballard: You've been hustling since I've known you.

Minnick: It's how you do it. It's all relative. It's just being trained from skateboarding, from self-taught techniques and people that you've learned from, that influenced you? From Mike Ternaski to Christian Hosoi, from anyone, any musician or anything, it's about the work. I love going to museums. I always look at the tag. The best part of the painting, the process is at the end, when the paint is dry, and then you're staring at it and then you title it. You put the title on the back, inside it. That's the coolest part I think, at the end, because that piece of work has been with me for three or four, five months, and you miss staring at it, working on it nonstop. Then boom, there's the title.

Do you paint over them after that?

Minnick: I have painted over a couple of titles that I've retitled them on the back. I mean, growing up in Seattle, the music culture was very big to me. My mom grew me up on Motown, my father grew me up on country, and then my brothers grew me up on rock and roll. So my musical culture is great. When skateboarding clicked with me when I was seven years old, I got my first skateboard and while skating on it, I slammed. My mom came out and smashed it with a hammer and it went into a million pieces. I saw a beautiful piece of art get smashed in front of me. It wasn't until years later in Seattle I traded a kid from California some Iron Maiden posters for a Sure-Grip International deck with Motobilt trucks and Kryptos. Seeing the graphics on that and then finding the local skate shop, it was a trip. I was like, Whoa. The culture of skating, all the graphics, artists like Pushead. I was just like, yeah. I knew that's where I was supposed to be. I felt in my soul, this is where I'm supposed to be.