Daniel Gray is an illustrator, but a past manifestation of himself wore a white coat and a stethoscope. He says he dropped out of Medical Science “when he realised illustration had a much lower patient mortality rate.” Looking at his portfolio though, I’d say he’s a guy drawn to tricky jobs.
Lately he’s been illustrating opinion pieces for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas, an event at the Sydney Opera House. It is always tough to find the right visual accompaniment for a think piece, but when they’re on controversial topics and speakers at the event include the likes of Salman Rushdie and Pussy Riot, I imagine they take a fair bit of creative consideration.
Does he think a good illustrator should be able to illustrate just about anything? “Probably, that’s the goal! But I can’t talk, I still feel like I’m terrible at drawing faces and horses. I think the trick is to figure out your own way of drawing things, regardless of how technically beautiful or correct it is. Some of the best illustrators are technically terrible, but their ideas are genius.”
I like that even his personal work is keyed into polemical and timely topics; his piece Water Crisis was inspired by a New York Times article, but stands alone beautifully. Not to say that he’s a one-trick pony; he’s also made maps for New York Times Book Review and Computer Arts. As for what he enjoys to draw, he says: “Animals in general are always great, they have so much personality. I don’t have anything I struggle with in particular, but maybe themes which are quite dark or serious are a bit more of a challenge to be more restrained.”
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