Monday, October 17


"NO-BROW " Art to die for
article 2002

Born in Los Angeles in 1974 to an English mother, and an American Father, Dan Collins was to find himself immerged in what had been and would again become the epicenter of the hotrod scene on the west coast. His parents divorced when he was 6. His father, a documentary film maker, moved into an artist community sharing the space with other roommates. This is where Dan got some of his earliest inspiration and introduction, at the age of 7, to professional art and the worlds of rockabilly and punk. His father started dating a punk rock girl, and another of his roommates, A-West, was a well known cartoonist. He showed Dan some drafting techniques, and how to wear his hair in a ducktail, giving him his first tube of brillcream, and introducing him to Eddie Cochran, the Stray Cats, and Gene Vincent.

At 10, Dan traveled to New York to visit his father, who was working there. While in New York, he met Andy Warhol, and was invited to visit The Factory. He didn't know who Andy Warhol was at the time, but was impressed by the awe inspiring studio, and realized later what an incredible experience that was. Andy Warhol past away a few years later in 1987.

Dan Collins has been around music and art since his birth. His mother, Jeannie, worked in the record industry, and his father also worked with musicians, and both had books and prints around from artists like Gustav Klimpt, Picasso, Erte', and Dali. No doubt this had a profound effect on his creativity. He was always drawing or sketching in his schoolbooks, and was known as the artist in school. His first memory of anything "Low-Brow" was seeing a sketch of Rat Fink, that his father had done on legal paper back in the 60's. He also got his fathers copies of Zap comics from the 60's, featuring art by R. Crumb, Robert Williams, and others. These images stuck with him through the years.

At the age of 15, Dan and his father had a falling out and he would end up living with his mother. This was the beginning of ten years that Dan would not have contact with his father. At 16, he moved out, and into a small apartment in Hollywood with a bunch of rockers in a band call "Beautiful Destruction." This was a pretty wild time for him, and left him with some hard memories of friends overdosing and getting lost in the LA drug scene. He got his first tattoo at this time, he also did his first tattoo during this period, finding a home made machine in a box of records that belonged to one of his roommates. He then purchased "professional" equipment from an ad in the back of a tattoo magazine and started to learn the craft. He started to get heavily into cars and motorcycles at this point, mainly 60's style Harley choppers, and musclecars. After watching his friends self destruct, Dan decided he needed some time away from the Hollywood scene, and all of the vices that came with it. At this point he left his job at a warehouse, and packed up and traveled to Europe, where he backpacked for three months, reflecting on what he wanted to do with his life and drawing sketches in little books. Mostly material that had to do with his life back in America, bikers, hotrods, drug use, and some more surreal work that is beyond description.

When Dan returned from his trip, he sold his 390 '68 cougar, and bought his first custom. It was a '57 chevy pickup, in black lacquer with flames. This was the beginning of his love affair(or should I say addiction) with older customs and hotrods. He drove his truck as his everyday car, but did not know of any other people who were into 50's style customs at that time. At 17 he found a cruise night at an old Bob's Big Boy in Northridge (which is now a Carrow's or something) and started meeting other people who had the same interests. He would start selling his sketches and sculptures from the hood of his truck, and later his '56 Pontiac. That year, he set up his art at the Rat Fink Reunion, which was the first one that was held at Mooneyes in Santa Fe Springs. He met Von Franco and Robert Williams there, and realized that he had found something that he truly associated with. Dan has been involved with every Rat Fink Reunion since. Von Franco continued to offer support to Dan, and invited him to join his car club at the time, the Lucky Devils, which neither Dan nor Von Franco are in anymore.

Fast forward about ten years, and Dan has had shows with everyone from Big Daddy Roth, to Von Franco, and Robert Williams. As well as a few solo shows. He is also Tattooing full time, enjoying the freedom of being able to travel when he needs to, for art and car shows, and being able to do custom work using his own designs or "Flash". He made his first trip to Japan for "Tokyo Groovy" in March 2001, following it up with a second trip for Tokyo Groovy and Osaka Groovy in 2002. He also had a show called "Kar Krafts" in London England in December of 2001. He has designed album covers, T-shirts and more, for many bands, companies, and groups, including Red Sand, Burnout Magazine, The Big Red Machine(Hell's Angels SFV), The Dimwits, The Demons, Death Valley Meth Lab, Warner Brothers Records, Salvage Vehicles, etc. He has done original art for Ice-T, Eddie Van Halen, Brian Setzer, Jimmy Page, Madonna, and others. In 2000, he decided to start manufacturing his own line of merchandise which can be found in stores all over the world and on the internet. He does all of the work, short of actually silkscreening his own shirts. Dan spends much of his time on the phone taking orders, and calling companies that he deals with. He not only has to design the art, but promote, distribute, and sell the merchandise himself. He says he can't wait to be able to afford to pay a few people to help him out with these tasks so he can spend more time on the art itself. Either way it's easy to see, Dan will probably be busy with one thing or another until the day he dies.

1 comment:

Guy@GK said...

Interesting story. And damn, I know what it's like having to do everything yourself...