Danny Morison is an incredible London based illustrator who we had the pleasure of featuring on page 140 of NOCTIS VI; there is a certain darkness to his work and his attention to detail is exquisite. Fantasy and science fiction have been a driving force behind his work for as long as he can remember and it took our theme of folklore FANTASY to another level. He says,
"The real world just seems so dull and flat, and above all, predictable"
In his drawings he can escape to a world where rocks float in the sky, where starships drift between multi-coloured nebulas, mystic priests perform secret rituals underneath moons and giant robots are made just for the hell of it. Danny Morison kindly took the time to answer some questions for NOCTIS, read what he had to say here...
Was your love of sci-fi and manga the prompt for you to become an illustrator?
When I was a kid I remember being heavily influenced by cartoons like Transformers, M.A.S.K, and all the nuts ones about plant robots and dinosaurs with guns on their back, real trippy stuff. I used to just draw them over and over again till I was in my teens, then got into all that Games Workshop stuff, became shunned by the cool kids so carried on drawing! I don't think I've ever been interested in anything else really, so becoming an illustrator wasn't really a choice. Literally, I have nothing else, it's either draw or die.
How has your style developed since you started drawing just because you could when you were a child?
I don't think you can truly class yourself as an illustrator, or even call yourself one, till you can live of it, or spend 100% of your time on it. So I've been trying to be a fully fledged illustrator for nearly 5 years now, since leaving university. I just happened to stumble across a style/technique right at the end of the last year of uni, something that complemented my way of working as well as my drawing skills, which I'm half really happy about, half kicking myself that I hadn't come across it sooner.
Since then, I've just been pushing that style, trying to make it into something more, trying to experiment with it, alongside any storyboarding work that comes my way. 5 years is a long time, and it shows sometimes how much I've pushed myself. But it's hard you know? I maybe have 2 or 3 days a week when I can be an artist, the rest of my time is just me trying to keep my head above water, working in a part-time job, finding more work, self-promotion, girlfriend, chasing pay, being really good at Halo, etc, so again, I'm left thinking what I could do if I just had a little bit more time.
There will never really be enough time in the world will there? So, where would you say your heart lies in illustrating, do you have a "personal style" vs. a "professional style" like I know many photographers [for example] do?
My heart lies in my own stuff obviously, I think my idea's are amazing because I'm a massive arrogant bastard. Unfortunately to make a living as an illustrator, or any kind of artist I guess, you need money to live, which means you need to do jobs for money, which means you lose out on any creative control, or even creativity itself sometimes. But working for someone else really affirms my belief in what I do and how I do it, just because other peoples ideas or input is so bad sometimes! My head is literally in my hands once a week, but I've learnt not to be so precious about work done for other people, and be super into my own stuff, and I think that energy, driven by despairing at other peoples fucking nuts ideas, has started to show through with my recent work.
Is there anything that inspired the spread for NOCTIS VI?
The theme was 'Fantasy' so I chose my most dream-like, fantastical, most sci-fi pieces. As I said in the mag, fantasy is the ultimate escapism, no one can tell me I'm drawing things wrong, and I get to draw what I want, which is robots most of the time for some reason. Anyway, I have a little book that I drew little, postage stamp size compositions in, back during one of my, now bi-monthly, breakdowns/need to change my life weeks, and thats where most of my pieces begin their life, as tiny compositions.
Taken from NOCTIS VI
What advice would you give to your younger self?
'Don't be afraid'
Are you currently working on any big projects?
Yes! I'm doing illustrations for a card game called 'The Agency', a game set in a dark future where an espionage agency gets betrayed and split up into factions, lots of guns, babes and rain. One of the rarer projects where I get a lot of creative control and also a lot of character design, so it's been really fun, as well as good old-fashioned hard work. It's going to be a Kickstarter in a few months, would be awesome to see it funded, printed and played, hint, The Agency.
Do you have a daily source of inspiration?
I like walking to places, mainly because of a deep-rooted fear and loathing of the general public stops me from using London buses, but also because I find that's when I can work things out in my head. So I do a lot mental sorting out in that small amount of time I get to myself and away from the sound of fat kids screaming outside my window and that accursed Facebook. So that's when things fit together, which I guess is inspiration? Also, I like to peruse sites such as Tumblr, But Does It Float and iso50 when I should be doing something really important.
Do you find yourself doodling in your spare time (assuming you have a moment to spare!)?
Sometimes, mainly when people are talking to me, or I'm supposed to be doing something. I usually have a warm-up drawing that gets me going at the beginning of the day, but that's all I get really, maybe 10 minutes? Maybe if I manage to manifest some willpower this year, I'll stop dicking around on the internet and just draw instead.
Do you have a plan for the future?
Become an illustrator! Actually live off my work rather than doing it around everything else. That is my dream. Do a comic, an animation, maybe get a job which involves my actual talent and see what it's like to earn more than £100 a week. Also, move out of London, it's like a nuthouse here, to somewhere with a nice Waitrose in the vicinity perhaps?
Finally, could you describe your style in 5 words?
FUN, COLOURFUL, BOLD, INTERESTING, SURREAL.
You can see more of Danny's incredible work on his website.
See this post on the NOCTIS Magazine blog here