Danny Owens
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Blog

This is a blog of Portland photographer Danny Owens. Featuring interviews with artists, makers, and creatives as well as showcasing recent photography work.

Madi Goyette

It always blows my mind how small the world truly is.  A random encounter you might have could lead to something entirely new years later.

That's exactly what happened with my friend Madi. A few years ago we spent a day together in Seattle, wandering around UW and grabbing some coffee... and then a few months ago we realized we both now lived in Portland.

I header over to her house to catch up and see some of the new work she's been up to. Here's a little interview to go along with the following images.


Tell me about yourself. Where did you grow up, and where have you lived?

"I grew up in the Bay Area of California in South San Jose/ Morgan Hill. I moved to San Francisco after I graduated high school and lived there for 3 years. I studied illustration for a short time at an art school, then transferred to a culinary school. For the last 2 years I've worked in restaurants and grown my knowledge in food."

What made you want to call Portland home?

"I moved up to Portland with my boyfriend this past year in July 2016. We're both cooks, so we decided to move up north to explore a new food scene in hopes of a better living."

What’s your story of becoming an artist?

"I've been making art my whole life. I’ve always made drawings; at first with graphite, mostly portraits of people. Then at 13, I was introduced to the world of modern tattooing. That immediately struck an interest and pushed me towards making drawings in pen and ink. I was influenced by a lot of radial mandala shapes, sacred geometry and dot work/stippling. Through high school I made most of my drawings based on patterns, and gravitated towards subjects of natural science and oddities. This directly affected the work I was making. It introduced a lot of bone structure and skull fragments (human or animal) to my art. I also drew inspiration from what most people identify as “ western traditional" or "neo-traditional” styles in tattooing. I loved the iconic symbols of a time when American tattooing paved a way in history (ex. panthers, tigers, roses, sacred hearts, ladies/ladyheads, and sailor paraphernalia).

When I moved to SF I was producing a lot of drawings and quickly started getting tattooed. I found myself being further influenced by the many talented artists in one city. My drawing style was evolving as I found more and more things to draw inspiration from. The history of an older city gave life to an interest in Victorian era design. I started making more art pieces inspired by the Edwardian architecture I was seeing in the city, taking me back to another time period full of intricate and elaborate patterns. I am still making a lot of feminine, floral types of art that parallel art from the 1800s-1900s. I use a lot of fine lines, hatching/cross hatching, and dot work similar to etchings or old printing methods drawn by hand." 

How do you balance your work as a cook while pursuing your art? Do the two ever cross paths?

"Ultimately unless you’re aspiring to be a chef of a restaurant or own an establishment of your own, theres not a lot of room to be creative in cooking. 
It’s like a right of passage that's earned through years of executing someone else’s vision before your own. I am more or less trained as a cook to be a machine. Practicing speed, repetition, cleanliness, learning & retaining recipes, etc. It’s very physical and taxing work."

In what ways do you try to push the boundaries of your art?

"With making art I generally am only limited by my own self. I can pull inspiration from anywhere and push myself to create more and more. Expanding with new tools and techniques. Currently I'm only freelancing as an illustrator. Which allows me to rarely be limited by my clients on what I can create. Usually they come to me for designs because they like my art aesthetic."

What musicians/bands are you usually listening to in your studio?

"When I am trying to narrow in and focus on making a piece, I tend to listen to music with headphones in attempt to drown out other distractions. I went through a phase where I listened to a lot of alternative, punk, rock, hardcore, and metal music. I still listen to bands like: Balance & Composure, Dance Gavin Dance, Circa Survive, La Dispute, Title Fight, etc. to draw energy from when I am making art. I’ve grown up to appreciate a lot more than one specific genre of music. I started discovering sounds from before my generation such as early hip-hop/rap, soul/R&B, motown, disco, and 50s/60s pop. I have a strong connection to music and many sounds as I was once a musician (piano) and have loved to sing my entire life. I also studied classical music through high school and performed as a mezze-soprano opera singer. "

Who or What has most inspired the work you produce?

"As I have been influenced by many things related to a time before mine, I started collecting antiques. At first, it was just postcards. I started drawing on top of old stamped letters from the early 1900s; I was incorporating a strangers messages into my drawings. Then my collecting expanded beyond my art. I’ve gathered: bones, insect displays, taxidermy, copper and silver plated cook-ware, glass bottles, cigarette tins, victorian art/illustrations/ etchings/advertisements, the list goes on. I hope to eventually collect enough to open a small shop and resell these items in hope of preserving and sharing the past with others alike."
"...I am ever evolving as an artist and I hope to never stop challenging myself. My advice to others in any form of trade is to keep pushing yourself beyond limitations you think you may have and to constantly be in pursuit of more. Never be comfortable, you'll prevent yourself from growing."