Continuing with our artist interview series, we have Dana Lechtenberg. We met Dana by way of RIPT Apparel. He had an amazing design on display, I’m truly annoying and had to find out more, and voila! Since than he’s done several more t-shirt designs in addition to his daily dose of spouting out really cool art. Despite our overly aggressive nerdy manner, Dana was kind enough to answer some of our hard hitting questions!
JP: I’m originally from Ohio. How is Iowa? When talking to out-of-staters, is it assumed you live on a farm?
DL: I love Iowa. Born and bred in a small town of three hundred people. Spillville. Known for our clock museum. And no, I didn’t say ‘Smallville’. I don’t think that Iowa is primarily known for the farming like it used to be. Instead our newest, exciting export, meth, seems to be doing really really well.
JP: Now that I live in Las Vegas I’m often asked about cow tipping. How often do you go tip the cows?
DL: I haven’t tipped a cow in forever! My kids however will soon be at that magical age where in the wee hours of the night… we can tip toe out into the fields… and tip to our hearts content. I actually never tipped any cows growing up. I was too busy booze cruisin and hunting cats.
JP: Those damn cats. Any who, how did you get started in the art world? And how did you find your niche in nerd art?
DL: I’ve got two distinct memories of my early art. The first thing I can remember drawing is a guy sleeping in a hammock between two palm trees(???). I also remember going into the grocery store with my mom, grabbing a brown paper bag from the barrel of peanuts and sitting in front of the cereal drawing the different characters from the box fronts. I guess it was my early beginnings into character development/design. My friends would also have me draw pictures of Popeye, Smurfs, Snoopy and other things too. My first forray into nerd art was this big, expanding V drawing i created in grade school. I started it during the first mini series and kept adding little elements to it. I loved drawing those original V laser guns.
JP: Where do you find inspiration and what are some of your influences?
DL: I find tons of inspiration from my fellow designers/illustrators. There are a few sites I check out every day to see what everyone is doing and keep up on whats ‘hot’ (grain edit, omgposters, ffffound). My high school art teacher was a huge influence on my art life as well. He pushed me at a time when i needed it. We didn’t have computers back in those days so i have a nice foundation of traditional means.
JP: Who are some of your favorite artists?
DL: I’m a huge fanboy when it comes to designers/illustrators. Some of my favorites include: Jeff Kleinsmith, Jesse Ledoux and Dusty Summers (go team sub pop!), The Little Friends of Printmaking, Andrew Kolb (he’s canadian and amazing), Dave McKean, Patricio Oliver (po!), The Aesthetic Apparatus Boys, Amanda Visell, Brent Couchman, Luke Bott, Charles S. Anderson and Scott Tolleson. I could literally go on and on…
JP: Which do you prefer, fans walking around wearing your art on t-shirts, hoodies, etc… or hanging on walls as posters and prints?
DL: I’m down with all of it. It’s very flattering to see any of it out and about in the real world.
JP: If you could choose any comic book to illustrate, which one would you choose and why?
DL: I’d have to go with Batman. He’s my favorite ‘heavy hitter’. So many great people have had a shot at him and have done a great job. I love what Rafael Grampá has done w/ comics, especially his Strange Tales work. he takes these well established character… and just kind of fucks with them. Such a great style. Honestly, I’ve had a children’s book brewing in the back of my mind for far too long now. I really need to break the ice on that project, try to achieve some level of Gabba fame. And lets’s not forget about the Fluency Friends.
JP: Star Wars of Star Trek?
DL: I’m actually a huge fan of both worlds. I remember having one of the Spock Mego figures growing up (lost the tricorder and phaser immediately) and i’ve got every original figure released from the original trilogy. We weren’t rich enough to allow any of the cool, big ships however. Would have LOVED an AT-AT.
JP: What do you do in your free time?
DL: Free time is my most sought after commodity these days. As much as i want to do fun, nerdy freelance design/art work all the time, I also love to hang out with my wife and kids. And find the time to work around the house. Really boring i guess.
JP: Give us a Nerdy secret that most people don’t know about you.
DL: When I was little I would tie a stick onto a rope and create my own ‘Batarang’. The slide in the park by our house had a bar across the top of it and i was able to throw it up and around the bar and climb up the slide ala adam west.
Here’s a bonus secret: Again, while I was smaller, there was a period that whenever I was using the toilet, while sitting, I pretended I was in the cockpit of the Milennium Falcon and was flying the ship from my ‘captain’s chair’. Nerd!
JP: What is your favorite movie?
DL: This is just far too hard a question to answer. I will say this, Super 8 was the last great movie I saw.
JP: What is your favorite video game?
DL: Since I’m such an old fart, my favorite video game is still the original atari gaming system. lots of good memories playing that from my youth. Yars Revenge, Indiana Jones, Adventure. I have recently picked up a PS3 for the Blu Ray capabilities and really enjoy the first Portal game.
JP: What is your favorite comic book or comic book character?
DL: The Sandman series will always remain my favorite comic book. I loved that shite. It was so ahead of its time and Neil Gaimen created such a vast, beautiful world. I made an endless gallery that was in my living room for a long time. I was a DC guy. However, GI Joe was the first comic series I picked up. Newer favorites include The Walking Dead, The Dark Tower comics and The Boys.
Our extreme thanks to Dana for taking the time to answer our silly questions. Obviously he is an incredibly talented nerd! We can’t wait to see what he does next. And if you want to see more of his work, click here! And don’t forget to keep your eyes glued to RIPT Apparel for his next t-shirt design!
And as a bonus, if you’re one of the lucky nerds who find themselves at ComicCon, check out this promo Dana did for the Nerdist Podcast Live. They’ll also being using his artwork as the backdrop during their panel! Stop by and check it out!
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