Orlando Artist Mr. Cranklin: When You Commit to Your Passion Opportunities Come Knocking [Exclusive Interview]

We’ve all heard the saying if you do what you love you will never work a day in your life. Millennials are the generation that’s willing to take a pay cut in order to follow their passion. Once you commit to what sets your soul on fire and trust the process there are amazing results and opportunities available that you never imagined.  

Dan Collins, the creative artist behind Mr. Cranklin, has always known he doesn’t want to work the jobs society tells us we need to be successful. Instead, he invested his energy into what he loves, which is drawing on any surface he can. Dan has been a featured live artist at Bassnectar’s Deja Voom, Brainquilty, Zen Awakening, and even curated his own art installations. I had the opportunity to interview Dan and gain an inside view on the work he does.

“All the positive encouragement from everybody has been really great. I’m trying to spread that with as many people as I can and make sure my friends don’t get frustrated with their lives because I know where I was about 6 months ago.”

FS: When did you begin drawing and what got you into it?

Dan: I’ve been drawing since I was a little kid. I’m an only child and my mom would always doodle with me when we were at restaurants so she could keep me entertained.

I went to the Seattle Academy of Arts and Sciences where I had a great art teacher who really encouraged me. During my time, I picked up a decent amount of skills, but I was always focused on finding something that would make money. Because of this, I went to school for marketing in LA and then Full Sail University studying music business. It became clear that I would go above and beyond on the projects where I got to be creative and involved some kind of visual element or design, and didn’t involve spreadsheets.

I decided it wasn’t for me so I pulled out of Full Sail and started drawing again at Electric Forest 2016. This was one of the first pieces that looked like the style of art I do now which I call organic growth drawing. This style of drawing radiates from one shape and does whatever it wants to. After that, I began to focus on drawing and selling my artwork by setting up booths at shows in August of 2016.

“Obviously putting yourself in a practice really develops what you’re doing a lot more so I try to focus and expand my art.”

FS: What is the meaning behind Pareidolia Productions?

Dan: Pareidolia is the mental tendancy to recognize patterns when they don’t exist. The brain tries to make sense of the stimulus in front of you and that’s what a lot of people see when they look at my work.

FS: Recently you returned from doing live art at Bassnectar’s Deja Voom, how did you prepare your art for the event?

Dan: I don’t like to pre-draw anything. I like to feel the energy that’s around me at the event and it dictates how I’m going to draw there. The first night I really made a point to make something different than I usually do. Most of my art is black and white and doesn’t really stand out. I was standing alongside 4 or 5 very talented, color oriented artists so I made sure to do that. It took about six hours to finish. I used acrylic paint and went in with a paint marker to tighten up all the lines.

The second night I ended up doing something I knew would be easy for me and it came out much better than I was planning. I’m really happy with this one because it gave me this beautiful bassdrop. I’ve been wanting to do a Mr. Cranklin bassdrop for a very long time and I am happy with the result. 

“I never try to put anything set in stone. I think the best kind of art has a very natural flow.”

FS: Can you talk about the community coloring book installations you have brought to music festivals?

Dan: I first featured my coloring book pages at Zen Awakening 2018. It was a test run and there were two walls with my drawings to color. For the next coloring book installation, I built a frame for the walls to stand up on at Art Basel. 

For Brainquility I had six community coloring book pages. The art director for Brainquility loved the project and wants to bring it back for Hulaween. Nothing is set in stone yet, but it’s such a great idea and anyone can contribute their artistic abilities and leave their mark.

“Everything I put energy into has been paying back so much.”

FS: Can you give some insight into what you do with A 40 oz Collective?

Dan: A 40 oz Collective is an artist collective group with visual artists, event planning, production-related work and more. If you’re throwing a party and 40 oz comes through to help we are going to make the party 10 times better. Our team is stacked with DJs, artists, visual artists, and we are branching into signing rappers. Everyone is working like crazy to bring this vision to life.

As a visual artist, I help with album art, art for events, and event planning. I’ve worked alongside 40 oz since early November. We threw some events for Miami Music Week including a fashion show, networking event, and held the after party for submission showcase.

FS: How do you sustain yourself as an artist?

Dan: I’ve always wanted to work for myself because I don’t take managing well. I didn’t want to work in a restaurant or a typical millennial job either. I began a vending booth selling thrift clothes and became well known for that around town. It’s not easy because there will always be nights I take losses and other nights where I do very well. I’ve been trying to get away from the vending and redirect more into my artwork, product, and designs.

“I’m trying to get everyone aware of what I do versus what I sell.”

FS: Who are some of your artist inspirations?

Dan: I got to meet Chris Dyer at Okeechobee 2016. He was one of the first artists I really interacted with and he is so down to earth and genuine. He does amazing work, I really want to be like that. I’ve always liked Alex Grey and Aaron Brooks, those are some of the bigger people. Danny Sanzone is also someone I look up to. He’s very organized and incredibly talented when it comes to photoshop. There are also people I’ve met along the way that do very similar stuff to me, like Pauladian Minerva.

FS: What can we expect from you in the future?

Dan: March 9th I had the opportunity to curate my first art installation at Henao Center showcasing 30-40 pieces, a lot of which no one has seen before. I’m working on organizing everything for my company and getting my LLC finalized. I also am finishing up my website, mrcranklin.com. Currently, I’m working on reflective clothing, t-shirts, girls leggings, and bomber jackets. I have about a year’s worth of pin designs, so be on the lookout for that in the next couple of months.

Follow Dan’s journey on Instagram Here and Facebook Here

Major Takeaways from the Interview

  • Follow what feels right to your heart
  • A positive mindset can change your life
  • Surround yourself with people who inspire you
  • Don’t force anything, allow energy to flow in its natural state
  • Never give up on your dream

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