Episode 10: Dan Woodger
Getting Your Work Seen, Protecting Yourself, and How to Keep Improving
Dan Woodger is a freelance illustrator and animator based in Kingston, UK. You might be familiar with Dan’s signature bubbly and joyful characters, anthropomorphized fruits, and Where’s Waldo?-esque crowd scenes. Dan has drawn his unique characters for brands like McDonald's, Samsung, Apple, and Netflix. Dan also occasionally contributes editorial illustrations to publications like The New York Times, GQ, and The Sunday Times. I reached out to Dan wanting to learn more about how he made a name for himself and honed his unique style—but we talk about so much good stuff beyond that.
In this conversation, we talk about:
how Dan used a cheap inkjet printer to create promotional material that got him seen by people at It’s Nice That, Nike, and Wieden + Kennedy
failures, downturns, and what it takes to find freelance work even when you don’t have a large audience or an extensive list of contacts
why Dan thinks his style and skills appeal to big brands and companies
the importance of having a good contract and agent
how Dan became a famous illustrator in Japan (and eventually got asked to be a guest of honor at the Nuit Blanche festival in Taipei)
You can see the inkjet poster Dan used to promote his work in the beginning in this article from It’s Nice That.
Dan and I ran out of time, but he sent me an email with the following:
Favorite character he makes: My apple guy. He’s just really easy to draw and a quick vehicle for me to channel ideas through.
Favorite way to get inspired: Listening to ‘Here Comes The Sun’ by The Beatles. I have no idea why but it always seems to work.
Favorite way to unwind: I love playing golf - smashing a few balls at the driving range is a great way to release some stress.
Books every creative should read: Little plug for my studio buddy Radim Malinic here - his Book of Ideas is a great read for creatives.
Favourite pen/pencil: It used to be a HB pencil, but since I got my iPad I’ve gone 100% digital so I guess it’s the Apple Pencil now.
Dream project: I have two. I'd love to work on some sort of full blown ad campaign for Nike, that would be the realisation of a dream I’ve had since I drew Nike ticks on all my characters shoes as a 9/10 year old. The second is to work as Golf Digest magazine’s ‘Masters Illustration Correspondent’. Each year the magazine sends one illustrator to Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia to document The Masters golf tournament. I’ve been obsessed with this event for years so the opportunity to combine my two favourite things - golf & illustration - would be a dream come true.
Favorite podcasts: Oh man, I listen to so many. I’d say my top 5 are, Last Podcast on the Left, Adam Buxton Podcast, Elis James & John Robins, Bald Move & Slow Burn (which was a great mini series about Watergate).
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