Dan Brawner / Graphic Design

Dan Brwaner, Watkins College of Art

What’s your ritual to get prepared, or in the zone, to create?
I’m always prepared; I’m an Eagle Scout.

Which artist, historic or contemporary, from any discipline, couldn’t you live without?
My father is a constant source of inspiration to me because of his dedication to making, painting, carving, assembling, engraving, turning, inlaying, scrimshawing, bluing, browning, and inspiring others with his talent and generosity. Additionally, Ben Shahn, Saul Steinberg, Henrik Drescher, Sue Coe, and the usual suspects.

What’s your go-to remedy when you feel doubt about your work?
Work. Sleep. Laughter.

If you weren’t an artist, what would you want to do professionally?
Professional eater or laugher. Which pays better? Probably eater.

Favorite addiction or guilty pleasure that keeps you inspired?
Bánh mì. Sushi. Biscuits and gravy.

Name the one place in Nashville you go for inspiration or rejuvenation.
Cravath Hall at Fisk University. Aaron Douglas murals: genius.

What implement in your “toolbox” as an artist do you love or depend on most?
Big ears, wide eyes, open mind.

What do your parents think about your being an artist?
Not surprised, proud.

What advice do you most often give yourself or other artists?
Make more. The more you make, the more discoveries you’ll make, and the sooner you become excited about your own work. After that, all bets are off.

What book, film, or piece of music do you return to again and again to provoke thought or keep you connected to your artwork?
A blank sketchbook, To Kill a Mockingbird, La Belle et La Bête, Run Lola Run, Talking Heads: Live in RomeLambchop’s “The Daily Growl,” anything by Segovia or Bill Monroe

Where in the world have you gone where you feel most at home as an artist?
Pátzcuaro, probably. There was something about not knowing the language that forced me to focus on the purely visual, sensory, and the kindness. It changed me.

Why does art matter?
Why does language matter?

Biggest myth about being an artist?
It’s fun.

Which is your favorite course to teach at Watkins?
I suppose Illustration I is my favorite because students learn to develop ideas and opinions based on their research and then make pictures based on knowledge.

Which one quality do you think the world most needs from artists?
Authenticity, a singular voice.

Nashville-native Dan Brawner is an award-winning illustrator and has published work for Children’s TV Workshop, Coca-Cola, Flannery O’Connor Review, and Simon & Schuster. Brawner has earned recognition from American Illustration, Huntsville Museum of Art, Museum of American Illustration at the Society of Illustrators NYC, Society of Illustrators of Los Angeles, PRINT, and El Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca. Recent books and sketchbooks have been purchased by Stanford University’s Special Collections & University Archives-Gunz Collection and Vanderbilt University’s Special Collections & University Archives.