When Art is Life – Successfully Failing

David C. Morgan: We are at Bar Con in Farmingdale, Long Island. The venue is The Nutty Irishman with live music, artists, cosplayers, and good people enjoying all that is an Inbeon event. Who am I speaking with today?

Daniel Roman: The P*nis Man! No, haha sorry. Daniel Roman. I am an artist, musician, and media dude. Currently with Inbeon, as well. Yeah, just a guy so…

DCM: So starting off this interview, I like to break the ice with a fun question. What superpower would you want to be granted?

DR: You know what’s funny? Someone asked me this question maybe a couple months back and I had an answer… was it shapeshifting? Yeah, it was because you can be anybody. Everyone normally says something like super strength or the ability to fly but I like shapeshifting. It is something where I can feel a little more manipulative with my power. Anything that can make my nose bleed. I always thought that was cool. Someone overusing their powers and their nose starts bleeding with like some kind of telepathy. Yeah, something along those lines.

DCM: (Laughs) So getting to the art itself. Being that this is a Con focused on art. What is your favorite thing to draw? If there is something…

DR: Honestly, I don’t like to draw something that just came out in the movies because everyone draws that. Like Batman Vs Superman or Suicide Squad. I like to challenge people in a sense. Bringing something to a Con and for someone who is 50 years old to be like, Sh*t!… We (me and my brother) had drawn Pinky and the Brain and an older fellow had asked about it. It was pretty cool to catch his attention like that. But f*ck that is a hard question to answer. I guess anything with a lot of colors. A character who is vibrant. Nothing too plain. I feel like the answer to this question is so complex for all the wrong reasons.

DCM: Well you know that particular question is a bit tough because as an artist, myself, I really don’t have a set thing that I like to draw. But I feel like there is always that go-to when I don’t have any inspiration. I’m just like ehh let me perfect this character.

DR: Yeah, I guess but damn that’s even hard to do. I want to say the Joker. That’s a lot of people’s go-to piece because 1- there are so many different renditions of him and 2- he does have a lot of different colors. I guess I would say the Joker.

DCM: How do you set the mood when you’re getting ready to draw?

DR: Usually movie scores. I’ll put on Hans Zimmer because it sets a theatrical mood. So I start conveying things in my mind from the movies I remember. I also put on rock music but I’d much rather scores because it puts me in that cinematic comic book world.

DCM: What is your process when you are creating a work of art?

DR: (Laughs) It’s really about not stabbing yourself with a pen… or whatever you’re using. Yeah, I don’t have a set way about doing things. I just get motivated. You know how some people do cross hairs or that model for creating a figure? I don’t. I’ll probably start with an eye. People ask me to teach them how to draw and I’m like how would I start?! I don’t even know. It’s always different. What about you?

DCM: Well in terms of…

DR: I don’t mean to turn things around…

DCM: No, it’s all good. That’s a fair question. I usually start with the face and then I move on.

DR: Yeah, I guess it would be the face. I don’t know how you would start with the body. The face sets the emotion for the piece. I’ll start with the eye or the outline of the face.

DCM: So here is an interesting question… when do you know when the work of art you are creating is finished?

DR: Damn. Lately it’s been hard. I am teaching myself along the way and if I’m coloring a piece I want to say it’s finished but then I’ll say I want to add another color to make it pop more. Definitely difficult to put the pen down. However if there is a deadline…it creates a matter of time. Like, when can I finish this piece without it digging into the time I have for the next piece I have to do? That’s another tough question. I’m sure you would know.

DCM: I have no idea. That’s why I ask this question.

DR: Yeah, it’s a hard question. Because sometimes you can think it’s done and then you’ll look at it again. The worst part is when you say you’re done and then you look at it later and say to yourself I could have added this or that. I’m learning more about shading and making things pop without lines, just colors and shading. I’m constantly adding. Now that I have my iPad pro it’s an experiment which makes the process a lot longer. When creating a piece traditionally sometimes you can’t add to a piece without messing it up so that’s when you stop. But when it’s digital you have the god given ability of undo so it’s like if you don’t like something you scratch it.

DCM: It’s a strange phenomenon (the ability to undo)

DR: Yeah. Traditionally it’s a lot easier because you can only do so much with paper and markers or paint. But when it’s digital it makes it way more f*ckin’ difficult to stop.

DCM: What’s your favorite part about being an artist?

DR: The learning process. It can seem discouraging because you see all these established artists like Jim Lee and damn they make it seem so effortless. But at the same time you realize there’s a learning process. I’ve been going to conventions and meeting a lot of people and when you also start to realize there is no right or wrong way to do it… you pick up influences along the way. That’s the way to do it. They probably did it the same way, looking at established artists’ like Todd McFarlane. They were probably like how can I implement other artists’ ways into my artwork? Yeah, it’s the learning process. It’s fun, if you look at it that way. I love comics. I love art. So (selling my work at cons) is more for fun. If this can benefit me financially or help me get away from the 9-5 and do more things that I love then that’s great. But definitely the learning process and just having fun meeting people along the way. Like meeting you and we would have never met if it wasn’t for the art thing you know?

DCM: Absolutely. It’s been a pleasure. How long have you been going to conventions?

DR: The first comic-con I went to was in 2013. I didn’t know much about the convention scene. I mean I have always been a fan of comics and art but I never really knew that there was a comic-con. I found out through my cousin. She had went and asked if me and my brother (Chris Roman) go to them and I said I don’t know anything about that. So the next year, I went and since then I discovered more and more. Now that I’m doing shows as an artist, I started to see way more pop up so it’s not just New York Comic-Con or whatever Expos it may be. Now it’s the smaller ones like Bar Con, Inbeon Con, Mortal Con and you see them pop up all over the place. Some may be big, some may be small.

DCM: Which ones do you like better? The big ones or the small ones? (Laughs) No double entendre intended, of course.

DR: Pause. Phrasing?! (Laughs) Nah, I like both of them. You get to meet a lot of people. They allow you to be yourself and I have social anxiety but a lot of people don’t really know that because I don’t let it get in my way. You may even be in a crowd with people who may have the same issues as you but you can all bond together with a common interest and have fun. So small cons are good. Big cons are good. I don’t really have a preference. I love both of them. In the small ones however you’re able to sit back and talk to people. The bigger ones though have a lot of things going on with all the cosplay, artists, and photo ops. What about you? Which one do you like?

DCM: For me? I tend to think the same thing as you but I tend to like the bigger cons because there’s just so much going on. So many people to see. So much cosplay. But you’re right the smaller cons are a lot more intimate. You get to know people better and get in depth with what is in front of you (tables of artwork and merchandise). Contrary to the smaller cons, the bigger cons are more superficial in experience. Ok I’ve seen this, I’m gone. Whereas the smaller cons are like… oh let me learn more about that.

DR: …Sorta like sitting in the back seat, you notice more. It’s like slow motion. On the other hand when you’re at the bigger cons, if you go just one day you’re missing out. Even if you manage to see and do everything in one day there is always something to do the next day. Signing, panels, people, your friends, there’s always something to experience and it’s on a larger scale.

DCM: What are your feelings about cosplay?

DR: I don’t hate cosplay at all. I mean, I dress up as the Joker but I don’t consider myself as a cosplayer. I have a lot of cosplay friends. I do admire those who put a lot of effort in into it as oppose to some of those females who put on something skimpy and say “I’m Wonder Woman”. One of my friends, Joanna, she puts a lot of time and energy into it (Cosplay) no matter the headaches. Jordan, that goes by @blerd.vision on Instagram, had done the falcon version of Captain America. And the amount of work he puts into it is amazing. The people that put in crazy effort, I have a lot of respect for because you can see it. It’s like us when we’re creating a piece of art. There’s just more to it. And I do love those people who put their own spin on it. Like my Joker, I like seeing them create characters they love and being original about it. You see a million Harleys and Jokers but if they do it different, I like to see that.

DCM: Absolutely, and I think you made a great point about Cosplay. It’s technically an art and they are just like a walking piece of art. Especially those who do the work themselves. So back to the art. What are some of your favorite parts about selling your work at Conventions?

DR: The reactions. As an up-and-coming artist sometimes you feel like your art is just not up to par with all the other art around you. Funny story… My first ever convention was at Special Edition. It was the first time they had it in NYC. I had no prints and no banner. I’m looking at those around me who did and I’m noticing the names and sick art on their banners and I’m like f*ck!… I started getting nervous. I’m sitting next to Alessandro Vitti and Ed McGuiness and they are big deals. I’m like f*ck what am I doing here?! Alessandro Vitti actually bought art off of me and asked me to commission his version of Guy Gardener. For someone like him to pay money out of his pocket was like whoa… I mean he doesn’t have to even acknowledge me so it’s that overall sense of shock that people actually buy my sh*t. It like the people who react to your stuff are worth the price of admission. They don’t have to stop at your table or buy your stuff but when they admire what you do it’s awesome. Going back to when I was talking about drawing characters that not a lot of people see… I love it when I walk by a table and see a Transformers piece, which is very underdone at conventions. I’m also a huge Swat Kats fan.

DCM: Love Swat Kats.

DR: Yeah and I don’t understand why I have not seen one piece… not one piece. I have to beg my friends to draw this sh*t! Like I’ll f*ckn’ pay you! …So yeah, you’ll see people’s reaction to your stuff and it’s a huge boost of confidence. I had this joker piece that I put on display in Boston and this lady she asked how much it was… I was like I was going to sell it for $60. She then asked how much did you originally want to sell it for? And I was like 80 and she was like cool… Then she gave me the money. That’s the thing about cons, it’s still a shock that people actually like my sh*t enough to buy it.

DCM: What kind of advice can you give to young artists?

DR: This is simple. Just do what you want to do! If you want to draw anime, if you want to paint, whatever you want to do, just do it. A lot of people are going to give you that: Oh your stuff isn’t that good or whatever… don’t pay attention. If you want to draw, write, do music… do it! I don’t believe in back up plans or plan B’s. If that’s what you want to do, do it. Obviously you want something stable when you’re trying to get up there. But don’t ever look at it like that’s my back up plan because if you really want something… I mean look at this whole Inbeon thing. Look at where Eric (Hutchison) came from and all the adversity he had to go through. Look at where we are getting to now! Look at his son, look wat he’s doing! You’re going to go through obstacles and its going to seem hard. Sh*t a lot of times I wake up and I’m like f*ck, I gotta deal with this but it’s as simple as just doing it! A lot of people that tell you different, don’t have your resume or creativity and they did something creative but got rejected for it. I see a lot of that with the subject of school. A lot of people ask me why I don’t go to art school and I’m not sh*tting on art school but… my brother, he went. And the stuff they teach are sometimes gems and great techniques but they are just teaching you their way. And there is no right or wrong way to do art! Look at Jim Lee! He went to art school and they said his stuff wasn’t good. Look at him now! So it’s as simple as just do it! If that’s what you want, whatever medium it is, work hard. It sounds so cliché but it’s so true. Don’t let anyone tell you no because there’s a lot of people who tell me I should do this or that… No. I don’t f*ckin care. This is what I want to do. I don’t care if I’m 50 and I just make it. As long as you have that goal and ambition, just keep at it, Don’t get discouraged.

DCM: Just do it!

DR: Just do it. Just think of Shia Labouff. Watch that Shia Labouff Youtube video and that’ll motivate you to do just about anything! (Laughs)

DCM: Well, I thank you so much for this interview.

DR: My pleasure.

To check out Daniel Roman…
IG @therealdannydarko
Twitter @iamdannydarko
The website is failingsuccessfully.com
YouTube channel is YouTube.com/SuccessfullyFailingTV

Photo by Jason Laboy