ByCharles Kiwacz, writer at Creators.co
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Charles Kiwacz

A Passion for Art and Eye for Detail... My interview with Dan Dufault

By Charles Kiwacz

Its 9am on a Saturday morning when we pull up to the Shriners auditorium for the Bi-annual Northeast Comic Con in Wilmington ma, the excitement in our car in intense but not because im interviewing stars from tv or famous comic book artists, it’s because we are here for our long awaited sit down with up and coming artist Dan Dufault. Dan and I met in July at the first convention I “officially” worked as press here at Nerd O Rama, not a walking dead or zombie fan I was there to practice interview skills and learn the layout for convention coverage, it was then that we saw Dan’s art at his booth and instantly were drawn to the realism and the quality (which speaks volumes because in 5 years of collecting comics and movies I NEVER was interested in artwork or prints). We struck up a conversation and exchanged info and I purchased my first 2 Dufault pieces. Little did I know it would be the start of both a great friendship but an addiction to his art as well!

It is here where Dan sets himself apart from the numerous artists and vendors I’ve met over the years, rather than exploit the nerd world charging insane prices and offering limited selections, Dan is never content with selling his art “for the money”, instead he chooses to use his passion for painting and love of all pop culture to interact with his fans. Always trying to honor the requests of his many customers he is always adding new pieces to his collection never content to confine himself to a character or genre it is the selection, quality, and personality that bring people to his booth... So please take a moment to learn more about this amazing artist, great friend, and overall genuinely good person

Dan’s passion for painting and artwork began at age 6; he says his journey began every morning watching the local painting show for kids “captain bob”. It was there he first began to fall in love with art and the freedom of expression that came along with it. Though he is known and loved for his vivid superhero and pop culture pieces believe it or not his first love was painting seascapes. Perhaps it’s the New England in him or just a love of nature that inspired him at such a young age but it is a passion that never went away. Continuing to hone his skills thru adolescence never confining himself to specific mediums, subjects, or sizes, Dan was your typical teen by the time he was enrolled in a private high school in the Boston area. With no real idea of a specific career path, the notion of a career in art was by his high school guidance counselor. In one of their weekly meetings while talking about his future he was asked “what do you love to do” his response was of course to paint and draw but little did the counselor seem to listen or care. However several weeks later he was called back to the guidance office where he was presented a list of 10 items ranging from hands to deer to seascapes each item being done in a different medium. The counselor asked if he could complete each item in the requested mediums and then bring the results back to him. With no clue what or why he was being asked this Dan obliged and a few short weeks later when he returned with all the requested work, he still found no answers and was given a simple “thank you “ and sent back to class, with questions a plenty and no answers to be found. Fast forward several weeks to when he is called back to the guidance office AGAIN, this time when he arrives the counselor slid a piece of paper across the desk to him. When he opened it he jaw nearly dropped, it was an acceptance letter to CalArts Disney School of Animation in California( which at the time only accepted roughly 100 students a year) it turns out the counselor had acquired the list of needed art skills asked Dan to complete them, then applied to the school on his behalf. It’s here where I was shocked to learn that after being given this amazing news and even more amazing opportunity….HE DECLINED THE OFFER!

Rather than follow the path that called to him he chose the “safe route “ attaining a degree in marketing. In recent years, he slowly and as a ‘hobby’ he began to dabble in superheroes, science fiction and as he puts it “anything I liked or that seemed fun to draw”. Dan credits the unwavering support of his family, his kids, friends and his loving wife with allowing him to pursue his dream of creating and offering his art to the public and with the style of work we see today with his amazingly detailed portraits of superheroes and TV stars alike. After much convincing from those close to him, the fire for art he had as a youth became more intense than ever as Dan made the fateful decision to try selling his work and taking commissions and thankfully for all of us he’s never looked back.

Fast forward to this past Spring. After making the choice to start selling his work, Dan attended his first convention in the hopes of debuting his work and seeing if this truly could be a profitable endeavor. At the yearly WonderCon in Anaheim he quickly found his answer as the reception to his work and his personality was off the charts. The emotions that drive him however are again where he sets himself apart yet again, as we speak it becomes clear he was never in this for profit, for in Dan’s mind the best currency is the look on a customer’s face when they see his pieces and the feeling of vindication and reward that comes with it are why he is never satisfied with a piece unless it’s something he would hang on his own walls. In 2015 Dan has added nearly 30 new pieces to his collection and hit the road to setup shop at 16 of the biggest comic conventions in the country and from CA to New York and the reception and reaction he received from fans only fueled the fires of his art even more. Success found him at each con with new fans and new requests following him wherever he went, it was then he felt even more rewarded when the people behind the characters he was painting started to show their appreciation as well. From Steven Amell (Arrow) to John Wesley Shipp(Flash) he began presenting people with paintings of their characters at cons always star struck and thankful it was a close friend who works in the star wars business that inspired a piece that would cause his first true “nerd moment “ to occur

As he describes to me the moment this year at C2E2 in Chicago where he debuted 2 new star wars pieces this close friend has suggested the first being an ‘R2-D2 & BB-8’ piece and the second a Captain Phasma piece (only known then as “chrome trooper”) As he sold at his booth he noticed a man seemed very interested in the 2 pieces, at that moment he introduced himself to Dan as a an assistant to one of the actors who was featured at the show that weekend and who wished to purchase the 2 pieces. Always happy to help Dan agrees and as he signed them to give to the man he was asked if he could personalize the phasma print to the actress that played her (at this time we had no idea who was playing her or that she was female) to his surprise he confirmed that the man said ACTRESS and was asked to sign the piece to “Gwendoline” at that moment he understood who he was signing the piece to and the 2 pieces found their homes with Gwendoline Christy. That’s right folks Dan was lucky enough to get the scoop on the casting of a major Star Wars character all because he sat down one night and decided to paint a new character he loved never thinking that would lead him to the character herself.

Now only one short year and 25+ conventions later Dan’s appreciation for his customers and his craft have never wavered, with the goal of debuting a new piece at each convention his selection grew quickly and with it so did his operation, after launching an etsy store (link below) and his website Dan’s family began to join him at cons, we had the pleasure to meet his parents at RICC and the pride and joy in their faces spoke more than this article ever could. I believe his family is responsible for his decision to begin selling and I’d like to take a moment to mention and thank them for all the support, help, and encouragement I know they give him on a daily basis. As I spoke to Dan more and more over the months it became clear that when we bought his pieces (we own 20 at the time of this article) it became clear we were not only buying art but buying the artist because as much as the art speaks to us the personality and quality of the artist are what we find value in. Always open to hearing my crazy ideas for new pieces I had the rare luck of inspiring his reverse flash piece which hangs as my favorite piece at home. The hard work, time off , and thousands of miles logged at cons of course gave him some profit, some new friends, and loads of new ideas but he never seemed to be confident enough in how truly amazing his art was until a few months back at a convention in St. Louis when things changed in a major way.

Dan was approached by an entertainment and collectibles company, C&B Entertainment, that works MANY conventions around the country and they fell in love with his work immediately as all of us do. Instantly they saw the potential for where his art and talent could take him, and they felt they had to act right away. Using the approach of “sell the artist not the art” Dan and C&B formed a partnership to have his work displayed and sold all over the country but they were not going to stop there. Making the decision to venture into waters he never thought were possible his work now can be found on everything from collectibles, phone cases, to shirts, and limited edition canvasses. With final approval of all products he is excited for this new journey and new found success has never gone to his head which I believe to be his most endearing quality.

As we watched him for the day he never treated a customer like anything other than a grateful fan who was floored at the response he would receive to his art. All this was never more obvious then at this year’s Boston Comic Con, being from new Hampshire this was his “home” con and even though he never advertises himself as a local artist the response and reception was never bigger then what awaited him that weekend. His most successful convention to date saw nonstop lines for hours in his own words “for 4 hours I never looked up from the table I was signing nonstop”. There he met another super fan who needed to purchased 25+ of his pieces right away due to the shear quality and price but the reward of being a huge success in your hometown is a feeling we can all understand the welcome he received had never been bigger. All in all Dan strives to never stand still with his progress always trying new methods, poses, and characters he even has what I call “the lost tapes” a collection of mostly finished pieces that has never seen the public eye, which has led him to enter the world of exclusive variants and prints for different retailers.

I hope those reading this will take the time to check out his website and even if you choose not to purchase simply take a look at his body of work and share with a friend. I consider myself truly blessed to have met him as a professional and come to know him a friend and the fact he always has a kind word to say, a crazy idea for a piece that im lucky enough for him to share with me, or even just a crazy story from his past about a piece or convention I find myself realizing this man has no signs of slowing down. It is that passion that drew me to his work, the passion for painting that Dan Dufault can never lose, which for all of us a HUGE WIN I want to thank Dan for his time his patience and most of all... his story I hope you enjoy his work as much as we do and thanks for taking the time to learn a few things about the amazing artist im luck enough to call my friend . ALL HIS PRINTS ARE ONLY $20 For more information on Dan Dufault or to contact him for prints/cups/shirts or commissions please visit

www.ddstudioart.com

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