100 Creatives

89: Daniel m. Davis

When we last put the spotlight on 100 creative forces in Phoenix, it was no secret there were more than 100 individuals who were making waves in the local arts community. So as we count down to our annual Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome (back) to 100 Creatives .

Daniel m. Davis says he started Steam Crow six years ago with his wife Dawna in order to escape what he calls "cubicle land."

"I was (dramatic music) dying as a graphic designer for the Financial Industry," he says. "Great folks, great companies, but the work didn't utilize many of my skills ... I needed to spend my days doing what I was most passionate about: drawing monsters and imagining other worlds and being creative."

The Steam Crow team illustrates and designs "Good Monster Goods," which he describes as cartoony, spooky-cute monsters and vintage design. Together, they've illustrated and self-published five monster books, a couple hundred prints, and a variety of pint glasses, buttons, and toys to appease your monster appetite.

I came to Phoenix with . . . a new web design job, and no idea what to expect. I truly love the Northwest, but I really needed a change. I needed to shake things up, get out of my comfort zone, and even reevaluate my life.

I come from a city of about 200,000 people, so moving here was a good, but shocking, thing. The day I moved here it was 117 degrees. I looked over at Dawna and I had a sinking feeling in my stomach. "What have we done?"

Luckily, this pushed us to start Steam Crow, and put us on a path to our calling. Had we never moved here to Arizona, I don't think this would have ever happened. We're glad to be here and appreciate all of the local support we've found.

I make art because . . . I live to imagine weird characters who inhabit weird worlds.

As a kid I was routinely abused (beat up) by my mom's boyfriend (sad music) and I think that pushed me into this world of escapism. I'm a little broken because of that (end sad music) but it also allowed me to stay in touch with this imaginative kid trapped in my head. And yeah, I'm okay now.

I'm most productive when . . . my belly is full of coffee, and I can avoid the social media distractions. However, I've started to realize that it's also part of the job.

I have this productivity cycle that is something like 3 weeks long. Week 1: Productive. Week 2: Crazy Productive and irrationally optimistic. Week 3: (Roll dice) Frustrated/Distracted/FaceBook.

I'm sure it's some sort of fancy disorder, but I don't mind.

My inspiration wall is full of . . . vintage toys (Shogun Warriors and cartoony stuff), doodles, monster cereal boxes, Mignola art, a bass guitar, Halloween decorations, D&D books, and big messes.

I've learned the most from . . . getting out there, and just doing the stuff I'm interested in. I don't let not knowing how to do something stop me from trying. Sometimes I even figure it out.

Good work should always . . . be honest, pulling from what makes the artist who they are. For me, my work comes from childhood. Being alone, bored, and imagining strange, monster friends.

The Phoenix creative scene could use . . . more ties that bind us together. More community. More ways that we can be aware of each other, and know what's going on in the scene.

There are SO. MANY. CREATIVE. PEOPLE. HERE. I want to meet them all. I want to know what they're up to.

I started TINY ARMY to do a small part to unite and help other illustrator-creatives to be more successful as marketers and business folk. After four years of meeting, we've only found a drop in the bucket of who's here.

See more Steam Crow work on the Steam Crow website and visit the duo in person this weekend at Phoenix Comicon (where they'll be selling the jackalope print below) ... The Creatives, so far ... (And while you're here, check out 100 Tastemakers on Chow Bella.)

100:Lara Plecas 99. Isaac Caruso 98. Brandon Gore 97. Kelsey Dake 96. Hector Ruiz 95. Caroline Battle 94: Jennifer Campbell 93. Jeff Chabot 92. Tiffiney Yazzie 91. Daniel Germani 90. Irma Sanchez

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Claire Lawton
Contact: Claire Lawton