Tempe Artist Daniel Langhans: 100 Creatives

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Phoenix is brimming with creativity. And every other year, we put the spotlight on 100 of the city's creative forces. Leading up to the release of this year's Best of Phoenix issue, we're profiling 100 more. Welcome to the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today: 95. Daniel Langhans.

Daniel Langhans dabbles in pop culture.

The 38-year-old artist (and art teacher) has a thing for deconstructing icons. He splits Care Bears and Rainbow Brite in two to reveal skeletons and creepy crawlers. A pair of portraits he painted of Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor currently hang at {9} The Gallery. Late film stars and children's toys? They're all part of his constant creative process.

See also: Phoenix Designer Doug Bell: 100 Creatives

I came to Phoenix in 2005 from just north of Boston with my wife, Sarah. We came out here to find new opportunities -- especially for me as an artist -- and to get our feet planted somewhere new where we could really get our careers moving.

I am always creating. If I am not producing artwork at some level for too long, I literally get all messed up inside and need a "time out" to go make something. I create because I love it, for many, many reasons. I love the freedom of individual expression combined with skill and thoughtful content . . . love it, love it, love it. I was designed to create, to share, and to teach, which is also why I am a full-time art teacher at Dobson Academy in Chandler, teaching grades K-8.

I'm most productive when the workday is behind me, our children are in bed, and all of the day is behind me. A nice cup of dark coffee, with my music, TED talks, NPR or spiritual growth podcasts playing, and I start working and get in the zone. This is the place where time and worries go away, I get into a groove, focusing on the task at hand, doing the work, painting, drawing, sculpting . . . then I reach a point where I feel like I am happy with the progress made . . . aaaaaand then I realize I have stayed up way too late again.

I don't necessarily have an inspiration wall, per se, but I have a studio that is full of my artwork all over the walls like a mini-gallery, photos and prints of art I love, a mini library of art books and art magazines, nostalgic and vintage toys, sculptures, antique decorative chairs I have started collecting, art supplies, etc. When people come to our house, my 3-year-old son loves showing our guests his toys and my art studio. He loves it in there because there is so much to look at and be entertained by, and he has his own little art table to work at, too.

It seems that the best lessons learned are the ones learned through hardships and perseverance. I've learned most from persevering through life's inevitable challenges and the struggle of being a creative, needing consistent income enough to responsibly take care of my family. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is to be assertive in my actions toward my goals while fighting to be patient and trusting with God's timing, keeping my heart, mind and priorities in order.

Good quality work almost always wins my attention and respect more than art of shock value. I love staring into paintings and drawings that you can tell are lovingly and possibly even painstakingly created over time, whether simple or complicated. . . quality, content, and high respect for skill. I am a fond believer of the saying, "Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable." I think this is best fulfilled when the artwork is skillfully done, even when it is disturbing, as if you are continuously drawn into the artwork, even if the content makes you uncomfortable, creating a perfect opportunity for the viewer to really think for him or herself.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more stepping stones between the First Friday scene of Roosevelt Row and the high-end galleries of Scottsdale. There is way too large of a gap between the two. I would love to see more high quality galleries that promote their artists successfully and are assertive in finding the right buyers and collectors for their work. I would love to see Grand Ave flourish and fill up with quality establishments, enough to be a destination for an evening for families. More little retail stores, ice cream shop, restaurants, real main street-ish. Maybe even mini golf. . . I don't know. There is so much potential there to be its' own unique and awesome part of the city.

See the 2014 edition of 100 Creatives:

100. Bill Dambrova

99. Niki Blaker

98. Jeff Slim

97. Beth May

96. Doug Bell

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