DKNG Studios (Dan Kuhlken) (US)

DKNG Studios (Dan Kuhlken) (US)

"I learned a majority of my drawing technique by drawing animals at the San Diego Zoo." . Would you guess it by looking at the Explosion in the Sky poster done by DKNG ? Surely ! Would you guess those guys are serious enough to run their own business ? By looking at their Lego or Simon game posters, you can doubt ! But the facts are there, Dan Kuhlken and Nathan Goldman are running one of the most passionating poster studios ever ! 

Hello, of course as every Crewk interview, first question: what are we listening to when we come to visit you?

If you mean what am I listening to regularly, then one of my favorites is James Brown.

Can you tell us more about yourself, who are you, where are you from, what do you do?

My name is Dan Kuhlken. I am originally from San Diego and now run a full service design studio, specially tailored for the entertainment industry, with my partner Nathan Goldman in Santa Monica CA.

When did you start drawing?

I first began drawing as early as I can remember, probably before kindergarten. I learned a majority of my drawing technique by drawing animals at the San Diego Zoo.

Did you follow any course or did you improve by drawing in the margins of your schoolbooks?

Beyond the camp that I was involved in at the Zoo, as I grew older, I continued to learn from classes in high school and college.

Today are you living from your art, or do you do something else for a living ?

Today I make a living creating custom art and design.

Are you collaborating with magazines/fanzines, regularly?

The extent of our collaboration when it comes to creating artwork is pretty much exclusively between Nathan and I. As for our participation with Magazines, we do our best to make time for interviews.

Where does your influence come from? Is there any artists/graphists you particularly like, what are your influences?

It's cliche to say, but we take inspiration from almost everything. Our favorites are film and music. But we will often times take inspiration from other artists we admire of just simply from life experiences.

What are the principal steps in your work ?

Concept development is the most important step to us. Once we have a solid idea we both can agree on we move forward with creating the final product. Nathan specializing in graphic design and typography and I focus primarily on illustration.

Do you do everything by hand or on computer?

In most cases, projects begin with hand drawn sketches. The refinement of those sketches to a polished product is created on the computer.

How long does it take you to do a poster?

A typical poster design takes us about 40-50 hours. That includes concept development, sketches, creating the final artwork, and making the separations and trapping for the printer.

You have a very distinctive style, are you doing only what you feel like or if tomorrow somebody asks you an oil painting with horses running out of water with a sunset backdrop, is it a problem or are you up for it ?

Again, concept is really important to us. Also, our best work comes from creating something we are truly proud of and know will be original and unique. So I would have to pass on the horse oil painting, not to say I am objecting oil painting commissions all together, just the vision behind it.

For which band have you already worked for?

Our client list is growing, but to name a few we've done work for thus far; Phish, Flight Of The Conchords, Monsters of Folk, The Swell Season, The National, Iron &Wine, The Black Keys and Explosions In The Sky.

For which band would you love to work?

Radiohead and Dave Mathews Band.

Do you choose the artists yourself?

Most of our projects stem from referrals, but we have the luxury of choosing which artists we work with after they approach us.

What is the most difficult part in designing a poster ?

Compromise and time constraints.

Do you think you are part of a "Graphic Scene", if so who else ?

I think there is a culture behind gig poster artists. There are literally thousands of us. One great source is

Regarding your front poster in gigposters 2, can you tell us where such an idea came from ?

The idea for this poster really just came from our genuine interest in Flight Of The Conchords. We discussed what it was about their style of comedy and music that really defined itself. Some key descriptors we decided on were playful, youthful, nostalgic, yet clever, complex and unique. When the idea of legos came to mind, it seemed like a perfect match and we went for it.

A bit of self-promotion, take advantage of it, it's free, where can we see your work , on the web or in real life?

The best praise you received lately?

CBS News named our process video for the Explosions In The Sky poster "Mesmerizing"

What can we wish you for the future?

Personally, all I can wish for is to continue doing what I love.

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