Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Art of Punk: Dan Allen


Drawing is the best way to calm yourself down and focus, to put all the stress, depression and anxiety to rest for a few hours. Art has saved my life countless times.’

Dan Allen is the founding member of folk punk band Ducking Punches, for whom he is a brilliant musician and an extremely talented lyricist – exploring themes of love, death, friendship and mental illness. He also happens to be a bit of an expert illustrator with a style he describes as focusing on ‘the grotesquely beautiful’ and he is of course greatly influenced by punk rock.

It goes without saying that Dan does a lot of designs and illustraions for his own band, such as gig posters, album artwork and T-shirts. I really love it when bands create their own artwork, especially when they’re as skilled as Dan is. I imagine it must feel pretty special to be able to hold a record that not only contains your music but is also packaged in your artwork.

 

I find the illustration style for Ducking Punches’ albums Dance Before You Sleep and, the latest album, Fizzy Brain truly captivating. Not only do they truly reflect the subject matter of many of the songs – dealing with life and death – they also seem to nod to medieval illustrations that you might find in an illuminated religious manuscripts. Though clearly Dan projects a far more atheist image with that burning church! I’m not sure quite how intentional this ‘nod’ is but it works for me.


Dan is also well known for producing artwork for other bands, including: The Flatliners, Harker, The Lawrence Arms, Lemuria, RVIVR and River Jumpers. He’s also worked with some of our favourite independent punk rock labels and promoters, ie. Disconnect Disconnect and Wrong Way Round. His posters for other bands follow in a similar vein to those for his own band – bright colours and no shortage of skeletons! But that’s not to say that everything he does looks the same, far from it. 

As Ducking Punches have very recently signed to Xtra Mile Recordings I’m kind of hoping that maybe Dan will do some illustrations for his new label mate’s records, posters and T-shirts too. Maybe…

 

As I’m sure you can see from most of these illustrations, Dan Allen has a bit of a penchant for skulls, skeletons and all things macabre. This is something I can completely relate to and I’m not exactly sure why. (Incidentally, this is something I plan to explore further and more generally in a future post, next year! Edit: Read that post here!) There’s just something oddly appealing about skulls. Perhaps even more so when they’re so personified – like, for example, in The Lawrence Arms poster the skeleton is drinking beer (and, unsurprisingly, failing at it!).

While Dan specialises in producing artwork for bands, he also occasionally works on skate decks and tattoo designs – which makes sense really, given his style. Plus, good news! If his style of illustration takes you fancy, he takes commissions – though you won’t get anything this side of Christmas.