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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Interview #1--Danny Gregory

Danny Gregory has been an inspiration to many of us, from the time his first journaling book, Everyday Matters, first appeared on the scene. It was followed by The Creative License; Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly Are (which I am currently re-reading with delight!) and then a group effort, An Illustrated Life: Drawing Inspiration from the Private Sketchbooks of Artists, Illustrators and Designers, in which I was honored to be included.

These are only a few of Danny's no-nonsense, get-it-done books, and tens of thousands of us reap the benefits.

No stranger to personal tragedy, New York resident Gregory has turned to journaling again and again to cope with--and celebrate--life.  He fearlessly invites us along for the journey and shows us ways to deal with our OWN ups and downs.  More importantly, he proves that every day--every single day--really does matter.

Danny, thank you for all you've done, including being part of the book and the blog.

So to the interview!

Q. First off, a tough one.  You started journaling in response to a tragedy in your life.  Do you feel up to sharing what it meant to you, and means now that life has handed you another one?  (If this one isn’t comfortable, not to worry; I used one of your pieces of art from the recent adjustment and your notes really do speak for themselves.)

A. I start writing and drawing in my journal less than a week after Patti's death.  It was the only confidante and sounding board I had, a refuge that had always given me a way to gain perspective and insight. I find that continuing to record and paint my life and its changes has been key to dealing with my grief. And it kept me in touch with Patti; I had always shared the pages of my journal with her and somehow continuing to fill them kept me connected. 

Q. You started an incredible groundswell movement with your books.  How do you feel about that?  You’re an icon for a lot of people; it’s got to be humbling, and sometimes even perhaps a bit of a burden.  Do you feel that you’re still sketching for yourself, or for others?  Is this good, or bad?

A. I am always surprised when people give me any sort of credit for the growing interest in illustrated journaling.  Certainly I have written about journaling and shared my own pages but I don't feel responsible for or even terribly connected to the people who have taken up their own sketchbooks. I certainly don't feel like an icon and remain somewhat embarrassed by my drawings. I have however felt pressure from keeping a blog over the years.  There are times when it is terrifically inspiring to me to share my work and thoughts, and it keeps me going even if I am out of ideas or new directions. However at other times I can feel a nagging sense that I must post,must share and that oppressive obligation has occasionally driven me to take a hiatus from online life and retreat into my own world. I can also feel like I am over-sharing and get self-conscious and shy.    

Q. You've drawn a lot of dogs, and even have published a whole book on them (which I love, by the way.) Why dogs?  I LOVE your dog sketches, and your book on bad dogs.  You’ve got a special feeling for the subject, it’s obvious. 

A. Dogs have always been very important to me. When i was a child I fantasized about being a vet. I have always owned dogs and drawn them since I was able to hold a crayon. 

Dogs make great models. They will hold still for ages, have great personalities, don't mind posing nude, and work for snacks. They allow me to draw bones, muscles and fur, and come in so many shapes, colors and sizes.  

Oh and my initials are D. O. G.   

(You can find Danny's dog book, Bad to the Bone, HERE.)

Q. What’s your favorite medium?  Looks like you’re mostly using dip pens and ink now…with watercolor?  Advice?

 A. I have become fairly committed to dip pens and India ink. I use sum-I ink for tone but recently have become devoted to Dr. pH Martins liquid watercolors.  

Q. I understand you’re doing some teaching, now.  How do you like the in-person stuff?

A. I rarely teach. Partly that's because most places don't really get what I want to teach or how. I also find that I have never been able to teach in an appropriate environment. Teaching illustrated journaling in a sterile academic classroom feels stilted and cold. 

That being said I have always loved my students. It is so great to see people get hooked on drawing and start compulsively documenting their lives. If I can share my enthusiasm for journaling, my life has been worthwhile.


And it certainly has.  Thank you, Danny...

See Danny's website here: http://dannygregory.com/
and his blog here: http://dannygregory.wordpress.com/


  1. Danny's books are the reason I am journaling today... my daughter, Kate, gave me 2 quite a few years ago and I learned that drawing takes practice and anyone can do it. I even just did pen and ink for a year following, Danny's suggestions. It really helped. Thank you Danny, for the gift of keeping an artist's journal.

  2. I am also a follower of Danny's books, Everyday Matters Blog, and his inspiration. Thanks Danny.
    Thanks Kate for the interview.

  3. I've given countless people a copy of your Everyday Matters in the hope of jogging them into the world of sketchbook journaling. What an inspiration that book is!

  4. It IS a wonderful book...I've given lots of copies too. He's really been such a huge inspiration...

  5. Being a dedicated introvert, I've often wished I could invite others into my life the way you have done, Kate, and the way Danny has done. You've both made a major impact on my life and I thank each of you for that!

  6. MaryO, guess what? I'm an introvert and a hermit as well! Not good with crowds, at all, but definitely dedicated to the value of keeping a journal, absolutely passionate about it. Some things are important enough to share, whether you're comfortable or not, and I'm delighted you've shared with ME, and our class!

  7. Hello, I've never come across anybody journalling their life in drawings before so this is quite fun and interesting to see. I have tried this myself, in hard copy but find that the 'purity' of the white page is offputting, so I doodle on scraps and transform them on computer before putting them together in my blog as a journal for myself because I'm finicky about the things I want to keep and the things I want to forget. I will, eventually, print these pages out and put them back into a hardcopy journal because there's just nothing like the feel of a real life journal in your hands all bound up with emotion and living, is there? Thanks for this interview. It was great to see... and inspiring... definitely inspiring. :)

  8. This little puppy dog has stolen my heart. (What a beautiful cover on 'Bad to the Bone'). Love Danny's vibrant colours and feeling tones. I'm at the stage now where some art therapy has crept into my watercolour explorations. Everyday is different for me and sometimes stuff comes up. Yay for art as a means to release and elaborate without having to speak.

  9. Rebecca, whatever works for YOU. I really enjoy the connection between the eye and hand and page, but you're right, some just don't work out. That's okay too...it's part of life, so it's reflected in our journal pages.

    Colette, you should read the dog book, it is a DELIGHT. And yes, art can definitely be therapy, it has been for most of us journalers in one way or another.

  10. I had drawn all my life and then i took a 6 year hiatus because i allowed profs to get the better of me.

    one day at the bookstore, it was as if danny's book "the creative license" was shouting my name - bought the book and couldn't put it down - i immediately picked up his other two books "every day matters" and "an illustrated life". (the books were like drugs - i was addicted).

    with his inspiration, my fire was re-lit and i have been drawing more and more - danny helped me get back one of the most important parts of my life - my art.

    thank you, danny.

  11. Thank you Kate for sharing this interview with Danny. I got out my old set of Dr Ph Martin, they're still usable, have to play with them a bit now. Thank you both for all your inspiration!

  12. Danny, thank you for sharing, inspiring and giving us goals to reach! Your life is worthwhile!

    Kate, can't express enough thanks for putting this all together, and as always, sharing the spark that so inspires.

  13. Thanks for this great post! Like many, I begun drawing again thanks to Danny Gregory's books and the Every Day Matters Group - so thank you, both of you, for being so inspiring!

  14. I'm glad you're all enjoying it! Danny's pretty amazing. Please feel free to pass along the link to the blog or put it up on your own blog, we're just getting started here!

  15. I consider Danny my mentor and friend and feel so blessed to be able to write that. He's a fabulous artist, a great guy and incredibly generous. Thanks for the interview Kate!

  16. You're very welcome, Jane...he IS a terrific guy.


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