By: Vanessa Peters
Daniel Jacob is a Pop Art pro and has made quite a name for himself with his intricate and glowing creations. His work has been shown at acclaimed galleries across the U.S.A. and his love for natural materials and stones shines through every piece. VULKAN caught up with the artist to talk early beginnings, his self-proclaimed “outsider artist” status, Asian influences, passion for food, and of course, much more!
Daniel! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us. Your art is mind blowing! Can we start from the beginning of your foray into this mode of artistic expression?
Thank you! I work hard to make every work of mine wonderment for every viewer. To the beginning: ever since I was young, I have been fascinated with natural gemstones and rock. As I grew a bit older, I realized crystal could be manipulated much easier at a much more affordable cost but with the same effect as a finished gem. And the rest is continuing history.
And so it is! How would you compare and contrast your work to some of the work that Damien Hirst does? Do you get that comparison a lot?
I would say my imagination is that like Hirst, especially with some of my greater ambitions. Contrast is a hard descriptor for me as I see many, but the main one would be that I stick with one medium, currently crystal. It is wonderful to be compared to such an established and renowned artist; hopefully a young artist will one day be compared to me. That would be something.
Can you walk us through the process of crystallizing your pieces from start to finish?
This is my secret weapon. Everyone asks and the response is always a mystery. The process is unique to me and I am the only artist that I know of that uses chaton stones, which are similar to diamonds with a tip in the back. Back to the process, I sculpt or scan my works into molds. The molds are then shaped, sanded down precisely to the form and to my liking. Then the crystallizing, you could say, begins. Every stone is set by hand using special tools and various techniques that are known only to me and a handful of assistants.
Incredible, it must be a ridiculously intricate process but I’m sure you wouldn’t have it any other way. I was reading something you wrote and you stated that you consider yourself an “outsider artist.” Why do you think that is?
Simply because of the definition: I did not go to art school. I went to school for Finance, something to help with my art and entrepreneurial aspirations. Although I didn’t feel it was the perfect fit, it did teach me a lot about business and where to go next. I didn’t feel studying Fine Arts would develop or improve the tons of ideas I had since I was young. At the moment, I am glad with the path I chose and if I ever feel like it’s necessary, I may go back to get my BFA.
Ah, I see, so you took the path less traveled and it led you to this love. I see that Miami is your favourite U.S. City…why?
It’s the rare gem in the U.S. The place where English is not a first language, the water is gorgeous, and has an art presence that is constantly growing and moving forward thanks to the ever growing Art Basel Miami. Of course the weather, it’s usually perfect. The city being around gorgeous Caribbean waters make living there being like in paradise. And after travels, it’s a nice place to get back to normal by having a day to relax in the sun.
I definitely agree with all of that! Touching more on your craft a bit, what I really love about your work is the different coloured crystals you use, from fuschia, gold, to sea blue, the colours create a spectacular brilliance when light hits it. How is that you came to experiment and eventually settle on this aspect?
By having tens-of-thousands of stones on one piece, it creates an imaginary depiction that can keep any viewer in awe. This is what I love about my work. I love to create and see every smile and stare. Since they are unique, it’s almost a mind-blowing experience for someone when they come close and see the detail, see the time that it takes, and the perfection. Every stone is placed with certainty. I never settle, but this technique that took many years to perfect has me pushing the boundaries on what is possible with setting stones. Every new project is more exciting because it is new and a challenge.
I bet! Is there anywhere you’d love to have your work featured (where it hasn’t been)?
The Art Institute of Chicago, hands down. It’s where I grew up, where I attended some art lessons when I was little, and where I’d love to have my work be seen. A place that’s close enough for all my friends and family to visit but also one that they’ve all heard of!
How big of a role does social media play in the sharing and exhibition of your work?
It’s definitely growing every day. I am just at the beginning with social media, primarily Instagram. It’s a beautiful way to show current works and upcoming ones too.
You use quite a few Buddha Statues and Pandas in your work, indicating quite an Asian influence. Where does that come from and why did you choose to incorporate that into your art?
It’s interesting, really. I’ve always had an affinity towards Asian works. Not sure if it’s because the Asian empires from thousands of years ago are less discussed than European ones, which intrigues me…or if it’s because I love to travel there and every time I am mind blown myself. The Asian works are considered my first body of work. Currently I am working on more contemporary and pop-to bring some shine to what’s current.
Can’t wait to see it! So Daniel, if you weren’t an artist, what would you be doing instead?
I’d probably be a chef, which is also an art form. I love to cook, mix ingredients, and try new foods. It’s one of my passions. I am great at cooking in general but one of my favorites is beef. A perfect rare steak is all I can ask for…I also love sushi because it is rare as well. Sushi has been one of my favorites from a young age, something my parents hadn’t grown up with. I can’t believe I was willing to try it when all I liked was candy. I would love to take a class on preparing some sushi rolls and the proper way to cut fish.
Now there’s an idea! If your mother were to describe you, what would she say?
Well you’d have to ask my mother. She’d probably say I’m a bit of a dreamer, work too hard, and like to debate, which is funny because I think she does.
Do you know of any celebrities or well-known individuals that are fans of your work?
I’m followed by a few on Instagram! And being in their collections is only the beginning. One of the biggest supporters of fine art and someone I’m grateful that follows me is Swizz Beatz. Kasseem (Swizz) created the show, “No Commission,” which took place this past August. The show didn’t take commission from the artists that exhibited and it made headlines. What an extraordinary vision by Kasseem.
What makes you smile, Daniel?
Crystal (laughing), of course crystal and my work. Other than that, definitely great jokes, delicious food, and the company of my friends.
All things you can’t go wrong with. Is there anything you are not as good at as you would like to be?
Piano-I wish I had more time and a piano to practice on! I think managing time is an important quality in everyone’s life and what you do with your time matters. If only I could master managing my own time!
Can you tell us about another artist that we should check out and why you like their work?
Phillip Michaels! I saw his work last year and he organically creates these beautiful landscapes. Phillip gets immersed in his art; painting is in his blood. In these fantasy landscapes you can see things, they are abstract, they are colourful and in my opinion, genius. Phillip is an artist who makes you think. He is also my brother.
Oh wow, creativity runs in the family! Would you be able to share with us your biggest worry at the moment?
Not being able to produce what I want to-my works are very expensive and some of my ideas are out of reach at the moment. I would love to create my works as large as physically possible, without the quality lowered.
Anything that sparkles as much as your work does is bound to be expensive but anything is possible right? With all that said and with all you do, what do you do to enjoy yourself?
I’ve recently been asked this! I enjoy the places I travel to, try to learn as much as possibly about the cultures by taking tours or speaking with the locals. And of course, because I am a foodie, I taste all the local cuisines. When I’m at home, I tend to spend most of my extra time either catching up with friends or episodes of shows that I’ve missed. When I’m at work, I enjoy working, believe it or not. It’s a constant creative.
A bit off kilter here, but what is your opinion on love?
Wow, that’s a tough one! I believe love is supposed to have one answer but has many and can be found from many different places. Everyone that knows me knows I have a comical take on love, probably because I haven’t experienced true love. So I think the best answer is summed up in one of the most profound quotes on love: “True love is your soul’s recognition of its counterpoint in another”-Owen Wilson in “Wedding Crashers.”
What can fans expect to see from you next?
I’m currently working on works that are current to society, a form of “pop” art. Going to be debuting the works at the Hamptons art fairs this summer, starting with Art Hamptons. Hope you can come check them out.
Do you have an artistic pet peeve that you would like to stop seeing?
What’s a pet peeve? And where can I get one?
Where can our readers find you on all of your social media accounts?
Right now, just Instagram @thedanlife 🙂
Edited by: Rebecca Besnos
All photos courtesy of www.daniel-jacob.com
Vanessa Peters is a Canadian writer and published photographer. She hosts the sofxposh podcast and is currently working on two books regarding love gone wrong. She enjoys frank conversation, the goddess aesthetic and wishing a fuckboy would.