As we enter the home and studio of graphic designer and artist Dominic Damien (pseudonym for Dante Romano) classical music plays in the distant background. The soundtrack for Amanda and I's impromptu interview could just as easily have been Pusha T or A$AP Rocky as Dante's musical preferences are as varied as his collection of art and objects that fill up his home. And what a collection that is! His dining room has become a gallery of things he finds aesthetically pleasing- some of which filters itself, abstractly, into his drawings. Gilded skulls, antlers, tiny plastic army men, a ceramic rabbit and octopus are just a few of the objects that can be found strewn amongst the Starbuck's cups, mason jars, trays of pens and pencils, watercolor palettes, and Moleskine journals that fill Dante's dining room table. Amidst the semi-chaos of artist's tools and beautiful knick-knacks you can find a sense of purpose, a reason and logic for each and every piece in his home. It is a collection befitting an artist who works so well in mixed media. From his small watercolor and ink drawings in his many Moleskine journals to his oversized canvases that fill his studio space and surrounding hallways, much of Dante's work combines clippings from comics, magazines and books with careful applications of house paint, spray paint and ink. New and old come together in his works in ways previously unimagined.
Also layered into his artwork is his love for animals and the natural world, who are often shown affected or influenced by human elements. Organic forms such as flowers and birds become disrupted and overtaken by the order and rigidity of humanity in many of his drawings and paintings. Upon getting to know Dante, these natural themes found in his creative works are no surprise; his Planet Earth DVD's are on heavy rotation at home and in addition to caring for his small furry sidekick Oliver (his dog) he also "adopts" a different animal every year from WWF. Beyond the natural world, Dante also finds inspiration in the works of modern artists such as James Jean and Ian francis as well as from past masters such as Peter Paul Rubens, a Flemish Baroque painter.
What I find most inspiring about Dante is his drive and motivation to keep creating. I know after my 9-5 (or more like 9-7 or 10...) I have very little energy for doing anything more than making dinner. For Dante his art is a detox from the everyday, a chance to express himself beyond the boundaries and limitations of a clients needs. His art, and unfailing commitment to it, inspires me to push myself to do more creatively after hours.
Interested in learning more about Dante or seeing more of his work and what inspires him? Check out Dante's website and Facebook page or find him on Instagram @thelittleroman. You can also email him directly with any inquiries about his art! Last but not least, make sure to check out his Society6 shop for beautiful prints, iPhone cases, tote bags and more!
-a & c.