Firefly Artist: Dan Atkinson


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Website: Dan Atkinson Works
Type of Artist: Printmaker and Sculpture, or Mixed Media
# of Years at the Firefly Art Fair: I've been accepted the past three years, but I couldn't show up two years ago, because my son was being born.

Q: How did you become an artist?

A: In 2005 I used my G.I. Bill to enroll as a full-time student at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. I then transferred to UW-Milwaukee where I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts: Print and Narrative Form.

While attending UW-Milwaukee I was introduced to relief printmaking, which is hand carving in either wood or linoleum blocks (carving and printing a large stamp). Soon after that I started salvaging and carving Milwaukee's historic cream city bricks and incorporating them into printmaking projects. I began to explore different ways to manipulate salvaged bricks; incorporating printmaking, painting, carving, and grinding them into functional vessels (planters) and conceptual sculptures.

I am heavily influenced by my time spent abroad and years working on tombstones (which is a story for another artist spotlight). I have been told that my art offers ideas of home, calm, and civility. Always with a touch of hope, humor--or despair.

Q: What do people like most about your art?

A: People are drawn to the connection to community my work has. Cream city brick provides a direct but not obvious connection to Milwaukee's and Wauwatosa's history, as well as its current iconic businesses and homes.

I find they are also drawn to the recycled repurposed nature of working with salvaged bricks. People are intrigued by the process [by which] my prints and bricks are made. The prints are hand carved and printed. Many people remember doing similar projects in school; [it's] basically hand carving a large stamp. For the brick work they are surprised to see carving and shaping bricks into art is even possible. It's something they've never seen before.


Q: What are you most looking forward to at Firefly Art Fair?

A: I love Firefly Art Fair. It's so close, walking distance! If I didn't have to lug all these bricks and display items there I would be walking. The Kneeland-Walker House is such a beautiful house and property: the garden is a perfect secluded sanctuary. When I vend there, I never feel like I'm working. Everyone is always in a pleasant mood. I love interacting with my fellow neighbors, talking about bricks, prints, and picking up bits of knowledge.