We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniel Davis and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Daniel, what is the most important factor behind your success?
We started back in 2004 by simply following our passion; creating friendly cartoony monster arts. We put our original ideas on prints, in books, on t-shirts, pint glasses, on patches… and we had a measure of success. We were able to quit our day-jobs, and make stuff, and travel all around the country selling our wares. But it wasn’t until we added STORY to our work (the Monster Rangers story) that brought all of these random characters and ideas together, that cool stuff started happening for us. Eventually – somehow – we ended up serving our very own community of nerdy monster-loving camping folks, called “the Monster Rangers.” Now, we serve THEM. We focus on creating stories, art, products, events – ideas really – that try to help inject creativity into their (and our) lives. They’re super passionate about the community, and us, which tells us that we’re onto something really amazing. Creativity + Passion + Story + Community = Steam Crow Success. Well, that, and a bunch of hard work. (But that’s a given.)
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
In a lot of ways I’m a world-builder and reality escape artist. (Yeah, I know that sounds insane… it probably is.) Not to go really dark really fast, but I was physically abused as a little kid. I won’t go into the details, but it resulted in some ptsd that I still live with today. I’m a little broken. But, I’m also a survivor. I ended up needing to create an escape from my reality. I ended up drawing weird broken monsters, and making up elaborate worlds for them to inhabit. I’d make up their names, towns, religions, foods, into intricate places for me to go, that were safe from the harm I was experiencing in real life. I did it a lot through my youth, and got pretty good at it. (And no, I never really had difficulty determining which was which.) Now that adult life is WAY BETTER, I still have all of this drive and inspiration to create monster-inhabited worlds, that are sometimes innocently light, or a little dark. Because much of my childhood was stolen, I’m still seeking in in the world(s) around me. I love crafting worlds, and making evidence that they are real. Fake products morph into real ones: A branded healing potion for monsters becomes something that I actually made and sold. Faux Fangs for toothless Vampires, Monster Ranger patches for accomplishing odd missions, or perhaps a poster for a secret circus for imaginary friends. Actual real-life Camp Outs where we summon a pumpkin-headed monster who hands out cookies. Yeah, it’s weird… but it’s also great! While in general ideas are easy to come by, the practical application of them is certainly more difficult. (The IDEAL isn’t golden, it’s making it real that is.) It’s taken decades to get all of this random stuff and skills into some marketable form, and finding some people who appreciate our oddness. The business-side of things takes more thought and energy, but it’s the key to making creativity sustainable. We do our best to balance both sides.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’ll admit, I hide out in our home studio quite a bit. I live in one of those far North Phoenix towns that is dominated by people even older than I am. However, we love: Toy Anxiety – Amazing toy shop Cornish Pasty Company – Pasties and dark beer make me happy Organ Stop Pizza – Loud organs + pizza also make me happy Cartel Coffee – Tasty coffee. (See “happy” above) MacAlpine’s Diner & Soda Fountain – 1928 makes me happy UnderTow Tiki Bar – Amazing atmosphere and drinks Postino – When I’m feeling “the fancies” Pizzaria Bianco – Tasty pizza x11. I don’t get there much, but I should go more. Chino Bandido – When I want something that is good for my mouth but bad for my body I probably should get out more, but I’ve to do.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My shoutout goes to my creative partner, Dawna Davis. She’s the one who granted me the permission to actually go after the creative life that I wanted. My parents were hard-working and rather serious folks who said that I absolutely could not have a creative career, and banned me from such thoughts. It took Dawna’s encouragement and faith in me to get me rolling, and I owe her the world for it.