We had the good fortune of connecting with Danny Neumann and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Danny, do you have any habits that you feel contribute to your effectiveness?
When it comes to staying productive, especially with creative projects that just invite procrastination, I find making lists is essential. My art involves sequential storytelling, so getting outlines hammered out in my notebook is as big a part of the creative process as is staging the photos. Those outlines are accompanied by lists of items I’ll need in order to create the scene. With a clear list of necessary props I can then go about sourcing or creating those items in a structured and organized way. Always having current list of things to accomplish for a specific project (or projects themselves) keeps me from having too much of that downtime where I’m just hamstrung by insecurity or lack of ideas! 

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Well, for my “day job” I am a senior designer at Esser Design, a small firm that does a lot of things but is really passionate about branding. But, because my creative bent seems to need even more outlet, I have a hobby where I photograph action figures. Treating them as if they weren’t inanimate toys but, rather, living things. Through my photographs I try to bring these little plastic people to life. I usually work with what’s referred to as 3 3/4″ scale action figures. Meaning, the stars of my show are less than 4″ tall and many of their accompanying accessories are miniscule. There are lots of exceptional action figure photographers out there. I follow many of them on Instagram. I’m often so impressed by their work that I want to personally hang up the towel! But I suppose what sets my work apart is my focus on character-driven, sequential storytelling. I believe that any one photo from any of my series should be able to stand on its own artistic merit. But I see the full story (sometimes consisting of 25 or more photos) as the complete piece of art.

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’m gonna go out on a limb and assume that this hypothetical “best friend” is also an action figure nerd. So a trip to Neil Kotler’s “Collector’s Marketplace” on 20th St and Indian School will be high on the list. Not completely draining our bank accounts we’ll then head across town to another amazing collectibles destination: John Leske’s “The Toy Box” near Downtown Glendale. On the way back home we’ll stop at Short Leash on 7th Ave and grab some hotdogs. I’ll get the Oliver, for sure. In the evening we will head down to Ziggys Magic Pizza Shop. I won’t tell him about the secret back room until we finish eating. I’ll then say: “Follow me” and lead him down that hallway and watch is face as we emerge into Stardust Pinbar. That’ll be an awesome day. Oh, wait, he’s here for a week. Dude, who stays for a week? OK, next day, we get on my motorcycle and head north towards Wickenburg. Then up through Yarnell and over Mingus Mountain. Lunch at the Haunted Hamburger in Jerome. Back on the road with the day trip ending in Oak Creek Canyon. Stay the night at Oak Creek Terrace Resort making sure to hit a couple lesser known swimming holes the next day before heading back. Rest of the visit is a blur but definitely includes a movie at FilmBar, drinks at Carly’s (can you spot the Super Neumann’s print?), lunch at Trapp Haus (get there early before everything sells out!). The morning of my friend’s departure we will get coffee at Lola. Maybe play a few rounds of YuGiOh! if he remembered his deck. Then off with you!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I’m forever grateful to Cindy Dach and Greg Esser for being early believers in my work. Cindy and Greg are pillars in the Downtown Phoenix arts community and having them give me space and opportunities to show my art has been a game changer. I’m also indebted to Robrt Pela who also saw something in my creative outlet and spent much time and energy making sure it had high-profile outlets. Curating and installing my Super Neumanns exhibit was a lot of work and I’ll never not be overwhelmed by that experience.

Website: cantinadan.com
Instagram: @cantinadanny
Facebook: @TheQuietLifeofGRider
Other: instagram/thesuperneumanns

Image Credits
All photos are my own.

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