In a new collaborative series, Belle Isle Craft Spirits is teaming up with local artists, designers, and creators to delve into the true meaning of "The Spirit of Exploration", an idea and energy that we hold near and dear to our hearts.
We had the good fortune of partnering first with Daniel Torraca of Studio Two Three, a Richmond-based illustrator and designer whose work ranges across a spectrum as harlequin and vibrant as his illustrations themselves. Belle Isle Explore brought Daniel the prompt of "The Spirit of Exploration", and he turned it into a small batch of locally screenprinted shirts, featuring his own fantastic design.
We went into the studio to talk to Daniel about his inspiration and see first-hand the process behind producing and screenprinting his design. You can grab a limited edition shirt featuring Daniel's design on our store here.
How did you become interested in art?
I’ve always drawn and been interested in art but it really wasn’t until I realized I needed to go to school for something I wouldn’t hate in 10 years that I decided on a career in the arts. I figured the most consistent thing that I had enjoyed for the longest was a safe bet to put my future on. Also, there’s a lot of things I don’t understand and art has become the best way I can figure them out.
What inspires you?
I’m most inspired by subcultures and sects of society. I’m very inspired in both my work and life by cult films, obscure Onion articles, and punk music.
Tell us about your process.
I usually work from word lists, to thumbnails, to pencil drawings, and then to inking with a brush and inkwell. Beyond that, I sometimes scan my work into Photoshop and add in textures and fabrics to help colorize them and further establish mood.
Tell us about your studio or where you work.
I do a lot of my work at my home studio on a little prop-up drafting table that fits my paper perfectly but when I’m not there I work quite a bit at Studio Two Three in the digital lab or in the washout booth prepping screens.
Who are some of your favorite folks to collaborate with?
I’ve really enjoyed working with Sink/Swim Press (Dialogue Magazine and Little Red Fish), as well as with Studio Two Three and I really enjoy poster work when I can get it.
As far as collaborators and people to work with, I really enjoy working with close friends or artists who have similar themes to me as far as content choices go. I would love to name names but honestly there are too many incredible artists making work right now that I’m worried I’d forget someone!
What does “The Spirit of Exploration” mean to you?
Exploration means childhood to me. It’s one of the best ways that I can think of to describe how a child sees the world. Everything is new and an adventure and that’s how I’d like to be in my creative process and my life: perpetually excited and a little scared.
Tell us about your design.
I interpreted exploration as mystery and intrigue, and that’s where I tried to take the viewer with my design. I wanted more questions than answers, along with excitement and an energy. I was heavily inspired by camp-y ‘90’s movies about adventure. I tried to emulate, essentially, what a 12 year-old boy would think was cool and scary.
If you had to pick someone from your personal life, pop culture, or history to embody “the spirit of exploration”, who would it be and why?
I don’t think I can pick just one person. I think, in my head, it’s an amalgamation of people that create one mega human. That person’s sort of a combination of Mikey (The Goonies), Henry Rollins, Mohammad Ali, Sigourney Weaver (think Alien), and Daenerys Targaryen (Mother of Dragons).
So, yeah, all of those, plus probably 8 or 25 more to make up the “spirit of exploration”. It’s a little frightening to think about.
Where can we see your work?
I’m one of the few Daniel Torraca’s on Instagram, Twitter, and Tumblr, but you can also see my work at danieltorraca.com.
Do you have a favorite drink?
I drink the Champs of Beer: Miller Highlife, but that’s more a budget choice than a preference.
You can purchase your own limited edition shirt below, or on our Belle Isle Craft Spirits store. Again, there's only a small batch of shirts available, so grab yours now before they're gone!