We were lucky to catch up with Dale Novak recently and have shared our conversation below.
Dale, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. We’d love to hear about when you first realized that you wanted to pursue a creative path professionally.
As early as I can remember, I was fascinated with the illustrations in books that were read to me as a child. They were always so vivid and sparked my imagination. I remember creating mountains of crumbled up pieces of paper that were discarded from failed attempts at recreating the dinosaurs in books that I had checked out from the library. Throughout grade school and high school, my homework was constantly littered with doodles and comics. I just loved to draw. The first job I had growing up I was a waiter at a local restaurant in my neighborhood. I would go through endless guest check pads as I used the backs of paper to draw on. This led me to investing in my first sketchbook. After graduating high school, I still had no idea what I wanted to do for a career. The next few years floated by while I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. I would pick up small logo commissions from local bands here and there, but I still didn’t think that would end up being an option for a future profession.
When I was 21, I was working two jobs that filled up my time but didn’t offer the satisfaction my imagination craved. One morning I was driving to work listening to a song on the radio when my life changed in an instance, I blacked out while driving down the onramp of a freeway. I woke up to a deflating airbag in my face and quickly realized that something horrible had happened. That’s when the adrenaline started to kick in, I jumped from my vehicle to realize that I had driven into three other cars and the collision blocked the onramp. I quickly checked on the everyone in the other vehicles, all while still trying to figure out where I was, and what happened. To my luck, there were no injuries from the accident but I wasn’t out of the woods yet. Cars continued to enter the onramp not knowing there was an accident blocking the way. Car horns and profanity echoed in my ears from the surrounding vehicles, as anger was thrown in my direction. It felt as if the whole world was yelling at me and I had no control of the situation. This event led to the loss of my car, and one of my jobs because I was unable to travel. Things seemed bleak at the time, but there was light at the end of the tunnel. I realized that no matter what my future holds, I still wanted to draw. Jobs and material possessions will come and go, but my drawings still made me the happiest. Later that summer, I decided to enroll in college to study animation, and thus, started my path to becoming the illustrator that I am today.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers
Back when I was a teenager, I started going to live concerts for the first time. I was absolutely in awe with the impact that music had on me. I took every chance I could to see the local bands that my friends were a part of. It seemed like every other week, I was seeing another concert. From gig posters, to the merch that the bands were selling, these concerts were filled with art that inspired me. I ended up landing a few projects designing posters for shows. The drawings that I did for these concerts were met with positive feedback, which led to more opportunities to design for musicians. Illustrating content for bands was beyond rewarding. Not only did it feel like my drawings now had their own soundtracks, but everywhere the musicians would travel to, so did my art. I started looking at concerts, not only for joy, but a way to network and meet others that were looking for visual art that connect to their sounds. These commissions helped give me a platform to get my name out there and open other doors that I didn’t know were possible.
Being an illustrator has helped me grow in so many different ways. I am my own boss, so time management has become very important to me. Making sure deadlines are always met and still keeping a healthy social life is a balancing act to becoming a successful artist. I love being able to take client’s ideas and turn them into visual interpretations of their dreams and imagination. One of my favorite parts of working on a commission is during the brainstorming phase; where designs and directions can be altered, and the ground work of a drawing is planted. Honestly what I am most proud of is being able to illustrate for a living. It is really hard to go against the grain and create a career out of my passion for art. I wouldn’t be where I am today, without the support and inspiration that my family and friends have given me.
What can society do to ensure an environment that’s helpful to artists and creatives?
I think the best way society can support artists is by giving everything a chance, even if it’s different and takes people out of their comfort zones. Art surrounds everyone and everything. Not only do you see art in visual and audio aspects, but it is in food that we eat, the clothes that we wear, and the interactions we have with others. Even a newly planted tree or a sunset is art. I think keeping an eye out and being observant of your surroundings can lead to inspiration that make this world a creative space.
: Is there a particular goal or mission driving your creative journey?
I think the goal for my creative journey is to continue to bring new things to this world to inspire others to chase their dreams. I will continue to draw things from my imagination until my brain shuts down and I cease to exist or my hand falls off whatever comes first. Even when I am gone from this earth and my name has been forgotten, the art that I leave left behind will hopefully be there to inspire the next generation of dreamers.
- Website: dalenovakillustrations.com
- Instagram: @dalenovakillustrations