Redding Artist, Dave Anderson
By Kimberly Boney
Photo: Betsy Erickson
Dave Anderson will never forget the moment that well-known Ventura County artist Chris Martinez said the words that would change his world: “You, Dave, can make a living as an artist.” Anderson had always loved art. His earliest artistic expressions were childhood sketches of Charlie Brown and Garfield comics from the Sunday paper. But making a living in art was something he hadn’t believed was possible until his mentor and friend uttered the words.
Martinez became aware of Anderson’s raw talent upon seeing his portfolio. Dave Anderson’s wife, Patty, took the initiative to share her husband’s portfolio with Martinez, and essentially propelled his career as a professional artist. Even now, Anderson admits he is not sure he would be where he is in his career today if it weren’t for his wife’s belief in his talent.
Anderson had formerly worked as a fisherman and was always grateful that he was able to turn one of his passions into a profession. Being surrounded by beautiful sunsets, dolphins and seagulls was naturally inspiring for a man who, at his core, has always been an artist. He often incorporated fish into his art, painted signs and designed T-shirts, in addition to creating pieces for family members while working as a fisherman. His first professional art job, however, came when the marina he worked out of was interested in hiring an artist to paint a photo board. Anderson’s rough sketch on a sheet of lined paper quickly motivated the marina to offer Anderson his first paid job as an artist.
During trips between Ventura Harbor and San Francisco, Anderson’s boat was sometimes delayed in the Bay Area due to inclement weather. These extended layovers created the perfect environment for Anderson to hone his artistic abilities. Anderson often asked some of the caricaturists who made their living drawing tourists if he could draw behind them, to better understand their techniques. Many were annoyed at his requests, but one artist, Tang, acquiesced and took Anderson under his wing.
Something magical happened when Tang allowed Anderson to set up his easel behind him. Crowds began to gather, and people became intrigued with the idea of being drawn by two artists simultaneously. It brought more business to Tang and more artistic experience to Anderson. “I learned to think outside the gallery – to be fearless, like Tang – to paint right there in the street, in public.”
Old horror films, vintage comics, Spanish art, and El Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead) are powerful influences for Anderson. Using acrylics, pencil, pen and ink and watercolor, he frequently paints iconic celebrities like Bob Marley, Frank Sinatra and Elvira. Anderson is often commissioned to paint a client into a piece alongside their favorite celebrity, creating the perfect hybrid of personalization and pop culture infusion. He also completes classic portrait work.
Anderson spends weekdays painting in his studio at The Jolly Giant Flea Market. On weekends, he sells his works at his booth alongside two other artists who he has invited to share his space – and the spotlight. These artists paint, draw or sketch live models when they are not busy selling one-of-a-kind art pieces and taking orders for commissioned work.
Brianna Benes, who specializes in fantasy and tattoo concept sketches, and Jay, a character artist, are learning the ropes of creating outside of the box. Anderson has never forgotten the time and effort his mentors put into developing his talents. Years later, he is grateful to mentor others who share his passion for thinking outside of the traditional art gallery.
Rochelle Author, owner of Vintage Vixens Boutique and Salon in downtown Redding, displays and sells Anderson’s work. Author uses her expertise in vintage fashion, coupled with her stylists’ passion for vintage hairstyles and make-up, to create what could only be called a divinely artistic “meeting of the minds.” Through Vintage Vixens, Anderson pairs up with models to create unique pin-up inspired art pieces, and a remarkable experience for anyone who has the blessing of witnessing these creative moments in time.
Anderson’s work is also for sale at Oregon Street Antique Mall in downtown Redding. He has participated in art demonstrations at events such as ARTsMART and The Twin Bridges Antiques and Collectibles Show at the Mt. Shasta Mall. His passion for infusing vintage concepts into his work has gained him a following with local vintage enthusiasts and fellow artists alike.
He’s also happy to create commissioned pieces, not only because he wants his clients to have something unique to call their own, but because he recognizes the value of stepping out of his comfort zone. “To grow as an artist, you can’t limit yourself where mediums and themes are concerned. You have to look ahead, be willing to trade your art with others, and recognize the power of word-of-mouth. But most of all, you have to be willing to think outside of the box.”•