A Soul Cleansing in Bath

Just back from a well over due holiday. So much so, the urge to hulk out and punch the moon has subsided. Now I just want to frolic in fields and hug the world, well, not literally, but I feel that I’m pepped full of motivation that I can positively take on any challenge at the moment. Its amazing what a few days break can do for someone. I say a few days break, but it was hardly that, more of a few days adventuring accompanied by the lovely Sharon.

The adventure was as follows:

Fly into Bristol, pick up a hire car, drive to Bath and set up base. Bath is an amazing city, steeped in so much history and has many nooks and crannies to explore. We stayed in the Old Mill just outside the city, and on the banks of the River Avon. A gorgeous location for adventuring in the countryside. The Old Mill itself was average, nice but I expected more bang for my buck considering the price of the place per night.

Back to the positives, the city itself demonstrated so many different periods in history, from the Roman Baths, to the Palladian architecture that the city is built on. It is also an arts and craft hub which immediately transformed me into a kid in a candy store

01_bathWe spent the day exploring the city and went to many museums, craft shops, cathedrals, the circus, the Jane Austin Centre, and the Assembly Rooms. We also spent a lot of time in Cafes chilling and chatting. A comfort I haven’t seen in a long time.

The next day, we had an early start heading to Stone Henge:

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My attitude approaching Stonehenge was average, I was looking forward to it, but I wasn’t overly excited about going there. That all changed when I was directly in front of the monument. It is awe inspiring. The history behind it, the size of it, the divinity that goes with it. Completely awe inspiring.  It also magnifies that Spinal Tap moment 100 times: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPjpl5_aXxI

Next up was Old Sarum, savage ruins with history dating from Neolithic times  – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Old_Sarum

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 The ariel shot looked much better than my photo here. Also exploring the ruins were much exciting than the pic can explain.

We also visited Wardour Castle in the same day, so lots of driving. Wardour Castle is situated up an insane hill by a massive beautiful lake in the middle of nowhere. Stressful getting there but well worth the find in the end.

06_old_wardour_cThat evening we went to a tasty Nepalese restaurant Yak Yeti Yak – http://www.yakyetiyak.co.uk/ which has some savage vegan delights.

The next day, the history adventures continued. By this time we had well established ourselves as ‘Team Anorak’. We continued our adventures to Glastonbury, which we hit Tor, just outside the town. – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glastonbury_Tor 

I had the iPad with me on the trip so Sharon and myself could play board games nd what not in the evenings, so I was sketching doodles on the way. Here is a quick sketch/digital painting of Tor made on the proCreate app.06_TorAfter Glastonbury,  we popped over to Wells. Wells……….I mean Sanford, the set of Hot Fuzz. This was on the ‘Team Anorak’ hit list. Sadly the Hot Fuzz tour wasn’t on, but that didn’t matter because every where you looked there was another part of the film.


We also hit the Wells Cathedral whilst there, to which the architecture was insanely technical and detailed.

Back in Bath the following day, we visited the Herschel Museum of Astronomy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herschel_Museum_of_Astronomy. There we learned how Caroline Herschel really got put down at every turn in her life. From being told she was too ugly to ever achieve a husband all the way to being made a joke of when her work was excelling as an astronomer. In fairness she did receive a lot of recognition but not nearly as much as she should have – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caroline_Herschel - Here is a bit of a degrading comic made about Caroline smelling the comets a mile away.

11_Caroline_HerschelLast but not least was our time spent in Bristol. Bristol is an awesome city from what I experienced. Lots of art, lots of good food, so thats two of my favourite things down. There is currently an exhibition of 80 Gromits unleashed around Bristol. Check it out, its deadly – http://www.gromitunleashed.org.uk/news/ - Other than that, we hit the City museum and art galleries. Got to see some great dino skeletons, an Irish Elk, and some art work around the galleries. The artwork included Aardman, Banksy and paintings from the Bristol School of Art.


One Direct

An advert we were working on all the way up until my holidays –

Produced within 4 weeks with the talented Paddy and Mark. By the end of it, we worked day and night to get this one through.

Full credits as follows

Client: One Direct

Agency: Target McConnells

Director- Dan Spencer
Animation Director – Patrick Semple
Producer – Dan Spencer
Designer – Alex Sherwood
Editor – Patrick Semple
Character TD – Mark Fisher
Character Animation – Patrick Semple and Mark Fisher
Lighting and Rendering – Sean Mullen
Compositing – Patrick Semple
Additional Modelling- Darragh Herlihy
Texturing- Sam Sherwood
Production Assistant – Caroline Kealy


This week was a tough one. Several tasks which ended up in Paddy, Mark and myself doing silly and exhausting hours. Started this sketch in work whilst waiting for renders and then started colours tonight when I got home. But now its time to chill and watch Batman the Animated series


Its only a work in progress as I want to start putting a layout in foreground and background, another layer of paint fixes and a total lighting finish to the piece depending on the BG……..but………..I’m on HOLIDAY!!!!!! first one in 2 years!!!!! So hope to be sketching whilst relaxing throughout the next week and then when I get back I’ll give this a run over.

I was going through an old hard drive and found some photos, so I put them up on 500px – http://500px.com/dannyGiant There are some whopper photographers on 500px, and you can find great images for reference.

Cleanliness is next to Creative Godliness

Now, I ain’t a worshiper of any omnipotent being as such but I think folk have hit the nail on the head in saying ‘Cleanliness is next to Godliness’, meaning the second most important thing in life other than worshiping God is keeping clean. I’ve been through a lot the past few years, and it has exhausted my mind, body and soul to the point of hitting random states of depression, rendering prolonged periods of ‘creative block’ and ‘Not giving a shit about anything’. So much so, I’ve neglected my studio to the point where one could not walk into the room without having to climb across objects and desks to use the space. When I did try and work there, the stacked up debris of my life’s collections and work had me spending several days on end shouting at myself to ‘Dig up!’ when trying to generate creative ideas.

Ever see Day of the Dead? Where Bub knows he should be doing actions from muscle memory but he doesn’t know why………….That was me with art & design…………. Just constantly sitting in a destroyed room straining my creative side to be active, without looking after the basics. As a result, every time I put pen to paper, the end result made me shudder and recoil from attempting the action again.



This wasn’t always the case in regards to my entire lifestyle, just on matters of personal time and creativity. I used work at Giant, firstly to keep me sane through tough times and secondly avoiding the emotions that come behind bereavement, so I worked my heart and soul into crazy exhausting hours, and made a number of extremely positive milestones for the company. I also continued to work several hours on Pegbar at night and took any other indie collaborative project going, because I wanted to use up every second of the day so I wouldn’t be alone with myself and my questionable lack of identity.

So lets set the scene, 6.30am rise, 7am in car, 7.45am start work, end around 6.30/7.30pm, get home around 8pm, possibly go get drinks with mates, or work on Pegbar or go home and sit in the messiest of studios, one of which Francis Bacon would have been disgusted by, and debate what I should be creating, how I should go about it, log absolutely nothing into my journals, and never produce anything but frustration by the end of it, watch netflix until 2/3am and then hit bed before starting again. In between everything was all the big ‘no-no’s of life’, including eating junk food, drinking too much, eating at stupid hours, no exercise, no self respect. This lasted a long time, and then the inevitable happened ………….Jesse Ventrua literally threw me into a wall of spikes –

Well that is what it felt like in anyways………I totally hit rock bottom only to be surrounded by a messed up situation I had been building with ignorance. It was some shock waking up into reality.

So first step to recovery, coming from the advice of Sharon, was to clean up the studio, which I had been saying I would do for several months, yet the place had been getting filthier and filthier as my ignorance grew. So on the 13th and 14th of July we cleaned it together as I was clearly not able to do the job myself. (See posts below/in archive)

From aftermath of the clean up, the results were a revelation to me on how important space is to someone’s creativity. Previously, I was always a preacher of creative space can be anywhere as long as the determination was there, now I’m a firm believer in creative space can be anywhere as long as the artist is comfortable there. For example, when taking public transport, I’d be able to jot notes and ideas down, just like I would in the studio, or in a cafe or wherever, as long as I felt comfortable, however, if someone was leaning against me, basically intruding on my space or kids where playing music through their phones, or a bunch of hyperactive/curious drunks/junkies where close, I wouldn’t be able to take out the notebook comfortably enough to work away. Obviously determination is cleaning the space to make it habitable, but when you’re low on determination and sitting in a dump, it is extremely hard to motivate one’s self to do anything.

This now cleaned up studio space allows me to think clearly, debate concisely, research thoroughly and produce work easily. Going home to create from nothing has transformed from burden that I was forcing myself to do, into an actual privilege that I don’t want to lose again. It puts perspective on life and what I have to do/sacrifice to achieve my own life goals and wants. Prolific Dan is making his way back – expect the biography to come out soon

I still have a roller coaster of mayhem ahead of me but this simple action of reclaiming a space by cleaning it has put me back on track for bigger and brighter adventures.


Giant are featured in the Sunday Independent today

Giant are featured in the Sunday Independent today.


The insider scoop behind that dapper shirt was that when I took the phone interview, the journalist arranged for a photographer to be at our studio first thing in the morning the next day. Due to this summer’s whopper heat, I had a tee & beach shorts on. I had also arranged that I was going out to dinner in Naas, and spending the night out there with Sharon. So I thought I would be able to buy a simple plain shirt out in Naas as shorts and a shirt would be acceptable attire.  After finishing work, I head to to Naas and find that all clothes shops were closed and any chance of a shirt was slim til none. Until I remembered they had a 24 Tesco on route to Sallins. This was my first time clothes shopping in Tesco’s, and am still freaked out by the idea of being able to clothes shop, whilst grocery shop at the same time. How in ever, my cynicism can shut up because I found this jazzy number amongst some crazy eclectic crap in stock and I had to get it.

Maybe following suit with John Lasseter’s school of thought on Hawaiian shirts, I could imitate it with Paisley print shirts…………. (I highly doubt it)

Clean Studio

Oh me oh my, its been a while since my last post. If anyone has been following my twitter, facebook or tumblr, they’d know I’ve been working around the clock. Since my last post Giant has been making some significant leaps, Pegbar is creating a strategy for our long term goals and I’ve been traveling a lot on business.

Its also been a long time since the home studio got some love and attention. Definitely over a year and a bit, to which it gradually turned into a dumping ground and cesspit for everything else.  Which I feel really guilty about. However, this weekend, Sharon and myself tackled the problem head on. 2 person job for 2 days and now I have a two person working studio, equipped with my record player and my library of art books.

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You don’t know how good I feel now…….cloud nine doesn’t come close. It’s like I have a creative home again. A personal space to retire to and create from a blank canvas/sketch/space. I regret not taking a before and after picture, to explain how bad this room got, but if I had, I probably would have been too ashamed to show it.

Here is the last painting I did in the room, at a time where 3/4s of the room was a storage, life was nonstop and I was in a bad place. The painting had been sitting in its own mess since.  Its acrylics on canvas. After the wash was applied to the canvas, I only used a trowel to paint with.

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So a few weeks ago the Irish Sketch Soc put up the open theme of ‘cat’ and I started an animated gif of Catbug for it. I’ve been literally working around the clock on several projects between Giant & Pegbar so I never got the image finished……..this is as far as I got…….


However I got some time last night to keep going with what I started:


Its inspired by Catbug’s dimension jumps. A combo of 2d, 3d and glitch art.

If you dont know who Catbug is, check out the Bravest Warriors on youtube

And here is the best of catbug

Thanks to the Bravest Warrior folk for putting it up on their blog too – http://bravestwarriors.cartoonhangover.com/post/51819162443/catbug-glitch#noteslist

Pegbar with Ron Diamond

The sunniest days of the year also included a Pegbar screening we put on in the Science Gallery. After the screening we retired back to the Gingermans for some cold beverages and a good chin wag with all.

The screening was Ron Diamond showcasing animated shorts of 2012, which included one of my favourites of 2012 – Una Furtiva Lagrima –

Ron Diamond is the founder and Executive Producer of Acme Filmworks, Inc. and co-founder and President of Animation World Network. He produced the Academy Award-nominated short film Nibbles (2003) and the animated feature film Drawn From Memory (1995). He was also the executive producer of “Drew Carey’s Green Screen Show.” Diamond has lectured at leading animation schools and has served as a juror and guest speaker at numerous film events.



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I did a talk for Crafthouse, a really awesome networking and educational event for Designers. Admittedly, designers to me are intimidating because design is so structured, but these guys were real cool and I got to chat with loads of people after the show.

My talk turned from sophisticated facts to me chin wagging and ranting about various off the ball topics, hopefully giving designers an interesting look into the world of animation.

If you’re into design and the progress of design………go to a crafthouse event. They’re well worth it!

Their site: http://crafthou.se/