“Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it.”
At the age of 16 the desire to be an artist was quashed by the lure of thrills and adventure on the high seas. The exploits that ensued could have been torn from the pages of a 50s pulp Men's Adventure magazine with crime fighting, wartime feats of daring, exotic travel and lurid tales. And yes, weasels did rip his flesh.
During Dan's heterogeneous career he has been a forensics consultant and expert witness, intelligence operative, special effects technician, audio engineer and a decorated member of the British Armed Forces.
Yet despite the blood and sweat of conflict in distant lands and solving shocking crimes, a dark undercurrent of creativity has always surged through Dan's veins. He spent his childhood collecting animal bones and immersing himself in fantasy books, the occult and the paranormal. Raised on a staple diet of horror films, ghost stories and Goth music, his appreciation of the grotesque and bizarre had been set in stone at an early age. Things would only get worse.
The daily walk past David Blaine during his 'Above the Below' stunt in 2003 piqued Dan's interest in magic. For 44 days Dan strolled past David hanging from a crane in a perspex box on the banks of the River Thames on his way to and from work. Not content with just being entertained Dan wanted to know how magic worked, a quest which would lead to dusty tomes of forbidden knowledge and guarded secrets.
Mixing artistic talent with a dash of deception in the cauldron of creativity Dan spawned something truly magical that would fool the world. In 2007 The Mummified Derbyshire Fairy hit the headlines and although it has since been dubbed as one of the greatest hoaxes of all time, Dan prefers the grander term 'illusion'.
Regardless of synonym, the event acted as a pivotal guerrilla marketing stunt that took Dan from part time dabbler to full time artist. After a swathe of radio interviews, TV slots and magazine features a steady stream of private commissions came rolling in, a publisher took charge of the offending images and Dan moved into his London studio.
Dan is now the founder of UK based company Lebanon Circle Prop and Illusion Design. He is also the Art & Design Editor and co-presenter on The Mystic Menagerie Podcast & magazine and has consulted on multiple stage and screen productions. Clients include BBC, Channel 5, Channel 4, ITV, FX and the SyFy Channel. Dan's work can also be found in Guillermo Del Toro's Bleak House Collection and in his book 'The Cabinet of Curiosities'.
Now working from studio in Kent, Dan surrounds himself in a menagerie of gothic terror, dismembered dolls and fantastical Victoriana. He continues to experiment with materials and techniques while incorporating forgotten folklore, grim historical events and facets of the paranormal and occult into his work.
The Big Book of Contemporary Art
Cabinet of Curiosities
Guillermo Del Toro
The Mystic Phyles
Bizarre, Creepy Hoaxes
Kelly Regan Barnhill
The Sunday Times
The Great Pretenders
interviews & features