Featured Artist: Daniel Muniak

Age: Timeless appeal in a 29 year old’s body.
Home town: For a long time I was nomadic, but I’ll say the beach
Current town: Philadelphia

More often than not he can be found foot-racing cheetahs and grappling grizzly bears. Combined with his dedicated work ethic and spontaneous charm, Daniel provides painterly composed narratives that could simply be described as impactful. Mostly working under the influence of vitamins and caffeine he’s exhilarated by Americana and cinema, and so chooses to voice his stories through the medium of photography. Although he works predominantly with digital materials for the sake of speed, his visual style resonates with cues of classic Renaissance paintings, causing his work to be a purée of modern methods and timeless appeal.


Describe your work.
My work is a photographic interpretation of my life around me. From my portraits of friends and family to my tableau scenes that I use to I restate what I know of the world as they way I see it.
What themes and concepts does your work generally revolve around?
Melancholy riddled animals, UFO’s, urban legends, omnipresent insects within scenes of plastic imitation flora, and a whole slue of other oddities. My work is most often, if anything, open to interpretation by the viewer. The stories that are told with the single frames of my tableau projects can’t be completed without the involvement of the third party perspective. The same can be said about my portraiture. I’ve always got a big kick out of hearing peoples’ presumptions of who or what my subjects are or do for a living. It’s a three way cooperation between me, my subject/scene, equally important the interpretation of the viewers. So for me personally, my concepts are to entertain.
What materials do you work with? 
I’m currently sticking with digital media and C-prints for now, but I am experimenting with printing on glass and would love to get my hands back into some colloidal wet plate work.


What are you currently working on?
I’ve been milking my family and friends portrait series for well over a year (or more) due to the fact that my full time job has been eating a lot of my time and energy, but I don’t think I would have it any other way at this juncture of my life.
What kind of creative patterns, routines or rituals do you have?
I am always thinking about what comforts and what upset s me. I am also mostly thinking about what upsets other people, and think about a means of presenting said things as an image that I would enjoy seeing if someone else created it.
What’s your art background?
Formally: I graduated with a BS and 3.9 GPA from The Art Institute of Philadelphia. Informally: I grew up watching movies, a lot of movies. I loved films as a kid. Where most children grew up wanting to play or watch sports, I grew up wanting to be Indiana Jones, or Ray Venkman of the Ghostbusters. I wanted to become a filmmaker, but in high school I realized due to
indifferent friends that creating anything of real substance through film was most nearly impossible by myself or without a budget. Later I discovered photography, and the challenges and possibilities of story telling through the medium of a single frame.


What’s been happening in your life?
Most recently I have been keeping very busy with my day job. I’m an editor and assistant for an architectural photography firm here in Philadelphia. I’ve been made and uncle twice over in the past year by my equally busy brothers. So really family
has been a huge part of my life in recent years.
What’s next for you?
Describe your current state of mind.
Spinning, mostly with fear. But in today’s economy… forget about it.


What’s inspiring you?
Film and music has always been an inspiration to me. I would like to get back into filming shorts some time. Sort of like little extended cuts of my single frame stories.
Do you have any exhibits coming up/ or past exhibit s you’d like to mention?
The Redwood Room over a year ago was a great success. The juxtaposition between mine and Lauren Dewitsky’s work in that show was excellently and appropriately awkward together, and I can’t thank her enough for dragging me into it.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?

I’m mostly trying to progress oddities in the zeitgeist. I feel that this is important to remind people that our routine chores are not the ‘end-all-be-all’ of our existence, and that life carries on with our with out us so just enjoy the small nonsenses.

What is one of the biggest challenges you face as an artist?
Same as most artists; breaking through the idea that you, the individual creator, are not worth it and have nothing of any value to say or make. I’ve seen some ridiculously shabby works that have been praised as ‘amazing.’ Most of these are commercial projects, or advertisements that someone has deemed acceptable for mass consumption. So I try to be optimistic and think, “Ok, I see why they did that.” So maybe the truly hard part is meeting the rest of the world half way.
What do you dislike about your work?
Mostly when my work is mistaken as the images that are trying hard to be weird. I would rather people sit and look at my work for some time, and get a laugh out of it rather then upset someone, or shock them. For the most part I think my work accomplishes this more positive effect.
Which creative medium would you love to pursue but haven’t yet?
I would love to write/record another album of original songs. I’m in the process of re-teaching myself some more advanced audio recording techniques to make a glorified tape recorder.


What is your dream project?
Off the top of my head, a series of drag images with Steve Buscemi. Or just re-film an episode of The X-Files with Buscemi casted as Dana Scully (but not in drag).
What are a few of your favorite spots in your area?
I still love the wood or New Jersey, as well as the wetlands. There’s something very pleasantly unfortunate about South Jersey in the late fall.
Favorite artists and why?
Gregory Crewdson for his scene arrangement lighting and moods. Jeff Wall for his subject matter, and how he creates several layers of though in images that are deceptively simple. Charlie White’s worlds are frighteningly similar to what goes on in my own head, and along the same humor Yinka Shonibare displayed in his Diary of a Victorian Dandy. Dan Winters has also been a longtime inspiration to me. Winters’ work definitely helped me hone my own personal vision into something more painterly rather than photographic.


What are you reading?
As of lately I have not been reading much. A few short stories by Etgar Keret just to keep me from feeling like I’m not the only one in the world with odd thoughts. I’ve always loved Osho for my spirit though, so go ahead and pick up something from him. And I could always suggest The Watchmen, and Saga has been a great new pick up that I started some months back.
What are you listening to these days?
I can always say listen to more Tom Waits or die trying.
Your website(s):

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