Dan Kiesecker’s (a.k.a. Dan Deranged) work is imaginative, quirky, undeniably creative, and complete trash. No, that’s not a metaphor or an insult; he makes all of his figurines and wall hangings from recyclable or thrown away materials. Where most just see garbage, Kiesecker sees an opportunity to create something that both delights the viewer and maybe makes them even think twice about how much waste they create. Kiesecker took time out from his schedule as a full-time college student to explain his inventive process.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I go by the artist’s name Dan Deranged, but by day I’m Dan Kiesecker. I work with a variety of mediums. I enjoy writing, drawing, and sculpting, but most people know me for my recycled garbage-art and trashy costumes. I’m 20-years-old and a native to Wauconda. I’m currently a student at the Spokane Community College Colville Center.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Apart from creating things? Not a lot. I like to work on my family’s cattle ranch, take care of animals, and spend plenty of time hiking in the mountains. I’ve volunteered as a youth counselor and worked as an art teacher for many years in Okanogan County, and now I apply many of those same skills as a tutor at the Colville IEL.
Where does your inspiration come from?
A lot of my inspiration stems from a fascination with the natural sciences, particularly botany and entomology. Studying plants and creatures that are so different from humans never ceases to amaze me, and thinking about such unusual life forms really sparks my imagination.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
Jody Olson, a brilliant artist, close friend, and one of my greatest mentors. When I was young, she taught me how to take my creative insanity and turn it into something positive. I’m also extremely thankful for the support of my family, and my good friend and fellow artist Ephraim Brown.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
A little over a year ago I was invited to participate in the Tonasket Earth Day recycled art show. Over the course of a week I built the Waste Lord, a more elaborate project than I’d ever attempted, and when it was finished I realized I’d made an actual work of art. It really took me by surprise.
How would you describe your creative process?
Of course it depends on the project, but my process generally revolves around the idea of fluid anatomy and structure. When I’m building something, be it a simple creature or an elaborate wall-hanging, I like to constantly mix-and-match pieces in bizarre ways until they ‘fit together.’ There are also times when a piece almost seems to build itself, using my hands as the means of its own creation, but that’s a lot harder to explain.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Probably Jim Henson’s workshop, during the production of The Dark Crystal. The creatures of that film really inspired me as a young child, and I still enjoy the designs tremendously.
Why is art so important to you?
For me, art is an outward manifestation of imagination. I’ve been imagining strange and unusual things for as long as I can remember, and have always strived to share these concepts with others in some shape or form. In the case of my garbage-art, the subject matter really speaks to me - waste is a very dangerous phenomenon, and it’s only getting worse.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
At this point, I’m so new to the practice that I haven’t gotten into any major ruts yet. On the contrary, I have very limited time to get creative, and far too many ideas to put into practice right now. A long period of boredom would be a blessing.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Ten years? Well, it would be great to have the time to make my ambitious ideas made into realities. I want to build some larger, more elaborate pieces and display them in galleries around the Pacific Northwest, and teach art workshops for both kids and adults. Eventually, the deranged artist part of me would like to own a recycling center/junkyard/museum, with all kinds of towering beasts and shrines built out of the garbage. Will this actually happen? Who knows! There’s more garbage in the world every day, so I definitely won’t be at a loss for material to work with. Life can be very interesting when you’re slightly deranged.
*To see more of Kiesecker's work, go to danderanged.deviantart.com. To contact him, call 509-998-9673 or email firstname.lastname@example.org