I’ve been drawn to Portugal-based artist Danny Ivan’s colorful, patterned artwork, ever since discovering his Society6 profile. Over the years, I’ve selected quite a few of his pieces for inclusion in our Society6 collection, The Design Milk Dairy. I’m starting to see his work everywhere, from Starbucks to Adobe, so I reached out to him to talk more about his process and work.

All of your work looks to be digital. How do you start a piece? Do you ever use analog tools?

All of my work is digital but I can sometimes draw some sketches/drafts to find my graphic process for a new series. I guess it is the best way to explain how I think: “visually” speaking to clients who manage brands and want products and services with my style. I always start by thinking about the graphic process I need to use for the images. Some of my works starts with a pencil, compass and rulers, but I rarely use them. Now I mostly draw on my iPad trying to make new geometry stuff. And when I find the right graphic process that matches what I want to express, it is one of the best feeling ever.


What is your creative process like?

My creative process consists in building a rock-solid routine to be creative for hours every day, giving a structure, rhythm and purpose in my creations. Somehow I need to create a framework for inspiration and creative process and I’m always concerned in finding something very solid. A stunning design takes time and I put my creative work first than reactive work to stay focused.

My creative process defines what I really love in life: bold people, bold moments and bold emotions. What I really want when I’m making an artwork or design is for the people to react when they see it. I try to capture everything I see, listen and taste in one piece of work.

As a graphic artist, I work every single day, including weekends and holidays. I’m used to this routine and I know where I want to go. But it’s still a challenge every day.


Your patterns are fairly complex. How do they start and grow?

I feel inspired by geometry and I guess the fact that I’m doing more and more of these. Contact with geometry sparks creativity and everything looks complex but when you are in, it’s amazing simple, I always start a pattern by creating a grid and then I’m adding and mixing more grids to it and I try to find a pattern in there.

How do you end up with your fantastic colorways? How much goes into deciding what the final palette will be?

My relationship with colors began many years ago, and when I went to university, I tried to study colors and the relations between them. It is one of the things I really worry about when I create. Colors are kind of like music, they can fill your life and we can establish a connection with them. I’ve worked hard in the past to understand colorways and now I feel more confident when I have to choose a final palette.

For some of your more humorous pieces, like “Big Burger” “Donuts” and “When you Look At A Cupcake” – where do those ideas come from?

I was born in the early 80s and I grew up in the 90s and I feel nostalgic about this “Pop Culture”. I often think about that time and how people felt with it, with all related items in that time… My objective with humorous pieces is to feel free and be true about myself because I really have a simple and humorous life. For me, nothing is negative—only some perspectives are harder to understand. I don’t really often eat burgers but I love their existence. I remember when I was a kid, I could cry to eat more burgers but my parents just wanted to protect me from fast food.


Tell us about your workspace and your work style – do you work messy or clean? What’s on your desk right now?

Sometimes my workspace gets messy but I’m always trying to keep it as clean as I can. I think it’s a place where you need to feel really comfortable. I have a girlfriend who is helping me keeping it tidy, she just can’t resist when it’s all messy!

How has being on Society6 helped you as an artist?

I feel really grateful to them, Society6 really helped me being an artist in this competitive world. They made it possible for me to live from my artworks. The simple way you can upload your work and start selling on their platform is fantastic! And their community is amazing. I met most of my best online friends on there like Eric Fan, Falcao Lucas, Vasare Nar, Ali Gulec, Spires (James Soares) and even more… I have made an artwork with the quote “Nice People Are Creative” because of them. Sometimes it is very hard to work alone in your room but they make it easier.

Danny Ivan for Adobe

Danny Ivan for Adobe

Do you have a favorite design or piece of art you created?

Yes and Adobe has the exclusive license for it [above].

What are you most interested in creating right now?

Lately, I have been working for an ad agency, making a pattern for a big event for the Olympic Council of Asia. I really enjoy sports and I am really excited about this opportunity.


How influential has living in Portugal been to your design work, shapes, palettes etc?

I’m influenced by this great city—the light, the architecture, people, food, everything. I really love a place called Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. It is not so far from my home and I love spending some time there just drawing, thinking or reading.

Do you have a creative routine?

Yes I do have a lot of creative routines. I’m following what inspires me the most at the moment, bands, artists, brands, people, science, movies… Sometimes I just like browsing through all of their amazing works, it helps me creating because ideas then come through my head, they inspire me. As I said before, I spend a lot of time drawing on my iPad or making grids/patterns on my computer and trying to find some new stuff.


What’s your favorite art right now?

I really love geometry stuff and 3D with a weird touch. I admire the work of Andy Gilmore, Takeshi Murata, Reuben Wu in photography, and also the Arcade Fire concept in music.

What’s your dream collaboration?

It would be great working in the music industry because it is a big part of my life, I can spend hours listening to new bands. Music can help me out to stay creative and focus on my work.

I admire Google’s work and their concept; it would be fun working with them. I have started learning 3D to improve my abstract artworks and if I can someday get their attention, this would be really amazing.

Photos by Carlos Melim/Creartfilms.

This post was created in collaboration with Society6.

Jaime Derringer, Founder + Executive Editor of Design Milk, is a Jersey girl living in SoCal. She dreams about funky, artistic jewelry + having enough free time to enjoy some of her favorite things—running, reading, making music, and drawing.