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  • Annette Dawm

Introducing Pop Fiction Artist, Daniel Turres

Daniel Turres is a London, Ontario based artist who is becoming known for his colourful mixed media depictions of iconic characters, or in other words, his Pop Fiction art. Daniel’s business began in March 2017 with 28 different designs. Since then, he has amassed closer to 300 drawings/mixed media pieces that he sells at trade shows, craft sales, comic cons and various other events. Some of his most popular items include prints, magnets and buttons, but what makes his work unique is the use (or re-use) of actual pop culture items, like comic books, for his backgrounds:

“…The idea was to recycle/re-purpose materials that pertain to the character. I found that we are in a world that we like to see recycled, re-purposed things—things that may need dusted off or are forgotten about. We collect comic books, we collect trading cards, we collect books and sometimes they don’t get the life that they want. They start to get lost, tattered-- so what I do is I recycle those things and I actually make them into another piece so they can keep going on…. So, I’ll take Spider-Man for example. It’s a 1960's comic in the background, and then I draw the character via Adobe Illustrator which is a digital medium. But then I print it off and cut it with an X-Acto knife… so it’s like a layering process, right? I cut it out very finely and then touch up the edges and secure it down on the actual material-- a canvas or a comic or a book. So that way it’s not just a digital art piece, now it’s a mixed-media digital piece. It’s got more levels to it,” Turres explained.

The name for his business came to him quite easily, which was a surprise for Daniel. He said to himself, “‘What is it I’m doing? I’m doing pop art! Pop! Pop!’ And I just jokingly said Pop Fiction because it’s fictional art/fictional characters—most of them at least—and it’s about pop culture, and I thought, ‘You know what? I’ll make it a parody of Pulp Fiction and call it Pop Fiction!’”

So far, it seems to be working. After seven years of selling winter clothing for another company during the holiday season, Daniel realized he already had an ability to be a salesman, especially at trade shows. However, he wanted to sell things he was passionate about: “I almost did a clothing line. I almost did another ‘arts and crafty’ thing and I thought, well, maybe I’ll go back to my drawing roots. I’m a fan of geeky things and other people are fans of geeky things… So I thought, ‘What if someone else also likes Harry Potter or someone else likes Spider-Man? We can go from there.’”

Now he travels year round with his products. Sometimes he has to Google shows he can participate in, but word of mouth is also helpful. According to Daniel, other vendors will often say to him, "Hey, you should check out this event!" As his success continues to grow, people have taken note and are inviting him to their shows: "That’s how I got to the Steam Punk Festival! It was a fantastic show! They contacted me through a mutual friend and they said, ‘We really like your stuff! We really want to see you here!’ We worked so well together!” He recalled.

This year will be Turres’ second time at The Canadian National Exhibition (The CNE) in Toronto, which he is very excited about! Not only do endless amounts of Canadians come by his booth, but so do many international guests, including a fan from Australia who now has Pop Fiction art on their wall. “Like, oh my God!” Daniel exclaimed, “I’m just a small town guy from London getting myself all over, and people are meeting me and we’re having conversations! So that’s something I’ve really been looking forward to! I’ve been building up my inventory because I heard so many requests there.”

Daniel is constantly receiving requests for characters that he should draw, because as he mentioned, “as much as I’ve got, I’m still missing that one thing for that somebody!” Currently, he is working on the Trailer Park Boys and The Golden Girls. He would also like to devote some time to The Fifth Element characters, but there are certain things he tends to stay away from: “Sometimes I get asked for religious icons…. We all have our own beliefs and I don’t want to segregate anything. So those are probably ones I say no to. There’s the occasional, actual, real-life criminal. I get asked for like, Al Capone or some of these nasty people in history. So I’m like, ‘No, I think I’m going to keep it more positive. I’m going to keep it more light.’ I do have more dark character set-ups in there, but I do my best to keep them fictional.”

While most of his workload includes the requests from others, Turres wanted people to know that he genuinely enjoys everything he draws: “It’s something of a passion of mine. Everything that you see, I’ve either enjoyed the book or the movie or the show…. I personally do enjoy drawing anything that’s metallic. I like either a rust on it, or a shine, or layers of things. So, I like Transformers. I wouldn’t say I’m a hard core fan, but I love drawing them…. To get the gears and to get the moving parts, and to like, get the actual shine on them was really neat! So that also leads to Star Wars droids…. Other than that, I think my most recent design I’m really proud of is the Batman Tim Burton series, (1989) with The Penguin [and] Cat Woman. They all had such distinct looks and I really wanted to capture Tim Burton’s vision! It was based off the comics, but he wanted to give it his own twist, and I wanted to make sure I captured that in the final piece!”

With all of that in mind, one might wonder how Daniel avoids copyright issues with his work, which he gladly explained away: “When I do these events, I fall under a category called ‘Fan Parody Art’, which allows me to sell at events like Ribfest and craft shows. The down side is, there’s an opportunity for the company to grow, but I can’t exactly have my products wholesale outside of this. I now have to maintain these trade shows and work on my Etsy Shop. So there’s pros and cons…. I can’t go to Walmart and say, ‘I’m Marvel and I’m selling Marvel stuff’, but fortunately I can sell parody fan art.”

Other cons of the job include: not always being able to go to the bathroom during large events like The CNE, and knowing when to say no. “If you want to do your own business and a trade show life, just take into account that there’s sacrifices you’re going to make. Most of the trade shows take place over weekends, so don’t expect to be doing a lot of weekend get-togethers. Once you’re at one show, you’re already preparing for the next show…. The only downside is, I can’t stretch myself so much. I have to learn to say no sometimes because I’m overloading my workload already.”

On the other hand, Daniel Turres has found that there are “so many opportunities with art” and that so much, in terms of education, is now available for free or at a very low cost. He offered the following advice for his fellow artists: “You know, sometimes I meet so many artists that are introverted/shy. It can actually be very scary, because you’re drawing something, or you’re creating a piece and you don’t know if people [will] like it. You’re making it and you’re judging yourself before you’re allowing anyone else to see it. So I just think, think of yourself as a professional…. Once you see yourself as a professional, you’ll build your confidence and you will have a professional relationship with your fans and your customers…. I’m just amazed! I look back at myself and I think, ‘Wow! I drew this thing a month ago and I’m sitting here at another place in Ontario and there’s somebody else liking it!’ I’m traveling everywhere and the opportunities are coming! There’s a children’s book I’m working on now. I’m working on a comic. You’ve got to keep your mind open. That’s why I like this career. I’m going to be working on some of my original art soon. I’m very excited to be showing some of that! It’s just been incredible opportunity after opportunity!”

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Photo by Annette Dawm.

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