Hello, my name is Daniel Joel Newman. I work with 3D modeling, digital sculpting, texturing, animation, as well as with digital and traditional illustration. I am strongly influenced by artists like James Gurney, Terryl Whitlatch, Wayne Douglas Barlowe, and Charles R. Knight, all of whom produce vibrant and believable worlds. That is what I strive to do.
I lived most of my life in a small, idyllic, one-street-light-town called Blackstone Massachusetts, right on the Rhode Island border. I went to high school at Blackstone Millville Regional, a school shared between my small town and the even smaller town of Millville. I am, if not proudly than perhaps unabashedly, a child of New England. I try to keep my New England accent under control, but it is excitable and often leaps out when I’m least expecting it (pronouncing the word ‘broad’ will out me almost instantly).
For several years I took part in the great American tradition of playing in a garage band with my high school friends. We were called Taste of Chains, a name that was coined before I had arrived and so I could not override. Having no background in music theory, I naturally became the drummer. We had a lot of great experiences: playing gigs in Providence and Worcester at really deplorable clubs, winning a contest at a local radio station, being unexpectedly asked to be the opening band for a band we had just gone to watch, and recording two albums. It was my first experience working in a group for some creative endeavor and I learned several valuable lessons.
For my undergraduate career I made the bold journey to the state of Rhode Island. I enrolled in Providence College and earned a B.S. in Biology and a minor in Studio Art. It was a long tumultuous experience, but I came out of it with a slightly thicker skin and a better idea of who wanted to be.
In 2009, something unexpected happened that would really rewrite the last few pages of my college career. The year before, Maxis Studios, the game company behind Simcity and the Sims, released the game Spore™ and I became thoroughly addicted to the game’s creation tools. I created so many creatures and buildings that I think the developers grew a bit concerned. They asked me and a small group of the players to visit their studio in Emeryville, CA to try out one of their games in development. It was my first experience seeing what goes on behind the scenes. The trip convinced me to consider a more creative career path.
After college, I held the strangest position at a neuroscience research laboratory in Worcester Massachusetts. Labs often study a so-called ‘model organism’ such as lab rats, fruit flies, or something of that ilk. Unlike every other lab, our lab focused on Monarch Butterflies. Naturally, this required someone to care for, handle, and feed hundreds and hundreds of butterflies so that horrific experiments could be carried out on them. For a brief time in my life I was their butterfly feeder, or to give the humble position a bit more majesty, I was the Senior Lepidopteran Nutritional Specialist, and the warden of the most adorable prison in the world. This experience has instilled in me a deep patience, a commitment to getting a job done, and an appreciation of the absurdity that occasionally colors life.
At the same time, I took night classes at the Rhode Island School of Design. The program was a Natural Science Illustration Certificate Program. There I was exposed to both traditional creative skills and digital ones. Students learn how to render illustrations of organisms that are both visually integrated and faithful to subject matter. It combined my love of science with my creative background. The program has been critical in my development as an artist. In addition to the traditional media, I have been able to take several 3D modeling classes. Learning Maya and ZBrush has been liberating as I was finally able to build and sculpt my ideas. I also realized, or perhaps confirmed a past realization, that I am profoundly happy when I am creating something.
Working my way down the eastern seaboard, I hurtled into Philadelphia in the June of 2012. There I enrolled at Drexel University’s Digital Media Master’s program. I was such a great experience to be a part of a diversity community of creative people.
I carried out a thesis project revolving around using digital animation to make fossil collections more visible and assessable to the public. I worked with fossils of an extinct fish-like creature (named Bothriolepis) and attempted to make a believable animated reconstruction. The project was called Animating Ancient Ontogeny, because it also attempted to animate how the creature developed from a juvenile to an adult.
After graduating from Drexel, I had a surprising lapse in bad luck and got at job at Avalanche Studios / Disney Interactive in Salt Lake City. I started off as an intern and was later hired full-time as an Art Outsourcing Coordinator.