This summer, we teamed up with the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) in New York City for their exhibition, “Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die.” The exhibition explores the visual language of punk, showcasing hundreds of punk’s most memorable graphics. To celebrate the DIY spirit of the Punk movement, MAD is hosting a series of artists to live-customize Docs at the gallery. First up, Daniel Shepard.
Introduce yourself. Tell us who you are, what you do, and where you’re from.
My name is Daniel Shepard, I’m an illustrator. I was born and raised in Leon, México – México’s capital of leather production.
How did you get started doing graphic design and illustration?
At a young age, my mom would always hand me napkins to draw on during social gatherings in order to chill my energy levels, and in high school, I put a lot of work into drawing on the back of my notebooks instead of paying attention during class. I’ve always wanted to pursue a creative career and studying graphic design in college gave me the opportunity to follow a creative path.
I’ve been an illustrator all my life but have been doing it professionally for the last seven years. One of the first projects that I worked on was with Casta Propaganda, a Mexican skate shoe company that was started by a skate friend of mine, Joel Cortes. I ran the design department at Casta Propaganda I had the opportunity to work hand-in-hand designing skate shoes.
You list skateboard culture and music as heavy influences for you; are there any particular skateboarders or musicians that inspire you?
Definitely! I’ve always been greatly inspired by pro skaters Ed Templeton and Marc Gonzalez, both incredible on the board and off of it. Templeton and Gonzalez are self-taught artists and rule breakers. They both created all the graphics for their pro model board and eventually owned their own skate companies.
As far as music goes I love the whole imagery of the psychedelic era, especially what the “San Francisco Five” were doing. This extremely creative crew was comprised of Rick Griffin, Alton Kelley, Victor Moscoso, Stanley Mouse, and Wes Wilson. They would go on to produce some of the most memorable imagery in the history of rock and roll.
Tell us about the designs you created for the Dr. Martens x MAD event.
I approached the project very personally, inspired by the things I found on the streets and then added my touch to it. I often feel like I have a fresh set of eyes coming from outside NYC, even more so being from another country. I’m always intrigued and always looking around finding inspiration everywhere around me.
What brought you to NYC?
After 30 years together my parents went through a divorce, which was difficult for me to deal with. At that time my friend Pazzi moved to New York and somehow convinced me to join him.
What do you love most about New York City? How does NYC influence your work?
It may sound like a cliche answer but the diversity that I find in New York is honestly what I love most about this place. Having the opportunity to interact and meet people who are so different from myself influences my work a lot and who I am. I can’t find that same diversity and the opportunity that comes with it in Mexico, and I’m grateful for it.
Tell us about your first pair of Dr. Martens.
My friend brought me my first pair of Dr. Martens after his trip to the U.S. when I was 15 years old. They were the classic 3-eye shoe in black. After a while my mom, aka Lorena, had to dump them behind my back because they were so beat up she’d be embarrassed to be seen with me on the street. But I loved her as much as I loved them so we made peace, ha.
What do you do when you’re not working? Do you have any other hobbies or talents?
When I’m not working you can find me skating and if I’m not skating than I’m exploring New York on my bike. I’m a big music fan so going to concerts is one of my favorite things to do with my free time. I also really enjoy all the food options in New York and love to try different restaurants out with my lady partner Ada.