DanTho im Interview – was ist eigentlich Strippling?


Introducing: DanTho

(oder: Jamaika kann mehr als nur Musik!)

Was braucht es, um einen eigenen Kunststil zu erschaffen? Eigentlich nur Leidenschaft, eine Idee und viel Zeit zum Rumprobieren. Na gut, Talent und ein paar Leute, denen gefällt was du tust, können auch nicht schaden. All diese Faktoren erfüllt Daniel Thompson aka DanTho. Der junge Künstler aus der pulsierenden jamaikanischen Metropole Kingston macht sich derzeit weltweit einen Namen mit seiner selbst kreierten Maltechnik, die er “strippling” nennt. Was sich dahinter verbirgt und wie er darauf gekommen ist, erläutert er im Interview mit IrieItes, das im Rahmen der UP-Tour entstand, die ihn im Sommer 2015 erstmals nach Hamburg führte (unseren Artikel dazu findet ihr HIER).

Nun ist er für einige Wochen wieder im Lande, organisiert Ausstellungen und bietet sogar einen Workshop an: kommenden Samstag haben alle Interessenten die einmalige Möglichkeit, von dem Visionär zu lernen, seine Technik live zu beobachten und das ein oder andere Werk sogar zu erwerben:

Hiii Art Workshop, Sa., d. 17.09.2016 um 14 Uhr, Lerchenstraße 37 (5,- €)


Tell the world who you are and how you came to the arts!

My name is Daniel Thompson, known by my artist name DanTho. I’m a visual artist from Kingston, Jamaica, attending the Edna Manley College of the Visual Arts. I’m not finished yet, I’m going back for some more classes, I only have three courses left to finish. I was majoring in illustration because that was my passion from a very young age. I learned about the arts in Jamaica from my uncle, Charles McCarthy. He died unfortunately at a young age, but he had a huge influence on me and he basically introduced me to the world of art, he got me interested. So, growing up, I was always drawing. I tried to draw images from colouring books, so while everybody else was just colouring the images I was drawing them. I always had a passion for it and I just wanted to get better and better. I was doing illustrations and I got into Anime during my teenage years like a lot of people. I was drawing Cartoons and so on, but then I wanted to go into realism more, because Anime started to feel different… I felt that I was growing out of it. I wanted to draw, to excel, I wanted to do something more. So I started to draw photorealistic images with a graphite pencil and I got better and better until I realized that I wanted more of a challenge, so I started to draw with ballpoint-pens, that was my thing. I did portraits a lot, I love doing facial portraits, from the neck to the crown of the head. Faces are beautiful, I think everybody has unique features, and I like to capture emotions and moments in time through these features, emphasizing the eyes or the lips or the nose and so on, because I feel that those are the main indicators of body language on our faces. You can wink, you can wriggle your nose, smile… those are the features that draw me to faces so much. I realized that the pen drawings take pretty long, because I became a perfectionist and I wanted to do photorealistic images. When I saw people online I was like, I want it to be like THAT guy (laughs). First I spent like a week on a drawing, but I always thought I can do better, so then I spent a month and then three months and then a year, and now I even have one ballpoint pen drawing that’s still not finished after two years. What I do is, I use the pen, and whatever I learn from this experience I carry it over to the pencil, and whatever I learn from one medium I use it to assist and enhance the other.


And how did you start painting, then?

I realized that pen and pencil just wasn’t enough. I wanted to explore colours, because graphite is just grey, or scales of grey, same thing with charcoal, so I started painting. I used to paint in college, but just for class-work, when we had an assignment to do. I just tried, I never considered myself a painter, but when I first entered college, we had a course where we had to do a painting and I chose the most basic one. I think it’s called Keith Erwin Cane Fields, it was so simple, instead of the cane stalks you had like flat green and the sunlight was just a round yellow circle, so it was the most basic thing and I just wanted to pass. I got 53% (laughs) and the pass mark is 50%, so I was like, I guess painting isn’t my thing. But then, in my 3rd year of college, we had an illustration course called Method and Media as well as illustration studio classes, and that’s when I decided I have to start taking this serious, because in these courses they required you to paint, so I couldn’t avoid it and it was like the second time in my life that I actually painted. And then I got a 96% and crazy praises from lecturers who said ‘Oh my God, you are a painter, you shouldn’t do illustrations!’ and I was like, it’s not really my thing because I like drawing! Because I want to do images, and when I paint and try to do realistic paintings, it takes way too long and that was not me, I wanted to find myself in paintings so that was just not me, it wasn’t really working out. Sometimes I got bored with my work if I’m on it too long and I put it on the shelf and thought I come back to it later, and sometimes I never came back to it, unless I had some real inspiration.

Then I started to hang out at Nanook, my friend from college invited me to a Jam Session there and since I took a break from school and was freelancing at this point I had a lot of time. Anyway, when I got there I stumbled into Matthew McCarthy, he is actually my real blood cousin, we grew up together, so I saw him there and he said he’s setting up for the Sankofa Session. Iset Sankofa is a DJ and was having a live session that night, so Matthew set up boards for people to just come in and paint, and I thought ‘Wooi, this can’t be a coincidence, this is universe talking to me right now.’ I was like, I can’t paint, but since I’m here let me try! At first I didn’t have any idea, so I just thought I’d take out my phone, put it on shuffle and the first song that comes on will give me an inspiration. I did that, and the first song was Kid Cudi ‘Heart Of A Lion’ and I did a piece called ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ (laughs). It’s called by a different name now, but anyway, the painting was well received. Everybody loved it and said ‘Oh it’s amazing!’ while I was just like trying to do something, trying to not look stupid (laughs). The technique that I use looks like I’m scribbling on paper, so people were like ‘What is this guy doing?’ But at the end they liked the outcome. So I did that, I started going to every single Sankofa Session to just paint, and apparently there was a fan base. I didn’t know, because I was always in front of the canvas, but there was word around town that this guy DanTho is up to something, but I was like Ok, I’m just do something I really love. I didn’t care about the attention much, I was just having fun, listening to music, chilling with friends (laughs).


How did you become a member of the United-Purpose-Tour?

I don’t know, something just told me you should become part of the team, so I went to Joan Webley, the founder of Nanook, and I told her ‘Hey, I’d like to be a part of it!’ and she was like ‘We are glad to have you, what do you want to do?’ And I said ‘Painting!’, and so I started to hone up to it. That’s how I came to be part of the Up-Tour, and now I’m here! It’s still a bit surreal to be in Hamburg now… it’s like a dream come true! This is my second time of leaving Jamaica, ever, and Germany is lovely. The people, the streets, everywhere is art – I love it!

And I’m proud to represent and spread Jamaican Art, to make people see that it’s not just the tourist art you know, not just music. There are amazing people in Jamaica like Matthew McCarthy, his art is super dope. All of us share like minds, it was great to find everyone, Italee, Matthew Mc Carthy, Jik Reuben-Pringle, Peter Gordon, Ashtan Champagnie, so it was just organic and that was why the name “United Purpose” was just fitting.

Talking about the technique you mentioned, what exactly is it?

I came up with this painting technique actually because, I tried to get paintings done faster, because I was always late to hand in my assignment in College. What I do, is kinda like stippling with dots, but itnstead with strokes. People have said the technique is similar to what Van Gogh did, not that I want to be compared to these legends, but people have been saying the technique is similar. Actually, no one else has ever done it that way, so it’s unique. I came up with the name “Strippling” for the style that I use, because it’s like a blend of both stippling and strokes. I might change the name, but for now I call it that so that people know that I came up with it.


Amazing. So all the paintings that you are exhibiting are done with this technique?

Yes, basically. I will be exhibiting my final project from college which is titled “Nostalgia”, like the emotion what people feel, this longing for the past, but I try to evoke happiness instead of sadness, to show what Nostalgia is for people like me, people of my age. I mix real characters and cartoon characters, so I’m just playing on my memories through cartoons and real life. I used to watch cartoons every day, Pokemon, Dragonball Z, Digimon, everything. When we got Cable and I heard that Cartoon Network aired Cartoons 24/7, it was over! (laughs) So that was a huge part of my bringing up, and I’m not the only one. There are a few pieces that even the tour manger Alexander Cowell remembers from his childhood where his reaction was like “Oh my god I remember that”, so I know that I’m on the right track. So the series is not fully finished as yet, but I want to show Germany and Europe what I’m capable of and how I go about my paintings, so I will do a final piece starting on Thursday night, I won’t reveal what it is as yet it is the biggest piece, I will finish it within three days. I just want to show the people my technique, how I come up with it, how I move from point A to point C event though I can’t explain it, so I just show it.

Wer das alles LIVE erleben möchte, komme am Samstag zu DanTho’s Workshop!

Hiii Art Workshop, Sa., d. 17.09.2016 um 14 Uhr, Lerchenstraße 37 (5,- €)


Text & Fotos: Gardy Stein

more info: https://www.facebook.com/Danthoart

Impressionen von der UP-Tour 2015:

Impressionen von DanTho’s Ausstellung beim Yard-Art-Festival in Varel (19. – 21.8.16):



About Gardy

Gemini, mother of two wonderful kids, Ph.D. Student of African Linguistics, aspiring author...