Artist creates magical creatures inspired by childhood memories

June 21, 2016

Inspired by childhood books and memories, artist Dan May has created beautiful paintings of ‘Gentle Creatures’ which explore an unknown land. Tapping into childlike imaginations and storytelling, Dan has captured the imagination of both children and adults alike. We recently spoke to Dan about what inspires him and how the project came about.

Hey! Please introduce yourself and what you do!

My name is Dan May. I’m a painter living in the US (northern Michigan). In my work I have been exploring a surreal parallel world filled with giant hairy ‘Gentle Creatures’. There is an atmospheric emotional element that is present in my work. The creatures have a quiet gentle spirit and child-like curiosity in their interaction with nature and the world around them. Occasional human “guides” can be found accompanying them on their journey.


artist dan may speaks to theprintspace about his project gentle creatures


If you could experiment with any other medium, what would you choose?

I would like to explore sculpture. I think it would be fantastic to bring these creatures to life as 3D forms. 

Where do you get your daily inspiration?
Living among the beauty of northern Michigan provides the perfect backdrop for my work. I love to get outside and explore nature. Also, my family (my wife and two young sons) provide me with endless inspiration! 


inspired by E.T and where the wild things are dan may speaks to theprintspace photography blog

painter dan may captures childhood fantasies in gentle creatures speaking to theprintspace photography blog

When is your favorite time to work?
I am a night owl. I work well into the early morning hours. 

What makes you wake up each morning feeling pumped to create some new work?
The desire to create has been within me for as long as I can remember. I have to get these ideas out. Also, providing for my family definitely keeps the hustle going 🙂

Are there any artists/photographers/writers/filmmakers or musicians where you have in mind when looking at creating new works?
Not specifically. I listen to all kinds of music, as well as a number of podcasts while I work. I really wish I had more time to read and watch films but honestly, my days have been completely full. That said, looking back, the first movie I ever saw as a child was E.T… looking at the work I’m producing now, I have no doubt that on some level that movie played a role in shaping the themes I am drawn to today. 


happy and joyous artwork by dan may who speaks to theprintspace about his paintings and photographic prints


What are you currently working on that you just can’t get enough of?
I am spending each day creating a new “daily creature”. Essentially, I am drawing one new original drawing each day for the entire year. It has definitely been a challenge to do this… coming up with new and interesting ideas each day keeps you on your toes!

What’s next for you?
I am working on several new paintings, some illustration projects, a book of my work, as well as some secret projects that I hope to unveil in the coming months. The biggest thing going on right now, was the birth of our second son (just a few days ago!). After so much anticipation it is such an incredible joy to finally have him here with us.



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