Artist, Photographer, Photoshop Expert
I’ve always been an artist, I’ve always been a hustler leaning salesman, I’ve always been an avid, engaging storyteller.
At 3 or 4 I ran off at Tacoma Mall or maybe Southcenter because I was an incorrigible ball of kinetic energy and when my panicked mother and father finally located me I was at the music store (might’ve been Kennelly Keys) dropping science to folk on the Wurlitzer and Lowrey Organs I’d learned about at Rosevears Music, my Mother’s family’s music store in Aberdeen.
I wrote and illustrated my first story at 5. My mother, who was an educator, believed in the Montessori method and I went to two different elementary schools where we explored art, both making it and observing it, in greater depth and with greater freedom than would’ve been possible in public schools.
By the fourth grade I’d been in a few plays and a talent show and knew that I really Loved to perform. I liked to lip-sync, I liked to do bits, skits and sketches, some of my own creation, some taken from sources ranging from Monty Python to Richard Pryor. My love of Pryor and Carlin and Lenny Bruce was a source of some consternation with my folks and my teachers because I developed a vocabulary filled with what my father referred to as “Anglo-Saxon Vernacular”… I heard all this spoken word stuff and comedy on records I checked out from the public library.
In the 4th grade I was called Daniel Damn-it and in the fifth grade they called me Dan F-word. It was age inappropriate but utterly hilarious yarn I was spinning. I’d get piles of kids all riled up at birthday parties, soccer games, family gatherings because I was REALLY FUNNY. It got me in a fair amount of trouble over the years but the attention was hard to resist and I knew, pretty early on, that I was talented and charismatic.
When people asked the 9-10 yeqr old Daniel Fleming ``What do you want to be when you grow up?” The answer was “Famous.:'' or “An all time great.” Inevitably I’d be asked “At what?” Now at that age the answer was triple treat entertainer mostly… Sing, Dance, Act…
As a 5th grader I had a soccer team fundraiser involving chocolate bars. We lived in a country club community, not gated but there was a marked, armed security detail, and I needed a permit from the Fairwood Homeowners’ Association to sell/solicit in the neighborhood. I got a map of the entire subdivision and the adjoining ones and my dad took me out. I marked the houses I sold green, the come back layers in yellow and the no's in red. The first night he said “Ok, 7pm time to pack it in.” claiming the permit ended at 7pm. Went home, looked it up and it was 8pm and so I said “Tomorrow we stay out until 8.” They didn’t have a reward category for the number of candy bars I sold so I got all 4-5 top prizes. My dad was usually a good sport when his young son outplayed him (or any number of other adults) in a battle of wits.
It was in 6th grade, so ’83-’84 I started buying and selling baseball cards for pretty good money which I did until the market failed in the mid 90s. As a 16 year old I bought 1,000 ’89 Upper Deck Griffeys for $750 and sold the bulk of them for $3.50-$4. I loved learning about prospects, buying their rookie cards for a buck and selling them for $3. It really was a fun little work hard get paid hustle.
In Jr. High I discovered I liked fashion, I liked both the textiles and the designs as well as the campaigns and magazine layouts. I liked music from the Punk, New Wave/Goth as well as the accompanying personal aesthetics and started dabbling in writing some poems and lyrics.
We travelled and camped in a trailer all over BC, Washington and Oregon, and dipping into California and Idaho a few times and whether it was dumpster diving for deposit bottles and aluminum cans or producing some type of folk-craft like I’d find rocks, put tiny Sharpie or electrical tape sunglasses on them and hot glue a strip of carpet on top and called them “Punk Rocks” which was my little take on Pet Rocks and, I mean I didn’t sell a million of them but I made it, branded it and set up a picnic-table-in-a-state-park-campsite shop and pitched the shit to anyone who’d listen.
I’ve been able to draw a crowd running my mouth since I was pretty young and I really enjoy telling a story or singing a song, delivering lines or a spiel or a poem or a speech… Performing for or communicating with people is really a natural space for me. Selling stuff is a kind of performance.
In high school I started doing lots of business stuff… Junior Achievement, DECA, FBLA. I had a paper route and nearly tripled its size in a few months, collected, sorted and sold stray golf balls, had a wash/wax/detail in your driveway biz for a summer.
One year in the Junior Achievement Company Program where the kids set up a company, produced and sold a product our company made first aid kits. I took the bus to downtown Renton and went to Sound Ford, pitched their new car sales manager on the charitable tax write-off/community service brownie points aspect and he bought one for every new and used car he had in stock. Little “Brought to you by Kentridge JA and Sound Ford'' note on each one. He bought almost 3,000 of them and when I delivered the order to the adult advisor we had a real grown up conversation about filling orders and integrity. They had salesmanship pins with different dollar amounts on them but they stopped at $500 so I rocked a whole brick of $500 pins on my jacket .
When I graduated high school my first job was bank teller. By 19 I was a senior personal banker and I could open accounts and, at the time, the sales commission on, say, a checking account with a $10,000 minimum balance, an overdraft line of credit and a Visa Debit Card which was a brand new product at the time, was $1-$200. It was a brand new in-store branch concept and I was really good at upselling products onto new accounts. I’ve always been a natural salesman.
I transitioned from banker to debt collector for a day job in college and I set 20-30 year gross collection records for two different companies while teaching myself poetics. I’d sit in a cubicle making collection calls and writing poems for that night’s poetry reading or slam. My first real artist identity was poet. I have written hundreds and hundreds of poems most in a very Beat Generation inspired open verse style that’s been called psychedelic and surrealist. I still write poems today that are all executions of a style I feel like is a unique mix of literary aspects and musical/lyrical aspects…
For several years in my 20s I wrote new poems, some 6-8-10 minutes long read aloud, for each of 3-5 open mics, poetry readings and slams I did each week.
Met a woman in Georgia in my late 20s who was an art teacher and multidisciplinary producer and she asked “Darlin’, what do you do?” In the most delightful southern lilt, simply too beautiful to be any type of drawl, and I answered poet and she made me defend my assertion claiming it was a hell of a self ascription. I was pretty much compelled to produce and I wrote at all times and in all situations. I’d write at work, durning classes in college, at weddings, birthdays, funerals… You name it. Moleskines, spiral notebooks, napkins, scrap paper COVERED in poetry. I wrote my child’s mother dozens and dozens of poems in a several years long courtship and performed hundreds of times in different spoken word and poetry events. Spoken word sort of just became hip-hop freestyle MC and later MC at dance parties for Drum N Bass DJs from all over the US and the world.
For several years I imagined music would be the path I’d take to a career in the arts and I played clubs, bars and raves with some of the best players in the world, many of whom have gone onto significant success in the music industry.
Poetry and music are truly labors of love… Selling poems for a living is a fool’s errand at best and during what I suppose one might call a 10-12 year attempt at a music career I made a living selling the flowers of the female cannabis sativa plant. During what proved to be the waning years of medical and then, eventually, recreational prohibition I was widely known for having the best grass money could buy. I sold pot from BC, Washington, Oregon and Northern California and my quality control system was legendary. I played the West Coast pot game for more than a decade and continued to play shows and look for opportunities in music.
Making money the way I did created an opportunity to really focus on creating. In 2003 or 2004 I bought a Nikon Coolpix camera because I was playing some really fun shows and wanted to try to photograph some of them. Turns out performing and taking photos are not easy to execute simultaneously but I kept the camera.
I lived in a penthouse apartment on Capitol Hill and when I went poking around the suite of software that came with the camera I discovered that it had a panorama knitting feature with a guide in the viewfinder. When I was maybe 10 or so I made several long panoramic photos by trimming and lining up prints of photos taken in a series when the family was camping. I had a roof deck and a view of Downtown Seattle, The Space Needle, the Olympics, Queen Anne and Lake Union and I cut my teeth shooting panoramas and putting them together using software morning noon and night. I got my first print done at Panda Lab by my girlfriend at the time and it was a photochemical print of a digital photo.
Around this time a friend suggested I get/try Photoshop and I had a friend at the UW buy me a student copy of Photoshop Elements and I started applying filters to my panos. Later I went to Ivey, formerly Ivey-Seawright, a venerable Seattle commercial print shop that did traditional press and digital press stuff from photography printing to lithos to, like the pictures of Gary Payton and Griffey hanging on the outside of the Nike Store downtown. I remember there being a $30 “file acquisition fee” which was basically a $30 “stick a DVD in the side of my I-mac '' fee. They made me several prints on photo paper and I saw the EPSON PRO Stylus 9800 through a cracked door and once I was picking up prints and a lady was looking at a print they’d made of her painting. It was on watercolor paper and they told me it was called a giclee print. I remember putting the word giclee into a search engine and there were a few hundred hits.
At some point in ’05 I got a full copy of Photoshop CS2 and a Nikon D70S DSLR and continued learning by doing. That winter I took a job in Pioneer Square at a place called Faces Gallery that was a portrait studio who had a kind of menu of Photoshop formulas he used to produce very pop-art portraits which he printed on canvas and I learned to print, coat and stretch digital canvases. In 2006 I bought my first EPSON Pro Stylus archival inkjet printer. It was a 4800. A 17” machine with a roll spindle and I began making art from photos I’d taken around town and printing, coating and stretching canvases and displaying them at coffee shops and restaurants and also at The U-District Street Fair, Folklife, Fremont Street Fair and Sunday Market and Bumbershoot. I tried several times to use the gear and the ideas to make live art at musical events but it was a lot of gear. Still pretty cool that, in 2006, I was shooting live sets, editing posters, printing and delivering the posters before the bands’ sets were finished.
2006 was the year I first licensed my business and I wrote three goals. They were “Sell art at the Space Needle” “Sell art at Pike Place Market'' and “Sell art at the Airport.” Within weeks I had prints for sale at the Frontier Gallery and the Space Needle at Seattle Center. I tried several times to make inroads at the airport gift shops but they’re a huge corporate situation with regional buyers and I was not able to secure anything. I began applying to Pike Place Market for a Daystall Permit in 2005 and applied several times over 2 years, each time I included more testimonials from anyone and everyone who asked me “How come you’re not at Pike Place Market?” Every time someone did ask I’d ask if they had five minutes to write a quick note.
There was a little coffee shop and gallery at Pike Place called Local Color and they’d invited me to hang a show which, although I’d had art up at cafes and whatnot, was my first “proper gallery show”. It was a group show featuring maybe a half dozen artists and my work was hanging opposite of the curator/manager of the Daystall Program at Pike Place Market. As it was told to me, having received a half-dozen applications from me, each including several more letters of recommendation folks had written at art fairs, art walks, farmers markets and the like, David Dickinson asked Sydne Albanese, Local Color’s owner, who “Daniel T, Fleming was.” And she said I had vigorously pursued the opportunity to hang art there.
Not long after this I got a call from David who I recall asking if I could appear for a rather unorthodox jury. When I asked what he meant by unorthodox he said he needed me at room such and such at the Market at 2pm and it was 12:30. Needless to say I made it.
Daystall Permitting decisions are ultimately made by a jury of fellow artists and craftspeople and the jury was split on me. The Crafts Marketplace has existed for close to 50 years at this point and, in 2007, I was the first digital artist in the history of the Market. I used a bit of a Jedi Mind Trick to finally get a permit. My initial applications were in the photography category which was closed by rule. One of the nice things about the Daystalls is that the individual categories are managed to balance the offerings of the Marketplace so it doesn’t become a t-shirts and posters emporium. My friend Rosetta Greek told me a friend of hers who’d applied in the closed jewelry category got into the Market by changing her offering from “jewelry pendants” to “tiny sculptures”. Her tiny sculptures, she imagined, could be hung from a necklace as one of myriad display options…
I had been playing with Photoshop a lot and reformulated my offering from “photos'' to heavily manipulated photos printed on canvas and I called them digital illustrations or digital fine-art. Prior to Fodoughgrafiks, there had never been a digital artist at Pike Place Market and the decision to issue my permit was based on all of the handcraft that goes into the coating and plier stretching each of my canvases. When the permit was originally issued I was only allowed to display “digital illustrations'' so no straight photos and 75% of my table needed to be canvases.
Over 14 years there have been some relaxations of restriction and I now carry about half photos and half digital art. It’s pretty nuts it’s been 14 years. The Market has been a huge blessing to hundreds of artists and, in addition to being Washington State’s #1 tourist attraction, is a nonprofit that fundraises and provides a really amazing array of community services.
In addition to the hundreds of small businesses that include restaurants, Daystall art and craft businesses, galleries, bookstores and more, Pike Place Market also has dozens of units of affordable housing, an elder care facility, a childcare center, a food bank and manages a Community Safety Net fund that helps hundreds of people a year with things that come up.
I’m actually using a grant from the Pike Place Market Foundation to develop the website this bio is for. It’s really a blessing to be able to use the down time during the pandemic to focus on a web-sales portal and tightening up my social media approach. I’ve been so laser focused on making art for “this year’s tourist rush” I’ve let internet stuff and wholesale and commissions and print services kind of fall by the wayside.
With the assistance of the Foundation and John Koopman I hope, over the next few months, to build a solid online/social media presence and begin building a following that can support my two long term goals of using my Daystall as a stepping stone to becoming the #1 artist in charitable giving in the history of Pike Place Market and of creating a Daystall Business that generates enough revenue to pay a full-time living wage and benefits to at least one person, other than myself, who lives in Seattle.