Danger Ross Art
It just kinda chose me,” said Seattleite Derek Ross about his artwork growing up.
From the moment he could pick up a pencil and put it to paper, he was drawing and expressing what he saw. Now, decades later, he has turned his hobby and talent into a flourishing business and career, collaborating with the cannabis community as well.
At the age of 7, Ross displayed a desire to sit down and zone out into his designs, starting with simple car drawings but quickly developing those into more complicated pieces of photo realism and portrait works. They were humble beginnings, with just a simple pencil and paper to get him started.
Developing his craft and range from portraits of loved one’s or their pets, to passion pieces such as favorite bands or sport teams, there really isn’t something he won’t do. The moto on his website is simple- “if it’s something you want or see it can be painted- just ask me!”
Which is exactly how one large part of his business came about, Seahawks designs on apparel and shoes.
In 2013 Ross created a masterpiece for his niece and nephew, one of a kind kicks with Seahawks’ art. Suddenly, his secret was out and everyone wanted a pair. A new business was born.
Today, his business is growing into designing shoes or balls, many times representing the Seahawks for the local community, airbrushing footballs with Wilson’s face or high heels and rain boots with 12th Man love all over.
Most recently, Ross designed a pair of rain boots and Uggs for Mama Sherman with her favorite number “25” airbrushed across.
His addition into the cannabis community came from a friendship that started years ago between Ross and Mark Seegmueller, owner of i-502 grow operation, Mad Mark Farms in Enumclaw, Washington.
Back then Ross knew Seegmueller as the one with the “sticky boogars” and everyone knew Ross for his art. Their friendship was a bond over green buds, cars and a shared passion and drive that many of their friends didn’t have.
“He was always pushing for more, thats what attracted me to Mark,” said Ross.
Afte losing touch for a few years, Seegmueller contacted Ross to see if he was still doing art. Luckily for him, he had quit his job a year before to do it full-time. Seegmueller was looking for a designer to create characters for the cannabis strains he was growing. Though it took some time to nail down the images, they came out original, fresh and a bit creepy, exactly what Mad Mark Farms needed.
As a final touch, Seagmueller commissioned a huge ‘Last Supper’ canvas, including all the characters from his garden at one table. This would be the highlight of Ross’ work in the cannabis community.
The strain characters include Amnesia Haze, Aphrodite, Black Cherry Soda, Blueberry, Berry Kush, Hog, Pez, Pineapple Express, Blue Hawaiian, Fruity Pebbles, Green River Killer, Sour Diesel, Super Lemon Express and Grape Ape.
As the cannabis community continues to grow, we will continue to see this development. Masters of their craft coming together, to collaborate and create something form the ground up.
Derek Ross, Mark Seegmueller, the founders of The Evergreen Market are all in the same boat. Creating a culture that, although existed before, was very much shunned and stigmatized. Together, we are changing this.
The truth is, do what you love and it will hardly feel like work, most days.
Interview with Derek Ross of Danger Ross Arts
At what age were the arts introduced to you and how did it become such a part of your life?
I have loved doing artwork since I was a kid. Ever since I could pick up a pencil, it kept me out of trouble when my brothers were getting into trouble. It was always an escape into another realm, where I could focus and keep away from everybody. So I spent a lot of time learning how to draw anything back in the day, then took it to the next level; learned how to airbrush, learned shading, basically studied a lot of artists, and took it from there. I also went to school in Las Vegas, to learn and perfect how to use airbrush from some of the best in The United States and Canada.
To sum up, how it became a living; if you’re good at something you get paid for it. People were requesting me a lot to do certain things, paint certain things and design certain things. It just kinda chose me.
First media used?
Paper. Pen and paper, pencil and paper. Scribbling, doodling. Cars, drawing lots of cars. Straight lines, curves. Then working with colors. Its pretty simple, if you’re into something, you focus on it and you pretty much zone out to everything else. If someone loves doing crafts, hobbies, anything, you zone out, you’re good at it. You perfect it. You get better. People always look at me and say, “You’re really good at drawing, you should do that for a living.” Everyone drew a circle their first day, everyone drew a stick figure. But Bruce Lee wasn’t his best at kicking the first day out, it took time to perfect his craft. It takes time invested to be what you want to be.
Most memorable piece of art you have done?
Probably Mark’s Last Supper. Even though it was cartoonish in a way, it took a combination of a lot of characters, and a lot of time to make all those characters. A lot of thought, putting into one piece and then designing that one piece to make it happen. That was a culmination of a year and a half worth of work, plus the painting to make that painting.
How did you and Mad Mark meet to start this collaboration?
I used to buy weed from Mark, back in the day. He was the man. He had all the great stuff, the sticky boogars. We linked up from there. He was building a jeep so I was always into looking at all the projects he had going on. He was always thinking of bigger and better things , and that’s how we linked up. He always wanted to do something, I wanted to do something, we lost contact, for a good four or five years and then he called me up and just wanted me to draw a logo for him. He pretty much asked if I was still doing artwork and lucky for him I had quit my job about a year ago and just took on artwork. I made 3 drawings at a time for characters, that I was just making up on the fly. He told me he wanted red eyes and they gotta look mean. So we started out making some drawings, they were cartoony looking at first, really child-like and they weren’t as mean as he wanted them. Took a lot more back to the drawing board and I came up with a bunch of logos for him.
For example, the Pineapple was really friendly looking, so I was thinking how can I make this crazy looking. Because how can you really draw a Pineapple Express? I was thinking a pineapple running with an express logo on his headband. That was too friendly. So then I did a skull drawing and I figured I could turn it into a pineapple, so that looked a bit more devilish and he actually liked that one, put it on a bunch of t-shirts and sweaters and went from there.
Where do you get to be most creative? Where do ideas come to you?
When I sleep. When I sleep I can’t really sleep, so I go to bed and I think about things and for some reason my brain never shuts down. When I wake up and I have ideas so I pretty much just put them down then. I have so much stuff going on right now its kinda hard to step away and do something different because I’m so involved in the airbrush community than anything else, like paintings and portraits. But its nice to stop what I’m doing and link up with Mark and do some logos for him. It’s a nice getaway to stop what I’m normally doing to draw again.
Do you think your relationship with art has changed from when it used to be an escape to another realm to now when its such a big part of your every day life?
If you love what you do its easier to do it. I really don’t think about it like that. I love waking up, making coffee in my front room and walking into my rec room and just painting all day. Its not really a big deal to me. I always wanted to work for myself, I came from a family of all entrepreneurs, so its kind of hard for me to work for someone, except my company, my people, my customers- they are actually my boss.
What inspires you the most?
Leaving a legacy. Just want to be well known when I’m gone. Leaving a print, and not a bad print.
I know a lot of kids look up to you- is that something that you strive for in leaving a legacy?
That’s only cause I’m six one, they look up to me. I have taught a couple of classes. I’m actually doing more art classes this next year, where kids can learn how to paint their own tennis shoes. I love giving back to kids.
In the last decade, maybe longer, the arts have really been diminishing, especially in the school setting and just in general in the American culture. How do you wish the arts continue to benefit society? Where do you see the arts going in the future?
The arts will always be around. Since Da Vinci, since Michael Angelo, since even The Bible, everything has had art in it- billboards… There’s always going to be art and there’s always going to be design, so there is always going to be someone who is better than you at what you do. But you have to have your own style; you have to have your own niche. So, as long as you stay with your own style, find your niche, find what you are good at and find what you can get paid for doing it, I don’t think art will ever die, I think its always going to stay alive-its always going to be relevant.
There’s always going to be artwork and there is always going to be someone who is going to get paid for it. I’m just like a grown-up kid that took coloring to the next level or took drawing to the next level. They say, ‘stay inside the lines,’ but I always tell people if you can draw your own lines, make your own path. Don’t be a sheep. Do your own thing and pretty much get paid for it.
A counselor once told me, ‘If you can find something that you love and get paid for it, you will find happiness.’ I took that to heart and I never wanted to work for someone but it took a bad boss to show that to me. It was nice to quit my job and move on for that, take a hold of what really drove me.
I just love drawing. I love painting. I love doing new challenges, drawing logos, to painting shoes to painting on footballs, to painting portraits of sports players, selling prints, if someone has got a challenge for me, bring it on. I have pretty much painted anything.
Most memorable cannabis experience?
I would have to say working for the cannabis industry. It was an honor to take a hold of something new. If you think about it, it’s the new age prohibition. You have all these rules and regulations on something that was born to be legal. It’s just an honor to be a part of something before it starts getting bigger.
Written By: Masha Brown, Social Media Specialist
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