The Visual Experiments of Dani Labrosse
We met Dani on March 15th, a national holiday in Hungary. Because it was closed, we had to reschedule from his favorite cafe, Telep, to another spot open and protected from the rainy day. We talked about his work, his passion for film, and Budapest's fantastic cafes and cinemas.
Labrosse, born in 1997, began “obsessively trying to draw” and develop his personal style when his kindergarten teacher scolded him, telling him he didn’t know how to draw because he decided to put 10 fingers on each hand. Dani explained, “That had a big impact on me when I was that little. It really upset me.” But it certainly didn’t stop him. He was only 6 when he decided he could make a career of art. His step-dad gave him a Wallace and Gromit VHS that included an explanation of Nick Park’s process, and that was it. If Nick could do it, so could he.
At 18, Dani had his first solo exhibition as part of Budapest Design Week, and has already established himself as a fixture in the Budapest art world. His most recent group show was a Young Artists exhibition at Godot Pop-Up. “They had artists who were all only 16-21 years old. It was so eye opening to know that there is so much new brilliant art being created here. Even I wasn’t aware of it. It was really impressive. Obviously I don’t have money to buy art, but I was contemplating how I could call dibs on one of them because they were so impressive.”
Dani's pictures feel as though they are coming to life, and some actually do. His recent explorations with Augmented Reality combine illustration, animation, and his work in short film.
Dani's fear of producing less than his best keeps him experimenting with new methods, routines, and mediums while remaining true to his style and commentary on day-to-day life. His girlfriend is teaching him to paint, he has just completed an augmented reality mural for an ad agency, and he has spent the past two years working on a half live-action, half animated short film.
To achieve the “scraggly sketchy style” he likes for the film, he is drawing over every frame. He admits that he “could finish the film quickly using After Effects or just overlaying myself” but instead, in this four minute film titled, Man Who Ate Himself, he is hand drawing the 24 frames per second (yes, nearly 6,000 frames).
He explains this tedious process, saying, “Being hunched over a computer and drawing frames by hand can get monotonous and mind numbing, so I have to focus on something else to avoid being bogged down. If I keep working on it for too long, it will end up not being as good because I will half-ass it or something. I like to do different things because it won't be as fun anymore which will make the end result not as good.” His days vary, with the exception of his dedication to morning coffee and doodling his first thoughts. Similarly, when he works on a new project he describes his process as “spontaneous,” starting with an idea “as a jumping board but then ending up in a different spot.”
When he’s not working, you’ll find Daniel either at the cinema or at his favorite cafes. “I love going to the movies. Just going into a theatre, sitting there and having the whole room go dark and focusing on the screen. It’s one of my favorite experiences in the city.” Lucky for Daniel, Budapest has amazing art-house independent theaters. Some palatial, some jazzy, some dilapidated-thrifty, these spaces are also worth visiting for their cafes and bars and lingering for a discussion on film. For Labrosse, Bem Cinema and Theater Toldi are the best in town, and are dreams places to have his short film screened when its finished.
District 13, where he lives, is “a really inspiring neighborhood” known for a rich history of cafe culture “where people would meet up at cafes to talk about current political climate or philosophy and that kind of stuff.” Keep an eye out for a new series he’s starting soon in which he plans to “go to cafes or cake shops, interview the owners, and draw a portrait of them in their shop.”