Dave Draws

Artist Feature: Dave Draws

  • NQ's Jenna Saville caught up with Mancunian artist, Dave Draws, a doodle-based illustrator specialising in intricate, black and white designs

Dave Gee, or as we know him Dave Draws, is a 26 year old from Chesterfield who has a superb talent. He is a doodle based illustrator who specialises in producing intricate designs. Luckily for us he is based in Manchester, so us lucky Mancunians get to witness his businesses success unfold right in front of us.

Manchester is a masterpiece in its own right, things are done differently in this cosmopolitan city and Dave's work embodies everything about it whilst challenging stereotypical doodle forms and from the hype his work is generating it shows every sign that he's making the city proud. Dave speaks humbly of his business as he glides by being one of Manchester's most recognisable artists. He cannot believe he is making a living out of the creative work he loves.

I've always been drawing, it is just something I fell into as I've always been doodling.

The niche style of his illustrations "wasn't really a contrived thing, it was just something I always doodled in when I was bored", which shows how purely talented this man is.

His quirky character filled maps are becoming exceedingly popular as says they're the product he gets most attention from, and the ones that consistently plentifully.

Once upon a time, Dave lived in Berlin which is where he started his art career where he frequently displayed his work on the Berlin Art scene but it was not until he moved to Manchester that his line of work began to be in the limelight.

I was exhibiting one of my older pieces in a group show in Berlin and somebody told me that it looked like a city from above, that put the idea in my head, then when I moved to Manchester a friend of mine asked me about drawing onto a street map, I didn't really know how it would look so I doodled my own map and it started from there.

Dave Draws has composed maps of various Manchester inner city areas, including MCR city centre, Northern Quarter, Didsbury, Hulme, Salford, Chorlton and Stockport. Doodle-y maps have also been made of several un-northern places such as his home town of Chesterfield and some a bit further afield which include Hamburg and Hong Kong Island.

I want to do every city in England and even the world to be honest, it may just take me a little time to do it!

When composing the maps he places emphasis on a mix between the big well known landmarks and the smaller hidden landmarks that only locals know about to make the maps personal to the location. This adds a heightened intensity to the already unique maps, as drawing certain focal points of the city bigger or in a different capacity to the area surrounding it adds unparalleled texture to his work.

An example of this from the MCR city centre map is Gorilla on Whitworth Street, instead of drawing a building and he draws an actual ape. When you look at his maps you can't even begin to imagine how much effort, both artistic and geographical location know-how, was needed for them to look as good as they do as they provide a remarkably original take on the cities which I feel great admiration towards.

"The first cities I did were the ones I knew best, but I'm now trying to expand further. I'm still quite locally based at the minute so I want to get more work all round the country."

One of Daves's hobbies is travelling, and he got to mix that with work when he was commissioned to do a mural over in China last year. An office had commissioned him to create a mural on a wall, which Dave is no stranger to doing but it was the environment he had an issue with doodling.

The majority of the area commissioned to be mural-ised was national park but then surrounding this was a built up area that was densely packed with buildings which had to be fixed into small spaces on the map without knowing the city all that well.

He did two maps one a Manchester map on to a glass wall and the main piece – a Hong Kong Island map on to a large white wall. Being naturally humble he said he “got most of it right” but the biggest challenge was the density of buildings in Hong Kong. The feedback from the project has been very positive and the maps got their official launch in May 2016.

Hong Kong Island was the most demanding mural I've done, despite that I enjoyed the challenge!

Dave also does a lot of freelance work a bit closer to home. In the past year he has done murals for UniLad, Manchester Arndale and the Renaissance Hotel. The UniLad mural boasted his classic Manchester city centre map with a twist as it had the UniLad office drawn on, just in case those working there forgot their way to work.

As a congratulations to Team GB medalists Manchester Arndale invited Dave Draws to create a bespoke map honouring the Olympians and the over 70 'Made in Manchester' medals at Rio 2016. 

Among those shown off for their success within the mural are local newlyweds Jason Kenny and Laura Trott at one of the city’s medal hubs, the Velodrome.

"I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world as an artist, but being able to produce something so unique at home as my biggest ever challenge is a real honour," Dave said.

"I hope our athletes and visitors to the centre enjoy the mural and take a moment to appreciate Manchester’s amazing achievements."

The Renaissance Hotel near Victoria Station have a mural from Dave in their lobby. When you go to a new city you buy a guide book, now guests can just pop down to the lobby and engage with the drawn map as they decide how to spend their day as he created a piece of art to help tourists navigate around the city without missing any of the hidden gems Manchester has to offer.

The General Manager of the Renaissance Manchester, Cameron Mcneillie said:"It’s turned out even better than we’d hoped. Dave has done an incredible job and has really captured the essence of the city.

"We hope that it will inspire our guest to go out and explore and enjoy our city.”

There are now doodling master classes held at the Renaissance Hotel hosted by the master doodler himself, Dave Draws. The next class will be held on April 20th, click here for more information and tickets.

Commenting on the master classes, Dave told us: "I enjoy hosting the master classes, it's something different for me to do and I enjoy meeting new people and seeing their creative process!"

Social media is a big aspect for any business now and using it to engage with people whether they be potential customers or other artists. When I got the chance to speak to Dave he expressed his hate for being on his phone.

His girlfriend now oversees the running of his social media, whether that be Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, they are always looking at ways to utilise it and get more from it.

I noticed a pick-up in my work when I started posting more on social media

Other artists have collaborated with Dave Draws. He did a 500 days of summer collab with his girlfriend and he collaborates with other artists during live events. Apart from collaborating with others on the odd occasion his work is quite solitary and said he would consider team work only if the circumstance needed it. Why fix it if it isn't broke?

He is going to be doing a colab with another talented local artist Andy Hogg later this year. He can't put a finger on any specific influences because he naturally began doing it as such a young age but he did say, cue the aww:

Dave told us how he began his love affair with art: "I started drawing at such a young age in this style, I do remember my mum used to draw in similar black and white patterns when she was on the phone so it may have come from there."

In the basement of desert parlour MilkJam on Oxford Street is a display of Dave Draws work, including his SK Stockport map, NQ map as well as a few other pieces of doodle art. Why not get down there, indulge in a mammoth slice of BakeOrama cake and see some of Manchester finest doodlers work?

Other places you can see some of his pieces of art are Swalk Creative presents on the third floor at Afflecks Palace, MCR Art gallery, royal exchange shop, Salford museum shop, Pad and Ziferblat, as well as stockists in Sheffield, Leeds, Liverpool and Chesterfield.

If you're the type to enjoy stolls around markets, then fear not, you can also catch Dave Draws and his creative work at markets near you. He has stalls on Northern Quarter and West Didsbury Makers Market most months and occasionally grabs a spot on Spinnigfields and MCR Print Fair, so there is no need to miss out on seeing his collection of imaginative artistry.

You can follow him on social media: TwitterFacebook, and on Instagram, Big.Cartel (DaveDraws) and his E-mail.