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An Artist Making Milwaukee

Dan Fleming’s cityscape featured at Best of Milwaukee party

Nov. 6, 2013
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Most weeks, Shepherd Express readers are treated to the work of a rising local artist whose illustrations are an important contribution to the paper’s look. Dan Fleming’s artistry will also be prominent at the Shepherd’s Best of Milwaukee Party on Tuesday, Nov. 12, at the Harley-Davidson Museum. His Making Milwaukee, a painting of the city’s skyline vibrant and electric with color and motion, will be sold in silent auction along with a limited edition print of the painting. Bids for the piece are already being taken at 32auctions.com/organizations/10757/auctions/11766/auction_items/246354.


You’re not from Milwaukee originally?

I’m from Rochester, Minn. I was looking for a good school for design and illustration. MIAD [Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design] seemed like a good way to get away from my family a little bit. I’d never been to Milwaukee and wanted to get to somewhere new…


Tell me about MIAD?

I came in 2006 and graduated in 2010. I majored in design rather than fine art, but found the ability to keep both sides going. Through the four years of MIAD I grew to like the city—I grew attached to it. I’ve never found myself tied permanently to any one place, but Milwaukee has become my home. There’s nothing I’d like more than to stay here and pursue my career as an artist.


What happened after graduation?

I started at the Shepherd Express six months after graduation. Since then I’ve been working here and selling my work [to collectors of contemporary art]. Sales and prices of my work have gone up every year. I’ve been able to cultivate a niche in Milwaukee, even with all the criticism you hear about Milwaukee being unable to support artists.


You have an unusual range of styles as an artist.

I’ve always approached stuff without too much of a plan in mind. I try to let the stuff develop naturally. I like using recycled objects and supplies, which adds a dimension of character and personality I don’t have as much control over. I don’t restrict myself with too many preconceptions.


Do you have any models among artists or art movements?

My favorite artist is Jean-Michel Basquiat, a graffiti artist turned fine artist who went from nothing to one of the most famous artists in the world. I like the primitive and natural aesthetic of doing things really quickly. I like the Abstract Expressionists, the Neo-Expressionists and conceptual artists, who have extended my interest in the message and purpose behind the piece.


If you are interested in seeing more of Fleming’s work, check out his website at danielflemingart.com.


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