Dave Berns: Hot Damn Arts!

Published on November 13th, 2013

A Stabbing Slice of Surrealist Americana

Dave Berns (Hot Damn Arts) is one of those kids, and creativity simply oozes from each and every pore. He says about his beginnings “I was always the kid that drew – until a few weeks after a boarding school study hall – where I borrowed a stack of a friend’s comic books to pass the time. I had no focus to it. Almost immediately after getting into reading comics, I obsessed on learning how to draw them.” He was commissioned for this year’s 21st Annual MoonFest poster.

It’s some of the best poster art I’ve seen since the days of Zap Comix (R. Crumb) and I felt myself instantly transported to childhood, holding my first ‘Mr. Natural’ comic. What a time warp! To have a work of art suddenly teleport you back to 1977 is a rare and beautiful thing, not to be taken lightly nor trifled with.

Besides that, Dave juxtaposes thrasher film killers with Norman Rockwell. Because bizarre characters need ice-cream, too! “I taught myself the basics by making mostly terrible mini-comics and then learned from the best at the Joe Kubert School,” he says. His work has a wonderfully visceral quality and is reminiscent of Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. He says his influences range from comic books, junk culture, heavy music & Mad Magazine. Specific artistic influences include Frazetta, Kyle Baker, Jack Davis, Joe Kubert, Dave Stevens, Adam Hughes, John Severin, Coop, Derrick Riggs, Bisley, Heinrich Kley, Frank Cho and so many more. “I’m a fan of many new & emerging artists that haven’t really influenced me artistically, but do inspire me greatly!”

His art has a jarring immediacy to it rarely seen in our post-PC world. About his projected trajectory: “Freedom is all any Creative really wants; to have an engaged fan base that’s broad enough to allow for consistent travel on a relatively self-determined creative path, that’s mostly made up as I go along… more dough for drawing more things that are interesting to me.”

In the near future, our ears should instantly prick up when we now hear the names Dave Berns or Hot Damn Arts.

If you’re looking for some of his art, “The parody of dogs playing poker w/ heavy metal mascots has been my most successful & is one of my favorites, too… glad it’s something I can keep in print with future editions,” he says.

Among his personal favorite designs: Willie Nelson, Die Antwoord, NOFX, Stanhope & Primus, The Kills, too. Oh, and A Fiend in Need.

~ Gabe Laszlo