Raised on the South Coast of NSW, Dan was introduced into the custom culture scene from the very beginning.

Creative artistry was the norm growing up amongst the surf, skate, and custom car and bike scene.

After starting his working career as an apprentice panel beater, Dan went left-of-field and began a long-term career in the underground coal mining industry.

During his 20 plus years in the mining industry, Dan moved into corporate development and built knowledge and skills in fall recovery, team leadership, corporate processes, products and new technology and business development. During this time, his focus turned to digital art.

When Dan moved to Kuranda in 2012, he began rediscovering his art style while working throughout the region for employers. He also ran his own business, focusing on custom print, panel repairs, and design techniques.

Dan enjoys being actively involved in the lives of his two teenage children, and his work allows him to indulge in his creative passion.

“When I first came to TRACQS, we started an art activity based in Kuranda.

“It evolved to include photography which was great because artists and painters often find it really expensive to create their work.

“So I asked TRACQS if we could make the art focus broader, which they got on board with.

“Now we’re doing activities that include graphic design, custom painting, airbrushing, pinstriping, signwriting, vinyl, shirt printing, 3D printing, and laser.

“The participants learn and develop skills in custom paint, digital, and old-school techniques by using industry-standard equipment and software,” he said.

Dan’s approach to each participant is to encourage them to come along to see how it all works to get them interested in specific areas of creation.

The process allows Dan to see participants changing their mindsets, as they often begin the activity unsure of what they are going to do.

“Smiles start appearing, people open up, participants begin to develop personally.

“I think it gives them a drive to look for careers doing something they want to do, so from there, we can focus on skills to get them where they want to be,” Dan said.

Dan has seen four participants move into employment in the past few months and has had countless community members come through to experience his Custom Culture activity.

“We have lots of community groups come in and make stuff for the community – the Tourism Information Centre, Kuranda Arts Co-Op, the Arts Centre, the Justice Leagues Footy Group.

“We’ve also had school groups come in over the holidays to participate in shirt making activities – it’s something that will happen again over the Christmas holidays.

“We’re also connected with rehabilitation mobs to encourage people to develop skills slowly before going back into the workforce.

“They’re making art, learning new skills and rehabilitating at the same time.

“It’s really satisfying.”