Danimal Grafffixxx: More than yogurt

Danimal shares a moniker with edible goo, but he’s more colorful than that.

Danimal in his studio, with his inspiration wall behind him.

Jules Ameel

Danimal in his studio, with his inspiration wall behind him.

Local artist Danimal is aware that he shares a moniker with a novelty childrenâÄôs yogurt . If they approached him for copyright infringement, he would suggest a collaboration. âÄúI would definitely love to illustrate some wicked elephant illustrations, or do illos [illustrations] of maniacal fruits that cannibalize and eat their own kind,âÄù he says. Penning graphic design deals with food companies is yet to be added to DanimalâÄôs resume, although his images and designs are increasingly popping up on artifacts that represent MinneapolisâÄô DIY music scene. His real name is Daniel Luedtke , and he graduated from Augsburg College with a degree in music while learning the trade of poster printing from friends he met playing gigs as the keyboardist for local band Gay Beast . LuedtkeâÄôs studio is in the attic of his apartment in south Minneapolis. One of his roommates is fellow artist Dan Black, who taught him a few screenprinting techniques and whose style he admires. The apartment itself is like walking through the looking glass: huge, with lots of light and air and packed with artifacts that are poetic in their randomness. In the fireplace there is a studio portrait of a family. âÄúWell, we found a dead bird skeleton in the fireplace,âÄù he says. He leans over and picks the skeleton up. It is graceful and small. âÄúAnd we thought we should put the family in there with it.âÄù The walls are bright colors and one has leaves painted on it in large scale. There are gig posters mounted all over and plenty of books stashed in orderly places. Luedtke grabs a coffee table art book and starts paging through it to help him list his influences. Gerhard Richter and Ellsworth Kelly make the list, and he explains that his style is influenced by âÄò60s and âÄò70s psychedelic posters and straight edge formalism, citing the windowpane style of Mark Rothko as inspiration. His own art is packed with sideways motifs and subtle wit. He frequently adds bananas to his posters, and even made banana wallpaper. On the packaging he designed for local band Slapping Purses, he created a diamond out of flesh tones from pornography samples. The fuzzy looking and jilted angles of the diamond look oddly organic against the albumâÄôs red background. If he could do any bandâÄôs packaging, he says he would do DEVO because theyâÄôre his favorite band of all-time. He would have a 4-foot pullout poster inside, although he isnâÄôt sure what he would put on it. For his own band, Gay Beast, he used Masonic symbols with overlays of black, deep red and aqua blue. âÄúWith these weird visual symbols,âÄù he explains, âÄúyouâÄôre like, âÄòthat could mean something but you donâÄôt know what it meansâÄô.âÄù He briefly discusses the idea of encountering locked symbols, but doesnâÄôt seem eager to get on a soapbox about the subject. LuedtkeâÄôs posters are vivid, full of neon yellows and brief patterns and creatures that look half-man, half-peppermint. Making the design for a poster usually takes him about two days, and making a print takes about one day. A lot of his equiptment is self-built, like his light table. Luedtke thinks making posters is a craft that is fairly accessible to most people. He explains, âÄúIf you had a couple hundred dollars and a week, you could make a silk screen.âÄù As for whether music posters as a medium have any particular significance for him, he explains that he likes that âÄúTheyâÄôre moments, bound to a time and place. TheyâÄôre actually useful. They have a democratic aspect.âÄù But Luedtke is open to all kinds of art, including fine art âĦ even yogurt art.