Danny Gregory is a bestselling author and self-taught artist. He is the founder of Sketchbook Skool, a video-based art school designed to inspire creative storytelling through illustrated journaling. Through his books and in the large online communities he oversees, Gregory has shown tens of thousands of people how to ignite their inner artists, embrace their creativity and tell the stories of their lives
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? Did you have any particular experiences/stories that shaped your adult life?
I grew up all over the world. I was born in London, moved to Pittsburgh at five, then Australia, then Israel. In between, I lived several different times with my grandparents in Pakistan. My childhood taught me to see new situations without preconceptions, learning to fit in by observing and empathizing with very different kinds of peoples, and using my creativity to solve problems in fresh ways. These early experiences helped develop my creativity in so many ways
What is something you wish you would’ve realized earlier in your life?
That including art-making in my life is possible, that it doesn’t have to be a career to be valid as a passion, and that working about talent is just a stumbling block. Anyone can be an artist if they let themselves try,
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
If you want to be an artist, go to art school, work within the gallery system, and if you have no talent, it’s not going to happen.
Tell me about one of the darker periods you’ve experienced in life. How you came out of it and what you learned from it?
My wife was run over by a subway train and left paraplegic when we were in our late thirties and our son was in diapers. It took me years to start to see the world on positive terms again, to get over my fears of the future. Art-making became my salvation Learning to draw gave me a clearer perspective on my life every day and made joy possible again.
What is one thing that you do that you feel has been the biggest contributor to your success so far?
I have a lot of ideas, many of which are useless, but I keep coming up with more.
What is your morning routine?
I get up before 7 in the winter and 6 in the summer. I make some tea and draw my teacup or the view out the window. Then I walk for an hour. I have a lot of ideas on these walks and record them on my phone.
What habit or behavior that you have pursued for a few years has most improved your life?
Keeping an illustrated journal. Drawing things in my everyday life in a sketchbook and writing down a few words alongside each drawing. It doesn’t matter if the drawings suck, they gave me perspective and build memories.
What are your strategies for being productive and using your time most efficiently?
I like to pre-crastinate. I get things done long before the deadline so I m not haunted by a sense of panic and failure. I use an app to record all my todos as soon as they come up and work through them every day.
What book(s) have influenced your life the most? Why?
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards showed me how learning to draw is within reach for everyone and how to easily train my brain to think to see differently so I could make the first important steps towards draining confidently.
Do you have any quotes you live by or think of often?
Do not fear mistakes. There are none. — Miles Davis