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About the Art & Artist

Much of the art here is inspired by mandalas. Mandala is an ancient word that means circle. Mandalas have been used by cultures across the globe throughout history for healing and meditation. Dave Turner ART celebrates mandalas and brings a spirit of meditation and healing to everyone viewing it.

Artist, author and animator, Dave Turner has always marched to the beat of his own drum. A graduate of Vanderbilt University, he is a lifelong Tennessee resident currently thriving in Nashville. Dave loves animals and is an avid Masters swimmer.

Dave Turner ART is based in Nashville, TN. 

 

Following His Art

Digital Dave in his Gallery with Bella

Digital Dave discovers his destiny on the side of a Jiminy Cricket juice cup

By Elizabeth Betts Hickman

Ask Nashville artist David Turner about his path toward his career and you'll hear a fascinating and definitely unorthodox tale.

"I went to Vanderbilt to study physics and become an orthodontist," says Turner, 41, who graduated with a bachelor's of science degree in English with a concentration in creative writing, a love of Shakespeare and an affinity for math. "That's crazy, isn't it?" he asks with a grin.

Today, Turner specializes in lenticulars -- high-tech images that appear three-dimensional, or appear to move; animation; graphic art and computer-generated imaging.

Since the mid-1980s, he has crafted a career that has included work on the Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon Dome Video Show, some animation for Garth Brooks' 1995 World Tour and numerous advertising campaigns.

After Vanderbilt, he was in the right place at the right time: His first stint in the real world was working for Apple, a company that became known for the quality of its computer graphics, and was just hitting its stride with desktop publishing. His talent was noticed early. In 1990, Turner's three-dimensional graphic art was included in the first Macintosh-based interactive training course that was used worldwide.

But all sorts of signs would lead unmistakably toward the specialized world of lenticulars.

Yes, those eyes are following you

As a small child growing up in Kingsport, Turner used to drink from Jiminy Cricket juice cups that had lenticular eyes, which appeared to move as he moved the cup. When Turner turned 7, one of his birthday gifts was a book with a lenticular cover.

The sense of movement and three-dimensional effect fascinated him, and today, both the book and the cups are on display in the Nashville home he shares with Bella, his adorable Wheaton Terrier mix.

 Dave with 3D Glasses

 

In 1993, Turner's friend Paul Polycarpou started calling him Digital Dave because of his growing specialty work in commercial art and digital design, and the name stuck.

Then in 1995, his digital art career in full swing, a specific lenticular caught his eye.

That year, he noticed that singer Whitney Houston's CD The Preacher's Wife was released with a lenticular cover, and he immediately went out and bought it.

"That was the first time I went and specifically bought something and took it apart to see how it worked," he says. "I took a magnifying glass and a ruler to it."

The experience was worthwhile, he says, noting that he learned how many lenses per inch created the cover, and how it was done.

A turning point

In late 1998, near Christmas, Turner's beloved mother, Peggy Turner, unexpectedly died. "At that point, things changed," says Turner. "At that point, I thought I have to follow my art. As someone said, she named me 'the artist'."

He cut back on his commercial projects and threw himself into experimenting with lenticulars and creating Kaleida Dreams, a series of kaleidoscope images that later premiered at the Parthenon in Nashville and went on to be shown in Amsterdam.

It was part of the healing process, and turned into his Visions, Classics and Kaleida DVD, which is a compilation of work set to music.

"This was kind of my journey to healing," he explains. "It's got 7 or 8,000 hours of my life in it."

It also marked the beginning of a transformation for his work, from a service to a product, and the transformation of his workspace to a full-fledged fine art/lenticular effects studio.

But the journey to where he is today wasn't completely without struggles. At one point, he was essentially homeless, and stayed at a succession of friends' homes while his possessions were in storage.

"A lot of people have helped me," he says, mentioning his late landlord George Benton and his family in particular, who didn't mind if the rent was a bit overdue every now and then.

"He [Benton] believed in me and he understood being self-employed," says Turner. "At the times most people would have thrown me out, he would encourage me, and that has been such a blessing."

After Turner's mother died, friend Cindy Cavalier stepped in and invested in his lenticular studio, helped him buy some specialized equipment and, in general, told him he could accomplish what he chose to do.

"She really encouraged me," he says in a quiet, steady voice that conveys serious gratitude. "She was a real big inspiration."

Over the years, he's done a lot of work for local restaurateur Randy Rayburn, including graphics and menus and various printed designs for Sunset Grill and Midtown Cafe, and credits Rayburn for his generosity in providing a lot of meals to a hungry artist.

Today, happily, Turner's career is taking off in a big way.

His animation of the kaleidoscopes for the song The Great Gig in the Sky during Pink Floyd's Dome Video Show is seen worldwide. Licensed by Starlight Productions, the show is now playing in Greece, Germany, Texas and Florida.

His partnership with The Harmon Group, an advertising firm in Nashville, has meant exciting work creating lenticulars for jewelry displays and other advertisements.

"I love what I do," says Turner. "I get to work with incredibly creative people, and yes, I've starved, but I get to take Bella to the park every day . . . I think when you follow your heart, at some point you realize the universe is helping you and it starts making sense."

He loves the fact that digital art produces a little sense of wonder when it's well done, and those sparks of the moment bring joy in a world that's fast and intense all the time.

"The thing I love about lenticulars is that I've made a living doing animation and computer art, and this brings it all together. And the other thing is that there's a lot of math involved."

 Swan Ball Marilyns

Digital Dave and the Swan Ball

For this month's Swan Ball, the exclusive annual white-tie event that benefits Cheekwood, David Turner is donating his time to create three large, full-color lenticulars that show the iconic Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol.

The Marilyn Project, as it is being called, is a collaborative effort of several Nashvillians. Artist Jerry Dillingham donated his time to paint the frame of Marilyn winking to match the original Warhol art; The Harmon Group, a local advertising agency, is donating the lenticular lenses; and Imagen, a Nashville-based company that specializes in trade show displays, is donating printing and finishing.

"We're about an arts museum," says Elizabeth Nichols, who is chairing the June 11 Swan Ball this year with co-chair Betsy Brittain. For that reason, art has a stronger presence and focus at the ball than in previous years.

Organizers received permission to replicate Marilyn Monroe from the Warhol Foundation and Marilyn Monroe estate, and Turner will create three panels, which will be approximately 4 feet by 4 feet in size, for the cocktail tent. As guests walk around the panels, Marilyn will appear to wink.

All three panels already have been sold.

 Marilyn with Glasses

 This article was originally published June 1, 2005.