Danny Mota

Danny Mota

What’s going on dude, Introduce yourself

Yo, what’s going on, I’m Danny Mota. I’m currently 31, born and raised in the Northside of Chicago. (Belmont & Clark). I’m now a full time creative at an Ad Agency called Havas.


When were you first introduced to Art?

I’d say around 18-19 I truly began falling in love with art. It all started with Salvador Dali and his famous painting “The Rose”. It was honestly love at first sight for me. The amount of detail in that piece had me in awe, I then stepped back and began to see all the realism in the piece. This was the first time I began to look at art as more than just a painting on a Canvas. Years back when I traveled to Spain, I was actually able to visit his museum.

How did you first get into photography? Were you self taught or did you go to school to study photography?

I’d say for me I just always loved photography. As a kid my mom said I would always be doodling. I think I personally love film more than photography. I am self-taught. I did go to college; I went to DePaul and majored in Finance & Advertising. Around 22 I started messing around with photoshop. I dabbled with it a bit in college, but I wanted to learn more now. Around 26, I left my job as a strategist and got hired at a design firm. I was still a strategist at the firm, but I was encouraged to learn photoshop and design skills. I had nothing but time, so I felt as if I should continue learning. The first real meeting I stepped into we were discussing the importance of Typography. Being in that meeting, I felt like I was making the right choice.


What was the first camera you ever purchased? What equipment do you tend to use now-a-days?

The first camera I ever purchased was a point and shoot canon. I forgot the actual model of it, but man did I love that thing. Before that canon, I was using a lot of film cameras. With the emergence of Instagram I began to start transitioning to shooting with my iPhone.

Would you say Chicago has a tight community of photographers and artists that work together?

I think for the most part it’s a pretty tight knit community. Although my opinion may be a little biased because I work in an ad agency with many creatives, some of those which are my favorite artists. Chicago Creatives are friendly if you’re friendly. We don’t have the New York mentality(themselves before others), we are willing to collaborate with other artists.


You currently work for Havas, one of the city’s best advertising companies, explain how that relationship happened?

Early on in Jason’s Instagram days when he would post a photo, each caption would be lyrics from rap songs. Every time I would comment on the photo saying the next line in the song. In the comments we would always interact back and forth. I’m a big fan of rap/hiphop so I always knew the lyrics. One day I was outside his office and decided to take a photo of it. He replied back saying that i’m outside his office. He then messaged me saying lets meet up and go out and shoot. When we met outside his office I still had no idea as to what he actually did. (Jason is the CCO of Havas WorldWide North America). We then hopped in a cab and headed towards Chinatown. We began shooting the Cermak Bridge. We began to talk even more now, he told me how he was a fan of my editing and design skills. Next time we saw each other was at the launch party for Popular Pays (The app). Jason was there with his wife and we started chit chatting. His wife out of know where mentioned that he should hire me. Jason then brought up what it was I was looking to do. The next morning Jason reached out to me and asked if I wanted a job. We then began to discuss what it was I wanted to do. I wanted to be a full-time creative artist. From there we went through the whole interview process and about a month later I got a full time job at Havas. It has been 2 years now since i’ve been hired.


Describe a typical day in the life of Danny Mota at Havas?

I like how you said “typical” Haha, hmm, it really all depends. The typical thing for me to do is check in with Jason and figure out what we are doing for the day as a company. Sometimes I will be a producer/creative of projects. Jason is usually busy and traveling so he lets me handle the tasks. Usually I’m working on new business projects, Jason projects, along with internal projects as well.

How has working with Jason and the people at Havas helped take your creativity and talent to the next level?

They are constantly challenging you, whether it’s directly or indirectly. I look at my co-workers work and I know a lot of it is amazing, and it pushes you to make sure you’re not the weak link on the chain. Jason and I have a straightforward relationship. I send him work, he sends me work, and we very much give each other opinions on how it could be. He will always come back and tell me whether he liked or didn’t like something. Jason has always sort of challenged me and been honest with me. I always like asking Jason for his opinion because I know I’m going to get a straight answer. People like Ryan, Chris, Chuck, I look at their work and it speaks for themself. We use Havas as a learning place. Whenever I have a question, I can text Chuck and be like “Hey how did you do that” or can you teach me that. It’s not a place that you can never be above and beyond in learning. We very much want to encourage people to know that we are never above and beyond like keeping secrets. There are no secrets in terms of getting better. When we are hiring people, we always look at people who can be good now and be better later down the road. At the end of the day you want them to evolve and make sure they’re progressing, which is always good to see because it shows they’re progressing due to Havas. 


In your pictures you really like to incorporate a lot of blues and pinks. What is it about those colors that intrigue you?

Those colors are just calming. As a kid, the pink panther was just always in my head. I actually pulled the blue from the Chicago flag once and started tinting it a little bit and playing around with it. You can’t walk around the city and tell me that you don’t enjoy seeing the colorful sky and the sun is shining.  I tell people if you want to fall in love with the city, you come here in the summer and it will seduce you quicker than you know. Plus I always loved the idea of surprising or stunning people. I was constantly seeing photos that were very unsaturated. One time I landed on something that was vibrant and it grabbed me and I naturally attracted to that for my style and myself. Plus, I just love skies, and I hate blue skies at times. I wanted to make it a little different.


A lot of your photos are taken of Chicago’s Skyline, what is it about Chicago’s skyline that you love so much?

It’s nostalgia. Being a kid in the backseat of my mom’s car and essentially driving down here and always looking up and being in love with this place. That has never gone away, if anything that has gotten stronger and stronger. It’s like a bond that we have, I know it more everyday that I’m here. It’s one of those things that I never take for granted. I never look and say, “I wish it looked like this and this or that”.  It’s also constantly changing. I mean, as a kid I remember it being this way, and now as a 31 year old I’m like wow, it’s so much different. It’s also a way for me to keep a track on time for me. Even if it’s a couple days apart, or a month apart, that I take a skyline shot, to me it’s like, I look at it everyday and maybe something changed a bit, maybe I’ll look back at it and say “Damn when was the first time I took a picture of that, to now where I’m at now”.

What’s the message you’re trying to say with your photographs?

That’s a good question. I think for me a lot of times I want to create stuff that is dramatic and leaves you with curiosity. I think that’s why I love Dali’s stuff so much because it has a sense of being real but also a sense of not being real. It’s pretty funny to me when people always ask “Where is that” on my pictures. I know a lot of people know better, but just to have one person react that way is cool. I like having fun with people. I think that’s what Dali’s work did to me, it’s a symbolic thing to me, where you look at the images and you just want to be there.

What motivates you to continue to get up each and everyday documenting the city?

Nothing is ever constant. With every day you can catch a new sunrise or new sunset. No two days will it ever be the same. If i’m not going out everyday looking for something to shoot, I might miss the best shot I could take. The best is always out there. Also, i’m doing what it is I love, it’s hard not to be motivated to get up each day and capture the beautiful views of the city.

Who would you say are your biggest influences?

I’d have to say Chicago, Salvador Dali, Jason, and Chuck. These all influence me not just on an artistic side, but a personal side as well.

How does photography and creating help you deal with struggles in life you may be facing?

Designing is always a way to shut out the problems I may be encountering. I’m not saying in any way that I have the hardest life, but at times life could be very overwhelming. Listening to music also is a big help. I’m constantly listening to music, each and every night I fall asleep with headphones on. It’s another way for me to mute the rough situations in life.

You recently created an IG page called TheRaws where you show the original picture you took before you began the editing process. Explain why you decided to start that and explain/describe how your editing process goes

I started it more to give myself a frame of reference. I always look back at previous edits and go, man that wasn’t that good. It also is a way to keep record of what I’m doing. I like to show people, what you see, isn’t always there. I wanted to show people what’s real and what’s in my mind. I also wanted to show that you could do a lot of things, a photo is more than just a filter; it’s about being able to have a concept. It’s more of a reminder that you shouldn’t ever let yourself think you know everything because technology is changing and new techniques are always coming out. I want to look back at my work and say now I can do this with it.

Before and After

Before and After

Before and After

Recently, a person(won’t say names) commented on your IG saying he feels “you’re more of an editor than a photographer” How do you feel about that?

I tend to just laugh.  I started this account to show how I can manipulate more than just what I shoot. I’m all about creating a concept and executing it. To me that’s what photography is all about. It’s way more than just being able to take a picture. I never listen to stuff like that. I’m a very self-reflecting person. I know who I am and I know who I want to be.

Do you have any tips for any young artists trying to come up and make a name for themselves?

Just be honest. Don’t get caught up in anything. Really identify what it is you want from this. “Rest in reason, move in Passion” Good things happen to those who hustle. You can’t stay restless.

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Twitter: DannyMota

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Website: Dannymota.co

Email: DannyMota1@gmail.com