Daniel (the artist and creator) and Dawna Davis (the aider/abetter/spouse-unit) of Steam Crow.
Daniel and Dawna Davis are a super-powered couple based out of Phoenix. In the 12 years they’ve been married, 6 years of it has been devoted to promoting Steam Crow (one of the many ventures they work on), either on the comic-convention circuit or local events around Arizona. While Daniel is the main artist for Steam Crow, Dawna is an artist herself and offers a lot of support, both artistically and in the backend of their monstrous operation.
Which conventions do you attend?
A lot! We have exhibited at San Diego Comic-Con, Wondercon, APE, Emerald City, Phoenix, Tucson, LA Festival of Books, Tucson Book Festival, Stumptown, Heroes Con, Saboten-Con, Spokane, Tiki Oasis, Zog’s Tiki Party. We do lots of local events that aren’t cons.
What’s your role in Steam Crow? To what degree do you provide creative input?
My role in Steam Crow is pretty big and most of it is behind the scenes. I do inventory, bag and board prints, package products, stamp bags and boxes, package orders, help design packages, pack for cons or any event that we attend, work the cons, organize the products coming in so we can find them, design and sew our aprons, table cloths, banners, make monster bags or original plush monsters, drive, and help with making poison bottles. I do a lot of counting and writing out lists of what needs to be ordered. On the creative side I will give feedback on art that Daniel is working on. I don’t tell him what to draw but if the text is confusing we will talk it out, or if the composition of the art isn’t working then we will talk about that. I try to help think of new products or prints that he can create. We created Steam Crow to include my art eventually. It is getting there slowly but eventually you will see more.
Do you attend every convention with Daniel?
I try to attend every convention. Actually, there have only been a few events that I have not been able to attend. The Steam Crow booth is a two-person job at least so it is important that I am there. Plus, I really enjoy cons.
How often do people confuse you as the artist? How do they react when they find out you’re not the artist?
That doesn’t happen often. The only time it does is when Daniel is not in the booth. People don’t react badly when they find out. They usually ask when he will be back and I will answer, then I talk about how he creates his work and answer any other questions they may have.
Are you both always manning the table?
We both try to be at the table the majority of the time. At a few conventions, Daniel will have panels to be on so he’ll be gone for a couple of hours and it’s just me at the table. That is tough especially when you have a 10 x 20 booth so we try to find help when we can. Our family and friends have been very helpful when we need extra assistance working the booth— I can’t thank them enough.
Are you both equal on pitching the product?
Yeah, I would say so. My sister, brother and sister-in-law are really good at it. Since Daniel and I are so close to the work we have a hard time really pushing our product. We don’t like saying, “Hey aren’t I great, isn’t this work really awesome? Buy my stuff.” We are pretty soft sellers and really enjoy just talking to the people we meet at the cons.
Is it tough to coordinate vacation/days off for conventions book signings?
YES! Not only do we have to coordinate our schedules we also have Goblin Boy, our son, to schedule around. This is getting easier since Daniel will be working for Steam Crow full time in September, then we will only have to work out Goblin Boy and my schedule. I try to take as few days off as possible that usually leads to late-night driving to be back at work on Monday.
Do you and Daniel have a special code at the table to signal something important?
No. If I need to tell him something I will either wait or if’ it’s really important I will politely interrupt his conversation. He does the same for me.
How has working together on Steam Crow affected your relationship?
Well, I would much rather be working together on Steam Crow then hanging sheetrock. We work together really well and enjoy it a lot so I would say that this has made us stronger. Steam Crow has always been about both of us not just Daniel. Plus, it was my big mouth that got this whole thing started so we better like working together.
What do you do besides helping out with Steam Crow?
By day I am a high school art teacher and a mom. Both are great jobs to have. Being an art teacher complements Steam Crow. It inspires me to make my own art stronger and to push my students who really want to be artists in the right direction.
What advice would you give other couples that tour the comic convention circuit?
Really enjoy what you do and enjoy working together. It was important that Steam Crow was a team effort. If it wasn’t I wouldn’t ever see Daniel. He is a workaholic and a very driven individual which is great for being self employed. Also: laugh— not everything is going to go smoothly. Parts for the display or product are going to be forgotten and meltdowns will occur. Remember there is always a creative solution if you are willing to look at it from a different perspective. Sleep. That is my last piece of advice. Try to get as much sleep as you can it has saved me from getting the con crud many times.