Interview: Danielle Krysa

Interview: Danielle Krysa

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Danielle Krysa has a BFA in Visual Arts, and a post-grad in graphic design. She began her fine art career as a painter, but has found a home for herself in mixed media collage. Danielle is drawn to strong, simple compositions – add to that her love of hunting for vintage images in every thrift shop she wanders into, and voila, the painter becomes a collage artist. (Danielle is the writer behind the contemporary art site, The Jealous Curator. She is also the author of Creative Block, Collage, and Your Inner Critic Is A Big Jerk – all of which are published by Chronicle Books.) www.thejealouscurator.com

How has your experience running The Jealous Curator impacted your personal art practice?

Running The Jealous Curator exposes me to a lot of art. A LOT. Probably the two most important things that have made a difference to my own work would be the following:

1. I’ve learned that there’s a gigantic range of art in the world, and there is a place for everyone. Your work won’t be a fit for every gallery or every buyer, but there is a place for what you create – you just have to find it.

2. Before TJC I felt quite lost when it came to my own work. I was all over the place. Probably within in the first year of writing daily posts I started seeing a pattern in the work I was really attracted to – negative space, vibrant colors, a touch of humor – I realized that this is where I wanted my own work to go, and I haven’t looked back!

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We love the community you created through your blog. How do you balance your time between family life and your creative career?

I love the combination actually – to be organizing art shows or interviewing artists for the podcast one minute, and baking cookies with my son the next. However, I did really struggle with this a few years back – trying to do everything perfectly, all the time. Not very realistic! About 3 years ago, I made a conscious choice to start breaking my days into very clear chunks. If I had scheduled a time to work on my book from 9am - 1pm then that’s the only thing I was doing during that time. I wouldn’t feel guilty about all of the other things I could be doing because this was “book time.” When I’m in the studio making art, I don’t worry about the blog or podcast, etc. because these few hours are “studio time.” The same goes for “family time” – and I have the most amazing men in my life (my husband Greg and son Charlie), so it’s very easy to set chunks of time aside to hang out with them!

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What advice would you give artists and creatives looking to leave their day jobs?

Have a clear plan. That’s not very romantic, but you’ll sleep better at night! I have just made the jump from full-time graphic designer to full-time Jealous Curator. It’s scary, but I also made sure to pad my bank account so that I have a little cushion for the first six months. It’s really nice not to have a ton of financial pressure on your creative career the second you make the jump. Have projects, relationships, your online shop, etc. set up before you make the leap. That might mean lots of late nights when you get home from your day job, but again it will allow you to hit the ground running. Ok, enough practical talk, let’s get to the romantic stuff! A lot of people are terrified to make their dreams a reality for all sorts of reasons (money, self-doubt, both) but life is short, and if this is the life you want then you have to go get it.

PS. Deciding to make this change now doesn’t mean it has to be FOREVER. Personally, I’m going to give this whole “Jealous Curator” thing my very best shot, but if for whatever reason it doesn’t work, I can always get another design job… or become a barista.

We are inspired by your background and know that lot of artists struggle with similar obstacles when it comes to their “inner critic”. What advice would you give those looking to get back into the studio and overcome the fear?

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I know this fear well, and it can be absolutely crippling. The way I got back into the studio, and managed to nudge by my annoying “inner critic”, was with small baby steps. I did quick projects on scrap paper, because I have a tendency to get a little too “precious” about whatever I’m making. Inner critics LOVE it when you get too precious about things. A perfect white canvas, a fresh sketchbook – terrifying. You have to allow yourself to play, experiment, make messes, throw things away, start again, make more messes and repeat. It’s the only way to sneak past that jerk. The first book I wrote is called Creative Block. I interviewed 50 working artists about how they deal with blocks, doubts, and inner critics. I also asked each of them to give a quick “unblocking project”, and boy do they work! I would highly recommend trying a few of them. They’ll get you past blocks, and as a lovely side benefit, they’ll get your inner critic to shut up for awhile.

What has been your biggest breakthrough in terms of making art?

Oh, there’s been quite a few. The first one being ACTUALLY making art! I used to keep ideas in my head forever. They had to be perfect before I put them to paper or canvas – and therefore those poor little trapped ideas never made it to paper or canvas. The other big breakthrough for me was embracing humor. When I did my BFA I was criticized for using humor – it wouldn’t be taken seriously if it wasn’t serious – so I squashed that part of my work. In December 2015, I interviewed LA based artist Wayne White, and that changed everything. His work is really blunt and hilarious, and he just puts it out there whether it gets criticized or not. A few days after that interview, I just said “screw it,” and finally allowed myself just to be me. What a giant relief – and I’ve never had more fun in the studio. Ever.

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What inspires you? How do you come up with your collages?

I love narratives and tend to make stories out of just about anything. I never cut images out with an intended purpose, I just cut. I have a giant bowl of people on my studio table just waiting to be thrown into one of my weird little stories. I spread out several pieces of paper (and now panels occasionally) and start making thick, colorful brushstrokes. Once I have those, I dig through the bowl looking for just the right person to pair with each paint stroke. The moment there’s a match, the title pops into my head – I know I’ve got something if I actually laugh out loud in my studio. (Crazy art lady, alone, laughing hysterically in her studio. Yeah.)

What is your favorite thing about being an artist?

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Being part of the coolest club in the world! Artists just understand other artists, and I could spend all day every day talking to creative people – sharing war stories, working out challenges, celebrating victories. Oh, and the other thing I love about being an artist – the high you get when everything is flowing. Ah, it’s like magic. What are you currently working on in your studio?

I’m still continuing with my paint/found image collages. At the moment I don’t see an end in sight! Lately, I’ve been experimenting with using more paint and working on wood panels instead of paper. I used to be terrified to experiment (I have no idea why), but now I actually find myself looking forward to it. I guess miracles do happen!

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