Artist Spotlight: Danielle Kroll

February 21, 2017

It’s finally time for another Artist Spotlight, and we are so thrilled! We are pleased to introduce Danielle Kroll to our Red Cap Cards family. A Brooklyn-based artist and designer, Danielle brings a feminine chicness with a hint of play to the Red Cap roster. Debuting with eighteen new cards and six new wrapping sheet styles, Danielle and her gorgeous new designs makes us want to grab a cocktail and relax under the nearest cabana with a copy of Franny and Zooey.

We had a chance to chat with Danielle a bit about her creative process, what inspires here, and more. See below for her interview and fantastic photos of her studio and more.

What does a typical day for you look like?
Usually I take advantage of my flexible schedule and get some chores done in the morning. If I have time, I’ll make myself a nice big breakfast. My studio is a 20 minute walk through Greenpoint and I try to get there by 12. Some days I just want to get right to painting but if I have emails or urgent deadlines, that will have to wait until later. If I finish up all my client work then I can work on something for myself. It’s like my treat for having a productive work day.

Did you always want to be an artist? Did you have any other aspirations?
I’ve always known I wanted to do something creative. I thought I wanted to be an interior designer because I loved playing The Sims so much. I started painting in the 5th grade when I won private acrylic lessons with a local artist. I went to art school and then worked as a graphic designer. I got bored though so I started painting again on the side. I started getting client work after posting my paintings on a blog for a little while. Illustration, it turns out, was kind of like my missing link between design and painting.

Tell us about your other work–ceramics, textiles?
Ceramics is a happy place because I don’t take on commissioned work in that medium. Which also means that I don’t get to work with clay that much since it never takes priority. I still feel like I’ve only tapped the surface with that. As for textiles, I’ve been drawn to them for as long as I can remember. Some of my first memories are of patterns in my grandparent’s houses. Sometimes I weave those memories into my work. I started doodling patterns in my sketchbooks one day then started painting more complex textiles once I learned how repeats work. I really can’t control what my mind wants to be working on which is why I move around between mediums. If I have an idea I will obsess over it until I start working on it.

What is your creative process like?
It depends on what I’m working on. I’m always drawing in my sketchbooks and those most likely will turn into a textile. For my personal projects I think I’m most creative when I’m not thinking about it too much. Sometimes I could sit around for hours (or days) just thinking about ideas before actually starting anything. Then when I have something in mind I’ll have it done that same day. When I’m painting, I work with gouache and sometimes add in paper collage. Then I scan my paintings into Photoshop and do some cleaning up. I actually really like the computer part because by then the hardest parts are over and I can just zone out and listen to audiobooks, podcasts or watch cartoons.

Photo courtesy Clement Pascal

What inspires you most?
Traveling and trying new things. I get a ton of ideas when I’m not sitting around trying to think of one. Generally I get inspiration from everyday life and I definitely look at the past stylistically. I love going to thrift shops and antique malls. You’re guaranteed to see something interesting, unique, handmade, quirky, funny, beautiful and affordable if you go to the right spot. Not to mention the funny people watching.

What is your most successful piece in your opinion?
Yikes tough call! I think my most popular piece was the Ladies at the Beach print. Which I love as well. One of my all time favorite paintings I did was of two lost swans swimming in the ocean on an old book page. Very romantic.

What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out?
I think it’s probably, don’t listen to other people’s advice. What’s right for one person is most certainly not going to work for everyone. When you’re excited about a big idea and ask someone’s advice, chances are they’re going to tell you something like, “wow that’s a lot of work. Or woah that’s crazy.” And it’s easy to feel discouraged. I still ask people’s advice, I just try not to factor it into my decision making process.

Photo courtesy Clement Pascal

Favorite mediums to work in?
I feel most confident when painting because I’ve been doing it for so long. I think ceramics is the most rewarding (when everything goes right). Since I don’t have too much time in ceramics I always try something funky when I go in there. Occasionally it works out!

Photo courtesy Clement Pascal

Tell us about Beech Hall.
I started Beech Hall with two of my buddies from Tyler School or Art. We all branched out in slightly different concentrations so we thought it would be a fun project to make a brand together. Our first collection was inspired by Ancient Egypt and had homewares, jewelry, ceramics, paintings and other random goods. Our second collection was inspired by the feeling of a retro island vacation and we called it Cabana. It’s been fun to just experiment and to fully develop a product concept. We see it more as an opportunity to explore artistically rather than a business.

Who are your role models in terms of art or otherwise?
The first artist I really looked up to is Mary Blair. I remember seeing an exhibit of her paintings at the perfect time; right after I quit my job and started a long hike in California. I really connected to her. Seeing the original artwork that stylistically inspired my favorite childhood movies made me giddy.

If you didn’t work as an artist, what would you be doing?
Maybe I’d be an antique buyer. I’m really good at that!

Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
I do have some fun ideas in the works but they’re not ready to be shared yet.

Do you have any advice for up-and-coming artists and illustrators?
Do as much experimenting as you can. Sometimes I’ll start on an idea and I’ll think it’s going to be the best thing in the world. Then a few hours in, I’ll take a step back and it’s hideous. Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s easy to get discouraged but we all make ugly stuff every now and then. Just remember to dispose of it.

Obligatory Red Cap question: favorite drink?
My go-to order is a Vodka Soda. I’m Polish so vodka is my family’s liquor of choice. For my fancy cocktail I’d go with a Moscow Mule. I love the fresh gingery taste. So refreshing!

Thank you so much, Danielle! See more of Danielle’s designs for Red Cap cards, here.

All photos courtesy Danielle Kroll unless otherwise noted.