Hi there and welcome to this week’s Artist of the Week.
Originally from Hull, Dani moved to Devon when she was about 8 or 9. She’s been married to Mark for 25 years, they have no kids but two cats is plenty. Dani went to Exeter college and studied art and design.
Right now, Dani is working very part time for her other half in his electrical contracting firm. Before that she worked in retail operations and comms. She originally went to work in Birmingham for two weeks but ended up staying 5 years while still living in Devon. She moved back home to Devon but ended up doing exactly the same thing and wanted to spend more time closer to home so she left her job and started working with her husband, Mark.
That’s when the Merguins were born!
You can buy one of Dani’s fantastically cute creations in her shop, Don’t Feed The Creatures, by clicking here.
So, without any further ado, I sat down with my customary cuppa and had a socially distant video chat with Dani.
Hope you enjoy her story.
When did you discover your talent for art and crafts?
I was always artistic when I was a kid, I was a precocious little shit. One day I decided I was going to play the piano but didn’t have a piano so I made one, in the bathroom, out of bits of paper.
I kind of flitted between different creative avenues when I was younger then decided on art as a teenager. When I was about 14 I came across clay in art at school. We were supposed to make a bird but I decided I was gong to make a Flamingo coming out of an ice cream cone!
At college it was the very early days of CAD so that was loads of fun. I remember a whole lesson on how to draw a line, the sort of thing that you can do in two seconds on your phone these days.
Not so long ago I went for an eye test. The next thing I knew I was in hospital having a brain scan. It turned out that the optician had spotted something and I was suffering from Acute Intracranial Hypertension. If I hadn’t gone to the optician I might have died so it really is a case of “Should’ve gone to Specsavers”!
Since then I’ve had a much more relaxed pace of life and it’s given me the chance to develop my Merguins and all my other creatures.
What inspired you to become an artist?
My art teacher at school was called Graham and he was fab. To be honest, I wasn’t your stereotypical arty type, I probably looked more like Vicky Pollard than an art student but he was very supportive. I’d sit at the back behind a huge canvas and all of a sudden he’d pop his head round the corner of whatever I was painting and say “Oo! I like that!”
I remember going to the Tate Modern and saw Salvador Dali’s Metamorphosis of Narcissus. I couldn’t believe how small it was and it inspired me that such a small painting could have such a massive impact.
My family, of course; they always let me do my own thing. I guess they were always supportive rather than inspirational.
What’s life like as an artist in your area?
I don’t really know the answer to that because I’ve never actively pushed to sell my work before. I’ve made things for myself and for friends but I’ve never had a shop as it were. Getting into LA&C has been great, it was a real stroke of luck. I’d joined a few other groups and I didn’t find them very friendly but the LA&C group came along just at the right moment.
In general it’s very arty round here and people are very receptive to artistic impression so to speak.
There’s a project on to refurbish some seats and a shelter that faces out to sea near us so I’m hoping to get involved with that.
Is your family artistic?
My mum drew a lot. I don’t think I appreciated what she did until she died recently and I had to go and collect her things from her care home. I found a load of her doodles and, you know what, she was really good. Kind of Famous Five, Enid Blyton kind of faces if you know what I mean.
My dad was very creative in a musical way rather than artistic.
Who is your favourite artist?
I’ve got loads for different reasons. Bruce Sherman, Collie Hooven and Jessica Stoller who are ceramic artists. Dali of course, Dada, Max Ernst. It’s so difficult to choose a favourite.
What advice would you give to beginners?
If you don’t think it’s very good it probably isn’t. I know that’s a harsh thing to say but….
My best advice would be, if you think your work is good ask for an opinion, expect an honest answer and demand an honest answer. Take off your rose tinted spectacles and listen to other people’s opinions.
“Is this any good” and “Will this sell?” Are two entirely different questions.
Would you be interested in LA&C’s mentoring scheme?
I did a lot of business mentoring in my previous jobs and I can be very direct and to the point so if anyone’s looking for a quick kick up the bum I’m your girl.
So there it is!
thanks to Dani for giving up her lunchtime to chat with me and share her story.
Don’t forget to visit her shop here and remember, Don’t Feed The Creatures!
Well, that’s all from me for this week.
If Dani’s story has inspired you to discover your creative side or if you’re already fully embracing your artistic inner self and you’d like to join our Facebook community of artists, crafters and artisans you can join the FB group by clicking here.
If you’d like to be our featured artist of the week please feel free to drop me a line and introduce yourself at firstname.lastname@example.org
And last but not least, our July competition is NOW OPEN!
You can enter, view and vote for all entries here. Get your voting finger ready, there are already some fantastic entries but more will be going in soon so don’t forget to pop back and vote for your favourite.
See you all next week.
By for now.