When American artist and ceramicist Danielle Kroll decided to take the leap from her design role at fashion and homeware brand Anthropologie and go it alone full-time, she needed a space where she could feel confident. “I moved to Brooklyn where I knew there was a little illustration community to cling to. I had a slow start but even when I didn’t have client work, I’d still go to the studio every day and make something.”
That commitment to creating meant Danielle soon built a reputation for her playful pottery and whimsical images inspired by vintage children’s books and mid-century illustrators. And it’s not only her aesthetic that has a retro feel. Unless it's for emails, you won't find Danielle staring into a laptop in her studio: “For me, it’s important to stick to traditional methods of making imagery. That tactile quality of touching textured paper, getting my hands messy in clay, spontaneous brush strokes; those sensations can’t be recreated by computer programs. It may take longer than a digital drawing but I think handmade work feels more unique and special.”
Danielle’s artistic endeavours started with childhood trips to restaurants where she would draw on the paper placemats with her dad. “My mom would always carry around pens or crayons for us and we’d doodle until our food came. I’d usually draw penguins, monkeys, or flowers while my dad’s favorite motifs were soldiers, boats or tanks – he’s very into war history.”
She may have moved on from colouring kid’s menus but some things never change and Danielle’s new Papier collection of stationery and invitations is full of joyous flora and exotic fauna. And although she may not be creating prints featuring cavalcades of military vehicles, she does share her father’s interest in looking to the past with vintage shaving sets and classic cars all starring in the collection and painted in a Technicolor palette of golden age Hollywood.
Working in Brooklyn’s creative hotspot of Greenpoint, Danielle is surrounded by other like-minded illustrator friends. “My neighborhood has open studios once a year where you can walk around, meet the artists and see their studios. It’s very interesting to be able to meet others who are living a similar life as yours and to see how different and unique everyone’s perspective is.” We wanted to find out more about Danielle’s own perspective, so asked her to draw a few of the things in her studio that mean the most to her.
I found this antique sofa online and drove 2 hours to pick it up. The upholstery and cushions were falling apart so I had it recovered in a white canvas. It's a great studio fixture. I mostly use it to toss my bags and jackets on but it's also great to lie on for an afternoon thinking session.
I first saw this luxurious magazine when I was working at Anthropologie. I immediately went to eBay to buy one for my book collection. Inside it's filled with gorgeous vintage advertisements, fashion photos, and illustrations by some of my favorite mid-century artists. I've paged through it so many times that it is barely holding together; but that just shows how much I love it.
I saved this corn can from a weekend with friends in a cabin. I thought the packaging was really charming. I use it in my studio to hold my old bristly brushes. These sort of brushes are great for adding in textured strokes and for dry brush painting.
Although I live in the city, I'm more inspired by nature so the more plants in my workspace, the better I feel. I'm lucky to have a studio in Brooklyn with big windows so all my plants are very happy, which makes me happy.
Scarlet red gouache is my favorite color to use in my work. This is one of the few gouache colors that I use straight out of the tube, as opposed to mixing it with another color before painting. The red is so vibrant and fresh; it really catches your eye.
Be dazzled by Danielle's Papier collection of personalised stationery and greeting cards. Her personal favourite is the Shaving Set notecard. "I can imagine a fancy barber using it for his correspondence with a vintage Pilot Pen."