It Girl | JENNIFER DASAL
Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE fan of Creative Mornings (there will be more on this in a later post under our "Inspiration" section.) I am a member of the Raleigh chapter, and attend religiously. Every month I look forward to inspiring talks from fellow creatives and community members, and they never disappoint. I saw that Jennifer Dasal was going to be speaking on the theme "Genius" and read more about her. As I read her bio, I saw that she has an art history podcast called "ArtCurious" and I was instantly intrigued. I am a little bit of a history buff and art history has always fascinated me. I listened to the first episode and was instantly hooked. Jennifer is a natural at storytelling and finds away to make every episode more compelling than the one prior. I am thrilled to share Jennifer's answers with you. She shares about how she balances her full-time job as an Associate Curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art and creator of her podcast, how she got started and what a typical day is like for her.
Name: Jennifer Dasal
Job Title/Company: Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, North Carolina Museum of Art & Host/Creator/Producer, ArtCurious Podcast
Education Background: B.A., art history (University of California, Davis); M.A., art history (University of Notre Dame); Ph.D. coursework (Penn State University)
1. Tell us a little about who you are.
I am a wife, mama, art curator, podcaster, obsessive podcast-listener, book enthusiast, and gummi-bear addict.
2. What sparked your interest in art history and podcasting?
Art history was an accidental love—I fell into it in college and ended up changing my major (and my life). Podcasting was something that I began enjoying around 2006-2007, and since then, it’s become the background to my life. For me, it’s like story time for grown-ups. And I think you can tell a good story about anything—art history being one of those things. And ta-da: the ArtCurious podcast was born.
3. Who are you most influenced by?
My husband. He’s a creative go-getter who GETS THINGS DONE. He inspires me to take chances and to be more confident and accepting of myself and my abilities.
4. What was your first job and how long did you hold that position?
Ha. My first job was as a barista at a campus coffee shop when I was a college freshman. I worked the night shift one day a week, and that was MORE than enough for a morning person like me. I only did it for 4 months and got out as soon as the semester ended.
5. Can you share one of your proudest achievements with us?
Can I be the annoying parent that says my child is my proudest achievement? It’s true, though. I have a toddler, and watching him grow has been the most humbling, exciting, grueling, and fascinating adventure. I’m proud every day to take on the challenge of raising him.
6. What were your initial goals with your work? How have they evolved?
My initial goal was to get listeners who weren't related to me or weren't my friends! And at best, I thought maybe a hundred people would tune in. That was my big number: 100! So when I surpassed that almost immediately with my first episode, that was SUPER EXCITING. But it's also inspired me to think a little bigger. I'm by no means looking to dominate iTunes or anything, but it is a gentle reminder that we (collectively) can probably achieve more than we think. There's something out there for everyone-- even podcasts about art history can have a steady audience!
7. What do you think is the most important life skill you learned from being a podcaster?
Delegation. I am lucky enough to now have both a research assistant and a social media intern, as well as an incredible company, Kaboonki Creative, helping me with post-production. But originally, I was adamant that my position as “creator” of the podcast meant that I had to do everything. But it turns out that I can put out a better product when I ask for—and then receive—help.
8. Where do you hope to be in 5 years?
I hope to still be in Raleigh—I love it here, and I love the community I found here. I hope to still be at the NCMA, but to have risen in the ranks as a full curator, instead of an associate curator. And I hope to have transitioned from being a harried mother of a two-year-old to a slightly less harried mother of a cool, adjusted seven-year-old.
9. What is a typical day like for you?
It starts EARLY. I’m a morning person, but even I need some downtime before I jump to it—so I get up at 5:00 AM (you read that right…) to get cleaned up and relax before my toddler wakes. I’m at the NCMA between 8 and 9, and I work until 4—during that time, I’m writing wall labels, creating exhibition checklists, answering correspondence from artists and the general public, writing lectures for our docents, and many, many more activities. I’m never bored. When I get home in the late afternoon, it’s all about family time: playing with my son, eating dinner as a family, bath and bedtime. If I have any energy left over, I attempt to write or research for my podcast. Otherwise, my husband and I love to just collapse in front of the TV and watch Chopped. And if I’m still awake at 10 PM, it’s a miracle.
10. What was the biggest obstacle you’ve faced so far in the process of pursuing your goals?
My own laziness. Sometimes the only thing holding me back is that little voice that says, “Ehhh, I’d rather be reading a book.” Of course I would rather be reading a book—but sometimes you have to stop complaining and just get up, get out there, and make work happen.
11. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
Best advice: advocate for yourself first. Especially as a woman, it’s sometimes hard to put yourself first and foremost, and to promote yourself and your work. But you need to be your first and best supporter. Others will follow—but you have to lead your way.
12. When do you get your best ideas?
Probably while I am driving. I have a 30-minute commute, on average, so that’s the prime time when I am listening to podcasts—and brainstorming about my own.
13. Can you share with us one time that you failed and what you learned from that failure?
I wouldn’t call it a failure, necessarily, but it was certainly a situation where I was short-sighted. I am the first to admit that I thought creating a podcast would be easy—when it is anything but. Just trying to navigate recording equipment, audio edits, scripting episodes, and building a website was enough to make me want to pull my hair out. I had no idea what to expect, and found myself undertaking a project for which I felt unprepared. But what I learned from this is that I could throw myself into a world which I knew little about—and I could figure it all out.
14. How do you unwind?
I don’t unwind often enough! But when I do, I’m bingeing on TV with my husband or immersing myself in a good book. I love to read—it’s my first love. But also: The Beatles. Beatles music always helps, too.
15. What would you tell someone else who is struggling with finding balance between a career and a passion project?
They’re not alone in the struggle. It’s HARD. Accepting that there is never enough time for everything is the first step—and being understanding of yourself and your limitations is the next. Finally—and possibly most importantly—step away from both sometimes and just veg out. Watch something stupid. Go dancing. Reset your brain in any way possible to keep yourself passionate about your passions.
16. What do you hope people take away from your story?
To be open to surprises and the unexpected in your life. I would have never guessed that I’d be an art historian/curator for a living. I fell into it randomly. And even two years ago I would never have thought of being a podcaster. But letting those little surprises and ideas take hold of you—that’s where the magic begins.
17. Anything we missed that you would like to share?
If I may suggest: support your indie creators! Send a couple bucks to your favorite painters, musicians, or actors. Support a GoFundMe page. Help the little guys get the love to make their dreams come true.
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