It Girl | CLAIRE DANIEL
Meet Claire Daniel! In this interview she shares about her inspiration, balancing a full-time job and side hustle, and more! This interview was super refreshing to my inner creative!
Name: Claire Daniel
Job Title/Company: Freelance Artist by night/weekends and Display Artist for Anthropologie
Education Background: B.A. in Fine Arts and Design, concentration in Painting
1. Tell us a little about who you are.
Hello! I’m Claire Daniel, best described as a creative, a Leo, and a travel enthusiast; I tend to thrive and feel the most alive in the unknown (I recently took the enneagram and am a number 7, if that means anything to you). I enjoy the everyday joys of life, including my animals who greet me daily with smiles and love, my fella (same but not as wiggly), the outdoors, and keeping my hands dirty/busy making things pretty.
2. What sparked your interest in starting your business/making art?
The funny thing is, I kept trying to not pursue art; I felt I had the hand for it but maybe not the heart. I was wrong though, and as soon as I began my studio practice as an artist in school, there was no turning back. I’ve since found that in order to feel most alive, I need to breathe creatively; I’ve been trying to squeeze in as much art (in some form) as possible each day.
3. Tell us about your full-time job and any side hustles you might have, if applicable.
My full-time job is working as a Display Artist with the retail company Anthropologie where I hand make interior and window displays. These days can be filled with carpentry, painting, dyeing, cutting, installing—you name it. It’s definitely not all pretty like what you see; you have to be tough! But this, although fun, is just my bread and butter. What I truly love is working on my side hustle, completing projects of all shapes and sizes for local businesses and individuals. I love cultivating their visions from start to finish, and—fingers crossed—wowing them post installation! The happiness the finished product brings me is almost as great as the love of the process, from sketch to form this is where the magic happens.
4. Who are you most influenced by?
I am fiercely influenced by my grandmother who was an artist. Although she was accepted to a New York art school in the early 1950’s, she decided to raise a family and do odd jobs to make ends meet. I could see in her eyes that I was the one to take the unchosen path of fully pursuing my creative calling. She has always been my confidant, and she still is.
5. What was your first job and how long did you hold that position?
Ironically enough, my first job was serving as a lifeguard at a local pool for several summers. Teen life.
6. Can you share one of your proudest achievements with us?
There are many projects and honors I feel humbled by, but if I had to choose, I’d say it’s being able to sustain a lifestyle as an artist, which is of course an honor in itself. I try to constantly remind myself of one of my favorite quotes by Rumi: “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”
7. What were your initial goals with your work? How have they evolved?
Initially, I just wanted to create and perhaps play it safe in a sense. Now I am learning and exploring ways in which I can create something beautiful for others, as well as bringing their unique visions to live. Another art form which I have been studying this past year is art as a type of social change. To be able to have a hand in making changes with how we view certain topics, all while making a difference within the community is a rewarding experience.
8. What do you think is the most important life skill you learned through your work?
How to explore with all mediums, while also being flexible! I’ve learned to encourage myself to try new things without knowing where it might lead. The freedom of this and the push-and-pull between yes and no has offered me the chance to learn from the process and potentially re-use parts of it later in another project.
9. Where do you hope to be in five years?
I’d love to be working on my own full-time and continuing to create for others. I’d love to transcend from the routine of a 7am-to-4pm work schedule and go with the flow of the work itself, as I am a night owl at heart.
10. What is a typical day like for you?
My typical workday currently starts by getting up at 5:20am, fixing my coffee, and then feeding all my little furry friends. Imagine snow white and all the forest animals, sun shining, croissant in the oven—OK, it isn’t quite this dreamy, but this picture helps me to roll out of bed on time.
After getting dressed in my uniform of choice (typically a utility jumpsuit of some kind), I head out on my commute for the day-job, at which I arrive by 7am. I then set up my day by checking emails and mentally preparing myself for the dirty day of creating that I am about to have. The actual projects range so vastly that it’s hard to pinpoint what I’ll be doing, but usually repetitive shapes, colors and ordinary objects take a new form! Around mid-day I take a quick break for lunch and continue on. Then, when I leave around 4pm, I try to do something active, such as hitting up a yoga class or walking my dogs. And if it’s a busy double-duty type day, I go upstairs in my home to my little studio, jam to some music, and work on another project. After eating what’s usually a late dinner, I cuddle with the animal crew, unwind with a show or book, and finally hit the hay.
11. What was the biggest obstacle you’ve faced so far in the process of pursuing your goals?
In today’s day and age, the biggest challenge, for me at least, has stemmed from all the consistent marketing you have to do to keep those freelance jobs coming! This is where I always find myself lacking, because I always want to be busy making, instead of constantly trying to curate the perfect post for Instagram, brainstorming content for my website, or deciding how many business cards to print—the list goes on and on.
12. What is the best piece of advice you have received?
In art there are no mistakes; they are the doorways to discovery.
13. When do you get your best ideas?
I’d probably have to say driving during my quiet early morning commute, and they also pop into my head late at night. Most of all my random idea-bursts end up in the Notes app, which isn’t as romantic as I’d like, but it’s the truth.
14. Can you share with us one time that you failed and what you learned from that failure?
Because I work on projects that are large in scale, it requires a lot of planning ahead—which took me awhile to figure out. There were a couple of instances in the beginning in which I didn’t take the proper time to do the prep work and the end result definitely suffered. While it can be easy to let this get you down, don’t let it. Unfortunately, there’s usually not enough time to start over, nor do you want to. Instead, tweak what you can and remember this feeling—it will be the reminder you’ll need to plan more next time!
15. How do you unwind?
Lots of nature walks, yoga, wine, and of course treating myself to occasional facemasks.
16. What would you tell someone else who is interested in entering your field?
Be resilient, give and take, and always be flexible with your ideas and time. There may be lots of late nights ahead in order to get things done, but the end result always triumphs.
17. What do you hope people take away from your story?
That it’s important to follow your heart and do what you love—don’t let fear fool you.