December/January 2018 – Danielle Krysa

dkrysa6The Stats

Name: Danielle Krysa
Current Location: British Columbia, Canada
Education: BFA in Visual Arts, Post-grad in design
Preferred Medium(s): Mixed media
Children (ages and genders): Charlie, 11 year old boy
Website address(es):  and

The Questions

What is your background (where are you from, education, important details, where are you now, etc.)?

I grew up in a small town in Canada, and after high school I left to study fine art at the University of Victoria. I moved out to Toronto after that for design school with plans of finishing and heading right back to the west coast, but alas, I met my now husband while working as a designer in Toronto and ended up being there for almost ten years. Soon after getting married we moved to Vancouver, where my son was born, and a few years ago we moved back to my tiny little hometown. I wanted Charlie to grow up jumping in the lake with his pals, and eating peaches right off the trees. It’s a pretty lovely life here and I’m so thrilled that he loves it here too.

Was there any part of your formal or non-formal training that prepared you for being a creative maker and mother simultaneously?


Can you talk about how you balance your role of artist and the role of mother? Did you take time off after the birth of your children? How did that work? What about childcare? How did you navigate making art/design work?

I quit my design job when Charlie was born, and started making art again (after a very long break) at the same time. Granted, my primary focus at that time was taking care of him so I just made art when he napped. Now that I’m taking my artwork more seriously, it’s actually fine re: having enough time. He’s in school, sports, and busy with his own little life – this gives me from 8:30 till 3:30 every day to do my thing! I still go into the studio to make art, or upstairs to my “book nook” to write, once he’s home but I make a conscious effort to do the mom stuff during that part of the day – watching him play basketball, baking cookies, helping with homework etc. It’s a really nice balance … now that he’s 11!

dkrysa3In some form or another we always seem to address the question of which was it, the chicken or the egg? So in regards to the evolution of your creative career after having a child, which seems to holds the most weight, the actual child or the circumstances that come with having children? How did (the child or circumstances) shape your creative practice?

I’ve been making art my entire life, but did put it on hold for years after a bad experience at art school. I hid out in the design world for about a decade convincing myself that it provided enough creativity for me. It really wasn’t until I had my son, and quit my job to stay home with him, that I started making art again. I struggled for years to figure out what that ‘art’ should be, but eventually got it sorted! Watching Charlie play, so wrapped up in his little toddler imagination, is actually what inspired the first few pieces I did after that much-too-long hiatus.

All makers have some sort of an inner critic. I think we can all agree on this fact but what about the parenting inner critic? Why is our inner critic, for maker or mother, so negative? If possible, how can we silence (or at least quiet) this voice? Find positivity in this voice? Are there any tricks from your writings that could be cross-applied to the parenting realm?

dkrysa2Oh yeah, inner critics are for everyone! Whether they’re telling you that your art sucks, or that the snacks you packed for your kids aren’t as healthy as the snacks some other mom packed – there’s really no difference. What I tell people to do is when you hear that little voice shout a snarky opinion, stop whatever you’re doing and write it down. Read it out loud, either in a mirror or at someone else. You’ll realize how mean those words are – if you wouldn’t say them to someone else, why are you saying it to yourself? Flip the paper over and write the positive opposite. For example if you’re inner critic says “why bother trying – you’re just going to fail”, you can turn that around to something like, “i’m going to fail – like a GENIUS!” … because after all, you can’t become a genius without a whole lotta trial and error!

There are times when the art world and the design world appear to be friends and other times when they seem to be foes. You have a strong foothold in both the art world and the design world. How does the title “art” or “design” shift our thinking? How has your understanding of both realms shaped the work you make and how you see this friend/foe relationship? How can we better understand (or effectively employ) the intersection of these worlds?

Hm, that’s a tough one, and I suppose the answer depends on the kind of designer you ask. For me it’s the intent that’s different. All of my design work was for clients, and all of my artwork is for me. That said, my artwork is obviously shaped from years and years as a graphic designer. I love pop culture references, lots of clean negative space, and communicating funny ideas/narratives – all of which are really similar to the way I worked as a designer in the advertising world.

First off, your collages are simple and fantastic. I enjoy the empty space around the paint and imagery that gives the compositions room to breathe and the viewer time to think. Where do you source your imagery? Is it found or generated? With the Internet at your continuously available does constant visual intake enhance or hinder image hunting for your work? What is visually exciting you at the moment and where do you see this work moving in the near future?

All of my images come from old books found at local thrift shops and used bookshops. I’m kind of obsessed with the royal family, especially Liz, and luckily for me Canadian thrift shops are filled with books about her.

Thinking about your book Creative Block and the usefulness of a challenge can you think of a quick and effective assignment for moms with young kids that currently feel stuck?

Sure! There are some you can do with your kids, OR just do them all on your own. Here are links to a few of my favorites so you can get started TODAY:

Creative Unblock #7
Creative Unblock #5
Creative Unblock #3
Creative Unblock #1

Are there any projects, hobbies, or activities (ex. Running, knitting, tea connoisseur, arts organizations, volunteering, etc.) outside of your artistic practice that you feel passionately about? What are they? Do you find that they feed your practice? If so how?

I’m a runner – not a fast runner – but a runner. Next year will mark my 12th half marathon. I also just started doing sprint distance triathlon – again, slowly. When the running (or swimming!) gets tough, I think about an art piece or idea I’m having trouble with. It works like a charm because it distracts me from feeling like I’m dying, AND I usually solve the art problem! Win, win.

Anything else we should know or be on the look out for in the near future?

I’m writing a big beautiful new book all about women artists! It will be on shelves worldwide, Fall 2018. And p.s. There are a lot of mothers in there : )

Finally just for fun. If you were to make a playlist today what would be your top 5 favorite songs?

Oh boy – I’m not a music person – but I’ll give you five faves from my running playlist:

  1. Can’t Stop The Feeling – Justin Timberlake
  2. Coffee – Sylvan Esso
  3. Dog Days Are Over – Florence + the Machine
  4. New Orleans is Sinking – The Tragically Hip
  5. Gold Digger – Kanye West