Instagram Stories: @DanielleKroll

No subject matter is too small (or obscure) to capture the imagination of this Brooklyn-based artist. She talks finding creativity, her idyllic childhood, and what makes the perfect Instagram.

Photo by Chris Maltby

Chances are you've seen Danielle Kroll's work before. Having struck out as a freelance artist in New York City nearly four years ago, the art school graduate's happy-go-lucky, whimsical designs have landed her big name clients with major brand power like Kate Spade, One Kings Lane, Warby Parker, and Anthropologie. The multidisciplinary 28-year-old counts illustration, painting, and ceramics amongst the mediums in her artistic wheelhouse. But the most recent accolade on her resume combines all of her passions: co-founder of design-focused Brooklyn web shop, Beech Hall, which features stylish homewares and fashion accessories created by Kroll and two art-school friends. If you've ever wondered what it's like to be a modern day artist, Kroll's Instagram feed is an ideal study. Her imaginative eye animates her wanderings, musings, and creations—all with an unmistakably playful filter that's all her own. 

Instagram Stories: @DanielleKroll
Instagram Stories: Danielle Kroll

the beginnings

"I'm originally from New Jersey. I always loved where I grew up. There are a lot of small mountains and lakes surrounding our town. I have many fond memories of playing outside, riding bikes, and searching for crayfish in the river behind my parents' house. I first started painting the summer after 5th grade. I transferred elementary schools in 4th grade and became really shy after that. Art class was the one place I felt confident. There was an award for most enthusiastic artist at our elementary graduation ceremony, and I won! I was awarded a summer's worth of acrylic lessons at this studio in my town. The teacher had a flock of geese as pets and always had paint on her shirt. I really fell in love with painting  there and once I started, I never stopped."

An Artist's Journey

"I had my heart set on going to art school. When I first visited Tyler School of Art, I just knew it was the right school for me. I ended up studying graphic design because it felt like a practical way to make a living as an artist. After graduating I was fortunate enough to get a job at Anthropologie in the middle of the recession. I spent one year working on the website then shifted into the art department. I'd come home from my day job to work on my own art, and eventually got enough freelance work that I was able to quit my job and move to Brooklyn. It wasn't as easy as it sounds."

Instagram Stories: Danielle Kroll

the creative process

"When I'm feeling lost I look at my past sketchbooks for reassurance. Sometimes I'll find a little doodle that'll spark something bigger. I think my best ideas come when I'm not expecting them, so it can be frustrating when nothing comes. It's not something I feel like I can't force, but I can encourage it by taking a walk, going to museums, or getting out of the city. I always try to keep my eyes open for relevant exhibits that come through New York. I've recently started sectioning off days for 'creative work' that's just for me, as opposed to my commissioned client work."

Instagram Stories: Danielle Kroll

on inspiration 

"I've always been inspired by vintage children's books, and mid-century illustrators like Saul Steinberg and Mary Blair. I also get inspired by ornamental architecture, and luckily there’s plenty of that to find in New York. I studied abroad in Italy and I think that must be where my obsession for ornate architecture started. I've always loved the past in a despondent sort of way. It's hard to pinpoint a favorite decade because I love them all. When I learned about the history of graphic design at Tyler it really got me excited to experiment with the aesthetics of different time periods."