We had the good fortune of connecting with Danielle Axelgard and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Danielle, what’s the most important think you’ve done for your children?
To me, the most important thing I’ve done to impact my children is to make sure our home is a safe place for them where they can feel free to be purely themselves. My husband and I do our best to allow our children to cultivate their own creativity, growth, and sense of self being with also guiding them down the right path as best we can. We never want to be the type of parent to force a certain sport, interest, career, etc on our children. If my son isn’t as interested in art as I am, but he likes music then we try to cultivate that. If he would rather learn to cook than play baseball, then we will provide the space for him to do so (and plan to raise our infant daughter the same as she grows). While we aim to help them navigate living in this crazy and unsettling moment in time, we want to ensure they have a safe space to open up and learn about themselves. We hope in turn they will take this into their own lives as they grow and offer the same respect and inclusivity to anyone, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, etc.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I am mostly a traditional artist dabbling in some digital. I create illustrative paintings of girls with landscape scenes inside the shape of their hair. A lot of the focus in my art is nature themed with forests, trees, mountains, seascapes, beaches, etc. I find inspiration when I am out in nature, especially here in the Bay Area where the coastline and the Redwood forests are like nothing else. What sets my art apart is placing these landscape scenes inside the girls’ hair (since that is something you don’t see very much). Sometimes you see one of my pieces and you don’t notice it at first, but then when you see the scene it tells more of a story to the artwork. It’s been a long journey for me! I didn’t always create these types of paintings. After finishing art school I started my career as a freelance graphic designer, and then moved to doing in-house work for apparel companies in LA. I did graphic design in the fashion industry for about 11 years. When I had my son (he’s 4) I felt like it was time to change things and then began working for myself as an independent artist. That has grown into me owning my own online store and creating works of art to sell as prints, originals, stickers, postcards, etc. The thing I’ve learned most from my journey is to not compare yourself to another’s success! I’m very much still guilty with this but I work hard to focus on how far I’ve come and my own successes. We have to remember there is room for everyone, so instead of being jealous of where another artist might be at in their career, I aim to be happy for them and happy for myself as well!
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I LOVE when people come into town to visit, because the Bay Area is an awesome place! I’m still getting to know it myself as I’ve only lived here a year and a half. But here is where I would take them: 1. Pier 39 / Fisherman’s Warf / Ghirardelli Square – a little touristy but so fun to experience! 2. The Presidio / The Palace of Fine Arts / The Walt Disney Family Museum – beautiful places and the museum is so great 3. Golden Gate Park – it is vast with lots to see 4. Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge and up to the view point at Battery Spencer on the other side of the Bay – its the best place to snap a photo of the bridge and the city 5. Hiking in the Redwoods – either Miur Woods or Big Basin (once Big Basin is open to the public after the fires) 6. A drive down the coast between San Francisco and Santa Cruz – there’s nothing like it anywhere else!
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My parents deserve so much credit for where I am today in regards to so many aspects! One of them being the exact thing i was just talking about, which is parents who create a safe place for their children to cultivate creativity. I always felt I could be open and honest with my parents, and they not only encouraged my artistic endeavors, but never once told me I should try to ‘get a real job’ (side note on that – being an artist IS a real job)! They were and continue to be supporters and cheerleaders of mine, and for that I am forever grateful. My husband is the same. He does everything he can to allow me to still have time to create despite most of my time being spent with our children. He’s very patient with me when I put more hours into my art projects than into my home, and helps me balance those two things out a bit. And he’s helped me create an in home studio so I can work and still have my kids around me.