American illustrator Danielle Kroll loves second-hand shops, where she looks for old books to edit and give them a new life. ‘With a twist I change the story of the photo and take it out of oblivion.’
How did you start out with illustrating?
“I was working in-house as a graphic designer for Anthropologie as my first job out of school. Some of the smaller projects called for illustrations as we didn’t have a budget for a photoshoot. I’ve always loved making images so these were fun challenges for me. I was constantly trying to find my style as I didn’t have formal training in illustration.
I started a blog where I’d post my favorite projects and experimental illustrations I made after work. My friend sent my blog to a more popular blog who posted about my work – and the internet did the rest. Brands and magazines found my work online. I got commissioned by a children’s brand to design a quilt as my first real project which is still being sold today.”
Where do you get your inspiration from?
“I’m innately inspired by my childhood and past decades. I love looking at ephemera like magazines from the 60s and 70s. Vintage textiles really infatuate me with their quirky color combinations and charming motifs. I love second-hand stores, where I especially like to buy old books to tear out pages to edit them. With a twist I change the story of the photo and take it out of oblivion.”
How do you start an illustration?
“I start an illustration in my head. If it’s for a commissioned project then the process is different as it’s someone else’s idea that I’m bringing to life. But I still think a lot about the execution before acting, which is why I love my thinking chair. I get comfy, lay back, close my eyes and imagine what the piece will look like.
Once I feel confident that I have something, I’ll start doing some sloppy sketches. I actually hate sketching because I’m always eager to jump right into the final once the idea is solidified in my head. I get most excited to execute ideas that I find to be unique.”
What dreams do you have for the future?
“I would like to work less and spend more time outside. Career wise I’ve reached my goals which is great but… now what? I’ve been thinking about how to expand on what I’ve already achieved and how to not be working frantically all the time.”
What advice would you give to future illustrators?
“Being an illustrator can be a strenuous and stressful career path. You’ll likely make the most money from clients who commission you to execute a specific brief, rather than your own original idea. Working this way for years can be quite draining on a creative soul. To balance out all that you give, stay in touch with your mental health.
Try creative things that have nothing to do with your illustration work; like sewing, paper marbling, ceramics, building a dollhouse, sculpey crafts… I find that it’s important to feed your creative energy as you have to expend a lot of it when it’s your job.”
Text Karlijn Prot Photography Danielle Kroll