Everyday Icons: The Art Curator

Find out how an everyday artist became an accomplished curator and well-loved author by carving her own path to creative fulfillment.
interview with the jealous curator

Image Credit: Jeff Topham

Danielle Krysa was an artist/graphic designer facing her own insecurities surrounding creativity and success when she - on a whim - bought a domain name and started curating her own inspirations for the world to see. Now, four years later, she's traveling the world, curating art shows, hosting events and - most recently - authoring two books with the beloved publisher Chronicle. In short, we couldn't think of a better spotlight to glean from. Meet Danielle Krysa, today's Everyday Icon:

Your art blog launched you into creative oblivion, now curating shows, hosting events - even publishing books. How has your life been shaped by this site, and how has it fed your creative energy?

It has literally been life-changing. I'm a graphic designer by day, so I was always doing "creative" stuff - but not like this! The amazing things that have come out of writing this blog are totally crazy to me. I could never have predicted any of this when I launched the site over four years ago. I started The Jealous Curator for myself - to try and get over the jealousy I felt when I looked at work by other artists and to face the insecurities I had about my own art. I am constantly inspired by the work I find, and what's even more important to me are the relationships/friendships that I've developed with artists from all over the world. I feel incredibly blessed.

Tell us, what does it really mean to be a gallery curator (it sounds so glamorous!)? Give us the behind-the-scenes scoop!

Ha! Well, parts of it are glamorous! It actually feels a lot like being a Creative Director to me (my former life). There is a ton of planning at the beginning - coming up with the concept for a show, choosing the artists, and then working directly with artists to assemble just the right pieces. It's actually ridiculously fun, and right up my alley! Then it gets unglamorous for a little bit - the contracts, the shipping, the unpacking, the pricing, the last-minute details that you can't allow to slip through the cracks. But, after a few months of the tiny details and lots of spreadsheets to keep things organized, it goes right back to being fabulous! There is nothing more satisfying than seeing a show come together on the wall, getting fancy for the opening night party and then playing match-maker between the talented artists and the overjoyed buyers. It's pretty fantastic.

You're an artist as well. How do you separate the creator from the curator? Do you ever struggle with finding original inspiration for your pieces, having seen "nearly everything"?

It was an awful realization when I first started The Jealous Curator. I was doing quite a bit of art work at the time and thought I was really on to something new and exciting - until I found about 100 artists doing almost exactly the same thing! So much for my "original" ideas! That happened a few times in the first year, and it really was quite upsetting/frustrating. Over the last four years I have seen thousands and thousands of pieces by other people, but now I actually see this exposure to what's out there as a positive thing, for two reasons. One: It makes me work harder to push past my first idea - to really dig in and think about how to execute my thoughts in a unique, visual way. And two: It has made me realize that there are trends, and pop culture mindsets that influence all of us whether we realize it or not. Even if someone else is doing something similar, it doesn't negate what you're doing. You can still put your spin on it, and if it's communicating the story you want to tell then you have to stand behind it, and push forward. Thanks to The Jealous Curator, I'm happier with my own work than I've ever been (which, for me, is really saying something because I'm usually my own worst critic).

You actively guest post on multiple websites, as well as update your own blog regularly. Where do you go to retreat from the online lifestyle of pinning and Tweeting and Facebooking? What does a healthy balance look like for you?

We just moved from the city back to my beautiful, teeny-tiny home town and I think it's the best thing we could have done for ourselves. We have a lovely house on the side of a mountain overlooking a lake, and it is an amazing retreat. I have to say though, The Jealous Curator feels like my escape - my "me" time. Maybe because it's not my "job," it's my passion. I could look at (and write about) art all day long whether anyone else was reading it or not.

But it is easy to stay online all day, and I used to, but just before we moved I was feeling really burnt out. Too much Twitter will do that to you! I still continue to put a lot of care and time into The Jealous Curator, but I also have a lot of beautiful distractions now. Sometimes i just grab a cup of coffee and sit out on the grass to look out over the vineyards, orchards, and lake that we can see from our mountain. I'd like to say that I sit there calmly taking it all in, but that only lasts for about thirty seconds before I start compulsively weeding the garden. I'm not used to having a big yard to take care of, so I can pretty easily lose a few hours out there just trying to keep things from looking like a wild jungle. I do occasionally Instagram a blooming peony or the view of the lake, but I try to keep my phone inside as much as possible. I also have a 6 year old son, and he doesn't let me sit on the computer when he's around - good man, right?

Clementine Daily is a space for women who believe in embracing simple pleasures, setting realistic expectations and bettering their lives to better the lives around them. In your eyes, how do you fit in with that mission?

Honestly, I would not have fit that description a few years ago. I was a goal-oriented workaholic who ate a lot of take-out and was constantly chasing the next big achievement, whatever it happened to be that week. And then I had my son. Suddenly everything slowed down and I enjoyed every moment for what it was. Mornings at the park, quiet nap time, baking cookies. I took five years off to stay home with him and it was a time I'll always cherish. He's almost seven now, and off at school all day, so it's very easy for me to get swept back up into my old ways. I know that I'm still a goal-oriented workaholic, but now I'm a goal-oriented workaholic with perspective. I finally understand that I need balance. I love what I do, but it can't be everything. I have realized that taking a bit of time each day to work in the garden, or to make art, or to go for a run, or to hang out with my husband & son is so much better for me than chasing whatever it was I was chasing. That life was totally exhausting.

You have one hour to yourself with no plans, expectations or responsibilities. What do you do?

Oh, that's sooo easy. First stop, a cute little coffee shop for a latte, and then out the door to wander through the amazing thrift shops in this teeny tiny town! The best thing about small town thrift shops is that you can find fantastic things that, in the city, would be triple the price and snapped up in a second. (For example, I just got a gorgeous 1960s upholstered rocker for $3. Yes. My latte cost more than my chair.)

OK, you have a $100 budget for an original piece of art. Who/what do you choose?

That's tricky... because I could do A LOT with $100! I'll have to give you a little list: (1) Martha Rich has a series of paintings called 100 for $100, (2) Haley Ann Robinson's little hand-painted wooden geos, (3) Lisa Daria's daily acrylic paintings of flowers in jars, (4) Jennifer Davis' crazy custom animal portraits over paper shooting targets, and (5) Vincent Serritella's original drawings are FREE on Facebook to the first taker.

What is your personal motto or mantra?

"Just say No." This is a very new mantra for me, but it might just be my most favorite mantra ever! It feels like a giant exhale, and about twenty lbs off my shoulders every time I choose to walk away from something that's just not quite right for me. I used to feel guilty saying "No," but those days are behind me, thank goodness.

What are five everyday items you can't bear to live without?

Coffee (soy latte with honey), a hair clip, lip gloss, my glasses and an infinity scarf.

p.s Who's your everyday icon? Tweet us a gal you'd love to hear from - we're happy to oblige!