This month we heard from one of our favorite equestrian creators: Danielle Demers. We ask her of course... about horses! But also touch on art, inspiration sharpening her skills as an artist and entreprenuer.
WHICH CAME FIRST: YOUR LOVE OF HORSES OR YOUR LOVE OF ART?
I have loved horses for as long as I can remember. Shortly after my parents were married, they purchased their first horse: a young Quarter Horse named Jessie. My mom rode throughout the time she was pregnant with me and took me to the barn to meet Jessie when I was very young.
I think the obsession set in immediately!Art has also been an integral part of my life from a young age, though I do remember when I fell in love with making art.
My grandmother was a talented artist and knitwear designer. Before I started pre-school, my grandmother took care of me during the day and we would often color and draw together. Similarly to horses, drawing was something I fell in love with immediately.
HOW DID THOSE PASSIONS EVENTUALLY COME TOGETHER?
Drawing horses was a natural progression – for me horses and art have always gone together. I drew horses anytime I had a pen, pencil or any form of paper to hand: on the backs of restaurant placemats and napkins, in all of my sketchbooks, sitting in church on Sundays…
I remember sketching away even during family movie nights as a teen.I was very fortunate to grow up with horses and had my heart horse, a chestnut Quarter Horse/Arabian named Gemini, in my life from age five until he passed away when I was 22.
Gemini was my childhood; horse show weekends, the 4–H horse project, trail rides with friends, a safe space during those sometimes tough, emotional teenage years – he was a constant (There is a reason why there are so many chestnuts and copper horses in my work!).
During my senior year of high school, I started my first business “Designs by Dannie,” selling artwork, prints, note cards and shirts with my equestrian designs. And later, in college, I earned a double degree in Art Education and Studio Art.
YOUR ART HAS EVOLVED INTO PRACTICAL PIECES OF ART THROUGH YOUR HOME DECOR AND STATIONARY ITEMS, WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THIS?
I knew from the start that I wanted to have multiple revenue streams for my business. Original art and prints were two natural offerings, but I love to learn and to experiment. Once I had a website, a few collections of originals and prints established, I began to branch out and dream of what else might be possible.
The inspiration behind each new collection has come from multiple sources: a love of history, interiors, antiquing and travel. Everything starts with an idea, then I work to see if what I am envisioning is actually possible – how can I bring it to life? What do I need to learn in order to make this new product?
2022 and 2023 were big years of learning for me – from a surface pattern design course, to reacquainting myself with linocut printmaking techniques, to learning to use a foil press and an antique letterpress printing press, to learning needlepoint.
WHAT INSPIRED YOUR MOST RECENT, AND OUR FAVORITE, WALLPAPER COLLECTION?
In early 2022, I took Bonnie Christine’s Surface Design Immersion course to learn pattern making. I designed “Amongst the Oaks” during that course and shared an early iteration of the pattern to my Instagram account. The response was overwhelmingly positive; I think it was my first post that went “viral.” People were commenting and messaging, “When is this coming out as a wallpaper?”
The assignment at the end of the Immersion course is to create a full collection with an end product in mind: quilting fabric, clothing, nursery decor, etc. Based on the response to “Amongst the Oaks,” I knew I wanted to create a wallpaper collection.
The Wanderlust Wallpaper collection is largely inspired by the three years my husband and I spent living in London. We drove out to the countryside many weekends to walk or to tour historic homes and estates, and I fell in love with the English country home aesthetic.
WHAT IS A CHALLENGING PART OF BEING AN EQUESTRIAN ARTIST AND WHAT HAS BEEN SURPRISINGLY REWARDING?
The most challenging part – of being an artist and a solo-entrepreneur in general – is working on my own. There are a LOT of hats to wear and I am constantly questioning whether I am taking the next “right” step… am I continuing to move in the right direction? Will this new product or design resonate?
The most rewarding aspects are the sense of community and the friendships I have built through my work. It is really lovely to be able to connect with so many people over shared passions.
WHAT IS YOUR DREAM PROJECT TO WORK ON THAT YOU HAVEN'T DONE ALREADY?
Pattern design for equestrian apparel brands!
WHO IS YOUR DREAM HORSE TO OWN, REAL OR IMAGINARY?
I am a dressage girl, so Blueberry (Valegro)! No question.