Today we’d like to introduce you to Dani Michaux Samson.
Dani Michaux, we appreciate you taking the time to share your story with us today. Where does your story begin?
Where to start? My story has no clear beginning, only because I have considered myself an artist since I was a child. I was an artist of many disciplines – music, dance, a little acting here, a little singing there – I guess I was a Jill of all trades and a master of none. Creative, expressive activities were just so much a part of my life in a mostly casual way. Then in college, I earned a BA in psychology with a minor in studio art. Eventually, I earned an MFA at Columbus College of Art & Design in Columbus, Ohio, where I fell in love with mixed media collage in a much less casual way.
My path to pursuing a career in the arts is scattered with contention between what is sustainable, legitimate, and worthwhile versus what truly brings me joy and happiness. It’s so interesting how this is very different for each individual, and I’m still coming to understand that all the time. I show up in the art world based on my personal values, which are partially informed by my academic and professional background. My career might not look like I always used to think it “should” look, but more and more, I am incredibly proud of and passionate about what I do.
After moving from Columbus, Ohio to Los Angeles with my husband and our kitties, I started Calico Flower Studio, which is my independent creative practice. At Calico Flower Studio, I create abstract art, and in doing so, I reflect on life through the lens of art-making. As an artist, I demystify my work by documenting the process and sharing it with others via my YouTube channel, my Instagram, and my newsletter. Whether you consider yourself an artist or not, we are all touched by art. My hope is that the connections I make will inspire an appreciation for art and some good food for thought.
In addition to working as an independent artist, I am also the Director of Visual Arts at L.A. GOAL, a non-profit in Culver City, California. L.A. GOAL is an organization that partners with adults with developmental disabilities (our ‘Members’) and their support networks to assist them in living more fulfilling lives. Our social enterprise and professional art studio is called Inside Out Productions. I’ve worked at L.A. GOAL since last April, and my experiences with the amazing Members and Staff often inspire me in my own studio work.
On top of ALL THAT, my husband, Nick Samson, is a musician and an actor. We often collaborate on projects, especially for his solo music project La Poré, for which I have done much artwork, including an animated music video titled “Love Song.”
In conclusion, I feel incredibly grateful to be where I am today. I look forward to what the future holds, which I’m hoping includes my work at local art fairs!
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
There have certainly been many bumps along the way; however, I might describe the road as long and winding. When I was an undergraduate student studying psychology and studio art, I think I suppressed my desire for a career in art. I used my degree (BA in psychology with a minor in studio art) to pursue a Masters in Art Therapy and Counseling. When I look back on it, I realize that perhaps I felt something like that would be more sustainable from a financial standpoint. There was some conditioned idea in my mind that I couldn’t make a living as an artist alone. So, I borrowed lots of money to go to that graduate program only to drop out a year later. Without telling the whole story, it was a very emotionally turbulent time of my life.
I struggled to find my way as an artist for two years before I enrolled in the MFA program at Columbus College of Art & Design. At that point, things began to go really well in the arts community of my hometown! Then, almost immediately after graduating, I happily married another artist and excitedly moved to LA… four months before a global pandemic.
Pandemic aside, the first couple of months we lived in LA, I struggled really hard to adjust to the fact that the entire social and professional network I built in Columbus was now 2,000 miles away. The pandemic was a whole other personal struggle for us all. There was a silver lining to it, though. By March of 2020, I was drowning in my side-gigs, so the sudden stay-at-home order allowed me the time to make a lot of art. I believe that’s what provided the momentum I needed to get to where I am today.
I’m proud to say that now, after the past two and a half years, LA has really started to feel like home.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am a mixed media collage artist and a scrap enthusiast. Most of the collage materials I use are either found or repurposed from previous collages, drawings, sketches, and paintings. The mixed media artworks that I create are a celebration of the materials I use. My materials include various types of paint, paper, fabric, ink, crayon, chalk – anything that finds its way into my life. By breaking down and repurposing material, small remnants of old projects reappear in newer projects. I think this speaks to the cyclical nature of the universe as well as the routines and rituals that shape our day-to-day lives. I am so fascinated by the fact that we and most things in the universe are all made up of the same stuff. That stuff gets broken down and reshaped to make new stuff. That’s how my practice works most of the time.
Throughout my career, I have held various positions as an art instructor, facilitator, and administrator. Although I am not an art therapist, I also have some experience in the realm of art therapy. One consistent value that I’ve held during all of this experience is the notion that all humans are creative. I believe that everyone is touched by art in one way or another, and we all have the ability to access the joys of making. I believe this value is reflected in my practice of sharing my process and my reflections on my YouTube channel and in my newsletter.
That’s probably what I’m most proud of – the practice I’ve built around demystifying my process and bringing others into the mind of an artist, encouraging them to reflect and become more comfortable with art.
What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
Oh my gosh… I was literally just reading some articles about NFTs.
I’m not sure! I don’t consider myself a great predictor of these sorts of things, but I do see technology playing a larger role in the way we consume art. Artists will be expected to create “content” in addition to their artwork. In general, the internet will continue to have a stronger influence on the industry.
I may feel a little grumbly about this sometimes, but in a lot of ways, it is a beautiful thing. With the internet, we see more and more artists/creators sharing their work, making it accessible to huge audiences. These artists and audiences may not have otherwise connected. This is something I’m trying to harness myself with my YouTube channel. I have a Bob Ross mentality in that way, except he did it on cable TV.
Because we are changing the way we consume art, artists will have to adapt the ways in which they interact with their audiences as well as the sources of income they receive.
So yeah, that’s my take!
- Website: www.calicoflowerstudio.com
- Instagram: instagram.com/calicoflowerstudio
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/calicoflowerstudio
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBOR9vxEJQnBRHYBmbiD8iA