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Meet Danni Li

Today we’d like to introduce you to Danni Li.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
So when I was a kid, I can wondering in museums just stare at one piece of artwork for hours. The museum is a utopia for me, no boundary, no limitations. Just me and art. My first art sense was beginning at around six or seven years old, I didn’t follow the rule “ blue sky is blue.” If I draw the sky, I would blending the multiple color of crayons with my fingers and also my face too. My mom always yelled at me to wash my hand and face before touch anything. However, I quit the art class when I was in middle school… My parents believed art class just took me so many attention and waste time and money. After that, it was my darkest time during teenage years. My only escape was: obsession with black and white photography. Even though I cannot afforded the fancy digital camera, my aunt gave me her old vintage camera. That old machine saves me and keeps inspiring me till now.

Moreover, the biggest inspiration that helped me determine my passion of art is my hero, Willem de Kooning. My very first art book that I purchased, “Back to visual basics: Willem de Kooning.” and every time I open that book always bring me the new insights. I still remember the day I was at the Vorman’s Bookstore in Pasadena, my still struggling with major choices for future. Then I met this book, I turned the pages and keep reading till my friend called my name. I was hesitating to buy this book about almost ten minutes at cashier and then my friend said to me, “Buy it. If you gonna do art in the future.” Well, I bought the book and do art now. De Kooning’s bold confident brushstrokes and muddy color patterns are breathtaking, his artworks directly towards to my inner struggles. The fear for facing what I really want to chasing. The passion, the anger or in some ways the expression for myself. “Art never seems to make me peaceful or pure. I always seem to be wrapped in the melodrama of vulgarity.” De Kooning’s words is so true. And yeah, the girl who used to rube crayons all of her face, now she can finally throw the paint all over the canvas.
To dare to love what she loves,
To dare to do what she wants.
Even full of anger in chest,
Even full of tears in eyes,
But no longer empty inside of soul.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Definitely not. I was a single child and my family is a typical Asian traditional family.

It took maybe two years to convinced them to accept and respect my major. As I mentioned earlier, I was indulging myself in black and white film photography during teenager years. And my parents commented my photos as “gloomy” “horrible”. And the most funniest part of this long drawn fight involved the external help, my mom’s friend who is a professional photographer since 70s. I called him Uncle H. There was a trip, my mom took me with her friends to Hong Kong, and also Uncle H. During the trip, he teaches so many tricks about photography and I took my very first beautiful motionblur photography. The day that we departed Hong Kong, he secretly told my mom that she should let me study art, and highly praised my photos. After that, my mom is my very first fan and supporter, and she convinced everyone and show off my works around.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
Free as a bird after my graduated from UC Irvine last month. I would consider myself as “multi-medium” artist.

So I still love painting and drawing during the academic life, but there’s always sort of love and hate about long self-evolving during the painting. However, I am more confident with my photography. Especially the film photography, I have the nostalgia for those unexpected surprises when I was finished process my film. The sense of ritual or the sense of unpacking a gift, you never predict what the final image on the film photography. I had part-time job experience such as product photographer, and also portrait photographer. Not only just the common photography, also I am very active in my peers at digital filming department. I am the art director of my friend’s filmmaking team since 2018. Brainstorming with director and discuss the aesthetics details in every film, such as scene design, costumes style and etc.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
Well, some people said I am way too sensitive and sentimental. My emotion is my impulse of creation, but have to find the resonance. And I realized that recently. I was an introvert, and barely share my thoughts with anyone. However, I encountered some great friends later, such as Diego who recommended this interview for me. It’s amazing that surrounding by the art peers, the feedback from each other always provides a chance to observe own artwork as an audience with great gratitude.

If I can go back to my past, I would tell myself. Get out from your comfort zone! Find your people!

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Image Credit:

All copyright cr: DANNI LI.

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