I would have to say that most, if not all of my woman crushes are for creative, driven, trail-blazing females that inspire all those around them with their unique vision and craft. Dani Reynolds, a Toronto-based multi-disciplinary creative, is without a doubt one of them – and I honestly fell for her the moment we met several years ago!
We initially met when I was at my prior full-time job as a marketing manager for a beauty company. I recall working on an upcoming campaign, tasked to connect & collaborate with local influential women that I felt were truly inspiring figures in the community, and I thought of both Dani and her sister, Taylor, straight away. I had been admirers of their bright & bold style, content, and most importantly, their artistic vision as a whole, for so long. When we finally got to meet in-person to work on the campaign, my admiration & fondness of them both grew even more. And I've keenly followed the incredible work that they have been bringing to fruition, since.
I'm so honoured to spotlight Dani for the Cadette Women series, as I'm sure all of her fans (myself included) are constantly left curious and hungry for insight from Dani on how she creates her whimsical, eye-catching, and 'distinctly Dani' set designs and photos that leave us all in awe. Check out the video and brief Q&A I did with Dani at the Kastor & Pollux work studio!
Also, Dani did some recent work for Cadette! She created & photographed numerous sets, styling select Cadette pieces with her signature touch. Here are a few, below.
Can you introduce yourself and your creative profession?
I'm Dani & I am a multidisciplinary creative based in Toronto. By day I work as an art director for an agency called Kastor & Pollux. On the side I freelance doing set styling and photography work.
What is one of your earliest memories of expressing yourself creatively, as a child or adolescent?
One of my earliest memories of expressing myself as a child was trying to recreate the projects I saw on the 90s TV show art attack. I would watch the show every morning then come home after school and rummage around in the recycling bin and craft closet for materials. My family didn't get a computer 'til very late in the game, so my fun time was filled with a lot of hands-on making and crafting.
What was your first 'foray' into art direction & set design?
My first foray into "art direction" was purely for fun and experimentation. Straight out of university I started working for an agency, but my role wasn't very visual. I'm happiest when I'm making things, so I started waking up early before working and shooting little set ups on my back patio. I didn't have lights or money for props, so I just used the sunlight and the groceries in my fridge. I started sharing the photos on instagram and got some positive feedback, so I kept going, and without realizing it, started to build a body of work that later got me my first freelance job taking social media photos for a cold pressed juice company.
Your set designs all have a (stunning!) and distinctly 'Dani' style – bold colour, clean yet uniques lines & shapes, quirky accents. How did you develop or distinguish your aesthetic that has become so representative of you as an artist?
Hmmm I think it was an accidental progression.
What is your favourite project that you've worked?
They're all great in different ways but one stand-out project was when a brand commissioned me to make a real-life replica of Feist's album cover for a music festival. Unbeknownst to me the building permits weren't filed on time so my collaborator and I were left with a completed installation and no where to install it. Since we worked so hard on the project we ended up installing the structure on his parent's property and shot some photos to share on social. Later that week, I got a DM from Feist's manager asking if they could pay us to fly to Calgary to recreate our installation during her concert there. What started off as a bummer project turned into a free trip and great exposure... so it was a good lesson in following projects through to the end even if it doesn't always go as planned. Who knows, the outcome might be even greater than expected.
What is one, or a few of your greatest sources of inspiration?
I'm really inspired by everyday scenes and items. Really good food branding and packaging always pulls at my heart strings. The colour combinations of store fronts and signage. Very distinct colour palettes of cities around the world (like the easter shades of Lisbon or pastel hues in Tokyo). A common thread throughout all of these is that they are not trying to be super design or relevant, they're almost accidentally beautiful. So it's common to almost miss them if you're not paying attention.
What's a handy tip or trick you use to put yourself into your creative 'zone'?
For me, a good playlist and some solo time are my best tricks for getting into "the zone". I love collaborating and working in a team environment but being an introvert, I find that solitude definitely breeds creativity. When I'm on set, having a good playlist on in the background is essential to help get in the flow. I definitely dance around and sing (very poorly) but it helps to get energized and put myself in a positive mindset.
Do you have a piece of advice for fellow creatives trying to hone their crafts and turn their creative passions to careers?
Keep learning, always! Just because you've done the course, or received the certification doesn't mean it ends there. Tastes, technology, and your audience are in a constant state of change and you have to adapt and keep up with those changes. It's great to acknowledge your success but even the pros know that there is always room to grow. I'm a BIG FAN of continuing education classes. I take at least two a year, and the skills I gain from those classes usually pay for themselves.
What's a fun fact about you that not many people know?
A fun fact about me is that I've dyed my hair blue on 6 different occasions (It looked bad all 6 times lollll). I like this fact because it shows that even people who get paid to have "good taste" can sometimes make a mistake... or six.