March 18, 2011

Creative Process Interview with Dani Fazio

 I'm happy to introduce to to Dani Fazio who is a versatile creator and a dear friend of mine. Over the past few years I have glimpsed many of Dani's various creative pursuits and it seems like she always has a new idea or project in the works. I love learning about Dani's unique perspective on her creative process. Each of these interviews has reminded me, taught me new things and inspired me in some way. Soon after Dani answered my questions she wrote and told me that she had completely changed their dining room into a dedicated studio space. We get to see some of that in these photos. You can see more of her work at her website.

Tell us a little bit about your work space. The dedicated space I work in is at home in my “dining room” which we don’t actually use for dining in anymore. I have all my art supplies in there, along with a table and plenty of floor space I can work in. It’s in the center of our house, which can be distracting. But, it’s a large room with two windows and good light. Aside from there, the state of Maine is my studio. I make a lot of work in Maine when I’m shooting.

What motivates you to create? I can be motivated by a fleeting moment- I notice the way something looks in nature and I feel compelled to photograph it, sketch it, write about it- anything to preserve that moment/ feeling I had. I’m often surprised by ideas that pop into my mind at any given time of day… I try to remember that feeling so I can work on that idea again when the time is right.

What stalls or inhibits your creative process? Having a full time job, plus a part time gig, taking courses, preparing for graduate school, being a wife, a doggie mama, a family member, a friend… these things all take up so much time- mentally and in my calendar. I find that if my energy is spent, I just can’t force myself to work. I don’t rely on my art for income, so that hasn’t been a problem financially… but as an artist, it’s frustrating! Thankfully, being an artist is within us all the time- 24/7, so there’s not really a time I’m not in my creative process- I just may not be creating something tactile at the moment- but the ideas are always flowing, and the thought process is always there.

List a few common mistakes or stumbling blocks you run into. How do you avoid these or get out of them?
Sometimes I get excited about a new medium or project and talk a lot about it with others. Then, I feel compelled to finish the work because I said I was going to. Mistake. That means that the project then becomes another thing on my mental “to do” list, and the original reasons I wanted to do it fade away. So, I try to journal out the ideas as much as I can before spilling my guts about the work—this way I can give some information, but I also have learned to say, “…or, I may end up forgetting about the whole thing!” which often happens.

What or who helps to support your creative work? My wife, Jen, and my family all support my creative work. But, really only I can conjure up the desire to make work. If one of them said, “Dani, why don’t you go photograph in the woods today?” or Jen leaves for the weekend and suggests I use my free time to paint, I can’t. It has to be on my own terms.

Can you tell me about a project or something you have made that you really love or find really exciting?
When I was at Haystack Mountain School for an artist retreat I learned how to do gelatin printing- printmaking without a press, just a gelatin plate. I was so nervous to make art in this way- not knowing what the result would be (opposite of my photography) and then I slowly just let myself be taken over by the process. The first series of work I made there was incredible- I thought, “Did I make this?” and yet I recognized the strokes and patterns in paint and I knew it came from within me. Since then, I set up a small print area in my dining room studio and whenever I can I work on gelatin prints. Nothing will ever compare to the first time I used this process, though- nervous, excited, surprised.

Can you talk about some things that you have learned from mistakes or failures?
The biggest “lesson” I’ve learned is that it’s okay to make art for myself. For fun. That other people may never see. When I graduated from art school, I was in the mindset of making work to meet deadlines, and show in galleries. So, when I stopped showing in galleries I stopped making work. Then, I wanted to work again, but I thought “Well, if I do this project, maybe this gallery will show it.” My work always had to have an external process. I found that with crafting, too. I may make something I like, and then I think, “Oh, I should make lots of these, and sell them in art fairs!” but then I don’t. Realizing that I can have a whole collection of work that no one will ever see, buy, or
care about is tremendous.


  1. great article about a talented, dedicated artist. Dani articulated the many joys and distractions that are such a part of living a creative life. Thanks to both of you!

  2. Thanks for reading! It has been great to have the opportunity to interview creative people and learn about their thoughts/perspective and process.