Current Obsession (and a Giveaway!): Danielle Murray

Okay, get ready because today we are featuring an amazing artist Danielle Murray. I am in constant awe of her talent and I think you all are really going to love her work. She was kind enough to answer a few questions for us and shed some light on her journey to turning her dream into her career…oh and is also giving away one of the most perfect prints ever (hello stripes and a sailboat!).

I met Danielle when I lived in Milwaukee and worked with her husband (shout out to John Murray!). They are basically the coolest, cutest, most creative couple (the letter of the day is C) out there. Keep reading for our interview with Danielle and to enter for a chance to win this awesome print:


Danielle grew up in New Jersey and attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia where she received her BFA in illustration with honors.  In addition to freelancing and gallery shows (and painting A LOT of ships), she has also worked in-house as a product designer, for a division of Bed Bath & Beyond. Her paintings have been exhibited in cities across the U.S. including New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Additionally, her artwork has been licensed to a wide range of products including textiles, paper goods and home decor products. She currently resides in Milwaukee, WI with her better half.

Danielle Murray

How long have you been in business? What are some of the key milestones that have taken place?

I started freelancing (mostly editorial illustration) in 2008. Since then, many things have happened that brought me to the point where I am now: creating artwork that gets licensed for product and home decor. I have been working in this field, as a decorative/art licensing artist for almost 2 years.

A few years after graduating college, I left Philly and moved back to NJ. I started working a part-time job at a frame shop (which at the time made me feel like I was failing since my artwork alone could not sustain me), but it was so important, because it is where I learned about the art publishing industry (and also met some of my best friends). With the knowledge from the frame shop I landed an in-house designer position for The Christmas Tree Shops. I got paid to paint cupcakes and pumpkins, and while my 18 year old self may have laughed at this, it was exactly where I needed to be.

I like pretty things and painting pretty things, and well, I enjoy painting, anything! Not to mention I love researching and home decor and keeping up with trends in the marketplace, which all goes hand in hand with creating artwork for licensing and publishing. My work never seemed quite right for editorial illustration, and not always appropriate for the fine art world, so I always felt like I was just sort of lingering. Learning about this other world just made everything click for me. I eventually left my position at the Christmas Tree Shops and relocated to Milwaukee, WI where I began licensing on my own, I currently work with two representatives who sell and license my artwork.

Holy ship! We love all things nautical, too. Why is painting ships your “happy place?” Where else do you draw inspiration (…detail some of your rummaging adventures??)

I grew up by the ocean, so I’d imagine this has a lot to do with it, and in general, the act of painting the ocean is one of my favorite things to do. It’s one of those subject matters that I never think I paint well enough, so I keep on trying.

A lot of my inspiration is drawn from past places and things. My father has been a “picker” long before pickers were a thing, so I’ve been flea marketing, rummaging and well, garbage picking my whole life. I love old objects because of the history. All of the things I collect have a story, whether I know it or not, and that’s the fascinating part about every item I find.

What are some of the struggles you’ve encountered starting your own business and how have you overcome them? 

I think the toughest thing for me, which can still be a struggle at times, is comparing myself and my career to other people. It is a difficult thing in a world where you are constantly inundated with other people’s work and success to not compare where you are at with where they are at. I think it is best to remember that no two stories are the same.

I would also say having a plan is so important! For years I just didn’t have clear direction. What I liked and what type of artwork I wanted to make never wavered for me, but I couldn’t seem to find the right place for it. I was trying to find success in multiple places, editorial illustration, galleries, the decorative world etc. Trying to do too many different things resulted in me not finding real fulfillment or success in any of them. Having a clear focus and making a business plan has helped me tremendously.

There can be a lot of comfort 9-5 job. What advice would you give to someone who wants to set out to turn what they love into a career?

I think the bottom line is to always generate good work. Stay educated on the industry and set both long and short term goals. A long term business plan is so important, but it is the baby steps that make things happen.

Also, knowing what you are capable of and identifying your strengths is so important. From the beginning, one of the first steps of my plan was getting representation from an agent. I knew just starting out, that I did not want to be writing contracts and negotiating deals, It was not an area I felt confident in. This may not always be the case, but for now my time is best spent creating the work.

Will you be adding more items to your Etsy shop soon? Because we’re gonna need to start a collection…

Yes! I try to add new prints of my personal paintings as I finish them. I’ve also been slowly adding smaller/affordable originals.

Be sure to follow Danielle to see more of her amazing work on her Facebook, Instagram, and website. And enter below to win the Welcome Ship print pictured above! The giveaway ends next Friday so get your name in now 🙂

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *