We had the good fortune of connecting with Daniella Napolitano and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Daniella, looking back, what do you think was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make?
Moving to Arizona was a pretty big leap of faith for me. I was previously living in Little Rock, Arkansas and beginning to establish myself in the art scene there. While I had a burgeoning art business and a job I enjoyed, I wanted to further my education and pursue my craft as a printmaker. Arizona State University has one of the top printmaking programs in the country so I knew that’s where I wanted to be. It was difficult to leave a comfortable living/business situation (and drag my partner across country with me) but ultimately it was a wonderful decision.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The first question I get when I talk about my art practice is “So what exactly IS printmaking?” I often have to assure people that I’m not simply hitting “print” from my computer. Printmaking is not an uncommon practice but it is so varied that people often get confused about what it is. Currently, my focus is mostly on linocut, a relief printmaking method. I started out professionally as a graphic designer with a degree in studio art. I sort of fell into printmaking because it combined my love of drawing with my love of design. Problem solving plays a huge roll in a printmaking practice especially because one of the main challenges of printmaking is access to equipment. Printmaking techniques like intaglio or lithography can involve chemicals that you can’t really keep around in your house and while you don’t necessarily need a press to make a print, it helps a lot. One of the reasons I’ve focused on relief printmaking is that it is easy to do within my home and I’m not 100% reliant on a studio. While, I call myself a printmaker, really I dabble in a little of everything. Drawing and bookmaking play important roles in my arts practice and I’ve just begun a journey into making my own paper. Besides talking about process (which I could go on forever about), my work focuses on animals as my primary subject matter. As part of my art practice, I study animals through scientific research, personal reflection, and societal perspectives. These themes originate from my childhood curiosity about the natural world and, most recently, humans’ relationship to it. Most recently, my focus has shifted to animals I see in everyday life around Phoenix and human/animal interactions in the city. I am at my happiest when I am learning about, talking about, or interacting with animals so it felt only natural to focus on them in my art.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I’m still new to Phoenix so one of my favorite things to do is explore local restaurants. Some of my current favorites are The Coronado PHX, The Bread and Honey House, and JL Smokehouse. I enjoy a good unique shopping experience so a trip to Curious Nature or Collectors Marketplace is a must. I feel a need to take guests outside when the weather is nice to prove we don’t live on the surface of the sun all year round. South Mountain is a good spot for a hike and I love bird watching around Papago Park. I think I’ve probably taken everyone who has visited me to Hole in the Rock (a definite can’t miss on my list of things to check out).
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I can’t talk about my art journey without mentioning one of my earliest mentors – Rex Deloney. Rex is an artist who I’ve looked up to since he was my high school Drawing II teacher. I have to credit him with encouraging me to pursue a career in the arts. Other art mentors include Miranda Young, Beth Lambert, and Robert Bean — my colleagues at the Arkansas Arts Center. Without them, I don’t think I would be nearly as far in my “art business” as I am today. I’d also like to give a shoutout to the print faculty at Arizona State University for their wealth of knowledge and guidance, The Central Arkansas Library System’s Galleries at Library Square for representing my work, and my parents for their years of support. I would also like to thank my partner, Marco, for being there when I need a second opinion — even if it’s just to say “That looks good.”