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Getting to Know: Danielle Blanding

Inspirited by her distinctive creations, ILYSM commissioned Atlanta-based artist Danielle Blanding to collaborate on five pairs of customized Tabis and document her creative process. Enter here for your chance to score a pair. 


In your artist statement you referenced a quote by Baruch Spinoza, "Only in relation to our imagination can things be called beautiful or ugly." Tell us about how this theme is presented in your work by playing with elements of distortion.

I love to start with my inspirations from flesh and nature, whether it be wrinkled, saggy, lumpy, bruised, discolored,hairy, slimy, protruding, anything. The things I listed, society has labeled as flaws or ugliness when it's something that should be seen more as fascinating, something that is also beautiful. I want my work to express that beauty isn't something that should be viewed in only one specific way because it limits our minds. My work takes what is seen as deformity and creates a balance between it and society's twisted view of attraction and translates into something that one can only discover for themselves. Imagination is powerful and should be used, not as a form of escaping reality, but as a means to create it.

Danielle Blanding artwork

You mentioned being drawn to medical conditions. What drew you to this, and when did you start incorporating this into your art?

I remember growing up always wanting to be a doctor. I specifically wanted to be a pediatric surgeon. I was always interested in the human body, how it worked, how it looked inside and out. My interests never stopped even after becoming an artist. I began incorporating medical conditions into my work a few years after my grandfather passed of lung cancer. He used to pull out his tracheal tube and there would be all kinds of things oozing out of the whole in his throat. I would watch my parents have to shove the tube back down as more oozing and squirting continued. That vision always crossed my mind through the years and how scary it was. I decided to use him as inspiration for a painting and ever since then incorporating medical conditions within my work hasn’t stopped.

How does humor play a part in your work?

Adding playful details here and there are what make creating my work fun. I still want my work to be fun and provoke all kinds of emotions. It’s a way to allow the viewer to feel more welcomed.

I love how your work invites the viewer to not only stare but participate. What is the inspiration behind the squish pods you made? 

Thank you! My squishy sculptures are actually inspired by my paintings. I wanted to create something more physically tangible that could reference my paintings as well as some of my favorite fungi.

What was it like translating your work into the feeling and aesthetics of the Tabi, and getting to collaborate with ILYSM?

It felt amazing, but also kind of intimidating to find a way to translate my droopy and distorted style. Through lots of brainstorming and experimentation, things went way cooler than I expected and I had so much fun. Collaborating with ILYSM has been amazeballs! I received so much love and support. It’s been super rewarding and constant excitement collaborating with ILYSM. I’m so grateful that I experienced such an awesome opportunity.

What's next for you and how can more people discover and support your work?

What’s next for now is focusing more on painting. I’ve been craving it for a while and it’s time to get back to it. People can always check me out on instagram (@phobiauxie_) to see what I’m up to as well as checking out my website, I’m currently selling prints as well as some originals. I will be selling my mini sculptures after my solo show is over so be on the lookout! If you’re broke like me, support is always free. People can always support me by doing a quick follow, like, and share of my work and I’ll love you forever.💚

Danielle Blanding (b. August 1997) was born and raised in Stockbridge, Georgia. She earned her BFA in Painting with a minor in Business Management & Entrepreneurship from the Savannah College of Art and Design in March 2020.