The cliché of the struggling artist is a familiar one. However, for creator Danny Zofness, art was never the struggle. Rather, art was the answer.
As a kid, Danny was creatively inclined but also a good athlete. “My dad put a lot of emphasis on playing sports, so that was the path I took,” he said.
While baseball was Danny’s sport of choice, he clearly remembers the thing that sparked his creative passion.
“I remember being five-years-old and watching my dad film home movies with a huge over-the-shoulder VHS Camcorder. I would beg him to let me use it,” Danny stated. “Besides playing baseball, making movies is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do.”
After graduating from Kirkwood High School, Danny returned to work as a Walking Counselor. “I would tell the kids, especially the kids who were on an ‘untraditional path’,” which Danny makes a point of saying shouldn’t even be a thing, “is follow your dream. Follow your passion. College is not for everyone. You have to commit to being you.”
Over time it occurred to Danny that, for as much as he believed in the advice he was imparting to the students, he wasn’t following his own words.
“I loved my job working with the kids,” Danny said. “But at the same time, I felt like there was something else I needed to be doing.”
In 2012, Danny was offered a job to create videos for a non-profit organization called HateBrakers. “I had the opportunity to go to New York and interview Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul, and Mary,” Danny recalled. “Shortly after that, I was offered another video creation opportunity. Both of those opportunities conflicted with my work schedule at the high school.”
Danny had to quickly choose between steady, full-time work at the high school or following his dream of working with video and film.
In April 2013, as a single dad with a four-month-old baby girl, Danny made the preverbal leap.
"The only way to discover my true path was to commit to myself as an artist.”
As Danny reflected on being a full-time artist and single dad over the past eight years, he made this salient point, “The coolest thing about my artistic journey is that it led me back to me.”
Through creating art, Danny has had brilliant moments of self-discovery and authenticity. “I’ve learned that it’s important to find your authentic self,” said Danny. “Authenticity, whether it’s creatively driven or not, is so under appreciated,” Danny stated that outside influences and external expectations can easily distract someone from finding their authentic self.
“Discovering how to be authentic is not what most people focus on and it needs to be,” Danny noted. “I think it should be taught in schools. Kids should learn the importance of self-awareness and self-care. They need to know how to make themselves a priority. As a parent, I hope the biggest thing I am teaching my daughter is the value of self.”
As an artist, Danny is at his most authentic when he is being original. “Feeling original with my art is very important to me. I am naturally curious about the world and other people. What I create is how I see the world.” Danny observed, “Art that draws people in is created by artists who are operating from an authentic place; their energy is received by people who view their art.”
As a videographer, photographer, sneaker painter, and podcaster, Danny talked about feeling obligated to create a moment or an image and share it with the world. “I love creating something from nothing and having it exist in the world.”
“I don’t have it all figured out. Far from it,” he stated. “But I do feel more in tune with myself as an adult than I ever have. I believe that my purpose is to make and create things. Being creative is the attempt to bring meaning and value to authentically expressing yourself.”