"Creativity is a way of living, and if you are a creative soul, you will never stop creating"
Daniella McNulty is a 30-year-old Multidisciplinary Artist, CMO and Eurasian Model. She works in the arts, fashion, events, hospitality and tourism industries, managing all marketing and communications for an international boutique hotel chain, and her projects and events have been covered by TimeOut, Vogue, Le Bonbon, My Little Paris, Marie Claire, Vice and Grazia, among others.
As a model, she has modelled at several Paris Fashion Week seasons, been featured in Elle magazine, and more. As an artist, Daniella creates beautiful drawings and her work is strikingly intricate and detailed. Her love of art started as early as when she was a toddler, doodling her way around on walls.
Half-Taiwanese by her mother and half-Irish by her father, Daniella was born in London but has lived and worked throughout Asia, and now resides in Paris.
Daniella’s immense resumé includes exciting events/initiatives such as Le Salon de Normandy powered by The Community, Le Squat du Normandy (an infamous pop-up graffiti rooftop bar at Rue Saint-Honoré that hosted many film shoots, events, and private parties in 2018) and the launch of the immersive concept Normandy Le Chantier (whereby clients can now discover new spaces that Daniella and the teams are running until the new hotel arrives in 2021).
In this exclusive interview for Resonate, we learn more about Daniella’s experiences, artwork and unconventional, exciting journey.
YW: Tell us about how you ended up in Paris.
DM: Paris is a dreamer’s city : Full of beauty, passion, art, and of course, like any living space, grimy secrets… Despite these secrets, Paris remains one of the top romantic destinations and many people dream to live here since childhood. For me, ending up in Paris was actually a beautiful accident.
At the time, I only intended to stay a few months because my job at Heineken wanted to valorize the fact that I speak Chinese, so in 2011 they sent me to Singapore, Hong Kong, my homeland Taiwan, and finally I requested Paris… I think I was subconsciously done living out of a suitcase!
On a more conscious level, I was looking to fall in love with life. I was looking for a liberal city vibrating with creativity that I could get to know like the back of my hand, and Paris is exactly this, you can feel it everywhere you go like a heartbeat.
Even in business everyone is looking for a new, better, more creative way of doing things, especially at places like L’Oréal, where I worked after Heineken. It’s no wonder that Dali, Hemingway, and many more of my idols fell in love with Paris years before I did.
Paris is also much smaller than London or New York, so you can use your time wisely by walking, by being at several Fashion Week events in the same night, etc. As a result, I have gotten much more done per weekend. I will definitely try out another city or two in this lifetime, but for now… c’est Paris!
YW: You pursue various creative ventures including modelling and drawing. How did your love of creating start and how did you nurture it?
DM: Firstly, apparently, when I was a baby, my mother tells me that I started drawing before I could crawl. Drawing anything, everything, on paper, books, walls, any surface I could find! This got me into quite a bit of trouble until she realised the drawings actually resembled something, namely characters from 西遊記 and 多啦 A 夢.
This love of creating continued thanks to my mother, who entered me into art competitions, some that I won, such as the Borough of Barnet library card design competition. Various inspirational journeys later, I went to study Philosophy & Psychology at the University of Warwick, where I continued to create posters and merchandise for the Warwick Arts Society, Women’s Society, and Climbing Club.
These side projects have continued into my adult life as I now specialise in illustrating menus, children’s books, creating websites, sometimes paid, sometimes non-profit.
DM: My daytime work as Marketing Director demands a lot of time and responsibility, so it is difficult to fully concentrate on art. On the other hand, I now have other opportunities that allow my creativity to flourish: revamping over 25 international boutique hotel websites from A to Z, bringing to life pop-up concepts like “Le Squat de Normandy”, running “story-living” events like “Normandy Last Dance” with TimeOut or “The End @ Kube Paris”, modelling with the edgy brand Koché at Paris Fashion Week, collaborating with Vice, LVMH, etc.
My message to anyone who wishes to concentrate on work without sacrificing their love of creating is: Nurture each potentially creative moment and inspire those around you to make every meeting fun! Most importantly, remember: Creativity is a way of living, and if you are a creative soul, you will never stop creating. You can’t!
YW:What artists or pieces of art have impacted you the most? Why?
DM: The list is very mixed. What I love most about these artists is their storytelling ability, the power each of their masterpieces wields when you look at it. There is always a message to interpret, elements of a dream realm to discover… From Dali’s Surrealism to Picasso, both pre and post-Cubism, Van Gogh, Basquiat, Escher, Hogarth, even modern-day H.R. Giger and Ugo Gattoni, the list goes on!
These artists have had the biggest impact on me in terms of “art” in the classical sense. Illustrators such as Sir John Tenniel (Alice in Wonderland) and Pauline Diana Baynes (Narnia, Lord of the Rings) are my inspirations for illustration.
Branching out to architecture, I was particularly marked by Michelangelo’s contributions in the Vatican City. The craftsmanship of the Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco is mind-blowing, despite the fact that Michelangelo preferred to identify more as a sculptor than an artist. There are certain film and fashion references that have also impacted me.
For example, the fact that David Lynch was an artist before becoming a film maker has always inspired me, as we see him bringing art to life through film. In fashion, a key reference for me is Jean Paul Gaultier, who made his crazy childhood monsters come to life later through his creations in fashion and onstage in theatre. All in all, I feel very blessed to have so many inspirations, and I am keeping my mind open for more!
YW: What have you learnt over the years and wish you had known earlier?
DM: We are always learning and improving, so I feel that the path I took was absolutely necessary the way it was, in order for me to be who I am today. In that sense, I would not change anything. In another sense, it would have saved me a lot of time had I known certain things earlier on.
Firstly: Listening to those who inspire you and asking more questions about their path. To give a concrete example, I was lucky enough to meet Vivienne Westwood when I worked at the V&A. I had a few minutes to speak to her, and, of course, to take a photo, but I would have approached those few minutes in a completely different way if I met her again now. Same for the few minutes I had with Margaret Atwood when I met her after her talk at the Royal Society of Literature.
Along the same lines as listening more, something else I wish I has known earlier, or at least believed earlier, is that I should have listened more to my own heart rather than often follow the advice of adults. What did adults know more about me, than I knew about myself deep down?
I know this now, as an adult looking at younger generations, because we clearly do not become omniscient with age. However, I think several of the adults surrounding me during my youth believed they were. I will be very transparent with my children, and/or any students, about the fact that intuition – gut feeling – is the best compass to follow when it comes to achieving your dreams.
YW: What has been, out of your own pieces, your favourite piece?
DM: There are several pieces that represented me perfectly at that moment in time, such as “The Book”, a collection of illustrations that encompass what my mind and body were going through after a series of difficult operations, while high on morphine… but, in all honesty, my favourite piece… has not been created yet. You will be the first to know when it is!