Interview with Artist and New Mom, Dara Piken
Meems sat down with artist and new mom, Dara Piken, to discuss how she's started introducing creativity to her daughter’s life, nursery, and (most importantly) her wardrobe.
Can you tell us how you became an artist and your creative process?
I loved designing and was very artsy at a young age. Everyone else seemed to have their sport and I was drawn to anything creative. I knew the natural next step was for me to have a career in art and became an artist. I work in the representational art style and love pop art. My work is colorful and fun. I sometimes dabble in other mediums, but my core is pop art. For almost 10 years, I worked as a print designer for a bathing suit company. While I no longer work with print design, my art was influenced by that time in my career with the repetition of a theme or image. I’ve also realized that ever since having a daughter, my art has naturally, and somewhat subconsciously, become more ‘girly’.
Besides creating art, how do you instill creativity in your daily life?
I am most creative in the mornings when I’m getting my daughter dressed for the day. I am inspired by the space I designed for her nursery. I don’t usually work in interiors, but I wanted to make a space that was beautiful for her. It is the most fun and inviting room I could have designed. I feel inspired just being in her room, starting our day in there together and choosing an outfit stimulates my inner creativity.
It is said that creativity provides new ideas for kids, and ultimately, fosters new ways to problem solve. What are some ways you try to inspire creativity in your daughter Lennon throughout the day?
She is still young, but I am happy to introduce her to anything creative. I take her to art and music classes and she does get excited about being there. I also try to teach a lot by example and show her how to use a crayon to create an image. We sat down with drawing paper and crayons and I drew for her. I showed her how to hold a crayon and what it looks like on paper. Once I helped her with that process she realized what we were doing and colored for herself. Kids are intuitive and she is captivated by the things I show her.
Tell us more about Kid Korner?
Kid Korner is an art concept I created. I make custom photo-based artworks with acrylic painting layered over an image of a client’s child. It is a mixed medium work. I start with speaking to the parents about their child, their personalities, and things that they love. Art is so personal and even more sensitive when the main subject is someone’s child. It is a keepsake work and I often see it given as a gift to grandparents or close family members. It is special for the kids too; they see themselves and things they care about all around their image. It can give them a lot of confidence to see themselves in such a special way. After the initial consultation, we discuss a color palette and narrow down the subject matter that I will paint onto the photograph. I will send mockups and we will tweak a few things. This process is collaborative but even more so parent-driven. I am here to support them through this process. I love seeing the work come to life and how much the family enjoys it.
How do you support your daughter in finding her creative expression through clothes?
Since my daughter is still young, she doesn’t have a lot of hair and it can be hard to decipher her gender, which impacts the way I dress her. She wears a lot of pink and calmer tones. I think she can enjoy her day when dressed comfortably and I make sure she has really nice, high quality fabrics. I am allergic to wool, which has made me very careful about the materials I buy for her. I love when we are dressed similarly and she is a small version of me. When it comes to pajamas, I do not hold back. The brighter the better! Pajamas absolutely have to be the most comfortable with very soft fabrics, like Sammy & Nat’s pima cotton. Since children spend significant time in pajamas, I think they should be soft, playful, and bright.
How much do you plan your daughter’s outfits and how much is on a whim each morning?
Nowadays, there is a good chance someone, either another parent or a teacher at one of her classes, will take a photo of my daughter, intentionally or accidentally. So, I want her to be better dressed than I am! I think getting ready every day is important for her routine and you are your best when you look and feel your best. As young as she is, I want her to learn to enjoy getting ready in the mornings and spend time feeling her best before leaving the house. It isn’t like us growing up in the 90s, where our parents have all but 12 pictures of us. Someone can take 12 photos of her that day alone, that will live on the internet forever.
Since she was a young baby, I would have her near me when I got ready, she was always very interested in what I was doing and watched me intently. I also make an effort to give her lots of accessories in her hair because she loves to remove and try to put them back in. She wants to see what she is wearing and wants to enjoy it. She likes to see everything happening to herself and is so very aware.
In terms of how much effort is placed each day on her outfits, it can depend on how we are feeling and what we are doing. Some days we are dressed in relaxed cozy matching sets, like the Meems Wonderland Sweatshirt set, or more dressed up in an outfit like the Meems Harlow Bundle.
What is your favorite creative space to bring your children to (museum/gallery/park?)
We live in Long Island and I love to bring her to New York City. She is so perceptive and loves to watch people. We will walk around the stores and she loves seeing the bright lights around the storefronts. I will bring her to a few gallery shows now, but look forward to introducing her to more art as she grows and becomes even more aware of her surroundings.