Tell us a bit about yourself.
We are Daniella Valerio and Sandrine Molnar, creators of Monorail Studio based out of Austin, Texas. Daniella grew up in South Texas going fishing, enjoying the ocean and spending time with her family and friends. I spent much of my childhood traveling around the world with my family until finally setting down in Austin.
We met while completing our studio art degrees at the University of Texas at Austin. We both have a love of printmaking, and it was only after we graduated that we decided to start up a studio focusing on screenprints.
We get so much enjoyment out of creating an illustration, transferring the image to screen and finally printing each individual poster by hand. We relish the idea behind printmaking and how it allows us to share our art with everyone. It’s a process of love and we hope it shows in our products.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Sandrine: We both love food and spend a lot of time cooking up new dishes and exploring Austin eateries. When we get the chance to travel, we get to know a city by the food. I enjoy gardening, watercoloring, renovating my house and working as a freelance artist. There are just so many things to do and not enough time to do it.
Daniella: I currently work as a production artist and full-time food fanatic. I mainly draw and attempt to learn French and Spanish during my free time. My favorite thing to do, though, is drink a cup of coffee, sit outside and come up with new ideas and designs.
What would be the title of your memoir?
Sandrine: Try, Try Again definitely reflects much of my process. There is a lot of trial and error involved in creating and finding what works for your product and your process. Whether it’s an illustration that isn’t quite working or a technical screenprinting problem, I won’t stop until I get it right.
Daniella: No Regrets. It explains my way of life. There is no point in doing what you don’t love and never taking any chances. Living with regret is not something I plan on doing; instead I want to focus only on smiling, laughing and eating.
Where does your inspiration come from?
We take a lot of inspiration from classic iconography, pop culture, and clean modern design. We also are very inspired by the sea since we both spent a lot of time growing up around it.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade means a labor of love. Passion for your art form is mandatory since there is no point in creating something over and over if you don’t enjoy doing it.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
Aside from our parents supporting our artistic talent since we were young, we are each others’ greatest influence. We are constantly bouncing ideas off one another. When one of us is stuck, the other is there to help start get the creative juices flowing. Once we have an illustration or sketch done we see what the other has to say and more often than not end up tweaking the image. A lot of the time we don’t even know who was responsible for some of the images since they reflect both of us and involved both of our inputs.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I think for both of us it was never a question of knowing when. We have always been artists and makers. It’s encoded into us — we have been drawing since we were small children.
How would you describe your creative process?
It was a natural progression from childhood doodles and clay jewelry to now screenprinting and making art for a living. The creative mind of an artist and maker dissects things and figures out how they are made. I don’t think either one of us can think of a time we didn’t do this. Artists always find a way to make.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Sandrine: I would love to watch the process of Pacific Northwest Indian tribes. The story behind each carved, woven or painted image is of constant intrigue for me. I would also love to peek inside the studio of Suzy Lee. I love the way she conveys a story with her drawings — they are so simple but also extremely effective.
Daniella: Peeking into Aaron Horkey’s studio would be a dream come true. His sickening detail, amazing compositions, and extravagant fonts are a great source of inspiration for me. I own one of his prints and find myself starring at it occasionally, trying to figure out his layering process and just obsessing over his detail.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Daniella: I have a small wooden figurine that my older sister carved for my birthday seven years ago. It was one of my favorite characters from a video game that we would play together all the time when I was very young. It was such a thoughtful gift. I’ve carried it around ever since.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Stepping away from our work and into the kitchen or the garden seems to jolt our creativity. It gives us a break from the constant creative thinking that needs to take place in order for our art to thrive. When we need some inspiration, flipping through books from the library or bookstore seems to help. Sometimes you need to look at other work to get yourself into a more creative mindset.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
We would like our studio to expand and include new products such as apparel, accessories and housewares. We hope to see ourselves working full time on Monorail Studio and being successful artists doing what we love.