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Local artist feature from UICA: Danielle Truss

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I'm originally from the UK mostly London, and have been here in GR for almost 5 years, I studied fashion, textiles and bespoke tailoring and now work as a costume designer.

/Courtesy of UICA

Underwriting support from:
Danielle Truss

Danielle Truss /Courtesy of UICA

/Courtesy of UICA

Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts invites you to learn more about West Michigan's creative workforce, neighboring cultural organizations, and about ways to engage with Grand Rapids' art-scene with interviews and guest features highlighting our local and regional community members. Visit for monthly interviews.

Give us a short bio.

Hello, my name is Danielle Truss, but everyone calls me Dani, I'm originally from the UK mostly London, and have been here in GR for almost 5 years, I studied fashion, textiles and bespoke tailoring and now work as a costume designer.

How would you describe your work/the work you do?

I work as a costume designer primarily for ballet, I am currently branching into fine art collaborations. I am heavily influenced by fashion and history.

How did you start your career as an artist?

I started out as a costume shop manager at Grand Rapids Ballet but was let go which really was a blessing because the only part of the job I really loved was designing and making the costumes for Dangerous Liaisons which started my work in ballet with Annabelle Ochoa Lopez.

Who or what has been the biggest single influence on your way of thinking?

I would say my parents are my biggest influence, I'm in my 30s but still use their wisdom to help me stay sane, my Dad is hard-working and logical, my Mum is passionate and strong willed and my Step-Dad is diligent and focused, between the three of them I find a work ethic that has helped me tremendously.

Do you have a piece of work or a project that stands out in your mind as something you are exceptionally proud of or that is particularly important to you?

The last piece I designed for at Les Grands Ballets called Vendetta is my masterpiece so far, it is a Mafia story with a female protagonist. I got to design costumes from the 50s/60s and be at the helm of a huge production. The team there were unbelievable and every person involved gave it their all, I learnt a lot about myself and how to better at my job.

What new projects do you have on the horizon?

I'm currently working on a collaboration with Isaac Aoki but it's early days and I'm also preparing for a contemporary production of The Little Prince next year at BalletX.

What do you want others outside of the creative workforce to understand about careers within the arts?

That finding a career in the arts usually means finding a job elsewhere, I work two other jobs as well as designing work because arts funding is low or non existent. A lot of US ballet and theatre companies are supported by local sponsors alone. So if you can, give your time or money or patronage to your local arts organisations, because it really makes a difference.

What are you passionate about besides your work?

Equality for all people and taking care of the planet, I have started to incorporate this into my work a lot also. Travelling is something I really love too, learning about other countries culture and history firsthand.

What’s the best piece of advice you have heard and repeat to others?

“It's not like we are curing cancer” or “What we have is what we will have on the night” Working in ballet there are a lot of deadlines and pressure for perfection that the people working in it put on themselves (I'm sure like every job) and when it gets really stressful or someone beats themself up about how much more they could have done I usually say one of these two phrases that have been said to me a million times.

Where can we learn more about you?

On my website or my Instagram @danitruss.

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