Being Dad: Daniel Arsham

For artist Daniel Arsham, being a father has only fueled his creativity. And that’s a good thing, considering the sculptor, painter and visual artist is busy working on collaborations with the likes of Usher and Pharrell Williams.

The day breaks early for artist Daniel Arsham. He and his wife, French-born Stephanie Jeanroy, live in Manhattan, where the alarm buzzes at 6.30am for Daniel to head to the gym. “Sometimes Casper is up, sometimes not,” he says. Casper, of course, is the couple’s three-year-old son – soon to be joined by a sibling, as yet unnamed.

After the gym, it’s time to get Casper dressed and off to school – something Daniel does on his way to the studio. “Once I’m at the studio,” he says, “I’m there all day. I do everything from sculpture to painting, to film and architecture.” If it sounds like Arsham is underselling himself, he is: the artist is beloved by celebrities and has works in both MOMA and the MCA Miami. In 2005, Hedi Slimane commissioned him to design the fitting rooms at Dior Homme’s Los Angeles store (true to his work, which often involves erosion as a theme, the walls of the fitting rooms seem to melt, and the mirror appear to be excavated from the wall). And more recently, he collaborated with Pharrell Williams on an installation piece that remade his old Casio keyboard in volcanic ash, shattered glass, crystal and steel.

So how does he balance the need to be creatively fueled at work, and the often repetitious days that come with early parenthood? For Daniel, the two are symbiotic. “Being a dad has brought me back to my own childhood, where everything holds wonder and is new and fresh. One of the greatest joys of being a parent is seeing things the way your children do, through completely fresh eyes.”

The greatest challenge, he says, of balancing a young family with his demanding work is his travel schedule. As such, Daniel has made a rule to never be away from home longer than seven days in a row, and he relishes the time spent with Stephanie and Casper.

On days off from the studio, you’re likely to find the growing family “anywhere by the water” or in a gallery or museum. “We love just walking around the city, finding new things to see and do. That’s the great thing about kids; they think everything is exciting. It’s nice to be swept up in that.”

As for what he hopes to teach Casper – apart from patience and respect, two defining traits he says he’s forever grateful to his own parents for – Daniel says it boils down to figuring out where we all sit in the world. “Personally, I think it’s very important for children to understand their place in the world. I think it is very important to teach children to be humble.”