Dani Knoph is an artist, writer, and advocate for wildlife conservation in Michigan. She launched Dani Knoph Wildlife Studio in 2017 and co-founded ReWild Michigan in 2018. Her 2019 art collection (soon to be released) features intricate watercolor illustrations of aquatic species of great conservation need in Northwest Michigan. Archival prints of her artwork can be found at specialty shops and galleries. In 2017, Dani joined a statewide effort to reintroduce Northern Michigan’s once predominant native salmonid species, known as the Arctic Grayling. She is part of the fund development team for Michigan’s Arctic Grayling Initiative, and a 2018 Artist-in-Residence at the Good Hart Artist Residency.
In 2017, Dani was asked to write a feature story about Arctic Grayling restoration for Traverse Magazine. Research led her down a rabbit hole through Michigan’s pre-conservation past. Historical records and photography of the late 1800s revealed a grim period of forests cleared of all trees, barren river banks, displaced Native Americans, and declining native wildlife. Learning about this era of mass habitat destruction inspired her to learn about the current state of Michigan wildlife and native species. That’s when a friend introduced her to Michigan’s Wildlife Action Plan, a statewide framework to coordinate conservation for wildlife and habitats by working together toward shared goals—a plan that outlines more than 300 species of great conservation need. She felt called to learn more about this wildlife crisis, meet the people involved and help raise awareness.
Dani received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree from the University of Michigan and studied painting at the Glasgow School of Art. She and her husband Gerard call Elk Rapids home. They are avid cross-country skiers, gardeners and hikers. Exploring northern Michigan rivers by canoe is a favorite, as well as traveling to art shows on the shores of the Great Lakes. They are inspired by many organizations and people who are dedicated to restoring native wildlife and taking care of the land and water in Northern Michigan. These activities and passions have introduced them to a world of purpose and a wonderful sense of community.
Dani’s work begins with a wildlife species of interest and a blank sheet of Arches watercolor paper. She researches, talks with biologists who work with the species, and then begins to draw. She works with old fashioned nib pens and Speedball ink to map out the overall structure and texture observed in photographic references. She then works with fine round brushes to layer transparent watercolor washes in an effort to capture the spirit of natural beauty and wonder. Each illustration is a tribute to its species and the never-ending pursuit of protecting the wild.