I first met Dani Barnes at various fashion functions around town. She had a unique style that always caught my eye. We shared a brief conversation here and there, and sometimes just connected across the room through a wave or a hand heart. I have followed her growing career with awe.

One favourite memory is from VALT 2013. Barnes took to the runway each night with her dance troupe, offering a brand new piece of choreography and totally new costumes each time. Three nights, three numbers – all high energy crowd pleasers. I was seriously impressed. Over the next few years she continued to add to her growing resume. Now the sheer number of careers Barnes embraces on a daily basis is mind-boggling – stylist, dancer, performer, wig designer, producer and more – an artist to the core with a fabulous aesthetic all her own. I have no idea how she has the time and energy to do it all – but she handles it with ease.

To this day we still haven’t managed a one-on-one coffee. Why? I think it’s our very busy schedules combined with the fact that she lives on the North Shore and I’m at the south end of Richmond. I am still hopeful that get-together will happen in the near future.

8Q Spotlight Dani Barnes

What is your current career(s) – paid and unpaid?

I work at Boo La La, a costume company on the North shore as head costume stylist, store and marketing manager.

I recently opened a photography studio as a sister company to Boo La La called Boo Studios. We had three soft opening launches in September and our grande opening shoot and event will be held the the last weekend in November. We do custom styling make overs for clients and professional avant garde photo shoots. The space is available for rentals and equipped with full studio lighting. It’s located IN Boo La La so clients have full access to Western Canada’s largest costume collection. Here I am a stylist, producer, photographer and model when needed.

I have a wig design company and there I am head wig mistress. We create hair sculptures called Bitchin’ Weaves. I have a costume design and styling house called House of Barnes. We create couture costumed characters for performance and style looks for show girls and boys, photo shoots and runway. I also do makeup, hair, choreography and live show production.

I perform as a professional dancer and character performer. I used to do shows as a Lady Gaga impersonator ‘Baby Ga Ga’ and you can catch me as a drag king, drag queen (bio queen they call it), gorelesque performer and contemporary dancer. I used to run a production company called Dani Barnes Productions. It’s currently on the back burner, but we will be producing our first gallery show early next year…..Stay tuned for glamorous details!

Can you share an interesting thing (or two) about your journey to reach this moment?

It’s ALL about the people you meet. I moved to Vancouver seven years ago and spent my first four years really hitting the club and underground arts scene hard. I met a lot of really outrageous people who have grown with me in their fields. It’s amazing to know such a variety of talent and I’ve been able to perfect my craft working on loads of different projects from music videos to installations at the Vancouver Art Gallery.

What 3 things would you like people to know about you to give them a sense of who you really are?

When I am not creating art, I am thinking about politics, feminism, the history of humanity- the human condition? I was raised very, very religious which has caused me to seek deeper truths in all things.

Art for me is an escape from the depth of a mind who seeks answers to life’s endless unanswered questions. I am sensitive to the energies around me.

I have a very loud presence in a room, but I am very in tune with the unspoken vibrations of existence and very effected..

Highest moment so far?

A toss up between my three part production at the Vancouver Art Gallery, shooting with one of my main inspirations – Ophelia Overdose – and receiving my first magazine publication in the mail. I’ve been in Dark Beauty Magazine twice now. It’s pretty amazing to see your work in print.

What are you working on right now? In the next 6 months?

We are editing photos from our first three soft opening shoots at Boo Studios. It’s very hush hush, but my first gallery exhibition is in the making including the premier performance of a new character I am working on. There’s also a new performance collective I am planning to take on a mini tour in West Hollywood for early Spring.

Who and/or what inspires you?

Classical Music. The Synth. Roccoco and 17th Century everything. Gaga and all the people she draws inspiration from. Michael Jackson. Dark Elegance. Religious symbolism and Pagan Ceremony. The cycle of life and death. Creation VS Destruction. COUTURE GOWNS. Weddings (but not marriage). Art Deco lifestyle. Vaudeville. The circus. A man who called himself Osho. Eastern Mysticism.

How do you personally define success?

If you ACTUALLY did your best. Whether it was perfect or not doesn’t matter because for an artist, I do not think perfection will ever be reached. Maybe the death of an artist is perfection. Success for me is having an idea and doing everything in my power to achieve it. Success is daring to try and achieve the impossible. Success is the opposite of laziness.

Favourite quote?

If you love a flower, don’t pick it up.

Because if you pick it up it dies and it ceases to be what you love.

So if you love a flower, let it be.

Love is not about possession.

Love is about appreciation.