Daniel Clark

School: Tyler School of Art and Architecture
Degree: BFA, painting and drawing, 2017
Hometown: Narberth, Pennsylvania

Daniel Clark, TYL ’17, would never claim to be a minimalist. He prefers to layer furniture, art objects and architecture in ways that tell a story. "These antique objects I find all have their own histories and past lives,” he said. “I wonder who made them and who lived with them. They add a deep richness to my life and home.” Today, Clark is is the founder and owner of D.P. Clark Studio, a company that is dedicated to the conservation of furniture, decorative arts and interior architecture.

Childhood curiosities

Growing up in Narberth, Pennsylvania, he became close with his grandparents. The old objects in their house, like a crystal chandelier and his grandfather’s pocket watches, fascinated Clark.

“I wanted to know about these beautiful things, and they were happy to pass along the stories,” he said. “Some of my favorite times with my grandfather were mornings before holidays spent polishing silver at the kitchen table.” He learned that heirlooms could serve as reliquaries, holding the memories of past eras, experiences and people.

Narberth was perfect for a child with Clark’s predisposition toward older objects. The town had a number of handsome Victorian homes, and old estates of the Main Line dotted nearby Wynnewood and Gladwyne.

The closest of those estates was a mysterious castle in the woods called Maybrook. He wrote a letter to the owner asking to tour the house. The request was granted, a friendship developed, and Clark spent the next several summers working as a landscaper on the property. One day while cleaning out the Victorian-era barn, he came across impressive but heavily damaged antique furniture. Clark started restoring.

“It was a very special moment where I got the chance to work hands-on and learn from these pieces,” he said. And this wasn’t your everyday barn junk. The first major piece Clark restored was an 18th century European ebony and lapis cabinet. 

Painting a picture

Clark first went to Cornell University to study art but felt like something was missing.

Meanwhile, his best friend from high school had enrolled at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art and Architecture and was enjoying the work she was creating. Clark applied to transfer and got in.

Switching to Temple quickly became the right choice. In pursuing a degree in painting and drawing at the Tyler School of Art and Architecture, Clark expanded his knowledge of working with different materials and depicting a wide range of objects. 

He enjoyed painting carefully constructed still lives and interior settings, as well as imagined landscapes and early memories. His thesis show featured train paintings that compared the grandeur of the American landscape with a hand-built model railroad in the center of the gallery.

Clark further honed his skills when he studied art at Temple’s Rome campus for two semesters. “My work really took leaps and bounds that year. I was painting every day and looking at the best buildings and artwork in the western world,” he recalls. “I created a lot of good art and a lot of bad art. It was all flowing out.” During his time there, the university had student shows that artists, collectors and members of the community would attend. Clark sold or traded a number of his pieces to Roman artists and collectors.

Daniel Clark smiles in front of his woodshop.
Daniel Clark poses for a photo.

“Temple is a place where if you have a lot of drive and goals there are people willing to help you and make it happen. An entrepreneurial spirit just works very well here.”

–Daniel Clark
Owner, D.P. Clark Studio

Preserving a legacy

Clark’s first job out of college was with Materials Conservation, one of the top conservation firms in Philadelphia. While there, he helped manage historic sites and collections, painted the ceiling in Philadelphia’s City Hall, preserved the city’s public artwork, and cleaned up the midcentury murals near Temple’s Speakman Hall.

Last February, he started D.P. Clark Studio, which aims to conserve historic artistic objects and structures. Clark feels proud after his first successful year running his own business. “I’ve found there is demand for this type of work, and I am the new generation of this trade. Every day is a new challenge and opportunity to preserve and learn from our material culture.”

Clark says that his business acumen—from his early days working at Maybrook to starting his own company—was emboldened at Temple.

“Temple is a place where if you have a lot of drive and goals there are people willing to help you and make it happen,” he said. “An entrepreneurial spirit just works very well here.”