Erin Daye Donohoe

When I was in primary school, I had two pen pals from overseas who I wrote to via snail mail. One was a girl from Ireland (I forget her name) who had red hair like me, and the other was a boy named Nils from Germany. I think I may have fancied him.

We exchanged photos and pictures, discussed our hobbies and favourite foods, and wrote to each other on actual paper using envelopes and postage stamps.

Although we drifted apart, I’ve often wondered where they are now, and what their lives are like. Are they on Facebook? Are they adults with families of their own? What do they think of Brexit?

One of the upsides of our ever-connected lives is that we can forge new friendships overseas, and make virtual pen pals.

Based in the UK, Erin Daye Donohoe is one of those. Thanks to the wonderful world of Instagram, we have gotten to know each other, shared photos of our lives and – get this – talked about our aspirations and vulnerabilities.

Originally based in London working as a designer, Erin recently made the gutsy decision to quit her fashion career and build her own creative studio in Guildford, Surrey. I totes admire her for it.

Check out my interview with Erin below to hear her thoughts on art, authenticity and the things that are worth fighting for.

RG: Hey Erin! Tell is about yourself, and why you do what you do.

ED: I have been a fashion designer working in London and freelance for over ten years. My expertise is within yoga, sportswear and athleisure apparel design. I also create surface print designs and research into sustainable textiles for my clients. I have always painted from a young age and never stop creating and making. I believe this is what I was born to do. I recently quit my London design Job of eight years to throw myself into my artwork. It’s quite daunting but exciting at the same time!

RG: You make some pretty empowering art! Has self belief been something you’ve always had, or did you have to work at it?

ED: I want to make people believe they are beautiful inside and out. Empowerment goes up and down like waves for me. Being an artist I can become very self-critical, so when this happens I immerse myself in creating art that has empowering messages to help build confidence and strength. I share these messages on my instagram because I believe if it’s helping me, then others may benefit from it too. 

RG: What led you to choose painting and visual art as your medium?

ED: It’s my true calling. It’s a natural instinct for me. I paint every day and am inspired a lot by my Ashtanga Yoga practice. Today it’s snowing in the UK and I walked to my local national park to photograph inspiration to paint. I like to express the feeling and movement of what is inspiring me, as well as the image. 

RG: How does it feel to know that people on the other side of the world are following your work and that your messaging resonates with them?

ED: I feel over the moon. It is the best compliment to know others are enjoying my artwork. Its makes me want to continue this journey even more!

RG: What does ‘real’ mean to you? (the title of my site is The Real Girl)

ED: To be your unapologetic authentic self. With all our layers peeled back and vulnerability out in the open. We can confront anything if we accept ourself and stand strong. This is what ‘real’ means to me. 

RG: What are you willing to fight for?

ED: ‘Fight’ resonates with me on many levels. I personally have been through physical and mental trauma in my life and I had to fight through that to get to the other side. This year I am fighting to live by my true element, to take jobs that I am passionate about and to live a life of pure humbleness. 

You can find Erin online at, and follow her here @erindayedonohoe