CREATIVITY, DILIGENCE, & DEDICATION
Hello, I’m Deanna. Creating little worlds is all I want to do.
I spend my days in my illustration studio, in rural Pennsylvania, surrounded by herbs and antique curiosities. I enjoy many interesting adventures with my husband, daughter, and Shmoop, the “Office Cat” (#shmooptheofficecat)
Since I was a young child, I’ve been creating. Some of my earliest memories are of making drawings of historic clothing, crafting fairy-tale paper dolls, and designing my own “book covers.”
The work I make is influenced heavily by my affinity for historic eras: Color palettes, patterns, textures, architecture, typography – the list goes on. From Middle Ages to Mid-Century, I love it all.
My preferred method of working is to begin with a traditional sketch in pencil on paper, and then to colorize the image digitally. It’s a two-step process that allows for flexibility and speed, without sacrificing quality. I’m also quite adept at drawing and painting in miniature.
A few of the influential artists in my life have been, in no particular order: Alphonse Mucha, Blanche Fisher Wright, Greg Hildebrandt, Trina Schart Hyman, Arnold Lobel, and Garth Williams.
I was fortunate to train in art school with the great Timothy Truman, who I’m forever indebted to for his advice and expertise. Though I had many wonderful professors, it is his style that influenced me the most.
Pennsylvania College of Art & Design – 2000-2004
Bachelor of Fine Art, Commercial art & Illustration
Brownstown Career & Technology Center – 1999-2000, 2007-2008
Desktop Publishing Certification,
Adobe Certified Associate (CS3)
AN MTV KID IN A SOCIAL MEDIA WORLD
Coming of age in the eighties and nineties, I now find myself in a very rapidly transforming world. The world we have now is not the same as it was when I was in desktop publishing courses in high school, or art school. The internet was new then, and social media didn’t exist. Print industry was still booming, and web design was an up-and-coming career choice.
I’m not a Gen Xer (my parents are closer to that), and I’m not a Millennial. Ours is a unique group of kids. Us, who clearly remember the analog world, and by our teens we had a foot in the digital world. We know the predecessors, the things and processes that the digital world replaced in the blink of an eye.
Staying up to date and relevant is a constant pursuit, one which requires an ongoing effort to educate myself amongst ever-evolving technology.
Due to waning brick and mortar bookstores, craft shows, and retail shops which sell art and novelty items, I’ve had to reinvent myself and what I do a number of times.
An extraordinary amount of discipline and drive are required to balance a home/family life, two chronic illnesses, and be one’s own art director. Life, and all of its curveballs, are the ultimate educator.
BUMPS IN THE ROAD – HOW I GOT TO NOW
“BUFFALO ON THE RIDGE”
In 2010, I completed a project which was an independently published children’s picture book called, “Buffalo on the Ridge.” It was inspired by a cross country trek. Initially, I created, “Buffalo on the Ridge” as a challenge to myself. It was to see whether I could create the characters and carry them through a full thirty-two page book. I intended to create a portfolio piece.
A few video interviews about Buffalo on the Ridge.
LET’S STEP BACK IN TIME FOR A MOMENT
During my senior year at Pennsylvania College of Art & Design, I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Battling this illness delayed my entrance into the art world.
So, after a three year hiatus, in 2007, I returned to the vocational school I had attended while in high school, this time as an “adult student” to update my desktop publishing certification.
My full intention was to gain work in the printing industry, and possibly freelance illustration. I graduated from Brownstown Career & Technology Center in spring of 2008 with merit, as I had also been awarded in 2000. At the same time, I became an Adobe Certified Associate (Visual Communication Photoshop CS3 5/13/2008.)
“Do What You Can With What You Have Where You Are” — Theodore Roosevelt
While working on “Buffalo on the Ridge” I utilized the skills I’d gained in layout design; formatting my painted, scanned, and color corrected illustrations, and the text I had written, into an educational early reader.
It took two years to complete, from idea to book-in-hand. I learned technical information about creating picture books, and also researched every animal, insect, and plant in the book’s glossary. I even called an exterminator in South Dakota when I needed some information (very helpful folk out there!)
In spite of my own self doubt, “Buffalo on the Ridge,” along with prints of the illustrations, sold quite well regionally and nationwide. Custer State park in South Dakota (where the plot is set) even ordered copies for their park, and surrounding parks, gift shops. Borders was also selling it before their closure, as well as several smaller retail shops locally, most of whom have sadly met a similar fate.
In January of 2011, I became a mother. I continued to promote my book, do book readings and signings, gallery shows, and also did commissions.
However, over the next nine years my health waned. I’d experienced trauma during childbirth (Placenta Accreta – just like Kim Kardashian) and over the next years, I developed Endometriosis, a powerfully painful disease – both physically and mentally. Finding a diagnosis, and enduring multiple surgeries, set my art career back once more.
CREATING “GREASE AND GRACE” SHOP
Before the Endometriosis took its full effect, in summer of 2012 I started a niche business, selling retro-inspired art and goods that my family and I make. It was something I could do on my own, in my time, when I was well, and kept me creating. We came up with a name, a logo, and a plan.
Via the school of hard knocks, I figured my way through learning about key words, SEO, taxes, and the world of e-commerce to create Grease and Grace. I continue to create and sell, and I developed a line of greeting cards that support my art habit.
I wear many hats at Grease and Grace. For my shop, and also as a freelance artist, the following are part of my repertoire:
- Website design and maintenance
- Logo Design
- Record-keeping, sales tax, and boring number stuff
- Product photography and staging
- Scanning and color correction, pre-press
- Packaging and shipping
- Social media marketing
- Vendor booth setup and staging
…and maybe making more art in between it all
Related Software I Can Use Proficiently,
(Or Know Enough to be Dangerous With)
- InDesign (In early years I learned Quark XPress)
- Premiere and Final Cut Pro
- Tayasui Sketches App
In October of 2019, I was gifted a sketchbook for The Sketchbook Project.
When I was given the sketchbook by a friend, I had just experienced the better part of a year on a grueling hormone altering injection intended to help with Endometriosis, and was about a month out from major surgery. I had heard of the project, but was unsure what it really was; I waited to look into it further for another month.
As soon as I read the concept, I was on board. I had ambitions to make something really personal to me. My friend said she wanted there to be, “a record” of me, which I took literally, designing what would become a collection of sketches of my life in a nutshell.
I didn’t realize until part way through the process that there was a deadline to meet, if the artist wished to be a part of the mobile exhibition. Since this appealed to me, I hustled to meet the February deadline in two months time (including Christmas holiday, yikes!)
THE SKETCHBOOK PROJECT – Vol. 15 (The Brooklyn Art Library)
“Believe” Call Number: 373.26-2
• “Believe” will be on mobile tour with the Sketchbook Project Bookmobile later in 2020. (UPDATE: Will not tour due to fire involving library media)
• The digital version & original are available at their library The book is available to read on my own site, here.
As an artist with disabilities, I decided to use this book as an opportunity to tell my life story. At thirty-eight years old, my lengthy list of medical experiences have given me a lot of stories to tell.
My sketchbook is formatted like a ‘book dummy.’ Also called a “mock-up,” a picture book dummy is usually the thing an artist sends off to see if a publisher thinks the book is publishable. It is generally made up of the story’s complete text, and pencil sketches for the majority of the images.
I attended vocational school for desktop publishing (formatting text and laying out pages for publications) and art school, graduating with a degree in commercial art/illustration in 2004. A diagnoses was made in early 2004 of Multiple Sclerosis. Around 2012 I was diagnosed with Endometriosis.
The process of telling my life’s story in fifteen illustrations and seventeen written pages was difficult, technically and emotionally. It’s been a cathartic experience, and one I shall never forget. My hope is that by telling my story, others who experience chronic pain or disabilities of any kind (mental or physical) will find hope and a virtual friend in their time of need.