The Story Behind The Art Shop
In honor of March not only being the month that celebrates women but also the month I finally launched Deeryard’s Art Shop, I wanted to share a little history of my art and why this launch means so much more to me than just having an online shop.
I presume normally with these kinds of things you start at the beginning, but I’m not sure if there ever was a beginning. I grew up with a huge love for arts and crafts, like many kids. It wasn’t until I was in school for a couple years that I began to realize I was really, REALLY good at coloring inside the lines. My book reports complete with diorama boxes were the hit of the class presentations. And when I decided to draw and design my own name tag for my desk, everyone wanted one too. I started to become more aware that the compliments that my friends were giving me weren’t just kind gestures but sincere observations.
I enjoyed the compliments, and obviously the attention, but in all honesty, I grew up thinking this talent wasn’t that big of a deal. It seemed normal to me, like riding a bike, or swimming in a pool. I felt more like it was just something I paid more attention to than the other kids. I wanted to color inside the lines because the pictures looked more clean and organized. I redrew cartoon characters over and over again because I wanted them to look like themselves, and not some creepy zombie character that was drawn like it ate the other cartoons. I wanted to make things look good. Really good. The way they were meant to look, at least to me, and I made sure of it by putting the extra time, attention, and detail into every single one of my school projects. But even then, I never saw myself with some kind of “unique” gift or talent.
It wasn’t until years later when I was filling out my college applications that my mindset began to change. I was trying to figure out what I wanted my major to be, and at the time, my favorite classes were the many art classes I used for all my electives. I didn’t like anything else, and I wasn’t good at anything else. So I literally said, “Might as well,” and sent in my applications with Painting as my major.
Spoiler Alert: I got into art school, and it was…interesting. I made more art than I knew what to do with, but a lot of it was just terrible. Some of my professors would assign projects with specific concepts in mind, and I would make pieces that I absolutely hated drawing just to adapt to the kind of piece they were expecting to see. I was just wasting time, and money, (because art supplies is not cheap), on some crappy piece that, sure, was drawn well, but lacked an enormous amount of my personal aesthetics, my story, or simply myself entirely. There was no REAL artist with a message and personal concepts to share behind these pieces. And soon those compliments that I heard all the time, the graded A’s given to me by my teachers started feeling a little fraudulent. I was fooling everyone including myself.
And then there were the times that I did put myself into my work, and made something just for me, and my professors would ripe it apart. Not literally, of course. Who would be such a dick? But then again, when I felt like I was on the path to discovering a little more about my aesthetics, I was slapped on the hand, so to speak. I felt constantly torn between MY art and the art my professors wanted me to make. There was no in between, and I never could get it quite right.
Art school was just a tough time, and while I learned quite a bit from a technical perspective, the ambition and the desire fell by the way side. I didn’t want to be an artist. I was convinced that the only way to be successful with an art career is to consistently make these conceptual bullcrap pieces, beg, pay, and plea to gallery curators to have your art hung, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to pay your rent. No thank you. That is a hard pass for me. I decided to go back to having my art be a hobby and nothing more. And it stayed like that up until 2018.
In those four years between college graduation and 2018, I didn’t make a lot of art. At least I don’t think I made that much: a couple murals, a couple commissions, a drawing here and there. But what I did do that ended up serving a great purpose is I started dipping into some graphic design work. That, combined with getting my first corporate job left me with a big, fat paycheck and the start of knowing my worth as an artist. And let me tell you, when someone takes you seriously, pays you the money you truly deserve as an artist, and you can pay all your bills with it, man, is it a great feeling! A great feeling that lasted up until the point that I realized I was actually no longer an artist. I was a machine—a big, shiny, red button that people loved to press all day long, demanding one design after another, after another, after another, after another.
So is life, right? I mean, I get that I’m literally describing the job of a graphic designer. I wasn’t an artist anymore, I was a designer. And I still call myself a graphic designer today. But the part that I haven’t told you yet is what was happening behind the scenes. I won’t go into too much detail in this blog about it, but the short version was that my life was crumbling down around me. My family, my marriage, my finances, my faith, and most importantly, me. Me as a human being. I was completely broken because in 2018 I had my very first, very real panic attack. And I had this corporate job on top of it all that I really didn’t want, but felt a lot of pressure to keep. These were the darkest days I have ever lived through. Maybe it was a classic quarter life crisis that showed up right on schedule. I’m not sure. I just knew something HAD to change.
So, I quit. I said no to the big, fatty paycheck, at the same that I had the smallest amount of money to my name in years. I said good-bye to a steady income at the same time that we just bought our first house and had to pay our mortgage. I knew it in my heart that this was what I had to do, so to hell with reason. All of this was only six months ago, and guess what? We’re doing okay. I’m doing okay. I started really looking at myself, evaluating the damage, and ultimately, learning how to heal. I sought professional help as well as explored my own remedies. I started by asking myself a lot of questions like, what brings me true joy?, what do I ultimately want to accomplish in my life, or for better, what legacy do I want to leave?, and who or what have I been living for and do I want to change this?
When I began discovering the answers to my questions, I could feel my heart naturally beginning to shift. Here’s my answers:
What brings me true joy is creating something beautiful/grand/inspiring out of something that was deemed nothing/trash/broken.
The legacy that I want to leave is someone who just emits pure inspiration and love in everything they do.
I have been living for worry, for appearances, and for pride. Yes, I very much want to change this.
This Art Shop has been a growing idea for a long, LONG time. I believe there were certain lessons to be learned, bends to go around, and sacrifices that had to be made in order for this shop to become a reality. To me, this is more than an Art Shop. This is a promise I made to myself. To cute, little Emery who thought her art was nothing more than a hobby, to twenty-something Emery who thought there was only one way to live a life as an artist, and to Emery from not so long ago who no longer recognized herself in the mirror because she had fallen so far: this gift is a responsibility that’s been entrusted to you. I know now that this gift makes me, ME, and if I leave it unkept, it will ruin me. Therefore, I made a commitment—Deeryard Designs, complete with its very own art shop. I might sell some of my prints, and I might not. I’m not betting on it either way. What matters is that Deeryard brings me great joy, allows me to constantly use my creativity, and ultimately, grounds me in grace. All of which are the necessities I need to feed my soul, every day.