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Featured Designer: Debbie Doherty

Debbie Doherty creates art that is a mix of graphical symmetry and freehand whimsy. She is a painter with a twist – a 3rd dimensional twist. She paints with acrylics on canvas, and then creates that extra dimension in her art by utilizing everything from Swarovski Crystals to silk flowers and glitter.

Featured Designer: Debbie Doherty

A self-proclaimed creative nerd, Debbie has been a professional designer since 1994 and recently had her first solo show at the Pacific Art Collective.

NDF: How long have you been a designer and how did you get started?

Debbie: I have been a professional designer since 1994 (and please don’t make me do the math or say it out loud). I’ve always had a creative side but never an outlet I was in love with. In 1993, I got a job as an Office Manager / Photographer’s Assistant with a Professional Photographer. That was the start and I credit him with starting the nerd fires within. He offered photo retouching services and trained me in Photoshop to do that. It was awesome and I am forever grateful to him. Being introduced to digital art with the mix of free form art and technicality was just what I was looking for.  From there, I got into the printing industry, then to the design industry, and finally ending up happily freelancing on my own with D2 Designs. I design everything from logos to websites.


NDF: What are your primary areas of artistic expression outside of graphic design?

Debbie: I’m a nontraditional painter. I paint with acrylic on canvas and then find interesting ways to use glitter. Yep. Glitter. Lately I’ve been also introducing a lot of other 3 dimensional items, from Swarovski Crystals to silk flowers. I love it and the work is getting a warm reception. Strangely, I really dislike the word “glitter.” I think it’s the “crafty” stigma. I agree with a good friend of mine who commented that glitter “is the scourge of the craft world, you just can’t get rid of it.” To which, I replied, “gasp!” Anyway, I would love to find new word for glitter…sparkly goodness is a bit too long but works in a pinch. But I have to say, when the light hits the sparkly goodness just right, it actually gives me butterflies, I love it so much. It also, brings me back to childhood innocence and makes me feel good. On the other hand, it’s modern, fabulous, exciting, and makes my art pop. My work is a mix of graphical symmetry and freehand whimsy. My pieces have been described as “a sparkly twist of complex simplicity” and I love that.

NDF: What made you think of incorporating glitter in your paintings?

Debbie: My love affair with glitter started very early but that isn’t what drew me to use it in the pieces I do now. Actually, the inspiration first happened when I was glancing down at my dogs shiny nose. I thought, ‘how cute it would be to use in a painting discreetly on the nose, just for a little shimmer.’ Then I thought, ‘Oh! The eyes!’ From there I went a little nuts.

NDF: What drew you to art?

Debbie: I have always been drawn to art – surrounded by it. I’ve always been artistic. My Mom and Grandmother were both incredible artists – oil on canvas and photography. For my most recent artistic ventures, I’d have to say that a certain “gift panic” first started the ball rolling.  In 2006, I was at my wits end for a gift for my mom. So, I ended up painting a picture of her dog. The reaction to it was so overwhelming, I pursued it. Soon, I ran out of friends and family and started doing it professionally.

NDF: What inspires you?

Debbie: I find inspiration in everything. Images, mostly. I’m a simple girl like that. They don’t necessarily have to be “art” to be inspiring – a shape, a color, music, too. Hell, I’ll squint my eyes to see what something might look like all sparkly and crave to paint it! So I guess my one word, uninteresting answer to what inspires me is – everything.

NDF: Do you have central themes running through your work?

Debbie: Someone could look at my portfolio and say the central theme is animals. And that’s what I started out painting. But now I paint everything and anything.  I actually created a ‘spin off’ company called ‘Sbarkle Studios just for the animal pieces I do. When I am invited to do art shows though, it’s under Deborah Doherty Designs. I guess another “theme” that could be seen is “rock-and-roll” as I mention in the answer to your next question.

NDF: Animals are obviously part of your inspiration. Do you have pets?

Debbie: I have two dogs and two cats – rival gangs under the same roof! They’re not all holding hands and skipping around the house, but they don’t mind each other either.  The dogs are, Mathilda and Sophia and the cats are, one very androgynous cat, Mr. Lady Man, and last, but not least, Rob Zombie.

NDF: Tell us about some of your most recent projects.

Debbie: I have been juggling both areas of my art, along with graphic design. Between art shows, outside festivals and being contracted to paint dogs, it’s been a glittery whirlwind and I love it! My latest art show, curated by Pacific Art Collective, was actually my first solo show. I was humbled, nervous and excited all at once. That show did have a theme… Rock-and-Roll! I had very literal pieces and abstract ones – from Bob Marley, to a bass guitar, pianos and microphones, even tattoo images. And all of them were gloriously sparkly.

NDF: If you could pass on one thought to other creative people, what would it be?

Debbie: One thought?! If you knew how chatty I was, you’d know how almost impossible it is to narrow it down to one thought. But If I had to pick one, I guess I’d have to steal Nike’s catch phrase… JUST DO IT! Whatever creative thought or idea that pops up, follow through and just do it. Don’t hold back and don’t let anything stop you from bringing it to life. Corny but true.

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