Monthly Artist Feature – (August 2019) – Desreen Daley

Artist’s Name: Desreen Daley

Name of Brand: D’Gallery

Artist’s Age: 30

Artform: Painting

Why do you do what you do? When did you realize a passion for what you do?

We had a pixie in 2015 and we were supposed to get something for the person that we were treating. I wanted it to be something that was from my heart and that meant something because I was doing it for a friend. So painting just kind of happened. I saw something that I wanted to purchase and it was $10,000.00. It was hand-made, so it could be considered a hand-made gift, but it wasn’t hand-made by me so I was like “okay, how can I duplicate this without having to cut stones?”, so I took a picture of it and decided that I was going to paint it.

In the process of painting, it was very relaxing, very soothing, and I realized that I enjoyed doing it. I just kept on going, even though it was late and I didn’t feel like stopping, even though I was tired. I didn’t paint again until 2017 and it was just out of share emotion. I just felt the need to paint and it just happened and I kept on doing it and I just realized more and more that it soothed me and that it is a great way of expressing myself without speaking. It was expressing my emotions without having to say words.

*** A pixie is an anonymous gift exchange that is typically done in Jamaica by organizations, institutions and groups during the Christmas period (similar to a Secret Santa).

What is your educational background?

I have a degree in Human Resource Management.

What are some of the challenges that you have faced while trying to pursue your passion?

Because what I do is a very emotional thing, if I’m not in a certain space mentally, or emotionally, I’m incapable of painting. Time is also a big factor, because I have a 9 – 5 that is very demanding and I give a lot to my 9 – 5 so it spills over into personal [time]. For me to be in a creative space, I need to feel like I have time and I don’t have too many things on my mind but can really tap into my emotions, so that for me is like a balancing act. That’s the biggest challenge.

Have you encountered people who have been skeptical about your dreams?

The thing is, people have not been explicitly open about their lack of support. There are certain comments that people will make and, because I’m a very intuitive person, I can read into those comments. I get more compliments than anything else. I’ve had people say that I’m doing too many things, but not explicitly say “don’t do this.”

How did you initially react to those people and how do you act towards them now?

Naturally, I really don’t care. I just keep pressing, I keep doing what I want to do and what speaks to me. It’s not about what other people want, or pleasing other people. It’s really tapping into my potential into the things that I love and not being driven by other people’s opinions really.

What are some of the fears that you face even today?

One of my biggest fears was putting it out there. So, even though I started the page, if you notice I don’t post myself (except for when I posted the article). I’ve only posted about the gallery, or the pictures, or the clients … I didn’t post about the artist, because I didn’t really want to put myself out there. This was [initially] a hobby that I really enjoyed doing, [I didn’t look at it as] necessarily the thing that I was called to do as my purpose. So I was fearful of saying “this is it, and this is me,” because if you put it out there, there is no turning back, you literally have to go and give it everything you have. This is no longer just D’Gallery, it’s Desreen. You have to have a certain standard for yourself and I have a certain standard for myself and so I would have to give is Desreen 150%.

How do you deal with those fears?

I have to set timelines and I have to hold myself accountable by putting it out there.

How do you work? What is the method to your ‘madness’ and how do you filter your creativity?

Bwoii, there is just bare madness. To be honest, when I decide to paint something, I don’t really know what I’m going to paint. It just naturally happens and even the technique and stuff just kind of happens.

When I just started out … you’ll notice lines, just clear defined lines; structured (not extremely structured but structured) and I feel that’s my personality through and through. The colours, I think, give it that structured feel. Then, as I’ve evolved, I’ve realized that I’ve used less lines and kind of just merged everything into one. My painting is also indicative of where I am in life and so now I’m just trying to merge everything into one. I’m still trying to find structure [since that’s the type of person I am] in all the things that I do.

What role do you believe “the artist” has in society? / How do you feel your artform has the power to benefit society?

I believe that every gift that you have is given to you for a reason and it’s to serve someone in some way, somehow, some shape and form.

For me, initially, [doing] HR is what fed the most into my purpose, but then I had to figure out, how does the painting and designing feed into purpose because that is important to me. I think the purpose of me doing this is not necessarily the artwork and saying “that this is a magnificent painting.” It’s really to [speak] to somebody who started out like me, not having certain guidance , not having that person behind you saying “you do stuff outside of the typical, you can aspire for this.” It is really to tell somebody that the things that you love and enjoy are really the things that you’re supposed to end up doing with your life.

Life is a gift that you’re supposed to use each day to just feel a sense of fulfillment and happiness and you should do things that speak to your soul and that really express who you are as a person. That’s my artwork and what I think it does. It really tells another young person “do the things that you love, just do it and figure out how you’re going to survive from it. Do not settle for just doing what society tells you to do.” Nobody’s parents tells them to go and aspire to be an artist, nobody tells us that. They tell you lawyer, teacher, doctor … nobody tells you go and do what you love to do and make it into something. That’s really what I want my artwork, my painting and my designing to say to people. 

Out of all your work, which piece resonates the most with you?

My first painting because, when I started out the painting, I had no idea what I was doing. I literally went back to the office to get the supplies I used for my pixie’s painting and I just started without a clue of what it was going to be. When it was finished, it looked like that heart machine that goes up and down and also looks like the lines in music. At the time that I did the painting, I was emotional and going through some stuff, and it kind of just mimicked what I was going through. The ups and the downs, the highs and lows and the mixture of emotions in terms of the colours.

By what terms do you measure success or perfection? When do you feel like you can say that your work is finished and ready to be experienced by others?

I never really feel like it’s finished, to be honest. I just choose to be done. My brain is always looking for exceptional and I rarely find exceptional and so I never really feel like they’re finished.

Sometimes the paintings that I hate the most are the ones that persons love the most. I never really feel like they’re perfect.

To be honest, I really like to keep them for myself and when I separate from them it’s very hard. There was this particular one that I sold in December to a client who wanted it for his mom and when we agreed on a price I was like “bwoii, I really don’t want to sell it, I’d prefer to keep it at home, on my wall.” It was very difficult.

What elements of your career bring you the most stress?

The anxiety around where everything is going to end up. Since I can do so many things, I fear not giving them all 150%. I just don’t want to fail, I think that’s the biggest fear around it all and I don’t want to be mediocre in anything that I do. Right now, I don’t post as much on the D’Gallery page, because the quality is not where I want it to be right now. I want to deliver really high quality stuff and so my concern is whether or not I’ll be able to do all that I want to do and deliver at that level.

What is some advice that you would give to anyone who is trying to walk the same path as you?

I would tell fellow artists that they should never compromise or give up on their dreams. First of all, dream big. Do not just look at what you’re doing as “oh, I’m just painting a piece.” Look at it as if you’re creating a lifelong experience for somebody who acquires the piece and do not dumb down or just do it “because of.” Make sure that you’re doing it because it has a deeper meaning or you have a deeper connection with what you’re doing.

Constantly challenge yourself with creating high quality for the people you’re catering to or serving. Don’t allow yourself or anyone else to put a limit on what you’re doing. You are creating an experience for everyone who is going to walk into that person’s home, office, or wherever and see that artwork. You’re telling a story and making an impact, so make a damn big impact, don’t play it small and constantly challenge yourself to improve. Don’t let anyone deter you from doing the things that you want to achieve in life. If you think about all the successful people in life, they take simple things and the things that we take for granted, and create something grand. They think about impact.

In anything that you do, no matter what it is, it could be sweeping somebody’s yard. The way you do it, the quality in which you do it, leaves a lasting effect. You want that when you’re dead and gone your legacy lives on. What is the legacy you want to create with your painting? What is the story that you want to tell? Play big or just don’t do it at all.

“Life is a gift that you’re supposed to use each day to just feel a sense of fulfillment and happiness and you should do things that speak to your soul and that really express who you are as a person.”

~ Desreen Daley