When we were brainstorming about which awesome #HOCbabe would best encompass the badbabe vibe of 'Bunnies Day Off', DEB was a no brainer. Her playful and colorful murals highlight stunning bunnies being bad AF - just like us. After the photoshoot we chatted with the Mebourne-born painter for a Q&A about what inspires her colorful works of art, her life and a recent accident that has led her on a new course of art and self discovery.
Deb is one of Australia’s leading contemporary artists. Her instantly recognizable fine art and murals are splashed across the breadth of Australia and beyond. Deb works with many different materials, across a multitude of surfaces, from aerosols on the street and selected interiors, to acrylics, oils & gauche on wood or canvas, digital design, illustration and sculpture.
Her art is a mixture of fantasy and fiction; the fusion of reality and a fairytale world that exists in her mind amongst thoughts and emotions from present and past lives. Her inspirations are both diverse and forever changing as she evolves as an artist.
You mentioned past lives in your bio - can you elaborate on that?
Hmm. Well, I think I believe in past lives.. or spirits or the soul jumping from one being to the next.. or energy transferring. I’m not sure exactly. I saw a spiritual healer a few times that is pretty amazing and she seemed to see a lot of links as to why I am a hard working artist. The two personalities of my past that I was told about from this lady, that stood out to me, were a woman and a boy from hundreds of years ago. The lady always had wanted to be a painter, but had spent her whole life having many children and never had the time and was sad about it her whole life
The other was a boy that was forced into creative production early in life and working on complete overdrive. Funny enough, makes some sense because I am not as happy, in any time that I’m not able to be creative, and when I am creative I tend to go into complete overdrive. Those are just a couple of examples relating to me but I am super interested in other people’s experiences with looking into past lives.
Do you have a favorite piece? - or one that is extra meaningful?
I think I have several I feel attached to! There’s a set of playing cards in my works from about 7 years ago that I still feel pretty connected to. But it’s hard to say one single artwork. All my artworks have different stories behind them.
Usually my favorite pieces are from darker times of my life, like pain, heart ache or devastation/loss of some kind. Usually that brews up a lot of extra depth and detail into a piece. From the perspective of the action of painting the art and how that feels, I sometimes enjoy painting more complicated then simple.
How did growing up down under inspire your work?
Well firstly Australia is a beautiful country (and we have fair health care, which in comparison, is heart breaking in USA) . We have beautiful scenery and amazing beaches, but the people there are super enthusiastic about things in general, and there is strong support for the arts over there. Even in my last couple years of high school, 20 years ago, I was able to do mostly art subjects and this is definitely where I made my choice to become a full time artist. Like any country there are good things and bad things. So this question is a broad, I don’t know how my childhood or upbringing brought me to becoming an artist exactly but since my earliest memory I was drawing, painting, and scribbling on anything I could find. There were artists in my bloodline so I think it was inevitable. I think no matter what country I was brought into, this was going to happen. But just to also mention.. the beginning of my art career was super male dominated so I really had to push super hard for many years till this saw a change and that’s a whole topic in its self.
You live in San Fran now - Any insiders spots you can let us in on?
I have a few favorite spots actually! To mention a few would be Trails in the Presidio are do pretty, golden gate park (pretty much all of it) Alamo Square Park and Deloris park.. to name a few. I guess it depends what you’re into but I like to be outside when ever the weather is ok since I spend so much time by myself painting.
We know that you were seriously injured a couple of years ago and have had a long recovery, you are a tough chick! It goes without saying your life must have dramatically changed, but can you talk about how your art has been influenced, changed or affected by this ?
I was badly injured, unfortunately I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. I was seated in a venue that I loved, and something enormous, old metal and very heavy was accidentally knocked and it fell on my head from very high up. At first I couldn’t walk or talk properly and was in a bad way. I have definitely had a rough road with recovery and am still not ready to publicly talk about it in detail because I’m still going through it, but my goal is to eventually paint the journey I’ve been on as therapy and a healing process. I am ok to give a brief insight into how it’s effected my art now. It’s been 20 months and at first I couldn’t even remember how to paint, draw, or anything I was used to. I’ve had to retrain myself to do everything I was doing before. I’m getting there, but it’s still a journey to get everything back. A few things also that have changed are that I’m interested in different things now and things are a lot darker. They’re not dark just because I like dark art but because that’s how I’ve been feeling. I think the best thing I can do is just go with it now in terms of letting it be a subject of my art if it’s going to help me. I’m also interested in different ways to apply my paint now - different colors that I rarely used are now colors I really want to use. Something that has been majorly impacted by my injury is my mural life and that’s rough, however, I will keep pursuing through. I’m not allowed to use regular aerosols now and that was a huge part of my life. I'm only allowed to use water based, so using a smaller color pallet and different paint is also very challenging but I’m definitely not letting it get in my way of continuing to paint. Nothing ever will. I’m still not allowed to climb ladders and scaffolding etc, because of balance issues so my way around that is trying to do more ground level works until things get better. I wasn’t able to fly anywhere for a long while after and still have only flown a tiny amount. I was flying all over the place all the time through my whole art career. My entire art life as I know it has been affected. I’ve been doing everything I can to not let it get in the way of keeping on going and not letting it get in the way of who I am. Art is coming from the inside and there’s always going to be a way to get it out. Life throws fireballs at you and you can either get knocked over or try catch them and use them for your battle. When more time has passed and I’m better healed I won’t just be doing what I was happy with before, I will have come up with something that could never even be thought of if I had not gone through all this. I’m currently trying to use this experience in my art. It’s not easy to talk about so I think If I’m able to paint about it that will help me. I’m hoping it will be interesting and maybe even can help others going through anything similar. Art is definitely a powerful healing tool.