Denise Gallagher is a fine artist, graphic designer, and published author and illustrator of children’s picture books. Her work has been included in museums and galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Portland, Indianapolis and across Louisiana. She has written and illustrated two picture books, “Moonsong” and “A Tip Tap Tale,” and has also illustrated folk tales from Louisiana and Canada. Denise is proud to be the Illustrator Coordinator for the Louisiana/Mississippi Region of the Society of Children’s Writers and Illustrators and serves on the Editorial Board of the University of Louisiana Press.
Denise is devoted to promoting a love of arts and literature in children. She has given lectures and classes about art and writing to students from kindergarten through college. She has also participated in many art and literary panels and speaking events. Denise has a passion for magic, folklore, and unusual animals, and is inspired by her lush, green Louisiana home.
As an artist, I am passionate about the simple joy of creating. As a human — prone to flights of fancy and occasional dark days — my art can take many different forms. Depending on my mood, my work can be whimsical, colorful and playful or dark, brooding and foreboding.
Rare animals, ancient folklore, and my Louisiana home inspire me deeply. Carrying a sketchbook wherever I go, I capture fleeting thoughts and creative visions. I record tiny moments of pure joy, random memories, and bits of melancholy which I then weave into stories or illustrations.
My art provide glimpses of a grand and sprawling tale. My stories carry readers through lush and enchanted landscapes. There, recurring characters — including bears, wolves and young children — find themselves in curious situations, tied with bits of string or peeking from the edge of a dark forest. Along the way, seemingly random objects — a fig, a skeleton key or a teacup — become deeply meaningful or infused with magic. Those who experience my work often find themselves wondering at each scene and imagining what might happen next, then are pleasantly surprised at the gentle unfolding of a charming tale with just a hint of remaining mystery.
Who makes up your art circle?
My art circle is made up of many different types of creative people.
I’m a member of a group for children’s authors and illustrators — some of the most kind and creative people I know. We share work, give critiques, and talk about books. We also provide support for each other during the ups and downs that are inevitable in the publishing industry.
Then there are a few close creative friends that I commune with over coffee once in a blue moon. We may not get together as often as I’d like, but it’s nice knowing that we are there for each other, cheering each other on.
And most importantly, I have my husband, Donny. Designer, music aficionado, and all-around creative person, he is my initial go-to for any creative ideas I have. He truly gets me and loves me in spite of it all.
How do you expand your art circle?
I am an introverted extrovert. My initial reaction to a lot of requests is “Nope. No way. Not doing it.”
More often than not, however, when I do say yes to something that’s a little out of my comfort zone, I find myself enjoying it. It’s then that I end up meeting new creative people, becoming inspired, and expanding my creative circle.
So I’ve learned to give myself time to think things through and to (sometimes) say yes to things like speaking in public, teaching a class, or attending events — things that push me a little. Because you never know when the next creative friend, inspiration or opportunity will appear!
What value do you see in having a creative community?
I place so much value on having creative support of all types. Having a community of creative-minded people to share ideas with is invaluable. We are all working on our own ideas, in our own media, or on our own goals. Sharing with others can help to push those ideas just a little bit further.
How does your artistic approach contribute to your community?
I’m a fan of giving back to the community that supports me as an artist. I do so by participating in panel discussions, speaking to students of all ages and serving as a board member assisting creative groups. I find that by helping in these ways, I am often inspired by the people that I meet and always thankful for the creative circle that I’ve formed.
Our weekly Art Circle series profiles artists throughout the community and is sponsored in part by Lafayette Visitor Enterprise Fund managed by Lafayette Travel