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Dedree Drees Portfolio

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Resumé

Traditional media

Graphics

Surface Design

Environmental design

Digital imagery

Tree Gallery

6 Comments
  1. Kathleen Morrow permalink

    Sept 5, 2009
    Dear Ms. Drees:

    I am a student at the Art Institute Online Division of Pittsburgh. I am a studying for a Bachelor Degree in Graphic Design. The class I am in currently is Graphic Illustration which uses the new Adobe Illustrator CS4 Wow! Book. Our assignment this week is to interview an illustrator and we could use the artists listed in the book. I was intrigued by your 3D image of the fish and plant life and decided I would attempt to ask you for an interview.
    After visiting your website I was thrilled to see even more of your work because I can see that you and I have much in common. I too love trees and plants and had one time considered becoming a botanical illustrator. I live close to the Morton Arboretum and they offer certificates for such. I also love insects and photograph them anytime I can. The Book of Kells is one of my favorite pieces of art ever. At least that is what I consider it. At this time with my studies I have not much time to do any of my own art as I also work full time too. That is a little but about me. I would like to know more about you.

    If you could name two famous artists as your primary influence who would they be and why?
    Where did you study? Did you always want to be an Illustrator? When did you decide that was your calling so to speak?

    What would you call your style of art?

    What is your favorite medium to use off the computer? Digitally, what are some of your favorite programs and why? What I mean is what about them do you find that helps you to be the most creative? If you could change or add anything to them what one thing would you like the program to do?

    Where do you see Illustration going in the future with Digital Design and new software being developed all the time?

    What would you have to say to students that are in school now to inspire them? It seems that the Graphic Design world is suddenly saturated with many of people looking for jobs.

    I hope you can find the time to answer my questions. It would probably be best to answer by email since I need to complete this assignment this week. Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Kathleen Morrow

    PS I attempted to contact you via the email address in the book but it was returned non-deliverable.

    • Dear Kathleen

      I hope this does what you need. My email is ddrees@ccbcmd.edu.

      If you could name two famous artists as your primary influence who would they be and why?
      I have always had an affinity for William Blake and Rembrandt. ( see my blog entry for August 11, 2008 at ddreesart.wordpress.com) It isn’t so much a matter of style, but one of content. I think they both deal with large truths. I like a lot of artists for form and style reasons. i like Degas, Wayne Thiebaud, Charles Burchfield, Edward Hopper, Saul Steinberg, Paul Klee, Sigmar Polke,Vermeer, Jan Van Eyck, Gauguin to name a few.

      Where did you study?
      I went to classes at the Munson Williams Procter Museum Art School as a kid.( see my blog entry for July 8, 2009 at ddreesart.wordpress.com) I got my B.S. at Skidmore College, started grad school at Pratt and finished my MFA at Penn State. ( see my blog entry for August 17 2008 at ddreesart.wordpress.com) I took scientific illustration classes at MICA and the Smithsonian and got a Certificate from the Smithsonian. I got an M.L.A. in art history at Johns Hopkins. I completed the coursework for the Doctorate of Communication Design at U of Baltimore recently but I haven’t sustained the motivation to do the dissertation. As personal computers developed, I learned a lot on the job at the Community Colleges of Baltimore County ,where I teach. This past spring, for example, I sat in on a colleague’s Cinema 4D class. My job demands that I stay current and I like to anyway. Community colleges are the originators of the life long learning concept. I am a much better student now than when I was 17. My resume is available on this site.

      Did you always want to be an Illustrator? When did you decide that was your calling so to speak?
      I always wanted to be an artist. I did not distinguish between artist and illustrator until that was forced down my throat at Skidmore. Academic artists had a great scorn for illustrators mid-century plus and minus. If your ideal is pure abstraction, illustration is full of content and thus anathema. Teachers in class when I was in college would ridicule a student for being “only an illustrator”. I am still angry about it. My M.F.A. thesis treats the subject of so-called pure abstraction as being absurd.
      I remember poring over picture books as soon as I could turn a page. Fortunately my childhood home was well stocked with books and reading matter and i lived a block from the MWPI.
      In grammar school I could outdraw everyone so I had a small amount of stardom to reinforce my interest.

      What would you call your style of art?
      I wish I could answer that, but I can’t. I just make things. Someone else will have to label my style according to their own lights.

      What is your favorite medium to use off the computer?
      If I had my drothers, and a different life I might like oil painting or intaglio printmaking. But that is hypothesis contrary to fact so I guess the answer is watercolor. Watercolor can be squeezed in here and there where more elaborate set ups can’t. Community college teachers teach a load of five classes each term and are expected to spend a great deal of time being excellent teachers, so opportunities to explore media freely are tempered by what is in demand from the students. I did get into computer graphics because of demand and opportunity at CCBC. I probably would not have been so intensely into it without the job connection.

      Digitally, what are some of your favorite programs and why? What I mean is what about them do you find that helps you to be the most creative?

      I like Photoshop, Illustrator and Cinema 4D very much. What helps to be creative is mastery of the programs so they become second nature. Paul Klee would say “Exactitude winged by intuition”
      I got fed up with Flash and before that Director, because they kept changing so much you had to spend all your creative time relearning them. I wish the others would just forget about silly little upgrades and settle down but I know that the developers have to keep selling new editions to keep the business going.
      Illustrator and Photoshop have become so rich with features ,you have to think of them as a range of tools rather than a single medium or style. They are like painting with oil, watercolor, air brush and acrylics, drawing with pastel, pencils, inks, collaging with everything all put together. Traditional media artists would think of mastering a few media, not everything. So most computer artists will tend to choose some aspects to master and leave the rest aside. When we first started to teach computer graphics in the eighties, you could teach all of MacDraw, MacPaint and MacWrite in one three credit course. Now, Photoshop has diverged so that we have two levels of Photoshop for graphics and screen and another whole track for digital photography.

      If you could change or add anything to them what one thing would you like the program to do?
      Here is a concrete example.I wrote a paper for a usability course at U of B about the extract tool in Photoshop and its myriad of problems, notably its being modal in more than one level. Well they got rid of it in CS4 so I guess I was on track.

      Where do you see Illustration going in the future with Digital Design and new software being developed all the time?

      I think that the work will not be defined by software but by demand for certain products and work. It is likely that a new teaching paradigm will develop as well that does not have computer applications in one track and traditional media in another. Levels of problem solving in design might become the new model. At CCBC our computer graphics and art departments had been separated for years but now they are back together with basic design classes having computer components and our computer graphics students taking the basic design classes.
      I think artists will mix and match traditional media with computer treatments to suit their project’s needs.

      What would you have to say to students that are in school now to inspire them? It seems that the Graphic Design world is suddenly saturated with many of people looking for jobs.
      In my Illustration II class I have the students read two books in addition to the Wow! book; Licensing Art 101, 3rd Edition, Michael Woodward: Art Network Press and Inside the Business of Illustration: Steven Heller, Marshall Arisman: Allworth Press. The Woodward book is upbeat ideas about generating demand for your work and is required reading. The Heller/Arisman book is mostly grousing about how you can’t make a living as an illustrator anymore. The market for great highly paid illustration gigs in magazines has taken a big hit. Print communication has taken a big hit. When Norman Rockwell was working he could be a star as an illustrator. But you can’t think that way now. Woodward writes about defining a target market , branding an item of design and creating your own demand. Don’t think job as much as enterprise.
      There is a great article in the Jan/Feb Communication Arts magazine (I still love print) about illustrator Haley Johnson by Ellen Shapiro that presents an example of this type of approach to work. Read it.(http://dreesfall09.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/haley-johnson-comm-arts.pdf)
      For more info, check my Flickr pages and art blog http://ddreesart.wordpress.com/

      DD

      • Kathleen Morrow permalink

        I can’t thank you enough for your thorough reply. There is a lot of information here and more with all the links and blogs to read too. I will ponder it all and write my paper. I will send you a copy when it is completed. Again, thank you for taking the time to answer my many questions. I love your work and it was an easy choice for me to pick you as the artist to write about from the WOW book or any illustrator we could choose.

        Kathy

  2. My pleasure
    dd

  3. Katji Kelly McCusker permalink

    Drees, You are the definitive artist, educator, always in search of the passion and spark for your students. I would love to run into you again some day! Katji

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