I Create Birmingham: Delaine Derry Green
“I believe I get artists thinking outside their usual box…. It’s exciting to see what people have to share and how they convey their stories visually.”
In addition to her full-time job as a graphic designer, prolific Birmingham-based artist Delaine Derry Green designs local theater posters, creates mixed media art inspired by vintage fashion, and produces the long-running Small Diary zine series.
1. Your My Small Diary collections and your Not My Small Diary compilations have garnered quite a cult following, but some of our readers may not be familiar with this particular element of your work. Can you tell us a bit about the format and how you came to it?
My lifelong love of comics took a turn to autobiographical comics in the 90s. That’s when I discovered zines (self-published “magazines”) and more specifically “perzines” (zines about the self). Zines can include written stories, art, and/or comics. I gravitated toward true stories because, as the saying goes, “truth is stranger than fiction.” I started creating my own auto-bio comics in 1993 and by 1996 decided to invite other artists to share their true tales.
2. How does the collaborative aspect of the Not My Small Diary auto-bio compilations strengthen the work taken as a whole? How does it strengthen the individual contributions that make up an issue?
I believe I get artists thinking outside their usual box. Since 2004 I have assigned themes to my comics anthologies, and this gets people to think back over their lives for stories that fit the specified themes. Some examples are “brushes with celebrity,” “dating,” “high school,” “unexplained events,” and more. It’s exciting to see what people have to share and how they convey their stories visually.
3. How has your approach to art evolved as your career has progressed? Have you implemented different mediums or techniques?
I have been creating my whole life and have expressed myself using pen & ink, charcoal, intaglio printmaking, linocut printmaking, stone sculpture, oil painting, acrylic painting, pencil, pastel, mixed media, graphic design, and more. I feel that I evolve in any medium I use over time. Since joining Naked Art Gallery, I feel like my paintings have become more refined while I have added unexpected twists to my subjects. For example, I have recently added homages to classic movies and musicians while retaining my preferred mixed media style.
4. Given your wide-ranging means of artistic expression, is there a medium you’d like to experiment in that you haven’t? A type of project you’d be interested in that might surprise us?
I don’t know if it will happen but I think about creating unexpected, oversized jewelry. I also wonder what it would be like to do set design for theater shows. I wish I knew how to sew clothing. Mainly I just want to keep creating and I want to try new things.
5. How is making memes or other graphic design projects that exist exclusively online beneficial to you as an artist? Do you think that the internet is a place where art can thrive?
Making memes has been an unexpected creative outlet. I really enjoy coming up with humorous ideas and conveying them visually. I recently won a meme contest with Squatty Potty! I have had my memes shared by celebrities such as Men Without Hats and Barb from Stranger Things. For the most part, my other graphic design work lives outside of the internet, like my posters for local theaters such as Theatre Downtown (and, of course, my graphic design job at ExpoDisplays, creating tradeshow displays, museum interiors, signage, and much more.
6. Do you have any ongoing or upcoming projects you would like to mention?
I always look forward to the theme shows at Naked Art Gallery, where I’m a featured artist. The next topic at the gallery is “Yard Art.” I love creating a large amount of work for Artwalk in the fall. At the moment, I am busy getting work done for an art installation called “Fashion Nightmare” at PaperWorkers Local. It will debut March 17th in conjunction with Third Friday in Forest Park and the “Tour De Loo.” I am happy to be able to create posters to promote local theaters such as TNT and Theatre Downtown (their newest original production “Sincerely, Sugar Bear” debuts March 9). I remain happily busy and productive!