I posted part one of my gorgeous and inimitable Tammy Derwick feature some time ago, complete with her portrait of yours truly and a sampling of her mermaid art, and now here is the illuminating interview just 50000 short months later. Between now and then, Tammy was the featured artist at Mer-Palooza (you can still buy a t-shirt and get a free Mer-Palooza poster here), and has done many many more gorgeous mysterious mermaidly things besides. Below, I ask her to expand on these otherworldly activities, and mermaids in general. Check out her site for mermaidly gifts; you might even consider transforming a loved one into a mermaid, but only if you can bear their resulting undying devotion. It is a very special Black Friday recommendation from me to you.
Here’s Tammy hanging out with The Mertailor Eric Ducharme at Mer-Palooza:
And the aforementioned t-shirt:
Our illuminating interview follows.
So when did you start drawing mermaids?
I have always been drawing something, in fact I don’t remember ever not drawing or painting every chance I got. I started drawing mermaids full time about two years ago. I was requested by my cousin Leslie to draw a mermaid for her birthday, and then when it was completed I received even more requests from others who saw her mermaid. I framed a few, and they sold at their first showing. It has now evolved into prints, apparel, and many different products such as cutting boards and flasks.
What is the appeal of mermaids to you? Why do you think people love mermaids??
The appeal, in my opinion is universal. People love what mermaids represent. Everyone loves mermaids because they represent all that is feminine. They are graceful, strong, and sensual. They are confident, and also mysterious.
Have you always been fascinated by them?
Absolutely! As a child, I think the allure is the freedom they possess. As an adult, I think the allure is the strength that their freedom brings.
How do you approach each mermaid drawing?
Oh it’s a ritual! I always have a particular pose in my head that I envision for several days before starting to draw. The colors I decide on and the facial expressions, both evolve as I get deeper into the artwork. Once I start on a project, I have a very difficult time stopping and usually it consumes me until it is complete. Yes, I am a bit OCD!
Can you talk about your custom mermaid portraits?
The portraits are a pleasurable challenge. I have created several of these now, including yours, where I turn someone into a mermaid, using my own style of colored pencil art. They are not to be confused with a caricature, instead they are considered fine art. As with my other original mermaids, I like to work from photographs, and I do need several angles of the face and upper torso to get a better likeness of the person.
I am currently working on another aspect of this, where someone can choose an existing pose and I will transform them into that mermaid. Look for it on my website!
What about your mermaid scales?
Mermaid Scales have been hugely popular! They hold a secret story inside the package, that tells a tale of mermaids……you are also given a secret code that you enter online to receive your hidden meaning! Each scale holds a unique enchanted meaning about your personality & more!
[I should mention that soon Tammy’s magical and actual mermaid scales might have a special story or two penned by yours truly. Love, Carolyn]
What do you think of modern-day mermaids like those at Weeki Wachee, or Hannah Fraser and Linden Wolbert?
I think they are inspiring and brave. I attempt to imagine how their family and friends react when they tell them they want to be a professional mermaid, or the reactions they get when others ask “what they do” for a living. I have had the opportunity to meet several modern-day mermaids, and see how beautiful and graceful they look in the water. They are truly mesmerizing.
What inspires you?
Lighting, shadows, curves. Candid attitudes and emotions. The curve of a jaw line. The bend of an elbow. The way a hand or fingers are positioned. A look of intensity.
You were chosen to do the poster for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade in 2011. Can you tell me about that?
I was contacted by Laure Leber, who works for Coney Island, USA and was asked if I would be interested. Of course I said that I was and I also agreed to do every part of it, which means all the graphics, logos, etc., not just creating a mermaid for them. Between the founder and Executive Artistic Director Dick Zigun, Photographer and Gift Shop Manager Laure Leber, Board of Directors Member and founder & producer of Coney Island USA’s Burlesque at the Beach Fred Kahl, Development Director Tim Pendrell, and myself, we decided to use the mermaid I created known as “Black Tail” for the poster. Mainly because Dick Zigun fell in love with her.
They now carry many of my products in the Coney Island USA Gift Shop, which is in Brooklyn, New York, and also online.
You’ve been called the Vargas of mermaid art. Can you talk a bit about that?
It’s true, and an extremely grand compliment that I am honored to receive, but it’s very unintentional on my part. The main similarity between Vargas’ work and mine is that both involve beautiful, sensual women. And like Vargas, my art focuses primarily on the figure and less on the background. Many have said my mermaids resemble those “on the old bomber planes,” referring to the work of Alberto Vargas. Who knows, maybe one day you’ll see my mermaids on sea-faring vessels?
It has been a very humbling experience to be involved with so many gifted people, and have my work appreciated by so many. I have learned so much in such a short time. I look forward to all of the new things that I will experience through my art.
I never tire of hearing from other mermaid enthusiasts, and enjoy all the Facebook comments and emails. There have been so many humorous comments I have been witness to from the general public, of course they mostly didn’t realize I could hear them!
Here are a few:
How do mermaids poop?
How come they all have so much hair?
Why is their hair always in front of their boobs, can’t they move it out of the way???!!!
Mermaids must not smell very good. They live in the ocean, and so do fish. Fish smell bad.
Why are they always mermaids? Where are the mermen?
As a side note, I am constantly evolving and looking for new ideas. Many come from my collectors, sooo…..be on the lookout for mermen in the very near future!