destiney powell

Brand Name: Poetically Illustrated

Tell us about yourself
My name is Destiney Powell, I’m the owner and artist behind the brand Poetically Illustrated! I'm 26 years old, I have been drawing since the age of 2 and painting since the age of 5. I'm from a small town in Mississippi and I’ve always wanted to pursue art. I graduated from Mississippi State University with my Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts. I have been blessed to be able to pursue my art career full-time and actually build a pretty nice income from my work. I'm a really social person, I love meeting new people and exploring new places. I'm very inspired by people. Particularly people who choose to express themselves with color, or hair, fashion, beauty. Anything that stands out usually draws me in. 

What kind of art do you do?
Currently my art focuses on women of color. I've always drawn black women as powerful figures in my art. My style is kind of whimsical and uses a lot of fantasy and color to give a majestic feel to the pieces. I portray black women in a strong, confident, and vibrant way. My pieces are meant to represent our magic and beauty in a non -traditional way.  To encourage the everyday woman or girl to be as bold and beautiful as they want to be. To never hide who they are no matter what. I feel as though my ladies can serve as alter egos, mantras of a sort to help you get into the spirit and mind of who you are going to be on any given day and push you to accomplish your goals fearlessly.

How did you get started & how long have you been doing it?
My dad is an artist, he was attending a local college in Mississippi for architecture and he was required to keep a sketchbook. I would always watch him and ask if I could draw too so he gave me a sketchbook of my own and taught me how to draw shapes and how to put those shapes together to create objects around me. He explained to me how he used art as an escape from the things happening around him as a kid growing up in Chicago and how art could help me channel my energy into creating beauty in the world even if seeing the good in the world wasn't my reality. That always stuck with me and creating art became my escape.

What or who inspired you?
I'm inspired by experiences, real life experiences for example growing up, raising kids, relationships, love, pain, happiness. Also, I’m very much so inspired by women, black women, women of color, women of different cultures. By our will to be successful by our own definition, to portray beauty by our own standards.

How do you work?
I have had to adapt to working conditions so much I can just about work anywhere. I love being alone, so I can get lost in my thoughts and be free to create without interruption. Ideally, I would paint outside in the park, or the backyard, on the beach, or the botanical gardens. But that rarely happens unless the weather permits. Lately I’ve been finding my artistic serenity in my home studio surrounded by candles late at night sitting on the floor with at least 4 separate pieces to work on listening to SZA, Erykah Badu, H.E.R, Kendrick Lamar, etc. I prefer my watercolors, but I’m falling in love with acrylics and glitter.


How has your practice change over time?
I've become more observant over time, I know when something is off by my standards, I’m more detail oriented, I know when to call it quits and when I haven't quite captured the essence I’ve envisioned. I can complete a piece faster now, but I choose to pace myself and be patient with my creativity so that I can better understand the message I’m giving with that particular piece of work. Sometimes the meanings aren't clear until the work starts to form in front of me. Then I hear what I’m trying to express.

What’s integral to your work as an artist?
I will not release a piece of work that I don't yet understand. I have to be able to define my work before I allow any opinions of others to define it for me. So, in my opinion even if I feel I’m done painting if the message of the piece hasn't come to me yet I do not release it into the world because I want to understand what I’m saying so that I can allow the work to be received in the proper light. I understand that everyone will define the context of the work on their own, but I also need them to understand my view as well.

What has been a seminal experience in your career?
Having people I’ve never met before say that my work inspires them, or helps their little girls feel like princesses, or queens. Little girls telling me they want to be like me when they grow up. My son's telling me they are proud of me when they see my work come together in a show. Just knowing that I’m touching our future by impacting the younger generations to not only feel represented but for them to see that they can really and truly be whoever they want to be as long as they are willing to work for it and trust the process.

How do you know when an artwork is finished?
Well its partly a feeling and the rest is visual. I sketch prior to starting a piece. I can visualize how much depth I want and how much color and detail I want. Once I see my vision come to life I adjust some areas to help highlight my focal points and once it's visually pleasing to me I know I’m done.

Where does your inspiration come from when you are working? Do you have different inspirations for each piece?
My inspiration comes from so many different things. Sometimes it’s a complete stranger, a quote, a paragraph from a book, song lyrics, meditation, dreams. So many things influence my work. Yes, I definitely have different inspirations and messages for each piece.

What’s your favorite piece from your collection?
It's not too hard at the moment to say what my favorite piece is. One of my most recent works is Colorful Queen. I created her for me, she was inspired by a personal experience. There is a very life changing moment every mother has after giving birth and adjusting to the new baby. And that moment is when you realize that you have no idea who you are. I have had this happen to me 3 times (I have 3 sons). It never gets easier. This last time I was diagnosed with Postpartum Depression and I was just lost. Creating Colorful Queen brought me closer to me. Not my old self but the new me because once again I had changed physically and mentally. She helped me remember who I was and to see who I am now. Each time I look at her I can see the birth of the new me, who is heavily influenced by my past but stronger because of that.

Is there an element of art you enjoy working with the most?
Yes, I love being free with my watercolors. The creation process is meditation for me. 

Do you pursue themes?
Sometimes I have a theme within a series of work if there is a broad message to be portrayed.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Never stop creating even when you don't see the point, there is always a reason.

Professionally, what’s your goal?
My goals are always changing but currently my goal is to represent for culture. To make sure the world can look at my work and place themselves inside and be inspired to pursue their wildest dreams.

What is your dream project?
It hasn't come to me fully yet, I only have bits and pieces. From what I do have I know it has something to do with creating a very large, very colorful piece of permanent work in a few different countries.

Name three artists you’d like to be compared to and why.
I would not like to be compared to any artist. As a creator I find inspiration from other artists all the time, but my work comes from inside of me and unfortunately comparing my work or my drive to another artist would have no positive impact on my art. I would like to make a name for myself and have my work recognized for being mine and mine alone.

What message would you like to convey through your art ?
Representation matters.

Serenity by Destiney Powell.jpg
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What artwork do you most identify with?
When I was 17 years old, my senior year in high school I drew a picture of Rosie the Riveter and I made her black. She made me feel strong, rebellious, and courageous. I still identify with that today.

What obstacles have you had with getting more people to know about your work?
The world is such a large place. Online exposure was very hard for me in the beginning, I’ve figured it out now. I value face to face interaction and contact with my work. I've been rejected from shows because my work has been seen as too feminine or unrelatable to certain crowds, so I would like to think that those rejections limited my exposure a little but social media is so powerful I have been able to generate an audience on my own. Which has helped me to find opportunities and an audience for my work.

What obstacles have you faced as an artist?
I've been told that my work was not good enough for me to make it as an artist, that my work is too black, too much color, there is no audience for black art. I have been clueless as to how to even begin in a career as an artist and fighting myself every day to not just go out and get another job that I hate and suffer through it because of self-doubt. I've had to be patient with myself through artist blocks, and no clientele, selling my work for less than what it's worth. Being an artist has not been easy but I’m passionate about my work and I have been blessed to be able to build something from my talent that is now sustaining myself and my family.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?
I'm truly grateful for the opportunity to interview with you. Thanks to everyone reading this interview, I will be touring the US with my art this year so check my site for tour dates and let me know if you want me in your city.