Devonna Arrington

From: Springfield, Massachusetts
Current Residence: Stone Mountain, GA

About Myself
I am a self-taught artist originally from Springfield, MA. I have a B.A. in Interpersonal Communications from Western New England University. I’ve been an artist for over 20 years. I’ve been practicing my art seriously for about 7 years after I decided to believe in myself. I love to have fun and experience life with my family and friends.

What type of art do you do?
I am a digital artist and a painter. My art is for my people, so some would classify it as urban.  My first love was drawing with pencils and charcoal, but I didn’t want to limit my gift, so I started working with other mediums such as acrylic paint, and exploring the digital world of art.

How did you get started?
I got started with art when I was a child. It was a way that I could express myself.

What or who inspired you to become an artist?
Growing up, I would watch the Cosby Show, A Different World, Martin, and other amazing black shows and I would notice the art that was depicted, then I would notice some of the same pieces in some of my family members’ homes. I wanted to create art like that, where everyone would notice it, and everyone would have them in their homes. I wanted to have my art known, recognized, and for it to be an inspiration to others like it was for me. A goal of mine is to have my work in all black homes like how the “Funeral Procession” by Ellis Wilson is. I also am striving to have my work displayed on black TV shows like “Insecure”, “Blackish”, “Queen Sugar”, and so many more. Also, black women inspire me. I felt like for a time, we were underappreciated, under nourished, and not looked at as if we were beautiful. This inspired me to create pieces to show that we are beautiful.

Black Power

The Saxaphone Man & The Ballerina

How do you work?
When I am home painting, I have to either have the TV on or some music playing (R&B preferably). I like to use those coupons that we all get in the mail and put my paint on there. It makes clean up easier and more efficient. I normally wear an apron at home too when I paint. When I am doing digital art work, I’m typically doing that on my lunch breaks at work from my desk. I like to be focused and centered when I work. I always sketch with a pencil on my canvas before each painting so that I can see what I am going to paint. Doing it this way keeps me organized.

How has your practice changed over time?
Over time, my practice has changed a little bit. Before, I would just work until I got tired, but now I put myself on a schedule so that I can manage my time better and challenge myself to get more things done in a shorter period of time. There is so much more to learn, so many new techniques to use, so I’m sure my practice will change more as time progresses.

Is your life expressed in your art or vice versa?
My life is absolutely expressed in my work. My work displays my passion and my emotions. I’m very emotional and sensitive, and it shows. Some of the titles of my work exhibits that.

What message would you like to convey through your art?
Through my art, I’d like to covey the beauty in all women and men and of all shades. I want people to be able to see themselves in my art, see a friend, see their mother, their aunts, their uncles, etc. I want my work to represent our people and to evoke a sense of familiarity when seen.

What has been a seminal experience in your career?
I would say two seminal experiences in my career was knowing that people can identify my work as mine and having strangers tell me that my work is amazing. It’s a different feeling than hearing it from a friend or family member because you think they are saying it because they know you, but when someone who doesn’t know you says something great about your work, it is just a satisfying feeling.



What’s your favorite piece from your collection?
My favorite pieces from my collection are “The Saxophone Man & The Ballerina”, as well as “Moonlight”.

Where does your inspiration come from when you are working?
I have different inspirations for each piece that I do. Most of my inspiration comes from photographers and their models poses. If I have an idea for how something should look, I will look for a pose and start from there. Other inspirations come from family and friends. They like to suggest particular things sometimes.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
The best advice I was given was from my Auntie Shirley. Every time I see her, she tells me, “Paint yourself into a millionaire.” I love this because it is her way of telling me that no one is going to hand the success to you, believe in your gift, don’t make excuses, set the goals, do the work and watch it pay off.

Professionally, what’s your goal? What’s your dream project?
My goal, professionally, is to get my art on TV shows, movies, and in the homes of many people. My dream project is to do a beautiful piece of art for Oprah.

What obstacles have you faced as an artist?
An obstacle that I face as an artist is getting people to want to pay for the work that I do and also getting the exposure that I need.

What obstacles have you had with getting more people to know about your work?
Getting more people to know about my work has been challenging a little bit because I don’t get out on social media like I should, but I am doing better about that.