The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s Hilliard Art Museum hosted “A Teaspoon and a Bit of String: On Writing and Illustrating for Children with Denise Gallagher” on Wednesday, July 10.
At the event, local author and illustrator Denise Gallagher spoke about her experiences, her career and her work, sharing selections from her manuscript and her illustrations.
“I have a visual language — teacups, often bears, animals, spoons, keys, things like that — that are things that I just tend to draw over and over,” Denise Gallagher said. “I realized I had made a story.”
In addition to talking about her personal experiences, Gallagher also provided advice for artists and students in attendance.
“I’ve become kind of a teaching artist, which is really great because I love what I do,” Gallagher said. “There are so many opportunities and so many different ways that you can be creative. I want to shed some light for students and let them know there are so many options out there.”
She continued, sharing ways to prosper in the business. She also discussed several different aspects, highlighting the importance of learning in the work environment.
“If you want to do something, find people who are doing it, and learn from them,” Gallagher said. “That’s what I did. By meeting others who are on the path and are on different levels of their journey in publishing, I learned a lot from them.”
She also stressed a positive work attitude, crediting opportunities that arose because of this when she was just beginning her career in children’s picture books.
“Be friendly,” she said. “Be nice to work with. If you are, people will want to work with you again.”
One attendee especially enjoyed Gallagher’s attention to the business side of creative careers.
“She talked about the business, and I’m a little bit closer to that,” Mike Hohon, one of the attendees, said. “I kind of like to hear how people, even though they have great ideas and talent, manage to do something businesswise. For the community, we need more people like that.”
Gallagher credited much of her latest achievements to the Artspark Grant from the Acadiana Center for the Arts and Lafayette Economic Development Authority, which she said has made her work possible.
She explained that the Artspark Grant gave her the money she needed to hire a professional editor, allowing her to take the next step in getting her novel published.
Sandy LaBry, a volunteer at the event, said, “Something that Denise mentioned is that she got a grant, and those kinds of things are also very important. And for us to witness what she has been able to do with the money she received is wonderful.”
LaBry continued, recognizing the relationship between artists and their community.
“I think we need to celebrate the people within our community who are artists and who are doing things of great merit, individually and also for our community,” she said. “Everyone needs to know how we support the artists in our community, and what they give back to us.”
LaBry similarly had positive opinions on Gallagher’s work as both an author and illustrator.
“To be an author of children’s books is a very special thing,” she said. “You have to have a sense of language, and her language to me is very poetic in her writings. Her illustrations are fanciful, imaginative and really they are the stuff of fairy tales.”
Denise Gallagher’s artwork will be available for viewing in her exhibit “A Teaspoon and a Bit of String: The Illustrations of Denise Gallagher” in the town building at the Hilliard until Aug. 31.