Artist inspiration: How Deandra Lee creates collages with feeling

Hi Deandra! Tell us all a bit about yourself and your art background.
I'm 21 now and started my art journey when I was 13. I'm an introvert and learned on my own - I never had any photography and I didn't know much about the art world and what it had to offer. Around that time I had a love for dolls and when I got my first iPad I started taking pictures of them. That's when I got to learn about using filters, editing apps, and eventually getting onto Instagram and posting my work there.

Where does the inspiration come from for your image collages?
For me, inspiration can come in any for of medium, or object, even the sky. Artists across all genres can create and get a boost of creativity from these things. I can also get inspired by music, quotes, emotions and words.

For Forever Rain (above), I was inspired by Kim Namjoon (from pop group BTS). Namjoon is someone who has a poetic way of writing his songs. He adds in symbolic, metaphorical and creative passion within his music. He released his second mixtape titled Mono, which includes a song titled Forever Rain. My interpretation of the song is that it's expressing how Namjoon is filled with his sadness, emotions and wants the rain to go on forever. He also thinks of he rain as a friend. When it rains its like he and the rain have a conversation with each other. Perhaps he can only express what he feels when it rains. When it rains people are under an umbrella, minding themselves and not being seen. Not knowing who they are or what they go through. So from that, I created this artwork. I wanted Forever Rain to come from what I struggle though and how that makes me feel.

Inspiration can also come from ourselves, and what we are feeling at a moment in time.

This artwork (below, titled Defeated) is expressing how I felt at the time.

So often we can find ourselves getting “pulled down” into the reality of our lives. We feel defeated, stuck at a loss and sometimes hopeless. As humans, we cannot always control the situations we are in. The light may be dim at that moment, but one day the light will shine bright again.

What tools and software do you use to create these images?
For cameras I use my iPhone and my Canon T-Rebel 6. I use these to get the base of the image, and then for the editing process I use an app called Enlight to combine all the elements of an image together. Sometimes I use an app called Superimposed which is also really helpful.

The mix of photography and illustration is so compelling and surreal, what is it that you like about this medium? I like that photography is a very broad medium which has the capacity to combine other different forms of art and make them into one piece. It's always fun to experiment and get creative with the process. I also like that I can create what I want. To me, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it can be as simple as just wanting to create a beautiful image without thinking that there needs to be a meaningful expression behind it.

Your art feels so dreamy and so personal, how do you start coming up with concepts?
I used to get ideas very quickly and always at random, for instance from looking at a soda can or looking at clouds. Now those thoughts don’t come as frequently anymore, and I've gotten into sketching out my ideas, which helps tremendously. I said before that my art can come from my emotions and feelings, and those emotions are reflected in my work. I’m able to express what I want to say with my artwork. It’s not always easy to do that thought, which is why I use extra elements to help me express feelings. For example, a fish can mean something so much more than what it initially seems to be.

Your work is so bold - what does being bold mean for you?
Being bold honestly never crossed my mind. I never thought my art was bold at all. When I started out I created for the sake of just creating. Even though I had no idea what I was doing, I just had fun.  

But if could say what being bold means, I believe it’s honesty. You created what you wanted to created and shared it with the world. You’re being honest with yourself that this artwork is what I created and what I feel.

Which Alamy collections do you think your images fit into, and why?
I feel I fit with the Uncut collection, because 'random' is one of the many words I use when I look at my art. When editing a work it can often take a complete 360 and move into something different.

Which other artists do you think are doing great work in this space?
Community plays such a big part helping you discover artists whose work you enjoy. When you engage with you can even potentially create a friendship out of it.

Artists like Brooke Shaden, Natalia Seth, Dasha Pears, Ziqian Liu, Cho Gi- Seok are all completely different but have a visual and insightful way of creating their artwork.

How can we find more of your work, do you have Instagram or a portfolio website?
I use Instagram, Ello, and my portfolio is here.



This interview has been edited for length and clarity