Derriann Pharr is a 22-year old fine artist from Alabama. Pharr works with bright colors, using them to bring to life her abstract, “freakish” characters. She uses such imagery to pay homage to “all the things that make us unique.” Pharr has been growing her following on social media as of late, as many people are taking a liking to her unique style. Check out her work below and read our interview with her that follows.
A lot of your recent work can be described as very colorful, warped portraits. How did you come into this style? Would you say that each of your works build off each other and create a world where they all coexist?
They definitely build off one another. For so long making art has been my way of talking. I would consider each piece a brief, standstill glimpse of this continuous dialogue I’ve created in my head. Sometimes I paint or draw about conversations I wished had gone differently, or even ones I’ve never had at all. I feel like I’ve finally gotten comfortable enough in my style that I can even tell the same story, but in different ways through each piece. I dwell on one feeling, and then create about it over and over again. As far as my style itself, I like the idea of creating some reality based off of unconventional beauty. I want your first impression of my art to be that it’s sort of freakish. I don’t know, it’s kind of my way of paying homage to all the things that make us unique. I’ll always explore different ways to portray that.
Recently you shared an image of one of your first paintings you’ve ever made and it looked drastically different than your current style. Was the transition into your current style a natural progression over time? Or was it more of trial-and-error?
Yes! That painting is close to three years old I believe. I’d say a little bit of both. Back then I still approached my work the same way, but at the same I was heavily experimenting. Between then and now I’ve went back and forth between what’s most natural, what feels like it’s mine and what doesn’t. Right now, my work feels right. I hope that in three more years my art will have drastically changed again.
So I know you’ve just recently been gaining more attention on social media for your work – how has it felt to get such positive feedback from people? What does it mean for you as an artist?
The internet is a very intimidating place. It took a long time for me to get comfortable with sharing my art because it is such a personal thing to me. I doubted myself a lot and felt like I was making no progress at times. So to now see my work get attention on social media has been sort of surreal. Social media attention by no means represents skill, but for me, it allowed me to see the way my work connected with others in real time, and to have feedback on it instantly. I needed that to really see my own potential as an artist. I’ve also made a ton of new friends through social media…that’s been the best part so far. I’ve been a fan of so many artists on the internet for years, and to be able to consider some of them peers, and even good friends, is so wild. I think that’s what’s so special about this specific moment in art. We have access to feedback, connections, and each other at our fingertips. Growth and opportunities as upcoming artists is what I want for all of us as we take advantage of this new way to share and sell art.
You guys took the words out of my mouth, like social media and art is really about to be it’s own moment. Years and years from now I think it’ll be recognized that way.
And how does it feel to have others connect to works that are so personal to you?
It kinda feels like getting to see my own work for the first time. I love when people share with me what they got from a certain piece…it’s usually a totally different narrative than what went into making it and I love that. Just the idea of someone loving a piece in a way I hadn’t seen it before makes it all the more special to me.
Who and what are your biggest inspirations in terms of your artistic style / process?
I love to people watch so that is what I’d say I’m most inspired by, process wise. I I’ll develop a fixation on really small details I notice and then create based off that one thing. As far as who inspires me, a few of my favorite living artists are Seungjin Yang, Steve Kim, Kennedy Yanko, and Hirohiko Araki. They all approach color so beautifully. They all have a level of sophistication and seriousness that I want to eventually achieve, while at the same time being playful and upbeat. I want my work to feel sort of heavy, but make you think “wow this is so fun!” I want it to be emotionally provoking but at the same time make want to go dance and sing. If that makes sense lol. I don’t think I have yet accomplished that but I hope to.
Looking forward to the future and the bigger picture of things, what do you want to accomplish as an artist? Where do you want to be in 5 years?