Enjoy the whimsical portfolio of illustrator Gretchen Deahl, and see more of her work by visiting her website.
I am a professional illustrator with a passion for the unusual, the enigmatic, and the whimsical. I blame this fascination on my parents, both of whom enjoyed delving into the deeper mysteries of life, searching for the reasons behind things. Explorations of the world at large and seeking to understand the human psyche in particular, are subjects that fuel my imagination.
Being human myself, I am captivated with the complexity and range of emotions, expressions and causes of why we do what we do. I would have probably been content as a psychologist, but my deep desire to create art kept getting in the way.
Love of illustration began at an early age, as I longed to create images like those within the pages of treasured picture books, magazines and paintings that surrounded and entranced me.
After high school, I got serious about pursuing a career in art, so I attended the Philadelphia College of Art (University of the Arts), where I majored in Illustration. Thanks to the encouragement and education of my brilliant professors, I graduated with a BFA with honors; the notable Illustration Faculty Award and the Society of Illustrators (student) Starr Foundation Award tucked under my belt. I was quite full of myself at that point; sure the world was at my feet – so it was a shock when I discovered that illustration jobs weren’t knocking down my door. Cold reality and a dose of humility knocked instead.
In my quest to procure any job in the field of art, I began work as a paste-up/mechanical artist for an ad agency in Philadelphia. To my delight, I was often called upon to create black and white illustrations for the agency’s several art directors.
A design position for a large healthcare foundation followed, expanding into a job as in-house illustrator, where I created full-color illustrations on diverse topics ranging from technical medical drawings to a comical exploding medicine cabinet. It was challenging, fun and a good lesson in flexibility to work on assignments that required producing art in various styles as well – from tight pen & ink renderings to expressionist pastel drawings.
Later, over a ten year period, both of my beloved parents became ill. So, my IT engineer husband and I combined our skills, became business partners, and set up a small web design & hosting company as we moved in to care for them.
As little as 2 ½ years ago, I returned to my first love – Illustration. I work primarily in ink, pencil, and watercolor, using Photoshop for technical assistance. Children’s illustrations, including a world of whimsical monsters comprise much of my recent work.
Writing is also a strong interest of mine. Each of my 27 Guardian Monsters come with a unique name and detailed profile, describing their specific personalities, potential issues (we all have some), beneficial powers and most of all – proper etiquette to be strictly followed upon introduction. I continue to enthusiastically pursue new illustration and writing opportunities.