DebraGaye Body, is a creative from Atlanta, GA who aims to be unafraid and aims to inspire fearlessness. She sells her artwork online and has previously done an interview with VoyageATL about being an artist. Personally, I wanted to conduct an interview with DebraGaye, once I saw her self portraits because for me they said that she has a deeper meaning as an artist and I wanted to find out what that meaning was.
Lemon: To start off, what’s your name and where are you from, as well as an other basic information you’d like to share about yourself?
My name is DebraGaye Body. DebraGaye is my first name lol. I was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. I’m 28 years old and I have a son (Justin) who’s 7 years old.
Lemon: How did you first get into art?
I’ve always been into art ever since I can remember. I’ve just always loved everything about art in any form. I’ve always been more introverted so it was my way of expressing without having to actually talk to people.
Lemon: What’s your favorite form of art?
I’m a visual artist so I want to say visual art but I’m not sure if I have a favorite. Actually, I would say music is my favorite form of art although I’m no musician, but music inspires everything.
Lemon: So you listen to music when you create? If so what genre would you say inspires you the most?
I do listen to music when I create. But in all honesty it depends on my mood or the mood I’m going for in a piece. I’ve been known to play country music if it fits the situation.
Lemon: Completely off topic but what’s your favorite country song?
It’s probably cliche but you can catch me on any given day playing Jolene by Dolly Parton.
Lemon: Do you have a piece that you created while listening to Jolene?
Oh man I don’t even have it anymore. It was an image of “Jolene” and Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” just how I thought they would look and how I thought they’d be like best friends or something.
Lemon: What inspired your recent self portraits?
Well, the first one I did was the sad clown. And that simply came from a feeling. In the moment I was feeling silly and naive and kind of played. So I wanted to have a record of that feeling and release it. And the my dad asked me if I was depressed and I told him that I was just very present in a fleeting moment. So then I decided to draw myself in other moments.
Lemon: I understand that feeling well of wanting to capture how you feel with something more solid like a visual or a poem (I write and draw). Your profile says you want to inspire fearlessness, does that play into your art as well?
Absolutely! I’ve been afraid most of my life. Terrified even. And I’m now at a point where I refuse to live my life that way. I just can’t anymore. If you look at my art, it’s mostly women (I’m starting to try some newer things) but they are all empowered. And if they are bound in any way… they are fighting it. To be fearless is to be free.
Lemon: I really like that you have a purpose behind your art that really connects to yourself on a deeper level. What’s a fear that you’ve overcome and do you have art that represents it?
My biggest fear is a fear of inadequacy. I have a fear of not being enough. Good enough. Smart enough. Kind enough. Pretty enough. It’s the main fear that contributes to the others. Talented enough! I forgot that one. And I would not say it’s completely overcome. But I consciously work everyday to ignore the fear and see what’s real and true. Although I have growing to do, I am all of those things. And although my latest painting doesn’t speak directly to it, it shows growth.
And where as before I wouldn’t have even considered such an ambitious undertaking with all the details that went into it. I completely ignored everything telling me I was about to mess it up lol and U had that though so many times through this process.
Lemon: I like how you think about things. Your perspective is pretty open and detailed much like that piece. Do you think growing up in Atlanta has had an impact on your art?
Thank you! And yes! I love Atlanta and I love being from here. It’s probably one of the reasons why I always draw black people. They call Atlanta “Black Hollywood” because there’s just so much talent everywhere and culture thrives here.
Lemon: With all of the talent there, are there any other ATL female visual artists that you know or admire?
Lemon: Although both draw your attention, do you think it’s harder being an artist and thriving as an artist when you’re a person of color and a woman?
So yes and no. In Atlanta we’ve built a community that makes it possible to thrive. In truth, I didn’t know it was possible to be a working artist until I started following some Atlanta based artist on IG and seeing them work in person. So I’ll say while it’s easier to do here in Atlanta, there’s still people who will put “you’re just a girl” treatment on you like you couldn’t possibly know anything.
Lemon: I like that you can see outside of your personal experience too. It was amazing getting to know you and feeling this positive energy that you give off. I’d definitely love to chat more but I’m going to wrap up the interview with one last question. What’s your advice for other artists?
Don’t give up. there’s a blessing in being a creative person. I always say the creator is especially fond of the creative. If you have a true passion for this… work hard, practice, and believe that nobody sees things how you see them. Find your lane and navigate your way through it.
And I really appreciate you! You asked some very insightful questions and I really enjoyed the interview.
Lemon is a multi-faceted artist from Detroit, MI writing poetry, drawing up visuals, and dabbling in music creation. And they’re all about changing things for the better, like turning lemons into lemonade.