Dawn Boyer is an artist and author. She has published numerous books including a broad range of coloring books for adults.
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Let’s Get to Know – Dawn Boyer
Do you remember the first thing that you drew and if so what was it?
I don’t remember what I first drew, but my mother kept the drawings in my ‘baby book’ and they seemed to be stick figures with huge round heads and 2 fingers per hand.
Do you have any formal art training or are you self-taught?
I was self-taught until I reached high-school and took all the art-classes my high-school offered, then entered Virginia Commonwealth University for their Fine Art program, where I took the Arts Foundation classes year one, then Interior Design year two (and hated it by the end; wish I could have taken the Graphic Design classes then). After that moved to Radford University, where I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art in Graphic Design. After graduation, I ended up being working in non-art-related career for the next 30+ years. After I completed my PhD in Education, I decided I know was going to spend all my waking spare time catching up with my art ‘hobby.
What are your favorite things/topics to draw/illustrate?
I absolutely LOVE drawing old buildings, barns, historic architecture, and live to visit my favorite place – Williamsburg, Virginia (the 2nd capitol of our country, USA) – and taking hundreds of photos each visit and then later using the photos as a resource to draw pen and ink drawings of the subjects in the photos.
Where do you create your drawings? Can you describe what your work space looks like?
Because of the hectic and disorganized priorities of my life, I had an art studio for about 6 months in one home, then moved into a smaller home, and now have to move again in the next year, I have been reduced to creating my art on a small table (converted from a sewing table to a light table) in my living room that sits in front of the hearth and the large TV where I spend what little time I can with my husband (he owns a business and is going to school full-time). It looks like an absolute mess – papers, ink pens, black sharpies, resource pictures, piles of books, plastic stencils piled up. But it works for me right now until I can get my ‘real’ and final retirement home built with a full-sized studio.
What is your drawing process like? Do you prefer to finish a drawing in one sitting, work on it over a number of sittings or do you switch between drawings that you are working on? Or do you do something else?
I am a Type “A” person and drive myself to get things ‘done’ so when I start drawing a coloring book, the first thing I do is work through placing sketches in a 100-page sketch book, which once 100 sketches are completed, this provides me two coloring books worth of illustrations (my coloring books traditionally have at least 50 pictures each). Once the pencil sketches have been completed, I look for resources to add more details to the illustrations as I ink them, including details in the foreground and background to add dimension. I discipline myself to go one sketch at a time, using black ink pens, to draw the main lines, then adding shading via cross hatching and other dark or light fill lines. I get on a mission. The Fairy Houses and Fairy Doors Volumes 3 & 4 books, I started about June of 2016, and finally finished the 100th drawing circa the first week of October. My availability and time available to draw is limited because I have a consulting business, so that is my priority for working hours, plus I have to leave town to visit my mother with Alzheimer’s once a week for an overnighter, and that is so exhausting I have no time for anything else on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, plus I may have an emergency babysitting evening with my grandson. Additionally I offer entrepreneur and business mentoring as a volunteer to the Small Business Administration’s SCORE organization (telephonic or email). So my opportunities to draw are usually a few hours in the evening Thursday night, Saturday and Sunday if I don’t have any pressing primary work, and a few hours on Monday night.
Do you listen to music while you illustrate, if so, what are your musical tastes?
My favorite music, not in any order of preference: New Age and Instrumental (especially Renaissance Babes), Jazz, Classical Acoustic Guitar, Black Violin (artist specializing in contemporary blend of classical and rap beat music), and Country Music.
But, when I do my consulting work, my normal environment is dead silence. When I draw, I love to ‘listen’ to movies on NetFlix or the news.
Does your work space/environment influence your art work at all?
Lordy – with my mess? My environment is just a place where my physical capability to create work is enhanced by my mind’s ability to visualize the final piece and my ability to spread out on a work surface to finish that piece of work in the time allotted for that physical surface’s availability (e.g., if it’s the dining room table and we need to eat a meal there in a certain time slot).
You have published a number of coloring books, please tell us what drew you to the coloring book market and a bit about your books and inspiration
About 3 years ago (circa Jan, 2013, has it been that long ago?!) I read the Huffington Post news article about Johanna Basford achieving her One Millionth sale of her first coloring book, and thought to myself, “Since I have been self-publishing for years, why not use some of my own artwork I have created already, and put out my own coloring book – duh!” So I started with simple mandala coloring books (which were really not that good, because I was simply churning them out to get into the market). After a while, I realized I needed to really provide a topic that folks are interested other than ‘mindless mandalas.’ So I pondered and realized that folks love fairies and after seeing some fairy doors thought it would be awesome to draw some of those to color and my first volume was such as success I drew a second volume which was even better in style and content than the first, and now I am about to release Vol 3 & 4 of the Fairy Houses and Fairy Doors. I also released other coloring books over the years including: Beautiful Buddha (Vol 1 & 2), Classic, Vintage, and Antique Toys You Loved as A Child (Vol. 1 & 2), Yin and Yang (over 60 illustrations), Feathers A’Flying, Tantalizing Tangles, Dia de los Muerta: Sugar Skulls, Motivational Quotes and Mandalas, Undersea Tropical Wonders, and coloring books showcasing the restored district of the colonial Williamsburg, Virginia area in pen and ink drawings as well as gray-scale photos to color. I have plans for a gazillion other coloring books in my queue, and am working up the resources and references for the illustrations to pursue in the next year.
What do you look forward to doing in the next 6 months in the coloring world?
I promised my fans of the restored district of the colonial Williamsburg, Virginia area in pen and ink drawings that I would complete my next 100 drawings (pen and ink) for them. That plus a few more gray scale coloring books of converted photos to coloring books.
What was the feeling like when you first seen your art work published in a coloring book?
Usually by the time I have slaved over the illustrations for so many hours, I am almost sick of looking at them (Haha). But when I pick up books and flip through the illustrations, and see them in the books, I do feel like I have accomplished something nice. While many of my friends and family know I draw coloring books, not many of them are that enthusiastic about it. I do get a kick out the reactions from my fans. They seem to provide me the greatest kick out of hearing them get so enthusiastic about my work. Recently I had one fan beg me to create a free illustration related to the Halloween holiday, so I took a picture I already had and drew in some more elements for the holiday and then posted it around on multiple coloring groups, and it was a fantastic ‘hit!’ So I think I may tend to do some more of those freebies for my Facebook coloring groups and fans.
What did it feel like to see your art work colored in by someone else?
Amazingly proud and honored. I personally ‘suck’ at coloring (my forte is B&W). So when some of these colorists who have colored some of my work in coloring book contests showcase their work, my jaw is bruised from the multiple times it hits the floor when I get amazed at their talent!
Do you color as well illustrate/draw/publish books?
As noted, I do not color. For some reason, coloring ‘bores’ me. I prefer to draw the illustrations and drawings for others to be enthusiastic about.
It can be very difficult managing day to day life as well as publishing a coloring book. Can you tell us about your daily routine and how you manage your time?
I have what you can call a ‘mature body,’ and suffer from arthritis, so it’s difficult for me to get going in the morning. So I am usually up and breakfast made circa 10:00 a.m. I take my breakfast upstairs to my office and eat while I start working on my ‘day job.’ Once my priorities and tasks are completed, then I have to do some household chores, and may run a few errands outside. I am also working on a textbook for the Human Resources industry based on my Ph.D. dissertation. Towards the end of the day, I may be back on the computer using my new InDesign software program to create more coloring books with current drawings, and when my eyes start crossing from looking at a digital screen, I move downstairs to my drawing table to start working there on the current project.
Publishing can be a creative and a chaotic experience with a lot of learning curves along the way. Tell us the best and worst experiences that you have had creating your coloring book
My worst experience in my venture as a coloring book artist / author is when someone accused me of stealing their artwork and using their original artwork in my early coloring books. It was gut-wrenching, emotionally painful, and psychologically devastating and severely injured my self-esteem. They posted this lie on social media, and other artists and those artist’s fans started bad-mouthing me and rumor mongering, building upon the lie. Eventually I found myself banned and blocked from several coloring-related groups on Facebook. This artist essentially claimed I went into her computer (she lives in Algeria) and stole her original mandala design (from and using a software program I did not even own or know how to use), and published her artwork and “several other artists’ original artwork” in multiple coloring books of my own … claiming all the other artist’s original artwork as my own. This was flabbergasting to me because I have all my original artwork! The lies spread and grew, with claims I had ‘multiple lawsuits against’ me for copyright infringement. To this day, I am still waiting for those ‘cease and desist’ letters from all these artists who are claiming I have stolen their artwork (but not holding my breath!). I am 100% confident I will never get these notices, because all of my artwork is original. I have the originals and those artists making the claims could easily have gotten in touch with me to discuss their concerns because all my point of contact information is in every single book I have published! A year later, these ‘gossip-mongers’ have eventually moved on and no longer bother me, and many who initially believed the lies have contacted me and admitted they were just following along like sheep and now realize they were reading lies about me and my artwork and talent. Fortunately, I had several folks contact me privately about the gossip-mongering (with social media screen shots) that have become dear social media friends and fans when they vigorously defend me and my art. They let me know of any ‘negative’ commentary about me or my art work, if they come across it, and therefore I am fully informed about what folks are talking about.
The best experience I have encountered is directly related and resulting from that horrible ‘copyright’ episode and has been amazing at helping me market and brand my work, so I learned some great lessons!
I have learned to showcase my works in progress as a way of documenting my OWN artwork as I create it so if I need to go back later to defend my artistic talent I can easily do so from my public postings. As a result of posting Works in Progress (WIP) I have actually created a branded following of newer fans.
I have folks all around the world who follow my WIP posting of my artwork(s), and are enthusiastically purchasing my coloring books on topics that appeal to them.
I created my own coloring group – now with over 6,000 followers; have a Facebook Artist’s Page, with almost 4,000 followers; I have a coloring street team of 20 hobby colorists who enthusiastically color samples of my artwork and spread the word to multiple coloring groups on social media; and I have created my own ‘review’ page on Facebook, to provide video reviews for other coloring book artists and their work from an ‘Artist’s Viewpoint.’
What is your favorite treat/reward for a job well done?
My extrinsic reward for the hard work I am accomplishing is essentially getting my second mortgage paid down with my royalties and aiming to getting it paid off in the next three years!
My strategic goal is to reach 1,000 books on Amazon for sale so the eventual and potential royalties can provide me retirement income.
My intrinsic reward is being able to do my artwork again – something that is my life-time obsession. I love doing, creating, drawing, building mixed media, and creating works of art.
I would like to start selling some of my original artwork to the public – which is different from the coloring book sketches and illustrations.
Ultimately – for me – when royalties and sales increase, it affords me and my husband to go out for a nice dinner on the town.
Connect with Dawn on Social Media:
|Facebook Artist Page||Facebook Group||Linked In||Skype – Dawn.Boyer|
You can keep up with Dawn’s latest releases by following her Amazon author page here. You can see Dawn’s art for sale at Fine Art America here.