Here's to a New Year! (Goodbye 2017, Hello 2018)

Happy New Year, Everyone!

2017 was pretty interesting/fabulous/terrible year. Politically, it was a huge mess for me. I don't remember a year that seemed to wrestle with my heart strings more. I am still struggling with the decisions being made by our government. Although, I don't want to get too political, I hope 2018 will be a better year for most people and we will all reclaim our sense of fairness and justice in the world.

On a personal level, 2017 was pretty good. Of course I had a few ups and downs but in general things went well.

Here are my favorite arty things that happened in 2017:

1. My first book and largest illustration project "Happily Ever After I Do", was released in October! I am so proud to finish such a huge project. It was definitely a learning experience but I am so happy to have done it. I am looking forward to many more book projects in the future. And here's a little shout out to the amazing author Valerie Chiappone. Thank you for taking me on this book journey with you, it has been a privilege working with you.

Happily Ever After I Do .jpg

2. The Pre-Vinylette Society Art Show in Chicago. It was such a honor to part of this awesome women in sign painting show. It was even written up in one of my favorite publications, Uppercase Magazine! (If you squint you can see my painting on the wall). Read my post about the show here.

The Pre-Vinylette Society in Uppercase Magazine (Issue 36)

The Pre-Vinylette Society in Uppercase Magazine (Issue 36)

3. My French Revolution portraits for the Tiny Show at Studio Gallery in San Francisco.

4. My trip to Oslo, Norway with my husband for the Oslo Letterheads Sign Painters Meetup was amazing and it reignited my love for Norwegian artist Edvard Munch.

Some of my favorite portraits from the Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway! Aren't these amazing?

Some of my favorite portraits from the Edvard Munch Museum in Oslo, Norway! Aren't these amazing?


5. Although not technically a art moment, I did adopt two new kittens at the SF SPCA Meet SinJin Otto and Poe in December.

Yes...they are awesome and they will inspire me to be more creative, if they are too busy distracting me from painting.

Sinjin and Poe.jpg

Now that 2017 is over, it is on to 2018!

I am feeling pretty optimistic and had grown so much as an artist in the last few years, this year should be another fulfilling art year.

Here are a few of my plans for the new year:

  1. I became part of City Art Gallery in San Francisco. I will be working on a series of portraits for March show. I will be sure to post them as I make them.
  2. Get into more gallery shows.
  3. Work on getting in more publications
  4. Submit to more blogs, magazine and book publishers.
  5. Continue to work on my new Artist Portrait Series.
  6. Add more portraits to my Literary Portrait Series.
  7. Finish my Little Goth Riding Hood illustration Project.
  8. Draw more animals...
  9. Blog more...
  10. Travel to London for the next Letterheads Meet with Damon. 
  11. Delve into more historical illustration projects.
  12. Read at least one book a month.

What projects are you most excited to challenge yourself with this year? What are you most scared of?


The Tiny Show is here!

I am so pleased to have 4 new pieces in the upcoming Tiny Show at Studio Gallery in San Francisco.

This is my 5th year in doing this show. All my painting for this show are, well, Tiny. Each portrait is 5"x5". It can be a bit of a challenge to work that small but I actually enjoy it. My usual portrait size is about 9x12.

I decided to go with something new this year...the French Revolution!

Famous and Infamous portraits of 18th Century France.

First off...The Famous.

I was inspired to create these portraits after visiting the Palace of Versailles last year. I found the palace to be truly obnoxious. I couldn't imagine living in such luxury, and self aggrandizement. Honestly, it made me pretty depressed walking around. Having that reaction, I knew I need to paint these two.

Tiny Show Louis XVI.jpg

Debra Styer, Louis XVI, Last King of France, 2017

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Debra Styer, Marie Antoinette, Last Queen of France, 2017

In the end, Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were kind of made for each other. They were blinded by their riches and hidden away in their royal fortress.

The world finally chose the power of the people over the ruling of King.

Next, the Infamous...

Jean-Paul Marat

Debra Styer, Portrait of Jean-Paul Marat, 2017

Tiny Show Charlotte Corday.jpg

Debra Styer, The Assassin Charlotte Corday, 2017

The Revolution must have also been an exciting/terrible time to live. One of the most intense happenings was the murder of scientist, journalist and political activist Jean-Paul Marat. His murderer,  Charlotte Corday, assassinated him at his most vulnerable while he was taking a health bath (he had a a incurable skin disease). Ms. Corday blamed Marat for possibly inciting a violent massacre with his political writing, so she stabbed in the heart. Only to be executed for her crimes four days later.

Both rose to great notoriety in the history of France.

Want to see my portraits in person? Stop by and say hello, and check out my work and the work of over 195 amazing local Bay Area artists!

I will be at the reception on Sunday.

The Tiny show opens today!


Studio Gallery Tiny Show 2017.jpg



small pieces from local artists

Nov. 10th - Dec. 23rd, 2017

opening reception - Sunday, Nov. 12th 1-6 pm
14th anniversary party - Sunday, Dec. 3rd 1-6 pm

STUDIO Gallery
1641 Pacific Avenue
San Francisco, CA  94109

Hope to see you there!

Today's Inspiration: 19th Century Spirit Photography

The leaves are turning and it is getting colder. It is time to start thinking of one of my favorite times of the year. Halloween! In honor of my favorite holiday, I have chosen some of my most inspiring Victorian Spirit Photographs finds, as well as my most own 19th Century inspired haunted illustration.


Anonymous - c1870s spirit photograph of two ghostly figures, one of which is a young nun.

Although, most of this Victorian Spirit photography is known to be the artists trickery. I still love the results. And maybe just for a moment, having a photo where the sitter believed their loved one was still with them was helpful, maybe even healing, I hope anyway.

The Spiritualism Movement still fascinates me, even though I am too much of a skeptic to believe it to be real...But sometimes, especially at this time of year, I allow my mind to wander and let myself believe a bit more.

I mean who doesn't love a good ghost story?


Ghost photograph #1.png William Hope.png

William Hope, Family Group with Two Spirits, c.1920

From The National Media Museum

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Wylie, Mrs. Bentley and the Spirit of her Deceased Sister, c.1920

National Media Museum

Edward Wyllie Spirit Photograph c. 1900

Edward Wyllie Spirit Photograph c. 1900


William Mumler, Mrs. French with a Child "Ghost", 1868

As promised, here is my illustrated ode to Victorian Spirit Photography. The Ghosts in the photos, were they tricks of the camera or memories of things not to be explained?

This is the sad tale of Mr. And Mrs. Thomas Lewis and their son, Fredrick separated by the cruel curse of Cholera. Their love (and sadness) lingers in the air all around them. One must wonder, will they be reunited on All Souls Eve?

Debra Styer, "And Her Soul Lingers", 2017


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Victorian Spirit FRAMED.jpg
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Available here in the shop!

Happy Halloween, Everyone!

The Pre-Vinylette Society Art Show


I am so excited to be part of the upcoming art show dedicated to women in sign painting, "The Pre-Vinylette Society" at the Chicago Art Department opening on September 8th.

As someone who is married to a sign painter, (Damon Styer of New Bohemia Signs) I have been watching in awe as he creates such beautiful signs and lettering. Everything created in our shop is hand painted, and I jumped at the chance to be part of it all. Although, my job doesn't include much painting myself, (I am the assistant manager for the shop). I try to do as many little projects as I can.

With a few butterflies in my stomach, I decided to challenge myself and do a sign for the show.

Here's how it went...

Here's the initial sketch for the painting.

The optimists optometrist Sketch.jpg

I made a few changes, fought with my brushes a bit, and go plenty of advice (and a little help) from my husband but finally came up with something I was proud of.

As someone that has been painting most of my life, the biggest challenge of sign painting is getting used to the tools of the trade. We use 1-Shot enamel paints for 99% of all we do, and i must say it is very different from my usual watercolor paints. But I am still learning and will eventually figure out the "Muscle Memory" of using the brushes.

Optomists Optometrist painting.jpg

Debra Styer, The Optomists Optometrist, 2017

18"x24" 1-shot enamel on wood

If you happen to be in Chicago in September, stop by and see the show!

The Pre-Vinylette Society
Sept 8th – Sept 28th, 2017
Opening Reception Friday September 8th, 6-10pm
Pre-Vinylette panel discussion: Saturday September 9th, 2-4pm

Chicago Art Department – 1932 South Halsted
Gallery Hours: Saturday September 9th, 16th, 23rd, 12-5pm or by appointment

Although I won't be able to make it to the show myself, I honored to have my work shown among such amazing and talented women.

I also want to thank Meredith Kasabian of Best Dressed Signs and Shelby Rodeffer of Finer Signs

I would love to see the art of sign painting continue to grow. I will happily watch as more and more women get inspired to take up the brush. Here's to us all and good luck with the show!

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Update: Here's a super cool post on the show from Hyperallergic.

Literature Love: Roald Dahl and Shirley Jackson Literary Portraits

As you know, I have always loved a dark tale or two. Here are portraits of the two of the best writers of the macabre, Roald Dahl and Shirley Jackson.

First off, the fabulous Roald Dahl (1916 -1990)!

roald dahl portrait cropped

I grew up with the stories of Roald Dahl, waiting all year for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (AKA Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) to come on tv,  I watched as more and more of his children's stories became films, such as "James and the Giant Peach", "Matlida",  "Fantastic Mr. Fox", "The Witches" and "The BFD". His stories were dark and unexpected, he had such a incredible way of looking through innocent eyes of children into strange and sometimes scary worlds.

In college, I discovered his short stories for adults. Dahl's twisted brain came up with the even darker tales. I devoured them. I am always surprised that his more mature work isn't better known. My favorite books are "Switch Bitch" and "Tales of the Unexpected".

I've illustrated Mr. Dahl's portrait against a backdrop of his famously delicious lickable wallpaper from Charlie and Chocolate Factory. I hope you like him.

Roald Dahl Portrait Unframed
Roald Dahl
A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.
— Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl Portrait Unexpected Tales

Debra Styer, Fabulous Mr. Dahl, 2017

Available here in my shop!

Now, Ms. Shirley Jackson(1916- 1965)

Shirley Jackson Illustration

My illustrated ode to Gothic novel writer, Shirley Jackson.

Shirley Jackson is best known for her short story "The Lottery" (1948), which reveals a secret, sinister side to an all American town, and for "The Haunting of Hill House" (1959), which is considered to be one of the best ghost stories ever written. And my personal favorite, "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" (1962) a tragic story of a young girl and her family who is isolated from the world and what they do to survive.

I am currently reading, "Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life" by Ruth Franklin. I highly recommend reading this book for which highlights all the struggles Shirley had in her tough, short life.

She is a master storyteller and I hope to get more eyes on her books.

Title: "The Haunting of Shirley"

Shirley Jackson Literary Portrait Cropped
I delight in what I fear.
— Shirley Jackson
Shirley Jackson Art

Debra Styer, The Haunting of Shirley, 2017

Now available in the shop!