Artist in the Balcony, Valentine Edition

At last night's Acadiana Symphony rehearsal, I used the backstage entrance. I tiptoed along the side of the stage and made my way into the empty auditorium. The sound of strings being tuned filled my ears as I settled into a seat.  I opened my sketchbook just as the Maestro called all to attention. And then the music began.

The melody soared and pranced. My heart soared along with it. 

I listened and I drew. Birds, flowers, spring, happiness.

Joyful notes. Warm and caring notes. Notes being played and perfected. 

I'd left the world outside of that backstage door. And for a magical while I was at peace — inspired by the music, sketchbook on my knee, pen poised to capture it all. 

There's an Artist in the Balcony

Last night I received a magical gift. 

I was invited by Miguel Ochoa with the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra to attend the rehearsal of tonight's holiday performance, "Magic of the Season."

I sat in the balcony, sketchbook on my knee, and let the music inspire me.

It all started as a wisp of an idea. While gushing to Miguel one day about an Acadiana Symphony performance I'd recently attended, I mentioned how the music had filled my head with images. I longed to draw along with the music. Miguel loved the idea. 

And so, last night, with the Maestro's blessing, I sat perched above the rehearsing musicians and I drew. 

The music was enchanting — at times quiet and magical, then bold and majestic with a touch of melancholy. Zachary Richard's words were poetry. My heart was full. And for me and my sketchbook, time seemed to stand still. 

I encourage you to attend the Acadiana Symphony's performance, "Magic of the Season" tonight. And when you do, let the music inspire you and fill you with joy.

— The Artist in the Balcony

 Magic of the Season

Magic of the Season

Keynote Speaker at University of Louisiana Lafayette Event

I was recently honored to be the keynote speaker at the University of Lafayette Louisiana's portfolio review event on March 19, 2016. I've always enjoyed reviewing student portfolios and speaking with students of all grade levels, from elementary to college. I was a student once, and remember how it felt to hear nuggets of wisdom from someone who was actually out there, doing what I wanted to do. I love what my job. But there is a lot to learn beyond the classroom. So whenever I can, I leap at the chance to share what I've learned along the way.

My keynote speech was titled, "Embrace Your Inner Bandicoot (And Other Things I've Learned.)" I included a presentation of some of my favorite work, sprinkled with bits of knowledge. One of the things I felt needed to be stressed, was that in order to make it, one needs to do more than just "Follow Your Dream" as I've seen so many fancily designed posters tout. No. You have to work REALLY FREAKIN' HARD to achieve that dream.

So I made my own poster. With that exact sentiment.

Don't just follow your dream. WORK REALLY FREAKIN' HARD FOR IT!

(Oh, and always listen to that little voice in your head that urges you to do your best... or do something even better. My voice happens to be a bandicoot...)


Official Artist of Festival International de Louisiane 2016

I am honored to have been chosen as the official artist of Festival International de Louisiane 2016. I am thrilled to represent a Festival that I have enjoyed for many years. 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the Festival, and I'm proud to say that I've attended almost every one.

Here is the official artwork created for the Festival and will be featured on the official poster, pin and other merchandise.

You can purchase a limited edition, signed and numbered, museum quality giclee print by following this link:

Official Artist of Festival International de Louisiane 2016

Early this summer I received news that I had been chosen as the official artist of Festival International de Louisiane 2016. This is quite an honor and I am thrilled to represent a Festival that I have enjoyed for many years. 2016 marks the 30th anniversary of the Festival, and I'm proud to say that I've attended almost every one.

 Sneak peek of me working diligently on the Festival artwork.

Sneak peek of me working diligently on the Festival artwork.

My artwork will be featured on the official Festival International poster and will be the inspiration for the official Festival International pin. There will be an unveiling event on November 7, 2015 at the Grouse Room in Lafayette, Louisiana. 

Follow this link to read the announcement in the Daily Advertiser:


Art Box Project

I was recently honored to be selected to design an ArtBox for the Acadiana Center for the Arts ArtBox Project.

The AcA, along with the Lafayette Consolidated Government and Lafayette Convention and Visitors Center created the ArtBox Project in order to transform traffic boxes around Lafayette into beautiful pieces of public art that represent the city, its people and culture, giving the community a sense of place.  

I was thrilled to assist in helping to bring more art to the city that I love to call home.

My piece, titled, "Cajun Carnivale," is a whimsical parade of colorful Cajun characters dressed for a carnival celebration. It is located at the corner of Jefferson and Garfield Street in the middle of the downtown Lafayette area.


Join artist Denise Gallagher for the opening of her show, "Minutiae," a collection of new works.

Dolphin and Possum

I was recently commissioned to create a wonderfully romantic illustration.

Aaron and Liz Hebert were about to celebrate their first wedding anniversary. The had recently visited New Orleans where they discovered Beatrice Moon, a gypsy poet with a card table and a vintage typewriter, selling poems in Jackson Square. Beatrice wrote a charming poem for the Heberts about their spirit animals — the Dolphin and the Possum. Aaron secretly asked me to create an illustration to accompany the poem as an anniversary gift.

The result was a charming and personal gift fit for a wonderful couple!


Q+A with Illustrator Denise Gallagher
Denise talks about turning points, following your true calling and dancing with aliens.

Mark Kaufman: Have you attended an ICON Conference before? 
Denise Gallagher: My first ICON was ICON7, but I plan on attending every ICON from now on!
MK: Tell us a little about what you were up to when you decided to take the plunge and go to your first ICON. 
DG: I attended ICON7 because I was at a turning point in my career. I had been an art director at an advertising agency for fifteen years, but was seriously considering taking the leap and doing what I truly love by becoming a full-time illustrator. I felt that by attending ICON, I’d meet other illustrators as well as art directors and illustration reps and be able to talk to them about what the industry was truly like. ICON7 exceeded my expectations. I learned so much about the business that I made the leap. This year, I’m attending ICON8 as a full-fledged illustrator! 
MK: Congratulations on your career move! Since your experience in Providence was such a positive one, are you heading up to Portland for ICON8? 
DG: I had such a wonderful time at ICON7 that I would not miss ICON8 for the world! I’ve already got my ticket! 
MK:  You hear that procrastinators? You gotta get in on this. Can you talk a little about any memorable moments from the conference?
I have so many great memories from ICON7… from listening to some of the illustrators that I truly look up to speak — hanging on their every word, then making several new friends from around the world and hanging out with them discussing illustration over a couple of beers, and then of course, there was dancing with 7-foot tall aliens! 
MK:  Dancing with aliens is always fun, but did you learn anything from your illustration discussions?
DG: I learned so much. I learned that there are so many markets for illustration that I had not even considered. I learned that I really would like to have an illustration rep. And most of all, I learned what I knew deep inside, that what I truly wanted to do with my life was to become a full-time illustrator.
MK:  What was the most surprising thing for you about ICON?
DG: I should not have been surprised — artists are some of my most favorite people — but I was thrilled that it was so easy to talk with others and to make friends. ICON was full of some of the most talented and friendly people on earth! 
MK: I’m biased of course, but I agree. It’s easy to meet people and get to know them apart from only knowing about their work. Do you still keep in contact with people you met? 
DG: I traveled to ICON7 by myself, but left having made many new friends that I still keep in contact with. It’s nice to have friends all over the world that I can share ideas and news with!
MK:  Did any creative projects or ideas transpire from attending the conference?
DG: After attending ICON7 I worked with an art director that I met there. I was thrilled! 
MK: Do you come to the conference to be around like-minded people or just to get away from your normal work routine for a few days? 
DG:  definitely attend ICON to be around like-minded people. Illustration can be a somewhat solitary existence and it’s a career that comes with unique challenges and benefits. ICON is a wonderful place to relax and discuss the life of an illustrator with others who know all about it!
MK:  What would you say to someone thinking about going to ICON but is also thinking “But I’m not an illustrator! What’s in it for me?
DG: It’s a great creative experience even for those who are not full-time illustrators. Creative ideas are shared, inspiration is sparked and friends are made. Oh! And you just might dance with a 7-foot tall alien! 
MK:  You never know what to expect that’s for sure. Do you attend other industry conferences? 
DG: As an art director as well as an illustrator, I’ve attended several other design conferences and retreats, large and small. ICON was the most dear to my heart, however, because illustration is my true creative calling, I felt so much at home and there’s still so much I can learn. 
MK:  What are you looking forward to most in Portland?
DG: I am really looking forward to seeing all of the friends I made at ICON7 again at ICON8. It’s great keeping up with them on social media, but nothing beats just hanging out in person. I’m also looking forward to hearing and meeting the speakers at ICON8. I think I literally squealed when I read this year’s list of speakers! 
MK: Seems everyone is very excited for July to get here. I look forward to seeing you again. Thanks for taking some time to talk to us. 
DG: I can’t wait. See you in Portland. Thanks.


FPO: Aesop Illustrated

A division of UnderConsideration, celebrating the reality that print is not dead by showcasing the most compelling printed projects.