Blanca Myers sits down with Chicago artist Mary DeYoe, the mind behind mdy designs. Among DeYoe’s fans is our own Blanca Myers, who has one of DeYoe’s original mirrors in her San Francisco apartment (see Blanca’s custom mirror here). Browse through Mary’s work on her website, or send her a note to inquire about custom pieces. These mirrors are great for the wall or a tabletop.
Thanks for talking with us, Mary. How did you find the art world?
I have always loved art. Growing up the house was filled with art books, and we actually had a whole art closet. It was filled with plastic bins of markers, crayons, construction paper, pipe cleaners, glitter!, all that great stuff. My mom and dad really encouraged us to create.
Where do you draw your inspiration?
I think it’s true that almost anything can inspire you, but I also tend to be drawn to certain things and those certain things or ideas continue to pop up in my work. For instance, old movies. I grew up watching movies from the 30s 40s and 50s like The Philadelphia Story, Marx Brothers movies, All About Eve. I watched more movies than I read, so when I write I tend to hear dialogue in my head and mostly it’s sort of “fancy” dialogue. You know, something “raahther like this, dahling.” I think I grew up thinking that I should have a butler and a smoking jacket.
Can you talk a little about your artistic process?
I love vintage stores. They are like enormous treasure chests. You have to have a lot of patience to shop this way because the stores really can be hit or miss. I will pick up mirrors whenever I can. Sometimes I’ll just hang on to them for a while before painting anything. What I write on them tends mostly to be dictated by how I want it to look visually — to fill the whole mirror, just part of it, to be upright, etc… As for the words, I like for it to feel like you’re coming into the middle of a story. Some of the lines are from poems I have written, and others are just imagined lines of dialogue or turns of phrase. For the most part, I avoid giving instruction or being “inspirational” on the mirrors. Side note: I also LOVE costume jewelry, So I will very often leave a store with 4-5 mirrors and a bag full of gold chains and art deco cuff bracelets or giant rings. I have very little self control when it comes to this.
What’s it like being an artist in Chicago?
In general, I think it’s hard to be an artist anywhere. Chicago is an wonderful city for art students (and many artists), but a lot of artists leave Chicago because there is not a strong base of collectors here who will buy their work. There are more collectors in cities like LA and NY. I think Chicago is changing though and more and more people (especially young people) are getting interested in art and going to gallery openings.
What are some of your favorite spots in the Windy City?
In the summer I love the beach and riding my bike along the lake shore. I love the MCA (Museum of Contemporary Art), and you can find me eating crepes at their farmers market every Tuesday. There is the most fabulous sculpture outside the museum – an enormous wire hanger called, “Blackbird” by Mark Handforth. As for other places to eat, I I just went to Au Cheval and plan to become a regular. It’s a diner but so much more than that. The atmosphere feels like a cross between a 50s diner, classic french bistro and a farmhouse kitchen. They make a great hamburger (try it with a fried egg).
What’s on your summer playlist?
I feel like I am constantly listening to Etta James. I am OBSESSED with Spotify. I love that I can listen to whole albums. I forgot how great it is to listen to an entire album. An album is a carefully constructed story, and each song seems to carry more weight when you listen to the whole thing at once. Some of the most played albums on my Spotify account currently are:
FUN. “Aim and Ignite”
The Mynabirds “What we lose in the fire we gain in the flood”
Rolling Stones “Exile on Main Street”
Alabama Shakes “Boys & Girls”