Quite a Bit of Success
article by Starla Gatson
photography by Kelly Moore Clark
Even though Daniel Myers has only been seriously pursuing his art career for about a year now, the West Monroe native has been a professional for years.
Myers has been a working artist since he was just eight years old, when Montessori school owner and teacher, Dee Scallan, began writing children’s books about the Louisiana ecosystem. She needed someone to create the illustrations that would bring the book series’ titular character, Moby Pincher, to life, so she enlisted the aid of one of her students — Myers, of course — to get the job done.
“When I illustrated those books, I was like, ‘I’m young; I’m not a professional,’” Myers says of his first professional gig, “but the author’s husband was like, ‘Well, you did get paid for it.’ So, ever since then, I [called myself] one.”
Myers had always been an artistic child — according to his parents, he picked up drawing somewhere around age two. However, even with clear talent, a long-held interest in art, and one job already on his résumé, the young Myers had no plans to pursue art full-time as an adult.
“I did the books until I was [around] 12, I think. I switched gears in high school because in Louisiana back then, you didn’t really hear about artists. I was like, ‘I’ll just be a doctor,’” he explains before adding with a laugh, “Easy.”
Though his sights were set on the medical field, Myers continued honing his artistic abilities, partially because he wanted to keep improving but also because he simply enjoyed being creative. He remembers, “It was just really relaxing. I would always doodle while I was working, [and] it would help me focus. And since I was eight years old, people would tell me I was good, so I kept practicing. I kept wanting to get better.”
After graduating high school, Myers, who had moved to Baton Rouge in the fifth grade, returned to Ouachita Parish to attend the University of Louisiana Monroe. He earned a degree in biology, and with his intent to become a doctor still alive and well, Myers enrolled in medical school post-graduation. But something didn’t feel right, he reveals.
“I had completed my first year of medical school, and I was doing fine,” he says. “I had good grades and all that, but I felt like I was putting a lot of work into something I wasn’t really passionate about.”
He had done the math, and it would take him seven years to finish medical school and residency. Would that time be worth it, he wondered? Ultimately, he decided the answer was no, reasoning that if he spent the next seven years putting the same effort into art that he had into medical school, he could surely find success as a creative.
“I was either going to have to sign up for another year of student loans, or I had to decide to cut my losses and pursue what I wanted to,” he says.
So, Myers opted to cut his losses and started back down the path his eight-year-old self had walked as a professional artist. But first, he had to do one thing: explain his sudden life shift to the people closest to him.
“Obviously, my parents were a little worried,” he says. “But they eventually came around and saw that it made me happy; they’ve seen that I can do it. All my friends were like, ‘Yes, that makes sense. We don’t know why you were in medical school and trying to be a doctor. We were a little confused because this is so clearly what you like to do and have a talent for.’”
There was no clear-cut plan, Myers explains, but he was determined to start creating and see where the journey took him. He reveals that he felt a bit uncertain at first, but once he began making his art, things began to fall into place.
“There is something to be said for just starting and making the work,” Myers says. “People will hire you if they see what you do and they like it. You have to put yourself out there. That was my hesitation. That, and making time to do it. You have to make time to do the art and put it out and not be so worried with doing things the ‘right’ way. In the end, that can get in the way of actually doing it.”
Myers’ “just do it” philosophy seems to be paying off. Though he’s just in the early stages of his art career, he’s already found quite a bit of success. You’ve probably seen his work around the Twin Cities, perhaps printed on a “Funroe” t-shirt from downtown Monroe’s vintage and local goods shop, The Good Daze. You’ll also find prints of some of the young artist’s illustrations and drawings there, including depictions of a ballerina performing Swan Lake, a magnolia flower, and Lone Peak in Big Sky, Montana. In addition to selling his pieces in the local storefront and on his website, Myers does commissions, creating custom portraits, illustrations, logos, and typography.
While he continues further establishing himself in the North Louisiana art community, Myers is looking ahead and dreaming of what’s to come. On his agenda is eventually putting together and showing a collection of his pieces.
“For my traditional art, I would like to get more into having live models, figure drawing, and painting and have more time to make the pieces that are interesting to me,” he says. “[I want to] build an audience off that instead of one-off pieces here and there from commissions.”
As far as his illustrations are concerned, Myers says he ultimately wants to make art similar to the pieces that inspired him in the first place, explaining, “My interest in art started out with seeing tattoo designs, graphics for gig posters and movies, stuff like that. That got me interested in the graphic design aspect.” Take album art, for example, he goes on, “I might not have listened to that album, but there are certain [covers] I think of and I just think of the art. I really want to be a part of something like that.”
Until his traditional art and illustration dreams come true, though, Myers is simply enjoying making art. After all, he declares, the process of creating a piece is the best part.
“Today, creativity and making for making’s sake is definitely becoming a lost art,” he declares. “People have more to do than ever and with smartphones in our hands, it’s so easy to lose time. Our days are filled with so many demands — jobs, school, children, family, fitness, social obligations — and when we do have downtime, the natural inclination is to turn on streaming services or go to social media and scroll.”
That isn’t to say modern technology is bad, Myers clarifies, but none of it, in his opinion, compares to the joy of making something. The subject isn’t even the most important part, he says; what matters most is for the creative to create without getting too caught up in what they’re working on and whether it’s good enough.
Myers used to weigh himself down with self-criticism, but that quickly became detrimental to his art, he reveals, “I was paralyzed by all my options and was comparing myself to other artists online. I would rack my brain trying to come up with a thoughtful concept and interesting composition. By the time I decided on an idea, if I did at all, all of my creative energy was zapped.”
Then, it hit him: dwelling on the subject and becoming obsessed with creating the perfect piece was sucking the fun out of his craft. That’s when Myers decided his joy would come from the process, and he holds that outlook today.
“Once I realized this, I quit worrying about my subjects and started drawing and painting whatever I felt like,” he says. “I’m creating more than ever and having fun while I do it.”
Making art is somewhat of a meditative process for Myers, but he isn’t the only one that benefits from it. His customers, of course, reap the rewards of his labor when they purchase a piece of his art from his website, www.danielmyers.myportfolio.com.
Between sessions of creating for himself, Myers will spend the foreseeable future working on several projects in the area, including participating in West Monroe’s Frame the Drain project and Ruston Artisans’ Sidewalk Chalkwalk. He also says he hopes to paint a few murals in the area, so be sure to stay up to date with all the young artist is doing through his social media accounts (Daniel Myers on Facebook and @colorblindkiddaniel on Instagram).