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Devan's Amazing Art Journey Despite Mental Health Challenges

Devan the Artist poses with her favorite feline, Punkin the cat.

(Scroll down to view artwork).

As unique as her name -- Devan the Artist -- has developed a highly recognizable art style for herself using Sharpie markers. She describes the look she’s crafted as a blend of Dr. Seuss, Peter Max, and Van Gogh. Although her inviting, colorful artistry may look easy, breezy, it was a long hard road getting there. As result of her personal struggles, she has become a keen advocate for speaking openly about mental health, mental illness, and honing a “you-can-do-it” attitude despite challenges.

When Devan was only 6 years old her parents divorced. Shortly after, Devan developed ongoing anxiety and depression that would eventually lead to multiple hospitalizations during her teen years. However, because she was drawn to art as a very young child, art soon became her refuge.

She recalls, “I went from my life being normal to suddenly being split between two separate households. The situation hurt me more than I realized. I felt so displaced – like there was nowhere I belonged. As I got older, it interfered with my social life and I started acting out. Often I’d have to be at my dad’s house on a weekend instead of able to hang with my friends or attend their parties.”

Art ultimately became her anchor throughout years of treatment for anxiety, panic attacks, and depression.

“It was during one of these hospital stays that I learned I could make the world that was in my head – a happy place for me to go,” Devan says.

While still in school, she took a few art classes, teaching herself how to draw over 30 animals, and discovering a passion for cartooning. Although college created too much anxiety for her to continue attendance, this was when she decided her favorite medium was markers. And despite teachers trying to lead her away from using them, she followed her gut instead and stuck with markers.

Using Sharpies, she went on to teach herself how to make 15 textures and how to draw more than 70 additional animals. Then came an almost two-year break away from art where she did some intense soul searching. Ultimately, she decided it was her true passion and life’s purpose.

“Once I faced my fears and made the decision to not give up, everything changed,” she says. “I got an amazing day job where I could work on art while there. And, I took the opportunity get my art out into the world by challenging myself to try new things and to grow as an artist. I was definitely pushing myself outside my comfort zone to introduce myself to more people, hand out my business cards, and be in more art shows.”

Devan’s portfolio now spans a broad array of projects including comics on the web that are both written and illustrated by her, three self-published coloring books, children’s books, and two online shops where she sells her art. She has been featured in 41 shows, is part of a permanent art installation at Lion’s Park in DeKalb, accepts commissions, keeps immersed in the Aurora art scene, and just finished illustrating another children’s picture book, “Animals at the Office” written by local author, Sarah Sommer.

All this and she’s still only 28 years old!

Devan, resides in Sandwich, IL and maintains an art studio in her home. Visit her website at:; or Email her at:

Devan the Artist poses with author, Sarah Sommer, to promote the book Devan illustrated, ANIMALS AT THE OFFICE.

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Creator of the Tides


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