Drew Riley

Transgender woman,

I've wanted to be an artist since I was old enough to want to be something, and art has endured as a constant in my life. In 2008, I graduated with distinction from the Gemini School of Visual Arts.

I started my career as a freelance illustrator and video game concept artist. In the fall of 2013, I started working on a new series, Gender Portraits, in my free time after work. It started with a self portrait, Adolescence. It was first piece I had ever painted of myself presenting as a woman. This new piece was the most personal work I had ever created, and it inspired me to begin painting portraits of other transgender and gender diverse people.

At the start of 2014, I left commercial art behind me to paint and tell stories of gender diverse people full time. I ran a successful Kickstarter campaign that funded the paintings and stories of 12 subjects and the release of a line of prints. Since then, my series has grown into a nonprofit project [sponsored by the Austin Creative Alliance] that uses art to advocate for gender diverse people and hosts events for gender diverse communities. I also run talks and workshops about my experiences as a trans woman and the importance of using art in advocacy work.

I'm grateful to get to do this work as an artist. Gender Portraits has brought me community, voice, purpose, and validation. I can truly say that Gender Portraits has created me as much as I have created it.