Drew Riley is a transgender woman in Austin, TX who creates the paintings and written stories that make up the Gender Portraits series. Riley was classically trained at the Gemini School of Visual Arts where she graduated with distinction in 2008. For five years, she was a concept artist and illustrator for a video games, movies, and animated films until she started working on the Gender Portraits project full-time in 2014.
Riley conceived the Gender Portraits series in 2013 while working on a self portrait, Adolescence. Creating that portrait was the first time Riley had painted her true self, and seeing it completed was a profoundly emotional experience for her. Upon finishing, she decided that she would continue to paint other people like herself, and tell their stories her through art. Riley was driven to create something that did not exist when she was growing up in hopes to help others have an easier time finding themselves.
Today, Riley is the executive director of Gender Portraits, a sponsored project of the Austin Creative Alliance. In addition to creating artwork that educates the general public on the complexities of the gender spectrum, she oversees a team of community volunteers to create validating community events like the Gender Unbound Art Fest. While the Gender Portraits project has expanded beyond her original art series, Riley still finds time to paint trans, intersex, and gender nonconforming people so that she can share their stories with the world. If you would like to be painted in the project, please submit through our online form.