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Locals to Know: Meet Orlando artist Casey Drake

2020 has been an emotional roller coaster for all of us. And for most, we find ourselves on the bottom of the ride more often than the top. So when someone comes along that makes the hard days a little easier, our emotions a little lighter and our laughter a little more frequent, welp, we cling to them.

Enter Casey Drake. She’s a local artist that’s been putting a smile on my face for the last three months. Her work is relatable, inspiring, relevant, and impeccable. Get to know Casey and how her art went from her Orlando sidewalk to the Jimmy Kimmel show.

Pulptown: How long have you lived in Orlando?

Casey: I lived in Orlando when I was 4-6 years old but returned in the summer of 2012. I just planned to stay for the summer but ended up not leaving. I’ve been here 8 years now and finally feel like I’ve found my home.

Pulptown: Where did the idea of your sidewalk chalk art come from? 

Casey: We were early in the quarantine and adjusting to being home all the time with a very active toddler and baby. I took the kids outside one afternoon to socialize with our neighbors who were sitting in their yard. My brother had sent me a Facebook post about someone drawing Disney characters on their sidewalk so I decided to give it a try. I drew an Olaf from Frozen at my daughter’s request. My daughter and the neighbors loved it so it became a daily routine to come outside in the afternoons and draw while we socialized from a distance. 

Pulptown: What kind of medium did you practice prior to getting into sidewalk chalk art? 

Casey: I’ve always loved creating art in any way I can. I have always drawn, painted, embroidered, wood-burned, etc. I love trying new mediums. My favorites tend to be acrylic paints and charcoal drawings.

Pulptown: Has this new medium altered/affected your original art practice? 

Casey: Absolutely. I’m a perfectionist, which makes it really hard to determine when I’m done with a drawing. Since chalk is a temporary medium, it allowed me to let go of all my fears about my drawings being imperfect and allowed me to just create. It also creates a time constraint since it rains so frequently. I’ve become much faster at finishing a piece since I usually need to complete the entire piece in 2-3 hours.

Pulptown: What has been your favorite character to draw so far? 

Casey: I love drawing villains, especially Disney villains. Villains get all of the interesting and extreme facial features which makes them interesting to draw. However, my favorite drawing so far has been Sadness from my “Stages of Quarantine” series. 

Pulptown: If it’s not the same, is there one piece you’ve been most proud of? If so, which one? 

Casey: It’s not chalk art, but I am most proud of my recent E.T. drawing. It was one of my first realistic portraits using colored pencils and I was really excited about how it turned out. 

Pulptown: Who inspires your work? 

Casey: I’ve always been a huge fan of Gary Larson’s “The Far Side” comics. His use of single-panel comics and simple drawings to create jokes is what I aspire to. I also follow so many incredibly talented artists on Instagram that keep me just envious enough to keep working every day.

Pulptown: How does your art help you during times of the coronavirus?

Casey: Art and humor have always been my therapy. It’s a chance for me to detach from the world for a few hours and create something that wasn’t there before. Being able to laugh at the things that are causing you anxiety is an immensely powerful tool. So for me to be able to draw and laugh at the ridiculousness of this year is the only way I know to maintain my sanity.

Pulptown: How do you think your art helps/impacts others

Casey: I have been overwhelmed with the response my drawings have received. I can’t count the number of people who have reached out to tell me that my drawings brighten their day and that they look forward to seeing them every day. That has been such an exciting part of this. I was making the drawings for myself and some neighbors, so the fact that people all over the world are finding joy in them is amazing.

Pulptown: What has surprised you the most during the process/pandemic? 

Casey: Everything has surprised me during this pandemic. I think for all of us, this has been a surreal year. I’ve been dealing with all of the pandemic chaos and then in the midst of that received a massive amount of attention for chalk drawings. I went from 88 followers on Instagram in early April to nearly 45,000 right now. I’ve had my work on CBS This Morning, Jimmy Kimmel Live, E! News, Scary Mommy, Insider, Popsugar, and so many others. I also have some drawings that will be in an upcoming Halsey x Marshmello music video. It’s been a rollercoaster, to say the least, and I’m not entirely sure I have wrapped my head around the whole thing yet.

Pulptown: Who’s on your quaranteam? 

Casey: My quaranteam includes my husband John, my daughter Finn, my son Felix, and my amazing neighbors Amy, Riley, and Kat. They have all been incredibly supportive of me and my art through this whole pandemic. 

Pulptown: What does a day in the life of Casey Drake look like? 

Casey: Strap in for this thrilling ride. My 10-month-old son usually wakes up for the day by 5 am. I try to get a drawing started before my almost 3-year-old daughter gets up around 6:30 a.m. Lately, I draw at my kitchen island, so I leave my drawing out while I take care of the kids and come back to it when they’re occupied or napping. Usually, I’m not able to finish my piece during the day so once my husband comes home from work and takes over with the kids I get about an hour to finish up drawing then post it to Instagram. If I’m not completely exhausted once the kids to go to bed I will sometimes start the next day’s drawing. It’s been very chaotic lately because my son is walking and it’s been too hot to spend much time outdoors. It’s a little like being trapped in a house with two feral raccoons who are constantly demanding snacks while trying to finish a drawing for 8 hours.

Pulptown: What Orlando “thing” do you miss the most?

Casey: Everything. I miss eating at our amazing restaurants, visiting the Science Center with my kids (my husband and I got married there!), shopping in stores instead of online, and taking my daughter to Disney.

Pulptown: Where can people find your work?

Casey: I’m most active on Instagram at @caseydrakemakes, but I also have a Facebook, Patreon, YouTube, and Etsy account, all under the same name. Or you can visit my website: caseydrakemakes.com. I recently started selling stickers and am in the process of adding prints of drawings to my web and Etsy stores.

Are you a local artist who has found creative ways to document the times and is maybe also trying to sustain a business? We want to hear from you! Send us an email at [email protected], subject line: I’m creative, too.