By: Louise Glickman
At what point does an artist’s life turn to the whimsical? Is age a factor? I certainly hope NOT; after all, I live with this man!
Artist Daryl Slaton’s wonderful world of wee, whimsical women culminated in a unique greeting card line introduced to an international audience at the National Stationery Show at New York City’s Javits Center in May.
Daryl’s turn to the droll began with humorous pet portraits depicting the special characteristics of our licking, loving friends as seen by their owners. Dogs as pirates and princesses; cats driving snazzy cars became Tails of Whimsy™—until the economy soured. The Tails of Whimsy Press now highlights delightful images of small women with large ideas who share empowering, compassionate ideals passed onto friends and daughters.
During the economic downturn, this commercial artist’s business felt stretched as reality set in. How does an accomplished artist, over fifty, jumpstart a new career independent of the expectations of his traditional corporate clients with ideas bestowing smiles—even in difficult times.
Slaton’s interest in pop culture and children’s tales inspired him, as did Ireland where gnomes and leprechauns abound. A week in county Kerry, in the art-centric town of Kenmare, immersed him in a storyland of sorts. An evening of traditional Irish food, potato whisky, and a theatrical performance of music and dance in a 300-year-old cottage gave him a more intimate understanding of native culture. But visiting the nearby heritage park of Bonane, where Slaton saw faeries dance round blooms emerging from the decayed walls of a pre-famine cottage, truly sparked his creativity.
“The presence of the pain of the family that had lived there felt visceral,” said Slaton, “and my photographs reflect a peculiar light indicating a kind of viability.” In particular, two photos of a protected area of one wall were unusual. An abundance of textures, colors and a lone mushroom looked like a mystical spot in fairyland. Declaring that faeries lived there, he took two photos to make sure he captured the image. Of the dozens he took that day, only those two fogged—not motion-blurred, but fogged—as though someone (or something) did not want the image captured. Photos taken next to that area were sharp and clear. (Says this writer, “I felt the pain so strongly that I had to leave the area!”)
Walking and talking together, we spoke of childhood memories and strong women’s contributions to life’s challenges: strength, hope, and dreams. Raising children, especially in tough times, requires the innate gifts of loving, caring and sharing. Daryl acquired these lessons from his mother, who loved a good story to lighten her load. She raised four boys while working full time at the Smyre Mill in Gastonia, North Carolina. (His Dad drove a taxi and brought home great jokes, sacks of potatoes from folks who couldn’t afford fares and once, a puppy.)
Tails of Whimsy gave birth to the wonderful world of the Wispenwood Whimsies™, five-inch-high women living in magical wooded areas around the world. Living among quirky animals and exotic flowers in mystical settings, they tell simple truths and impart knowledge to children. Daryl’s new digital application for Interactive Touch Books tells the story of Wispenwood’s magical world through a child’s treasure: her grandmother’s diary of travels to faraway, whimsical places.
The Whimsies also appear on greeting cards evoking special messages appealing to women (and the men who love them). Fresh air makes rosy cheeks, a winged tiger with sparkling courage and loyalty represents challenges, babies arrive via umbrella, and sweet dreams abound on starlit nights. Daryl still has a long list of Whimsies to bring to life; thirty-six were introduced to stationery buyers and agents at the New York show in late May.
During the same time, next door at Surtex®, the International Licensing Show, Daryl was represented by the Bentley Licensing Group. They envision Whimsies on children’s shirts, fabrics and sheets, games, toys and puzzles.
Says Slaton on bringing his Whimsies to life: “These tiny women have budded inside of me for awhile, and now they’ve blossomed. I’ve combined childhood memories, folklore, my Scots-Irish heritage, and the magic of Western North Carolina to create a new world. Not just a physical world, but a land of thought, ideals, and wonder.”
You can find your whimsical world of Wispenwood at the following locations: www.tailsofwhimsy.com
Etsy: Storyland Art Studio
Galleries: Zapow and Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, Maddi’s Gallery in Charlotte
App for iPad and iPhone: www.Interactive Touch Books.com; The Secret World of the Wispenwood Whimsies
For more information, contact Daryl at email@example.com; 828-633-0412