Monday, September 7, 2020

Revisiting Tammy Derwick, Entrepre-mer

originally published in la Vie Sirene June 2013

Tammy (left) & her mer-model
Mermaid Prints, Cutting Boards, Flasks, Coasters, Mermaid Scales Jewelry, Stickers, License Plates, Bags, Aprons, Ladies Shirts

Tammy Derwick does it all!

She created the Be the Myth Mermaid Facebook group that is now more than 750 mermates strong.  She'll even turn you into a mermaid without your ever getting wet... by custom-drawing your face on one of her original mermaid illustrations.

Even Lady Gaga collects her stuff!

I grabbed a few moments of Tammy's time to find out what it's like making a living as a mermaid artist.

What first drew you to specializing in mermaid themed art?

Other mermaid enthusiasts! Figure drawing has certainly been one of my many passions, most likely because I am drawn to the appeal of the human figure. I have been an artist and designer for 20 years, and in the art community, I had multiple requests for mermaid art, so I obliged. After pencil drawing maybe half a dozen pieces, I found myself intrigued with the whole mermaid myth. They also happened to sell. All of them sold, ironically, during their very first showing. Naturally, I created more, and wanted to learn more.

For me, each mermaid takes on a life of their own. Mermaids possess an incredible versatility, intrigue, and challenge.

Tammy's traveling Be the Myth shop
You have done an incredible job at making a career out of your passion. What sorts of lessons have you learned along the way as a business woman?

I have learned so much, undoubtedly more than I could ever express during this short interview! But one of the most important things I have learned has been to listen. Dealing with custom projects throughout my entire artistic career, it has been imperative to design exactly what someone wants. The only way to figure that out is to ask a few questions, then let them do the talking. Always treat people well. Be generous, share your ideas, be encouraging to others.

Your design was chosen as the poster art for the famous Coney Island Mermaid Parade. What did that do for your career and what was that experience like?

My first thought when recalling that experience was the joy I felt by being given such an honor. The Coney Island Mermaid Parade is an icon, and to be recognized by the ultimate authority of all things mermaid was of course way beyond encouraging!

The people involved with operating the Coney Island Mermaid Parade and Museum are just a pleasure. I still speak with them today, and they carry my product line Be The Myth in their museum. Designing the poster for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade allowed me a multitude of exposure. To have one of my mermaids on a poster that was spattered throughout all of New York and also the Coney Island Museum website was an extraordinarily humbling experience.

You always seem to have something innovative and fun going on, necklaces bearing mermaid secrets, special stories behind select pieces. etc. It's like finding sunken treasure! What sorts of surprise goodies are you currently offering?

This, I think, is the most exciting! I have a full line of products and apparel which is constantly evolving. There will always be another product, something new to explore. Researching the latest innovations, and creating something new, while including the mermaid angle is so provocative.

I guess you could say I get bored easily! I am forever looking forward. Even before one new product has launched, I am already seeking new adventures with another idea. Once it is prepared to present to the public, it is already completed for me, and I have moved on to the next innovation. It is the planning and developing that motivates and excites me. It is truly all about each individual journey.

Right now I am working on a project with Carolyn Turgeon involving the mermaid I created for the 2013 Merpalooza Poster, and I am so thrilled with how it is developing! What's next for Tammy Derwick and your Be the Myth line? After that? It is difficult to answer, I will know it when I dream it.

How has your involvement in the mer-community enriched your life, personally or professionally?

More than anything, I have learned what mermaids represent. We are all connected to one another by common elements and Mermaids embody who we are. Mermaids are graceful, elusive, and mysterious.

I believe one of the things that ties us together as humans is the intrigue of the unknown mixed with the desire to protect and explore what we do know. I also think most of us are naturally drawn to the ocean, it is part of us.

If you had unlimited time and resources, what would you like to accomplish in business?

Candidly speaking, I believe that unlimited time and resources may actually be a hindrance rather than a gift. Without the things that motivate, where is the fun?

I would love to see the Be The Myth name become widely recognizable. My designs have been considered very sensual and sometimes provocative. I believe that resonates an emotion and passion in all of us, and serves women well with a positive image of femininity. Not only do my mermaids represent the physical appeal of a woman, more importantly it shows our strength of mind and freedom, which is why I call the company: Be The Myth, Graceful, Elusive, Mysterious.

Do you have any advice for artists working in a specialty genre as you do?

Explore your own style, never compare yourself to your competition. In fact, it is probably best to completely ignore what others in your genre are doing, that way you are free to create your own personality. Love what you are doing. If you are not passionate and fired up about what you are creating, no one else will be either.

To dive into Tammy's world, visit her Mythical Mermaid Facebook page.