When Michelle Dekkers says she’s an artist, it’s not to be taken lightly. Art is at the core of her identity. From childhood to career, Dekkers has always been involved with art, even starting art classes at 4 years old. When she’s not giving back to the community through her work with Art Conspiracy, she keeps herself busy with other projects in the Dallas community
“I show my original canvas and multimedia work in local art galleries, paint murals, design and create chalkboard art/signs, paint pet portraits and other fun commissions, teach one-off painting/drawing classes, and lately I’ve been creating a lot of digital illustration on my iPad,” lists Dekkers.
As if she wasn’t busy enough, she also does branding, logo design, graphic design, and even creates graphics for lawyers to help present their cases to a jury and judge.
But this was not always the case for Dekkers. Despite being a creative kid and following it through to a minor in Studio Art at SMU, after college she found herself stuck in a very corporate, very unartistic accounting job. But in 2016 she quit that steady, well-paying accounting position to dedicate herself full-time to becoming an artist, even admittedly without much knowledge about what it would take to succeed.
This leap of faith had left her feeling lost at first, but she decided to get involved with the Dallas arts community in hopes of networking with other local artists and entrepreneurs. It was at the breakfast lecture series Creative Mornings that Dekkers heard a particularly inspiring speaker that she knew she had to connect with further: Art Conspiracy’s then-Executive Director Erica Felicella. After conversations with Felicella about creative life in Dallas and giving back to the community, Dekkers found herself happily recruited into the Art Con Executive Team.
She describes her first big ArtCon event as “a whirlwind, but an exciting one”. Being immersed in the community of local artists, musicians, makers, and dreamers was invigorating and inspiring, even if being a little intimidating. From that first experience Dekkers was hooked and dedicated her free time and talents to ArtCon as an Executive Team member, volunteer, and artist. Lending her artistic skills creating artwork for several auctions, Dekker’s pieces have soared with top bidders with all proceeds going to the local nonprofit beneficiaries. These experiences have helped shape her identity in the Dallas art scene, and her perspective sums up the philanthropic organization perfectly:
“Not only does Art Con raise an enormous amount of money every year for amazing, local, creative causes, it brings together people from all walks of life to appreciate art & music, share knowledge and resources and make memories that will last a lifetime.”
Dekkers is a leading example of the power ArtCon and the arts community can have on one individual’s life and how the ripple effect can change so many other lives with its hope and creativity.
“I wouldn’t be where I am without Art Con,” Dekkers explains. “In fact, I’d probably still be sitting at home in my old studio apartment, afraid to charge what I’m worth, afraid to take on bigger and better opportunities and mostly afraid to push myself out of my comfort zone.”
This constant encouragement supported her through any doubt after leaving her corporate job to pursue her passions, and now use her success to give back to other organizations helping arts groups and programs across Dallas.
Written by: Cali Thompson