You guys have already heard a lot about The Transmigration of Cora Riley (and if you haven’t, I’ll be happy to tell you again). But you haven’t been hearing much about the flesh-and-blood artist creating the cover art for that book. Which is a shame, and I apologize. Time to shine up a star.
Desiree Kern – Desz to her friends – is a huge nerd, a world traveler, a cancer survivor, and a loyal friend. She’s also a talented seamstress, photographer, woodburner, and leathercrafter.
But, most importantly, Desz is a phenomenally talented artist. She works with acrylics, oils, charcoal, pastels, pencils, and inks to turn out brilliant paintings, murals, comic strips, furniture, and of course, book covers.
Desz and I met through my local LARP group, and we sort of glommed onto each other as folks who’ve seen a lot of the world tend to do. She talked candidly about her struggle with cancer and how it both ruined her life and fortified her desire to create with whatever time she has. I sort of fell in love with her a little then. The fact that she went all silver fox before 40 didn’t hurt, either. When I got married, Desz not only agreed to sew my white satin corset but to oversee day-of operations as her gift to us. When I ran my life-coaching business (a lifetime ago), she illustrated my grownup activity book to great acclaim by my audience. And when I decided to get serious about noveling and hire a pro cover artist, there was really only one choice, even though I scouted six other people. I’m sure the pictures in this post are more than enough evidence as to why.
Desz’ work has been lauded by celebrities and commoners alike. It’s traveled the globe. And yet, art isn’t her full-time job; Greyscale Studios doesn’t sustain her. She’s bobbed from one soul-sucking desk job to another all the years I’ve known her, making just enough to pay the bills while she chases her dream of being a full-time artist. Commissions and side projects devour her free time as she continues to hone her craft, but the meager pay she gets from actual, factual art is never enough.
That’s why we’re doing this campaign. Because artists deserve to be paid not just fairly but well for what they do. Especially artists as talented and devoted as Desz. It’s a tragedy that she isn’t happily perched in a paint-stained studio creating her heart out instead of hunched over a computer in a cubicle every day. I could go on and on about why we shortchange artists and why that’s fucked up, but that’s another post.
For today, I wanted you to meet Desz, see her work, learn a little about her story, and then help me do the right thing: pay her real money for her art.