Deborah Withey creator. communicator, teacher
“Creativity, if it has any meaningful boundary, lies within the moment when potential begins
to emerge into reality -- John Knapp-Fisher, Welsh painter
Goal “To do one thing every day that scares me (I actually have!); to grow as a person, an artist,
a teacher, a business owner; to be involved in my Welsh community.”
Deborah is a mother, visual journalist, illustrator, designer and mentor. Before moving to the UK in February 2009, she held the post of deputy managing editor for visuals and joint ventures at The Virginian-Pilot, an American publication with an international reputation for excellence in conceptual illustration, photojournalism, and narrative journalism. Deborah was hired to lead their team of 75 creative journalists and led the multi award-winning redesign of The Pilot in 2006.
Preceding her editorship, she was the corporate design director for Knight Ridder Newspapers, and design director of the Detroit Free Press. She is a past-president of the international Society of News Design, winning gold, silver and awards of excellence for art direction, design and illustration. Five newspapers designed by Deborah were chosen as the “World’s Best-Designed” by the Society of News Design.
In 2009, Deborah received the “Outstanding Civilian Service Medal” from the United States Department of the Army for her illustrations for “Children of Valor”, a book conceived for military families who lost loved ones in Afghanistan and Iraq. Deborah has exhibited as an awarding-winning illustrator in New York, NY, with American Illustration and the Art Director’s Club, as well as in London, Dallas, Texas, Detroit, Michigan, Rhos-y-gilwen, and St. Davids, Wales.
Teaching is one of Deborah’s great loves, she was a visiting design scholar at the University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain, and the University of Missouri. She is a recipient of the “Majeri Award for Innovation and Leadership in Graphic Journalism” from Ball State University, Indiana, USA.
Deb’s current work in Wales is a variety of personal and community endeavors. She is a creative mentor for the Duke of Edinburgh award program, tutors adults for Learning Pembrokeshire, Pembrokeshire College, and Springboard, is on the board of directors of Arts Care/Golaf Celf, and leads her own Cheese + Pickles Studio workshops in Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion and London. She is a nature awareness workshop leader for Walk with Friends and leads creative sessions for Care in the Community, in both cases working with individuals with various disabilities.
In 2010, Deborah was selected for a lead artist post with “Cauldrons + Furnaces”, the Cultural Olympiad project in Wales. A key part of her role was to engage with the community and work with local schools. She conceived and led creative workshops with more than 25 resident schools at Farms for City Children, Treginnis Isaf. The children’s work culminated in an unique installation of more than 600 designs and messages called “Wishes for Wales.” Deborah is currently illustrating tales for children called, “Bees, Boars and Whales, Saintly Tales of Wales” to publish in 2013.
In March 2011, Deborah had her first Welsh solo exhibition at The Cloister Gallery, St. David’s Cathedral. “Saints in Stones”, was a personal show in relief collage, inspired by Celtic saints. She continues her Japanese “Gyotaku” fish monoprints along with mixed-media assemblage in a series of “Curraghs and Coracles” to be exhibited in 2013.
View her work at deborah-withey.com, and listen to her narrations and thoughts on the “Cauldrons
+ Furnaces” channel on YouTube and specifically in the film“Wishes for Wales”.
On 13 October 2012, Deborah was the recipient of the International Society of News Design’s highest honour, the “Lifetime Achievement Award”. She is one of just 5 woman to have received such an award in the Society’s 30 years:
“I think Deb wakes up every day and sees a whole new world, unlike yesterday and different from tomorrow. Everything, from the color of grass to the shape of a rock inspires her to do something special. She is a force
of nature, a spinning top of ideas and creativity. Deb makes everything she touches feel alive.
Who wouldn’t want to be around that?”
Denis Finley, editor The Virginian-Pilot, Norfolk, Virginia