Drew Riley is an award winning artist and activist from Austin, TX, know for using her art to advocate for sex and gender minorities. She is also a storyteller, teacher, event creator, community leader, and an out and porud transgender woman. After being classically trained at the Gemini School of Visual Arts, she worked full-time as a concept artist and illustrator for a video games, movies, and animated films until 2014. At that time, she left the commercial art industry to create work centered on social justice for gender issues and founded Gender Portraits.
Riley conceived the Gender Portraits series in 2013 while working on a self portrait, Adolescence. Creating that portrait was the first time Riley had painted herself as a visibly out trans woman, and seeing it completed was a profoundly emotional experience for her. Upon finishing, she decided that she would continue to paint other people like herself, and tell their stories her through art. Riley was driven to create something that did not exist when she was growing up in hopes to help others have an easier time finding themselves.
Today, Riley continues this work as the executive director of Gender Portraits, now a nonprofit sponsored project of the Austin Creative Alliance. She works to educate the general public on the complexities of the gender spectrum and creates validating community events centered around art like the Gender Unbound Art Fest that uplifts trans and intersex creators. In 2017, she was awarded a Critic’s Pick for Best Artivist by the Austin Chronicle and the Media Arts & Entertainment Award from the Houston Transgender Unity Committee for her Gender Portraits work. If you would like to learn more about the project, please visit www.genderportraits.com.
In addition, Riley teaches art classes that focus on technique and community building, and she continues to freelance as an illustrator and designer. Riley is also on a board member for the OUTsider Festival, a week-long LGBTQ+ film and arts festival in Austin, TX. If you have any questions for Drew Riley, please contact her.
For a full overview of Drew Riley’s artist, work, and education history, download a pdf of her CV here:
Drew Riley CV