It’s easy to get a creative going: just ask them about their first experience with art.

For photographer Drew Dempsey, the interest in creative pursuits began with – science – in sixth grade with the children’s television program “Bill Nye the Science Guy.” 

An episode that featured a glass blower creating a lampshade led to Dempsey’s discovery of a glassblower in his hometown of Fort Payne, Alabama.

“I waited a year or two before I on-boarded with him and became a member of [the] crew. 

By his sophomore year in high school, an interest in photography “clicked.”

Before enrolling at Belhaven University in Jackson, Dempsey looked at Delta State University, even the Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD).

He said Belhaven’s art program was “killer and just grabbed me.”

But pursuing old-school black-and-white film photography led to a corner-turning moment. 

“I realized my junior year that my graphic design projects were really informing my eye, and I began to see compositions more in color,” Dempsey said. “I amassed a body of (design) work I’m continuing to add to.” 

Today, Dempsey’s professional goals include helping brands market themselves in a visual way. His credits include photography for PORTICO Jackson Magazine, film production company Red Square, and the Fertile Ground project. 

He’s also Design Manager for The Tell Agency in Fondren, where Visit Jackson is a client.

Dempsey’s ” A Boy Rides His Bike,” part of the Mississippi Invitational.

Dempsey’s recently submitted his photos for consideration to the Mississippi Invitational, a survey of recent works created by contemporary visual artists living and working in the state. 

Chosen was his “A Boy Rides His Bike,” showcasings a young man riding his bicycle in the parking lot of Metrocenter in West Jackson. Dempsey said the photograph looks at the overlooked parts of life we seem to miss during our day-to-day movements. 

More gallery shows are in Dempsey’s future. “I have this dream of showcasing my prints in a way that’s very large and not the norm, experimental and experiential,” he said.

And his first love of glass? 

I would love to (get back into it),” he said. “I have pipe dreams of if I won a grant or something. I’d get an RV and work it for six months. A pipe glassblower would be huge in Jackson. He’d be the next (Lee) McCarty.” 

He adds, “I’m certain my dealings with glass aren’t done yet.”

The Mississippi Invitational is on view through November 7, Thursday-Sunday, at the Mississippi Museum of Art. In August, exhibition admission is free.

Watch Dempsey on My City TV: