Coloring Spirit Forges A New Path for Artist and Accessories Designer Meg Delagrange

Meg Delagrange emerged from a world without color and into a vibrant life as an artist and accessories designer in Denver. From growing up in the Amish community to discovering art therapy and living in Japan, both her painful and exhilarating experiences have led to her life of creativity and newfound purpose. Through her brand, Coloring Spirit, she sells her symbolic paintings, painted bags and clay earrings.

“I would say my brand inspires others to live life with a sense of curiosity,” Delagrange said. “It’s about discovering what’s outside of your box, finding joy and practicing gratitude. To me, that’s how you can live in color.”

Growing Up In A World Without Color

Meg Delagrange, Coloring Spirit, Shelby Moeller

Delagrange grew up in the Amish community, where creativity wasn’t valued and being a girl put her at a disadvantage. She lived a secluded, controlled life that didn’t entertain many opportunities for a young girl interested in painting and poetry.

“You can be a kid growing up in that culture and have no contact with the outside world,” Delagrange said. “It was probably unusual that when I was 5 years old, I asked my dad for a set of paints because I had never seen art.”

Eventually, Delagrange got hold of colored pencils and used them as an outlet for her imagination. Even still, her childhood was affected by sexual abuse and domestic violence, which she’s outspoken about now as an abuse survivor. She was featured in the Peacock documentary, Sins of the Amish, which raised awareness for the hidden issues of abuse in Amish communities. This project was extremely important for her, as she longs to see changes made in how communities handle abusive situations.

“It highlights more of my painful past. I think people who watch it could become aware of the darker side of the culture I come from,” Delagrange said.

Meg Delagrange, Coloring Spirit, Shelby Moeller

Though living in an isolated community caused trauma for her in hindsight, Delagrange still has a deep appreciation for the culture and family she comes from.

“You could argue that the lifestyle itself is an art since art is so subjective. Now looking back I can see how there was art in the way my grandparents gardened or the way food was prepared,” Delagrange said.

After being shunned and excommunicated from the plain community at the age of 21, Delagrange left everything she had ever known and integrated herself into mainstream American society. She described this transition as an awkward and terrifying time for her.

“I had no language for my emotions or what I was experiencing at the time,” Delagrange said. “It would be 5 years before I recognized that it was a bit traumatic to be thrust into a world where I didn’t know anything.”

It was during this time that art became a great source of healing for Delagrange. As she began to invest time into painting, she got lost in the scenery she created and saw it as her first form of therapy.

“Art was a way to silence the voices in my head and do something with the pain inside of me, rather than just carrying it,” Delagrange said.

Finding Her Voice

Meg Delagrange, Coloring Spirit, Shelby Moeller

Despite her initially uncomfortable experience entering the mainstream world, Delagrange found her footing as an artist in Japan a few years after being excommunicated. There, she created a series of works that she displayed at art shows, including Design Festa, the largest art event in Asia. 

Delagrange ventured to Denver after becoming a single mom and quickly found a small co-op gallery where she could sell her art. She advanced her career by becoming certified in design and working as a UX designer and creative director for an agency. Subsequently, she had the opportunity to create a leather bag company with her cousin called Urban Southern.

Urban Southern was a huge success. The brand was invited to New York Fashion Week and was featured on Fox News and in Magnolia Journal. Upon being invited to show their products at NYFW, Delagrange designed the circle-shaped leather bag she now paints her designs on today.

“In my mind I saw a large circle bag going down the runway and I was like, that has to happen,” Delagrange said.

Meg Delagrange, Coloring Spirit, Shelby Moeller

In 2020, Delagrange decided that painting the bags would be her pandemic project. She calls them “voice bags” because of what the design symbolizes for her. After growing up in Amish culture, where women are not permitted to have a voice, she never wants to take the voice she has now for granted.

“As I’ve worked on these bags, I’ve reframed these stories I’ve told myself. I’ve released limiting beliefs and found more of my own voice,” Delagrange said.

Meg Delagrange, Coloring Spirit, Shelby Moeller

A voice is not the only common motif in Delagrange’s work. She is also intimately connected to the poppy flower, which she features in many of her designs. The first time she saw a poppy as a young girl, she was fascinated by how it could be delicate and bold at the same time. She conducted research on poppies later in life and found that her admiration of them deepened. One fact she learned was that one poppy flower can carry 10,000 to 60,000 seeds inside of it, which she related back to her life journey.

“That tells me I have limitless potential,” Delagrange said. “I can thrive anywhere I’m planted. But I also recognize that I’m delicate and fragile, so I have to take good care of myself too.”

Because of this, Delagrange collaborated with artist and art teacher Erin Scobey to create intricately designed poppy earrings out of polymer clay. She’s passionate about partnering with other women like Scobey so she can share in the joy of creating beautiful work.

Living In Color

Meg Delagrange, Coloring Spirit, Shelby Moeller

As she saturates Denver’s accessories market with her painted bags and poppy earrings, she’s also thrown herself into blending a family with her husband and their 5 children. She and her husband have recently started a blog called Blended Mix.Life.

“We’re an interracial family, so that’s a part of my living in color journey,” Delagrange said. “They’re such a big part of who I am and they influence everything I do in some way.”

Delagrange is currently working on new designs for her painted bags and is excited about exploring new series and ideas in her work. She’s also finding new ways to share her story, use her voice unapologetically and empower other women to do the same. Her work can be found on Instagram and the Coloring Spirit website, where her art and accessories are also available for purchase.

All photography by Shelby Moeller.