Flipping her fins has gotten Jill D’Entremont pretty far, including earning her a spot in the Children’s Arts + Literacy Festival parade as a real-life mermaid, while her voice – currently not stolen by a sea witch – has helped her bring joy to many as part of Abilene’s Celebration Singers.
In addition, D’Entremont’s creativity and artistic accomplishments have brought life and personality to City departments while her own flights of fancy take her wherever her mind can travel – whether it be underwater, the depths of prehistory, or the wilds of space.
D’Entremont is the City's Interactive Media Specialist and Webmaster, a “fancy way of saying graphic designer,” she joked.
“It's generally just getting requests from all over the City for signs, billboards, graphics, websites or social media, and just kind of taking them all in, researching them and setting up campaigns – or whatever is needed,” she said. "It’s basically ‘Come to me for all the things, and I will make your stuff."
D’Entremont likes the variety her job offers her.
“You never know what you may end up doing,” she said. “ I just love making things, and I love helping people – and seeing the reactions to the things I’ve made.”
Work of art
D’Entremont was born and raised here in Abilene, though she also lived in Louisiana for about nine years, moving back to the area after Hurricane Katrina.
She went to Hardin-Simmons University, earning a degree in graphic design with a minor in fine art, and has lived here ever since.
“I’ve always liked drawing, ever since I was a small child,” she said. “That’s kind of an ongoing theme.”
A high school art teacher opened up the doors of creativity, letting D’Entremont know she had the potential to leverage her talent — and general desire to create – into a career.
Her encouragement led D’Entremont to attend the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts during her senior year of high school, a formative experience that not only showed her a path forward but also helped her find “her people.”
“Other people like me, nerdy art kids, exist!” she said.
D’Entremont’s earliest artistic influence came from cartoons, she said, especially offerings by Walt Disney and Cartoon Network.
Enamored of both the classical forms of Disney characters and the speed line-laden snappiness of Japanese animation, she describes her style as a blend of the two.
“I love the ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame,’ and ‘Treasure Planet,’ which are two (Disney films) that no one ever thinks about,” she said. “They’re great, but they’re not the traditional princess movie, and I think that's why they don't get the same level of attention. But the storytelling is just amazing, and the songs in ‘Hunchback’ are fantastic.”
As far as anime influences, “Gundam Wing,” a series about robots fighting in the future, and the gotta-catch-them-all video game tie-in “Pokemon” were early favorites.
She loves to design her characters for fun and projects, often complete with elaborate backgrounds.
And D’Entremont is helping a friend she met through the Celebration Singers bring some of his creations to life.
“One of the members is writing middle school-aged children's books,” she said. “He published the first one right before COVID-19. And then, he was able to write two more.”
But he needed an illustrator and had a speedy deadline. D’Entremont relied on art programs on her iPad so she could work wherever she happened to be.
“It’s a story about dragons and pirates and aliens and fairies,” she said of the work. “It was cool to be able to do. So hopefully, I’ll have a published book soon.”
D’Entremont met her husband, Sean, in an Alan Parson Project cover contest online.
“We both created a cover of an Alan Parsons Project song, and we placed in the top five,” she said. “Many of us in that contest started talking and collaborating via the internet. There was a guy in Spain, and there was a guy in Mexico.”
There was also a guy in New Hampshire, and D’Entremont and her future husband started working together on musical projects. When he visited family in the Dallas area, the two decided to meet up.
“The rest is history,” she said. A few months later, Sean moved to Abilene.
They were married eight years ago. He currently works in information technology with Hendrick Health System. Sean has a son, and so now D’Entremont is a stepmother to Gregory, a sophomore at Cooper High School.
“He outgrew me about three years ago,” she said. “He’s so cool. He’s got a lot of things he could do, he’s just in that phase where he’s not sure what to do.”
He will, she said, argue the finer points of Star Wars mythology with the best of them – a skill befitting a gentleman and a scholar.
Like a song
Music has been a part of D’Entremont’s life for a long time, though it took her a while to embrace its public portion.
“I took piano as a kid, but being an introvert, I hated performing,” she said. “When there was a recital, I hated it. I enjoyed learning to play piano, I just didn't want to play it.”
Later, she took up choir, bringing her understanding of musical theory to that artistic form.
Later on, she was introduced by a friend to the Celebration Singers, a local group that has performed free spring and winter public concerts since its formation in 1997.
“That’s been super fun just to be able to use that as an outlet for singing,” she said, adding that when she joined around 12 years ago, she was the youngest person in the room.
Though an avowed introvert, D’Entremont said that once she gets into “stage mode,” she now doesn’t have any problem performing in front of people, whether in a group or solo.
“It's cool and kind of weird how that happens,” she said.
She has a YouTube channel where she shares performances of cover songs. In time, she plans to share her music.
“Sean is a piano player, and he's a songwriter,” she said. “He writes a lot of original stuff. So, at some point, we can collaborate.”
D’Entremont said she loves singing for multiple reasons.
First, it’s fun, as is the work involved in learning a new song.
“Maybe it's just kind of a continuing learning thing,” she said of the joy of learning new music. “I’m an alto, so I don’t always sing the melody. I like finding my part among all the other parts and just getting out to share music with people in the audience.”
Life is the bubbles
D’Entremont is also open about her love of different science fiction, fantasy, and other franchises, whether it be “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” the dimension-hopping “Dr. Who,” the Wizarding World of “Harry Potter,” and all things Disney.
“Mickey is probably the first real character that I fell in love with as a kid and drew him all the time,” she said.
In addition to the pure fantasy elements of creatures such as mermaids, she also loves other media, including the dark tales of Edgar Allan Poe.
Seeing a cool action figure or a fun pop she enjoys is “a little spark of happiness,” she said – and such things inspire her creativity.
Under the sea
Ballerinas, dinosaurs, and mermaids predominated in her early drawings, the latter becoming a dream turned into a reality when she got a swimmable mermaid tail for her birthday one year.
“Now, I go to people's houses and swim in their pools, and I will be in the parade for the (Children’s Arts + Literacy Festival),” she said. “I tried to do it as a community thing, but it's more time than I have right now. So, I just do a little bit but maybe one day I'll be all around doing ‘mermaid stuff.’’
She likes the blended nature of mermaids, their alchemical mixture of humanity and wonder.
“I've kind of my little head canons that mermaids have powers – different ways to change and manipulate water, that sort of thing,” D’Entremont said.
She enjoys embodying that mutable nature in public appearances she’d made associated with the CALF.
“Even adults are like, ‘Look, it’s a mermaid!’” D’Entremont said. “It just brings so much joy to people. I think people just realize the duality of fantasy and fun that comes with them.”