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Darren King: “I can artistically choose to do what I want, when I want”

Because we believe that ‘Art’ is one of the things that makes life ‘Magnificent’, we’re talking to a range of Australian artists to understand what drives them, what makes them happy and what they think of the current art scene. Some will be newbies, others will be experienced professionals with pieces hanging in major galleries. Where possible, we’ll link to their online gallery.  We talked with one of the country’s promising modern artists, Darren King…his answers were revealing…

What are your influences? Artists, nature, the immediate world around you?

All of those things and more. I am influenced by family, memories, nostalgia, art history, our landscape, street art, punk rock, music, decay, advertising, pop culture and everything strange. When I was young, expressionist artists greatly influenced my work, whereas these days, I am more interested in Pop and Street Art.  I am at a stage in my life now where artistically, I choose to do what I want, when I want. One day I’ll create a burger, next day, a beach, next day, a skull and so on. I feel no compulsion to create any set thing or to be stuck repeating the same thing continuously.

The important thing for me is to enjoy what I am making and to push myself artistically whilst doing it. Sometimes I attempt to create something simply to see if I can do it justice and if I can create a likeness or an interesting take on that subject. If I like what I create, then hopefully, someone else will appreciate it, also. But the key thing at all times is to enjoy the process.

The last few years have been the first time in my life that I have consistently created art that I actually like. Something I could not grasp when I was younger but completely embrace now is to run with the strange, fun, nonsensical stuff, as it keeps life fresh and entertaining.

Darren King This Magnificent Life
Big Mac. Mixed media, recycled paper collage (burger) & paint over collage (background). 61cm x 61cm on board. ©darrenking
What drives you to create?

It keeps me sane.

Darren King This Magnificent Life
Dead Tree. 35.5cm x 45.5cm. Recycled cut/torn paper on canvas. 2023 ©darrenking
If you could change anything about The Australian Art scene, what would it be?

I am outside the art scene to a large degree because I am like an art-making hermit, doing my own thing in my own little world.

One of the oddities is the Art prize scene and how current gallery favs appear to dictate what is good art. Like fashion, I guess. In recent times I’ve seen some very odd pieces recognised for essentially drawing or scribbling like a 2-year-old with little artistic merit.

Most of my work is sold online these days, and I don’t do solo shows at all. I am represented online by 2 outstanding galleries. The support from both companies has been outstanding & helped place my art in front of more collector’s eyes.

Darren King This Magnificent Life
Mr Cool. Collage on canvas. 51cm x 61cm. 2022 ©darrenking
Who were (are) your mentors? And why?

Artistically I have no mentors as such, but I am driven by my wife, my son & my parents. All have been a constant source of support, love and inspiration throughout my life.

How would you describe your style in a 60-second elevator pitch to the director of the National Gallery?

I have always struggled with selling myself, just typing these responses is weird, to be honest. But… I am a mixed media artist based near Wollongong on the NSW South Coast. I try to use skills from painting, screen printing, collage, graphic design and cartooning. At times I mash them all together and attempt to create something unique. Sometimes I create pieces entirely from recycled paper. Discarded magazines, junk mail, maps, packaging, paper bags and old books are all harvested for interesting elements to create original, vibrant, textural artworks. My work (I think) can be fun, at times chaotic, colourful and hopefully interesting.

Darren King This Magnificent Life
Maisy. Recycled paper collage on canvas. 61cm x 46cm ©darrenking
What makes you happy?

My family, friends, creating art, music, drinking beer, the beach, just the usual good stuff.

What do you think of the emergence of the so-called ‘AI-Art’?

I am no expert on the subject, but obviously, there are concerns. Harvesting imagery from unnamed artists/ sources to create AI pieces is sketchy at best. AI images are created to mimic finished pieces, and the biggest worry for me is when they are passed off as actual photographs or digitally created images made by a human. As long as there is clarity as to how the image is created and that is clearly stated, then it can eventually be just another tool for artists. In my opinion, the main problem is when people try to deceive the viewer as to how the art has been created.

I take imagery from magazines, brochures, and junk mail to use in my collage work, but these pieces make up a tiny fraction of the overall piece. I use hundreds or thousands of pieces in each paperwork. My art is made by hand, by me, and the nature of handmade art pieces will always remain important, regardless of the latest tech options available.

You can learn more about Darren King and buy his art here. This Magnificent Life will be featuring more Australian Artists like Darren King in upcoming editions.

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