The Forward Together field team in Oregon recently chilled with Portland artist, Daren Todd, for a night of painting, sharing and community. Daren brought to life our collective vision for 2021 in Oregon through art.
We asked our community what our dreams for liberation look and feel like in 2021, which guided Daren as he painted live on Facebook. If you didn’t catch the livestream, check out the recording here.
In this Q&A we get personal with Daren to find out more about him and his creative process.
Q: What inspires you to do the work you do?
I’m inspired by so many things, but at the forefront is a desire to show other creative people that a daily practice is the most beneficial thing to the advancement of their creative pursuits. I love helping people, and I feel like art has a special ability to affect change in a distinct way. I look around the world we live in and constantly am reminded that everything we see and have was thought up and brought into existence by someone who was creative, and brave enough to put their ideas into the world. On another level, I’m inspired by colors and shapes found in nature, and by geometric patterns and the balance of shapes and forms. I grew up heavily influenced by comic books and graphic novels and strive to inject styles from those things into my art, especially into the portrait work that I do.
Q: When choosing to create art how do you say yes or no to requests?
I really have to be honest with myself about whether or not the project aligns with my vision. I want to make art that uplifts, highlights and provides exposure to BIPOC and LGBTQ people, work that speaks to my personal experiences moving through the world, or work that makes me feel energized and full of life. There are so many great art projects and propositions that come my way that don’t quite engage with these things and although it can be challenging, I’ve come to the conclusion that only by saying “no” to the projects that don’t fit, can I give an enthusiastic and confident “yes” to the project that do. I won’t be able to serve my purpose if I take on everything, because there isn’t enough time in the day to do it all.
Q: What has been the most fulfilling thing about your work so far?
The most fulfilling thing about my work occurs when someone who is a fan or follower reaches out to me and tells me that my work has inspired them to take up a creative practice of their own, or pick back up the paintbrush or ink pen they had put down years ago. Every once in a while I get a really kind instagram message from someone who has been watching me from afar, and more than being told “your art is great!” or “I love your work”, it’s the “You inspired me to do my own work” that really brings the whole thing full circle.
Q: Who has been a really good support system as you have been developing art?
There are a bunch of awesome creative people in my circle, from my record label Its Future Time to all of the artists who collaborate at The Downstairs Gallery. I look to big artists like Lisa Congdon, Maria Brophy, and all of the craftsmen and tinkerers at ADX Studios and Pacific Sign and Design here in Portland for answers to practical questions when I’m feeling in over my head. I also try to utilize podcasts as a creative resource, and listen to the Art Juice and Creative Pep talk podcasts non-stop while I’m working, both for inspiration and guidance. I read a lot of books as well, and have a few favorites in The Practice by Seth Godin and What Am I Looking At? by Will Gompertz as two creative bibles.
Want to learn more about Daren, visit his website here.