Artist Profile: Daren Young

Wednesday, 29 May 2013 16:37
Published in Blog

Welcome to our Artist Profile feature. Each month, we interview an artist who has been involved with Art Access Gallery, either as an exhibiting artist, mentor, teacher or 300 Plates participant. We hope you enjoy getting to know the local artists who help make Art Access a diverse and enriching resource for creativity and art.

Getting to Know Artist Daren Young

Q: Daren, how did you first become involved with Art Access?

A: I became neighbors with Art Access when I moved into a new art studio upstairs at Art Space City Center in August 2006. The following spring, then executive director, Ruth Lubbers, invited me to participate for the first time in the 300 Plates Fundraiser. This year will mark my 7th year of being a 300 Plates artist.

I was also fortunate to have my first solo exhibition in Utah at Art Access in January 2009 where I had the opportunity to show the artwork I'd produced during graduate school at Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, VT. The staff members at Art Access were all extremely supportive in allowing me to present this exhibit. I had my second solo show with Art Access this past October. I'm a huge fan and supporter of Art Access for providing me and other artists such a wonderful outlet for sharing our art with the community here in Salt Lake City.

I've been able to more actively show my support of Art Access since being asked to serve on its Board of Directors beginning this past year. I'm also involved on the Events and Gallery Committees. While I've always appreciated the tremendous work that Art Access does in our community, I've been able to discover more fully the important role it serves in bringing art opportunities to people with disabilities and those with limited access to the arts.

Q: You are currently a mentor in the Partners program. What can you tell us about that experience?

A: I was a little apprehensive at first as I wasn't sure of my skills as a teacher or mentor. But I am fortunate to work with a wonderful emerging artist who has been so enthusiastic about learning! We have been meeting since February and I've seen her make significant progress in her work. I'm excited to see what she comes up with for our exhibit at Art Access in August.

I know how much I value and appreciate the mentors who took me under their wings during my undergraduate and graduate school years, particularly Sam Wilson at the University of Utah's Art Department. It is because of their guidance and influence that I am even able to do this. It has been so satisfying being a mentor to my art partner as I've discovered how good it feels to pay it forward and share with her what I know about art making.

Q: You are a talented illustrator, painter and printmaker, and you now work full time as an artist. What advice would you give to someone contemplating art as a career?

A: I'm going to share a true story about how I decided to make a career as a full-time artist. Back in 2003, I was sitting in a chair opposite Meredith Vieira on the set of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" and she asked me what I would do if I won the million dollars. I told her I would immediately quit my job and go back to my first love of being an artist. Well, I didn't win the million dollars; I actually only came away from that experience with $1000! But more importantly, that moment sparked a series of events that lead me to where I am now.

I realized that I didn't so much need the money as I need the courage to fulfill my dream of being an artist. And I also needed the support of the people in my life, especially my life partner, Steven. And while I have yet to become rich and famous as an artist, I am so grateful I took the leap of faith to do this as I have never been as happy as I am now.

So, my advice to someone contemplating an art career? First, if it's what you love to do more than anything else, then do it! And if you feel you need additional training and education, then go back to school. On a more practical side, make sure you are able to make the financial and time commitments to being an artist. We all need to eat and have a place to sleep, so be prepared to live a more austere lifestyle. Also plan to have a part-time job (like I do) so you can keep paying your essential bills. But if you invest in yourself and put in the work required, the opportunities are unlimited. At least, that's what I keep telling myself!

To view more of Daren Young's work, visit the artist's website at www.darenyoung.com

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