Mikey: Tell us a little about yourself.
Darren: My name is Darren McKeag, I was born and raised in the Midwest. I have been an artist as long as I can remember. Growing up, I was on motorbikes, in side cars, around motorbikes and the culture that went with that. With the motorbike culture came the exposure to tattooed people and live music. Growing up in the 70’s, was a pretty cool thing looking back.
M: Who or what got you into painting?
D: Getting into painting has been a natural progression. Growing up, I was always creating art, as far back as I can remember. I recall painting my first tank when I was about 13. It was a peanut tank with flames, that my step-Dad helped me with. It was going on my mini-bike. I think I was hooked from that point. I’ve been painting ever since, in all sorts of mediums.
M: Who or what inspires you and your work?
D: Early on in life, David Mann’s art inspired me. Growing up, I was around his centerfolds and the magazines in the motorbike industry. My life and how I have lived it has inspired many of my ideas. Being on motorbikes, in the motorbike industry and riding all these years and everything I’ve seen and done, provides lots of ideas to paint and draw about.
M: What is the most challenging for you?
D: The most challenging part of my career is taking on a job that I normally wouldn’t accept, but need to take it in order to provide for my family. I try not to accept jobs that I’m just not into, idea wise...however, sometimes you have to and often times when you visit with the client about their idea, they will often times roll with your idea... it all seems to work out in the end.
M: Do you feel like you have found your style or are you still searching?
D: I feel like I have definitely found my style. The interesting thing about that, is that I was creating this style when I was 12, 13 and 14, I just didn’t know it yet. A few years back my Mom gave me some art that I created when I was a kid and it is the same style as I”m doing now. Tattoo style art and black and white style art. The fact that this style for me has come full circle, completely blows me away.
M: When and how did you get hooked into the motorcycle culture?
D: I most likely got hooked on the motorbike culture when I was a kid and was riding on the tanks of my Dad’s 1965 Panhead. Going to bike shows in the 70’s when all the chrome choppers were displayed on pink and white fur material, man that was fucking kool. However, once I got my first motorbike and started traveling the country on it and hanging out with like minded people, while camping in off-the-beaten path areas, well, that was most likely the turning point.
M: Do you stick to painting or are there other mediums of art that you like to dabble in?
D: Though painting is what I do most, I create pencil sketches, I tattoo, I create digital art and posters, I paint with my fingers, burning chop sticks and anything I can get my hands on.
M: What other hobbies or things you’re into that some people may not know about you?
D: Apart from painting and creating art, I’m a complete pack rat, collectaholic, antique shopping, flea market junkie. I have a fairly extensive Evel Knievel collection and a pretty heavy early Ford Model A wrench and oil can collection as well. I also collect art, stickers, model cars and anything 70’s culture. It’s completely out of control.
M: If you could only have one motorcycle for the rest of your life what would it be?
D: The one motorbike I would want to keep for the rest of my life would be my Dad’s stock 1967 Harley I bought for him. I gave it to him as a gift, on the basis that I get it when he’s done riding...
M: What was the first motorcycle you have ever owned?
D: My first motorbikes were dirt bikes, however, my first street bike was a raked Yamaha 750 chopper. That was a comfortable bike, I really enjoyed riding it.
M: If there was one place you could jump on your bike and just go, where would it be?
D: I would most likely jump on my bike and ride the Mountains out west and up through Alberta... Personally I’m at peace with everything, when the road is long and winding and I’m surrounded by mountains.
M: Who is your all time favorite artist?
D: My all time favorite artist is David Mann. Without ever meeting him or even talking to him, I understood what he was saying, doing and living. From the first time I saw his centerfolds hung up in the garage, I was hooked.
M: What was your favorite thing to do when you were a teenager?
D: My favorite thing to do when I was a teenager ? Wow, I really wanted to do my own thing. I didn’t like school, just art class, I always went against the grain of society. Whatever the popular kids were doing, I was doing the opposite. BMX bikes, sneaking out of the house and pushing the dirtbikes down the street after dark, to start them and then ripping around town with no lights. Not to mention all the other stuff a teenager does, that was raised by motorbike riding parents, that were into tattoos and playing live music...I don’t get busted too many times, whew !!!
M: Are you a pizza delivery or make your own pizza at home kind of guy?
D: I prefer to be a “make your own pizza at home guy” thanks to my amazing wife Missy and the fact that all I want to do is hangout with her. However, there are those times you can’t make those amazing pizzas that come from your favorite restaurant.
M: Do you live by any codes or life mottos?
D: Life mottos: “I’d rather go to my grave knowing it didn’t work, then wondering if it would have worked” ... “I’ll treat you well if you treat me well”...
M: Anyone you would like to give a shout out to or thank?
D: I’d like to thank my wife Missy. If it weren’t for her, I’d be dead.
You can see more of his work at www.mckeagart.com . Make sure to say hi to Darren at Fuel Cleveland show and check out his brilliant work.