Darren Quinn is a spirited artist and adventurous individual. His artwork is fresh and personal and filled with his lust for life.
Darren has had to overcome a near fatal car accident at the age of 19 that left him quadriplegic; faced with the challenges of life in a wheelchair he carved a new way for himself with a heightened appreciation for life.
Armed with creative might, the power of his sense of humor, and brave adventurism, Darren Quinn has gone on to accomplish the seemingly impossible.
by David Whitney and Adrianne Martinez
Tell us about your life growing up.
“I was lucky because I was able to travel and see many places when I was growing up. I’ve been exposed to art my entire life, and was always encouraged to be creative. So doing artwork has simply been a part of my life. My other youthful interests were skiing and later golf, I eventually received a golf scholarship to the university of Utah in 1983.”
Why do you paint?
“My entire life I have always created things and painted. I can’t explain why, it’s just always happened. For me, it’s both a feeling of accomplishment and the sense of creating something from nothing. It’s always seemed like the natural thing to do.”
“In the fall of 1983, I introduced myself to an artist named Monte Lewis. Although his teaching studio had been closed for years he agreed to take me on as his sole pupil. This was my first real and formal education in painting. Mr. Lewis was elderly; he always had a tweed coat and a pipe. He taught me by saying very little. I learned a lot from him.”
What inspires you?
“I think inspiration can come from any number of different places, whether good or bad. And this is something that can change from one day to the next. It can come from a piece of artwork that doesn’t let you go, it can come from a beautiful woman, or it can come from having a terrible day.”
What are the personal experiences that have affected your life and art?
“Growing up, Bowie’s album Scary Monsters, Camus’s book The Stranger, And a near fatal car crash.
It was in 1984 that I decided to play golf professionally, later that same year is when the accident happened. It was serious, and I spent close to 6 months in the hospital, I left a 20 year old Quadriplegic. Everything had changed forever, far beyond my worst and best possible imagination. I put it this way only because in everything there really is both good and bad that comes. I spent about a year just trying to heal both physically and mentally and then I began to pursue therapies. From the word go, the doctors told me to get used to a life, more or less, stuck in bed, without the use of my arms. And I simply said to myself, Fuck That!
I tried everything, some helped some didn’t, never a dull moment though. In 1986 I was doing some rehab therapy in Pomona California where an occupational therapist built me a hinged splint for my right hand. With that I was able to crudely hold a pencil or pen, or paintbrush – I think it sat around for about a year, Then one day, in the spring of 1987 I put it on and did a drawing with a sharpie marker. The following week I got out my acrylics and painted my first five face portraits!”
What are you saying with your art?
“I’m not trying to say anything, I just like making people stop and look and think.”
What is your process?
“Chaos and experimentation.”
What are your plans for the future?
“To accomplish something extraordinary…”