Darren John

artist and painter
London, UK

When I meet Darren John at his Arthub Studio space on a Saturday morning, he is just beginning to mount one of his pieces. The painting in question is one is from his ‘Absolutely Painting’ video series, where he films himself creating a single painting and shares the entire process on his YouTube channel.

“The creative adult is the child who survived.”

- Ursula Le Guin

Watch one of his videos and you’ll realise two things. First, Darren’s art features bold, primary colours. This simple yet intentional colour palette harkens back to ideas of childhood where all of us were more creatively free.

Secondly, Darren goes beyond using traditional painting tools and uses his own repurposed squeeze bottles. He fits them with a longer neck, so that he can apply thick gloss paint to his canvases slowly and conveniently. He tells me that he adopts this approach to minimise his own hesitation and make his art more reactionary. In his own words: “There is less time to overthink and it keeps me playful and in the moment.”

But look even deeper and you’ll realise that the central theme that ties all his artwork and unconventional methods is this: imagination.

For someone whose art aims to “make tangible the sense of unchained creative freedom”, I’d say that Darren does it rather well. To him, his studio is both sanctuary and playground, where that unfettered, joyful imagination and creativity forms both his source of inspiration and his subject and translates onto his canvases in a unique yet recognisable visual language.
To better bring the point across, he explains using the idea of skateboarding. “When you’re skateboarding, a curb isn’t just part of the pavement. It is a place to launch from. Similarly, a tree is more than part of the landscape. It is like a jungle gym for insects. The possibilities are truly endless.”

Isn’t his vision of creativity infectious?

And the best part is that he desperately wants to pass it on.

I asked Darren if he had any projects he’d love to work on in the future, and he promptly replied, “I’d love to design or paint a playground, or an inflatable float. Or basketball courts that will help revitalize a community.”  

“Experimenting isn’t something you should fear.

In fact, it’s great because if something doesn’t turn out right,
you know what not to do the next time.”

Darren John 

Visited October 2018, published March 2019.