Welcome back everyone to the Man Makers Mondays series. Happy Autumn, happy full moon and as I write this, I’ve got a smile from ear to ear. Not only has the return of the series reminded me how much I enjoy reading what inspires these makers, but this interview comes from a friend whose art and success has grown since I sent the interview. Today, I unveil Daren Thomas Magee, the artist, illustrator, muralist and delightful human behind Real Fun, Wow!. I’m lucky to know this guy in person and I’ve been so excited to see his work popping up around town here in Ojai. Daren’s artwork has significantly blossomed ( in my opinion ) since the birth of his little one and I believe the cosmic creation of making a child has enhanced his overall ability for making more meaningful artwork. His work has this charming vintage feel, like I’d open up a scribbling from Ram Das’s journal via the 1960’s and there would be a print of Daren’s work inside. I love when modern day folk are able to put that timeless age on their artwork and can equally appeal to the future generations to come. There is something so reminiscent in his work of the colorful landscape of arid Ojai here and the thoughtful words he incorporates into the artwork really are inspiring tags we all should see everyday to remind us to live brightly, to live fully and live more happily. I’m so proud to call this guy my friend as he’s such a pleasant person to be around and I’m proud to see more of his talent painting it’s way into the world. Enjoy and hire the guy!
What is your brand/name:
My name is Daren Thomas Magee, my brand is called Real Fun, Wow!
What is your heritage:
My heritage is very fresh in terms of generations. I can only really trace it back as far as mother. She is the one who showed me that you can be a creator in an infinite number of ways. There is no one definition of creation. She implored me to create any chance I got. We all have the ability to create within us, its a matter of choosing to use it. When it came to giving gifts my mother would always encourage me to create something as opposed to purchasing something. Even if it was just a card, it was important that it came from my mind and that my hands brought it into existence. My heritage is creation. My heritage is variable a mixed bag. Not equal parts Irish, Scottish, Italian, Sicilian, Lithuania and Polish.
What are 3 reference points of inspiration for your work:
Firstly, my greatest inspiration comes through the ceremonial use of sacred plant medicine. I have been able to see more of myself and my existence from being in the plant medicine realm. It has lifted me above my ego and helped me transcend a lot of obstacles allowing for my creative expression to flow forth. It has also left me with a lot of confusion, curiosity and questions in the best way possible.
Secondly the inspiration that I find from just paying attention. Paying attention when I am out for a walk. Paying attention to conversation. Paying attention to other artists and creators. Paying attention to the world around me.
Thirdly, I find there is endless inspiration in what is happening in the natural world. Life itself. Plant life, insect life, animal life. Naturally occurring patterns and textures. Life as a whole is the reason I am here and at the same time my reason for creating.
What are 3 skills you've learned in representing yourself as an artist:
Confidence! If I don’t believe in my work then no else will. Everything I do must be done with my whole belief behind it because if I don’t believe in it, it will show.
Consistency. Since I am lucky enough to represent myself as an artist I must embody that entirely. I must continue to perfect my craft as regularly as possible. I must never rest on my laurels lest I become complacent and uninspired.
Seeing things through a constant creative lens. I look at everything as inspiration. Every line, every dot, every shadow, every shape has something in that could possibly ignite something in me to create.
What are 3 skills you believe are a necessity to be an independent artist/designer?
I believe having a sense of business is a necessity to being an independent artist. For me, its as far from the creative side as possible, but its a necessary to converting art into profit. I am still learning as I go, learning from mistakes made and successes achieved. I stay as humble and receptive as possible. Asking questions as often as I can and utilizing others who work in the business as resources for invaluable information. Don’t ever be afraid to ask about something you’re unsure of. Never stop learning.
Systems! Having a pricing structure in place and staying true to it. Being firm in your systems and sticking to them for every job. Being consistent will not only help you stay organized and sane but it will give your clients the impression that you are a professional who deserves to be treated with respect for what you bring to this world.
Be bold! Reach out to people, introduce yourself, embody your craft, be your brand. At the start of 2017 I moved to new town where no one knew who I was. When I arrived I created a postcard with my art on it and went around to local businesses asking if they would be willing to give them away to their customers. I got such an overwhelming positive response and it was a solid way to introduce myself to the residents of the town and those passing through who I was and what exactly I did. A little pavement pounding and handshakes give that personal touch and put a face to my brand. People appreciate that human connection to art.
What moved you to make with your hands:
Around 2015 I was at a point in my life where I didn’t have much creatively going for me. I was working really hard in menial jobs, draining all my energy and leaving none for any creative outlets. I would see other artists making a living and not really being able to fathom how that was possible. I had reached my wits end with the work that I was doing and decided to make a promise to myself that I would start drawing everyday, no matter what. I have stuck to my word, more or less, since that day. It started to gain some momentum when I began sharing my creations online with friends and strangers who would stumble upon my work. The feeling of appreciation and satisfaction I got from sharing what I was working on and getting near immediate feedback is what compelled me to continue with my promise to myself. I was fortunate to find my passion through such an accessible, affordable medium. You can generally find a piece of paper and a pen in most situations so it allowed me to not have to limit my practice to a studio or workshop. To not be limited in my ability to create through my medium of choice is largely what has moved me to work with my hands in such a way.
If you could travel anywhere today, where would you travel and why:
Morocco. I love the vibrancy of the Moroccan aesthetic in juxstapostion of the arid desert landscape. The patterns and color schemes of the culture are very reminiscent of some visual experiences I’ve had in the plant medicine space. To see it in such an integral application of a culture aesthetic is stunning. To be surrounded by such beauty on a daily basis has a such a draw to me.
3 Favorite songs at the moment:
‘Gilli Men’ - Baaba Maal
‘Walla Illa’ - Tinariwen
“Alone/ EA6’ - 6lack
What advice would you offer your fellow female makers? What business advice?
The advice that I feel most confident in giving is to be consistent. Practice your craft everyday. If you find that you’re not called to do that, or that its too much of a struggle, then I would say it may not be what you’re mean’t to be doing for a living. Its not to say you should stop doing it all together but it just may not be your livelihood. I believe the thing that you love to do more than anything, the thing you’re most excited to do when you wake up can very well be the thing that sustains you finically. I think that thing should be very clear to you before you take the next step into business. You should have the love and passion before you even start thinking about how to make money doing it.
Once you have found what that thing you love to do then there a myriad of resources to help you make the most out the business side of it. As I am still learning myself how the business side works the most solid piece of advice I can offer is to stay organized. If you’re going to make this your business you will need to start acting accordingly. Create pricing systems (and be willingly to adjust them accordingly depending on how you feel your business is shifting) and stick to them. Although it can go against the free spirited nature of an artist, be professional. Be reliable. Be thorough. If you don’t act professional then people won’t feel like they need to treat you that way….and pay your taxes on time!!
What advice would your 65 year old self to you today?
Relax dude! Slow down and truly enjoy every moment you have. Only this moment is real, so be here now.
What change would you most like to see in the world?
I would love to see more people explore their consciousness. Be that through psychedelic aides or through mediation or whatever calls to you most. I believe there is a vastly other world that exists within the depths of our minds. A place of peace, stillness and love. Its vital that we visit and explore these places and bring back as much as we can from there to share with the world.
Any additional thoughts on the importance of artisanal/handmade goods in a fast pace Western World?
- For so long in our existence the only things that were brought into this world were handmade. Therefore they were unique and special and were treated that way. They were made with such love and attention and thus carried with them that energy. I am so overjoyed at the resurgence of handmade items because it puts that energy back into the world and the things that we choose to keep with us, to wear and to display in our homes are manifestations of that love and care. It is so vitally important for us to support artisans who spend their lives bringing beauty and originality into this world. When we support creators we support having lasting, quality products in this world and for that the world and its inhabitants are better off for it.
Thank you Daren for participating in this series and sharing your work with the world. Please visit Daren’s website and IG for more.