This time around we are talking to tattooist and biker artist extraordinaire, Darren McKeag! For those that don’t follow Darren, you don’t know what you’re missing!!! Darren has been referred to as the David Mann of our time. His style is unique and easily identified, I personally have some of his original art and it is some of my most prized art in my collection!! Hell, Darren has even tattooed me a few times and it’s also some of most my prized art!!!! So, here’s a glimpse into Darren’s life…….
- For the record, state your name and what you do.
My name is Darren McKeag, I am an artist, who’s work evolves mostly around the tattoo world and motorbike industry.
- How did you first get into motorbike art?
I got into motorbike art right out of college. I was airbrushing murals on the motorbikes in the early 90’s. I’ve grown up on and around motorbikes my entire life. Having that around you all of your life, influences what you draw and create. I focused on tattooing for several years and then in early 2000, I started pin striping and working with enamel art. I’ve been working with enamel paint ever since. Most recently, in the past year, I have been working with acrylics on canvas.
- Better question, when did you get into tattooing? Did you apprentice with anyone? How was it coming up in the tattoo scene?
I got into tattooing, as a result of painting motorbikes. Tattoos and motorbikes go togehter and it seemed that many of my clients, who’s bikes I painted, wanted me to tattoo them. Not giving it much thought, because I knew nothing about the art, I ignored all the hints. Eventually tattooing all of these bikers became such a huge request, I decided to look into the art. This was about 1990 and tattooing was still very taboo and still and underground art and culture. You couldn’t just walk into the only tattoo shop in the city and ask for an apprenticeship, without the risk of getting your ass beat. I was already making the trip to Sturgis at this point in my life and visiting the tattoo shops on Main street there. I remember going into a shop and asking about inks and machines. They not so kindly, escorted me out of the shop. I couldn’t find an apprenticeship anywhere, and ordering supplies from distributors was not only limited, like maybe two choices. I reached out to a famous person in the industry, who didn’t know me from anyone. He took a chance on me and connected me with the best supply house in the industry. I ordered supplies, locked myself in my basement for two years and taught myself the art of tattooing. I’ve been learning how to perfect that art for the past 27 years. Back then, coming up throughout the tattoo scene was very, very tough. It seems that today, those days are gone.
- I’ve noticed you’re doing a lot of painting….What is your favorite medium to work in?
I paint almost everyday. I have a home studio that I paint out of. I always love and prefer working with enamel, but lately I’ve been doing a lot of acrylic on canvas. I really enjoy that. I’m optimistic that I will make the transition to oil in a few years
- Who’s your biggest influences?
I would have to say that my biggest influence on my art was David Mann. His work had a profound affect on me at an early age. I was probably 7 maybe 8 when I first saw David’s centerfolds in my Dad’s garage and his buddies garage. The influence of David’s work has always been etched in my mind.
- You’ve done a lot, tons of art shows etc…what’s your biggest accomplishment or the thing you’re most proud of?
Combining the art of tattooing and my motorbike art, I have traveled the world more than once and been around this country several times. I’ve spent the last 10 years traveling the world and promoting my motorbike art. My biggest accomplishment that I am most proud of, finding true love (or I should say, true love finding me) and sobriety. One might think that these two things have nothing to do with my art career, however, they have had the most positively profound affect on my art, pushing it above and beyond what it has ever been. I believe it has to do with inner peace and having control of my life and feeling good
- You have got to be the most humble and most talented person I’ve met. How do you stay grounded??
Thank you for that kind compliment. I greatly appreciate it. My parents are very kind people and I believe I have many of their traits. The military taught me respect and honor, but as far as talent, I don’t know that I’ve always or ever considered myself talented. Art is all I have ever known and done. I believe I was born with it. I am my most harsh critic and truly believe it is important for me to stay humble, stay grounded and always push myself to be better and do better every new day. I’ve witnessed arrogance and narcissism and made the decision that’s not a type of person I care to be or be around.
- How long have you been riding motorbikes? What’s your go to ride?
I’ve been on and around motorbikes from day one and was raised on my Dad’s motorbikes. However, it wasn’t until I was 18 that I bought my first street bike. That was around 1985. Motorbikes have been a major influence my entire life. My go to bike is my 2004 Twin Cam chopper. I created it, gave it life and have burned it to the ground on several occasions. It’s dirty, fast, rusty and has had my back for almost 20 years.
- What is your favorite event to attend? Why?
There are many little events that have surfaced, that I really enjoy going to. However, I truly believe Sturgis is my favorite event. It is the Super Bowl of motorbike events where all of your friends gather in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, where the weather is good and bad in the same day, the riding is fucking epic and the landscaping is breathtaking. Every trip out is different and exciting
- How did you become the king of the burn out pit??
I don’t know that I’m the King of the burnout pit, nor have I ever been officially given that title, if there is one haha. I will melt the fucking rear tire off my twinny or any other bike, if given the chance, I think to truly answer your question, anyone can most likely do a burnout, but not everyone is willing to light their bike on fire. That truly separates you from the others, that aren’t willing to do that with their bike.
- What’s next?? Where can people see you live doing what you do????
What’s next for me ? We will be set up at the CSSTL St. Louis show at the end of March displaying my paintings and hopefully doing some live art. Most likely we will be at the BMR in West Virginia doing some art and hanging out with great friends and then we will be in Sturgis.
Thank you very much for thinking of me for this online Blog, I am honored that you like my art and consider it worthy enough. I greatly appreciate the exposure and most importantly cherish my true brotherhood with you. Much Love…
Thanks, Darren for taking the time, You know I’m a big fan of your art, it’s an honor to post this interview!!
Follow out Darren on Facebook and Instagram, you can also check out Darren’s art and score an original piece or a tee shirt at https://www.mckeagart.com
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