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Daily Inspiration: Meet Darren Moore

Today we’d like to introduce you to Darren Moore.

Hi Darren, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
One of the earliest memories I have as a child is of accompanying my mom to her aerobics classes in the 80’s with my little drawing book and yellow Snoopy pencil box. I couldn’t have been more than five. I distinctly remember listening to “Walk Like an Egyptian” by the Bangles as I sat there drawing sharks and knights in shining armor while my mother sweat it out alongside other suburban South Jersey women with teased hair and leg warmers. As I got older, friends would come and go, I’d play sports and develop interests and fleeting hobbies, with the one constant in my life being art. It wasn’t even a choice. It was just who I was. This continued through elementary, middle and eventually high school, where I was a member of the Art Honor Society. Looking back, I wish I had gotten more involved in school activities, so while at the time this didn’t mean much to me, I’m now grateful and honored to be a part of that group. Upon graduating high school, I moved to Orlando to attend the University of Central Florida. I took a drawing class my first semester which was heavy in still life and perspective work, but after that, drawing would become a very passive hobby for the next 10-15 years.

Today I look at this period of time of little activity and I regret it. I think about how I could have been getting better and better with each passing year but I decided to focus on other things. I began doing stand-up comedy as a senior in college and that’s what became my focus. I would still draw and sketch on occasion, but art wasn’t the main focus of my life during that period. After getting my degree, stand-up comedy would take me around the country as I cut my teeth and developed my act. It would be stand up that would eventually compel me to move to Los Angeles in March of 2013 to pursue it further. Still drawing, sketching and painting on occasion, it wouldn’t be until a two months stay in Rome beginning in September of 2017 that would renew my love and passion for art. I brought a sketchbook with the anticipation of seeing historic ruins and architecture that I could capture with pencil and paper. As I started drawing, something funny happened. It was like an epiphany. I began using the tools I had developed almost 20 years ago as a teenager as if I had never stopped. The judgment of perspective and angles and shading and shadowing, all these things we use to create dimension and to fool the eye, they came back to me almost instantly. And the gratification I would get drawing the colosseum, pantheon, and fountains was tremendous. I would look at my paper and back to the landmark in front of me and I couldn’t believe I did that. I made that. And the positive reinforcement from complete strangers who didn’t even speak the same language was eye opening. If I sat for three or four hours drawing, I was guaranteed to have people come and compliment my work. This got me thinking “Wait this is something not everyone can do.” When I was young, I had taken it for granted.

Now in my 30’s, it struck me that I have an ability that shouldn’t be wasted. One of my favorite distinct memories of drawing in Rome was on the bank of the Tiber River opposite the Castle St. Angelo. I sat there for 4 hours sketching this beautiful castle (which is actually the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian that was later built into a castle during the Middle Ages). As I worked, there was a camera crew filming an Italian TV show going back and forth all afternoon. When I got up to leave, one of the crew came over and said something in Italian. After I told him I only spoke English, he shared with me that the crew had been watching me and the progress of my drawing throughout the afternoon and had nothing but kind words to say about what I had made. What a feeling to have someone go out of their way to let you know something like that! It’s one of the reasons I compliment strangers today if I like something of theirs. It just brightens someone’s day. After that trip, I rededicated myself to art. Drawing, illustrating in watercolor and gouache, and painting in acrylic has become something that has helped me cope with breakups, lulls in my day job and just a constructive way to spend my time. At the same time a close friend who is an art collector became someone to share this interest in. Going to galleries, both public and private, and meeting people in that world has been inspiring and given me so much motivation to experiment and not be afraid of acting on an idea that I maybe would have shied away from.

And of course, my mother has ALWAYS been probably the number one cheerleader of my art. I hand make her birthday card every year for this reason. After I started my art Instagram and began sharing sketches as well as more involved pieces, I realized how much of a vulnerability this was for me. I had typically shared only with my family or inner circle but now I have strangers seeing what’s in my head. And it can get weird! One sketch I had made was a simple line drawing in pen. Maybe it took 15 minutes. Maybe. But it was of a man holding his heart out of his chest with the caption, “I got this for you.” I loved it. It was dark but cheerful. I could see it on a greeting card in a little hipster shop somewhere in Silver Lake. So, I decided to do a color version in watercolor and gouache. I continued cranking out designs until I felt I had enough to put a product line together. I built my website, www.Twisted-Greetings.com, and expanded the line of cards to include occasions that weren’t romantically related; birthday, anniversary, get well soon, good luck, etc. I currently have 20 designs and have begun shopping them around to retail shops in the LA area. One of the first sizable orders to show definite interest was the Candle Delirium on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood. The owner is a horror movie fan and he and the gentlemen who work at the store (Brice and Brian) have been extremely supportive. I’ve also sold the cards as merch at comedy shows and on my website, which is set up for e-commerce. In the past six months, I’ve sold prints of my art, cards, and a few originals. It’s been a long road to a childhood dream that I didn’t even know I had until I spend two months in Rome, where I fell in love with art again.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m not sure there is ever a smooth road to achieve anything worth achieving. With most things in life, you’re going to face a lot of “No’s” before you get your first “Yes.” But then that makes that first “Yes” so much sweeter. Though I’ve begun to sell my art and greeting cards, it’s by no means anything to be able to live off of and is probably more reimbursement for materials, supplies, and my website. And that’s just the outside resistance. There’s a whole other level of mental resistance that I, as I’m sure a lot of other people deal with. The procrastination fueled by fear. The doubt of if this is a waste of time and “Why am I even doing this?” That’s where the love for the craft comes in. There will be down days where you have to power through. There will be days when you bounce out of bed with renewed vigor from an idea or maybe an interested party. The key is consistency. On the days you feel absolutely defeated, you must tread water and push yourself to maintain. On those lucky super motivated days, you take advantage and sprint to make up for the slower days. This goes for anything though. A medical student struggling before an exam. An athlete pushing to make the starting squad. A new business trying to grow. They all require the same mentality to become successful.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am an artist and stand-up comedian and I feel my identity is both. Art is my first love. Comedy is my second. They each satisfy a different creative itch but in completely different ways. I have been drawing and painting since I was four or five and I have been doing stand-up comedy since the age of 24. I find it immensely gratifying to sit back and look at the composition of a painting I just completed, just as I get that same feeling hearing an audience react to a bit, I’ve reworked dozens of times on stage. I have been lucky enough to travel all over the country opening up for one of my best friends named Preacher Lawson and I have the doubly satisfying experience of seeing people react to Twisted Greetings cards that came from my brain after those shows. It’s immensely satisfying. It’s like “Oh, you laughed at my jokes?” combined with “Oh, you like my cards I made??” It’s a thrill. Any time I can make a stranger laugh with something that came out of my head, I’m absolutely thrilled.

And that’s what I’m most proud of. Just brightening a stranger’s day with things I’ve created. If someone put a gun to my head and made me pick one; art or stand up, I would have to choose art just because it’s been a part of me for thirty-something years and I can be stuck on a deserted island and still do it. But I love them both and they make me happy. As for my greeting cards, there is nothing else like them. Of that, I am certain. Look at the pictures. They’re ridiculously gory. Completely unnecessary blood spurting about of veins and arteries. Dismembered bodies. ON GREETING CARDS! I say they’re like a Tarantino film in an envelope. But that’s why they’re different. And people love them. They really do. There are a lot more people with dark senses of humor than we think about. And I feel that’s rising. The cards are happy despite the unfortunate situation the characters are in. That’s the key. They’re all happy and smiling in spite of it all. There is nothing else like them out there, I guarantee you that.

Any advice for finding a mentor or networking in general?
Get. Out. Of. The. House! I know it’s a bit more complicated now with COVID and everything but nothing ever happened staying at home and not meeting people. Whatever it is that you’re trying to accomplish, go to where those people are. Secondly, you gotta do it. Whatever it is. Do it over and over and over. My dad used to tell my brother and I this silly saying that kind of is of that school of thought. It goes “Good better best, never let it rest, until your good is better, until your better’s best.” If you’re looking for a mentor it’s also important to stay humble and do less talking and more listening. A mentor isn’t going to want to take someone under their wing so make sure you always keep your ego in check. Ego is so toxic to growth.

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