Born in Shrewsbury in Shropshire in 1976, Drew Darcy is the critically acclaimed contemporary figurative artist son of a doctor and nurse, and the eldest of two twins. Obviously not sharing his parent’s medical calling in life, Darcy fervently believes that instead he has skipped a generation and inherited the artistic flair passed down from his mother’s side of the family. Her father, his grandfather was the fifth in a long-line of established and bespoke tailors, and in his case trained in London’s famous Saville Row. Having said that, Darcy’s other grandfather on his father’s side was an industrial designer and skilled draughtsman, so you never know. But then Darcy’s illustrative fascination with contrasting his scantily-clad, bare-skin figurative models with a modicum of fabric may have stemmed from the tailoring DNA at some point.
Drawing from an early age, Darcy was first introduced to oil painting at Stonyhurst College, Lancashire, where he was said to have revelled in the fact that he could make his indelible mark on his own canvas, just like the great painters before him. Hours were spent in the ‘Art Room’, where Darcy learnt many of the techniques he uses to such devastating illustrative effect today. In his own words, Darcy adds; “I was given a great freedom in my art classes and achieved grade A’s in GCSE and A-level Art & Design”. Moving to Birmingham thereafter, Darcy successfully completed a BTEC National Diploma in Art & Design at Bourneville Art College. However, and in the background for some time, another creative forte would eventually challenge art for his time; that being music. Darcy was just an accomplished amateur musician though, as he also was a dab hand at songwriting. Forming a guitar band, Darcy dedicated the next few years to performing his musical art at venues throughout the UK, and to this day he insists that music remains a passion up there with art.
Despite his musical and performing overtures, Darcy admits to always having been drawn back to art, and in 2002 committed his immediate future to pursuing this as a potential career. Yet first things first, and he needed to determine his own unique style and artistic direction, with the aim being to stand out from the already crowded market place, populated by other contemporary figurative artists plying their trade. Darcy did just this though, and claims he arrived at his known graphic brand courtesy of third party interests if you will; citing his love for music, fashion, modern design, film, photography, advertising, and his ever-changing moods as just some of the many subjects that can spark off his creative process.
In terms of existing artists that he admires, and Darcy is quick to point out the celebrated likes of Gerhard Richter, Francis Bacon, and Edward Hopper to name but a few. I like to take in artistic flavours from my favourite artists, absorb them and throw them all back in to the mix to make my own distinctive style. Initially Darcy chose to showcase his new compositional works at carefully selected galleries across the country, before decamping on Birmingham’s contemporary art industry-famous, Autumn Fair in 2004. Pitching up with five brand new pieces of art, Darcy looked at this venue and stage as serving as his first real opportunity to get a first-hand reaction from art collectors, galleries and many of the larger publishing houses. Suffice to say that he was overwhelmed with such a great response to his hitherto work at the time. What’s more, this was the venue where he succeeded on appearing on the horizon of one of the UK’s foremost fine art publishers, with a reputation for ‘making an artist’ in a professional capacity; namely Washington Green. After meeting Glyn Washington and his team, Darcy was convinced that they would represent him best as an artist and obviously afford him exposure to a wider audience than he’d ever been privy to previously.
Addressing the way in which Darcy chooses to approach his work, and we understand that many hours are spent gathering photographs and other sources of reference. Taking up the reigns, Darcy explains it best with the following insight into his work; “My work is mainly figurative and I like to capture moments in time, whilst still trying to keep a sense of movement and realism. Once I have enough to work with I can manipulate images using my computer and can quickly realise my initial ideas on screen”. Indeed, Darcy is certainly an artist who embraces modern technology, yet still maintains a conduit with more traditional methods when it comes to his artistic process. Again, who better than Darcy to elaborate on this. Darcy: “I can then get a feel of what the final piece will look like, change colours, cut and paste. I embrace technology and love the fact that I can marry traditional methods with the modern and new. However, nothing compares with the magic that can be created with a brush stroke. No digital imagery or computer power can get even close to that invaluable human touch. I eagerly anticipate transposing the developed ideas onto canvas”.