Darren Poirier is one of the most surprisingly creative artists I’ve ever come across.
I knew him as a passionate musician first (guitar), and then later as a self-taught illustrator and painter.
I’ve known Darren for several years through my good friend, Angela Croft (his wife). She would tell me about Darren who was an amazing guitarist and that he was the lead guitarist in the traveling Broadway Musical “Mamma Mia!”
We were able to go to a performance of “Mamma Mia!” but of course could not discern the extent of his talent from that.
It wasn’t until his CD, “Eternal Echoes” came out that I was blown away by his talent.
As it says on Darren’s website, “The expansive/open feeling of his music is a soulful, honest, and genuine reflection on his roots, shaped by people, seascapes, and mystery.” You can feel this. FEEL it as you listen to the acoustic guitar music. If music bought on iTunes can be worn out, mine will be someday. I listen to it regularly as I work and meditate.
Darren has also been in the pit for “Kinky Boots” and “Beautiful:The Carole King Musical.”
But wait! There’s more!
Darren is also an incredible illustrator and painter.
A couple of years ago while talking with Angela, she told me that Darren was doing some “doodles” of motorcycles and cars for his nephews. She said when she looked at them SHE was blown away. She said, “Uh dude, these are REALLY good!” He took her word for it and continued to draw, color and paint more, mostly of his favorite subject, all things Porsche. (Which is funny to me as Angela and Darren are about the most down to earth people I’ve ever met).
Soon, he began an Instagram account where he shared his drawings and I was blown away again!
My God! The talent from this man never ceases to amaze me.
Darren has gone on to create somewhat of a following and name for himself in the Porsche community and has traveled from their home in Toronto, Canada to Los Angeles, CA to show his work.
Now, without further ado, I give you Darren. He was kind enough to answer some questions about what it means to be creative.
What is creativity?
I think creativity is an opening, a flow, or a channeling of the bigger creative impulses/energy in the Universe, choosing to express itself through the unique ‘filter’ that is each and every one of us. It sounds clichéd, but the trick, as they say, is to “get out of our own way” so that that energy can be expressed in its fullest possible way.
You are a very gifted guitarist, tell me how it manifested in your life.
Thanks for the kind words Kathy! I don’t really consider myself as being “gifted” in terms of ability or skills…I think the real gift is the deep love and passion I have for Music, and my chosen instrument for expressing that love happens to be the guitar. I’ve always loved Music as far back as I can remember, but I know the exact moment when I had the epiphany that it was going to be my life’s purpose, and it was the first time I heard my future brother-in-law Denis play my sister’s acoustic guitar. “There is always a moment in childhood where the door opens and the future walks in” Graham Greene
Did you study guitar and / or music? If so, with who and where?
I grew up in a small town (population approximately 3000) with very few, if any, opportunities or encouragement to pursue or develop creative or artistic talents…I was essentially self-taught throughout my teens (I started playing around 10 years old).
Early on my sister and brother-in-law bought me a little book with some basic chords and I would sit for hours listening to records, trying to figure stuff out by ear. Also, back in those days (70’s and early 80’s) we still had live bands playing at high-school dances, and I would watch the guitarists intently and then rush home afterwards and try to remember certain things I’d seen/heard them play.
Right after graduating from high school, I met this wonderful guitarist, Joe Waye, whose band had come to play in my hometown. He taught at a music store in the closest city, which was about a 2-1/2 hour bus drive away. I arranged to take lessons with him and for a few months after I finished high school I would take a bus around 7:30 AM every Monday morning to go take a 1-hour lesson.
Looking back that was a really special time because the material I was learning opened up a whole new (musical) world for me; probably equally important was the reaction I got from some of the people in my hometown who thought I was crazy to get on a bus for 5 hours ‘just to take guitar lessons’.
Those and other small-town attitudes were a HUGE motivation for me to leave my hometown and try to figure out a way to make a life in Music. Long story short, after University I moved to Toronto, and after a few years of working a day job I ended up being accepted into a well-renowned music school, which I attended for three years.
Things took off from there; some of my instructors referred me for gigs and my professional career really started at that point. I’ve always thought of myself as a life-long student of the guitar/Music, and throughout the years I’ve sought out different teachers when the opportunities presented themselves…including lessons with Redd Volkaert in Austin TX and Ledward Ka’apana in Hawaii (both Grammy Award winners).
And now, you are a prolific (and amazing) illustrator with a very specific niche, what seems to me to be motor cycles and cars. Wow – how did this begin?
Again, thanks for the kind words! Along with Music, I’ve always had an interest in graphic/visual arts/design. I used to sketch a bit as a kid, but Music took over my life in my early teens. In 2010, after about 4 years of extensive travels touring North America in the orchestra for the Broadway hit, Mamma Mia, I was suddenly struck with a desire to start sketching/drawing again.
The subject matter of my artwork (mostly motorcycles and cars) I think is just channeling my inner 10-year old! My hometown is situated on the world-famous ‘Cabot Trail’, (which won the USA Today readers’ choice award for best motorcycle trip) and in the summer/tourist season, it attracted a steady stream of motorcyclists. Luckily for me, my house was across the street from one of the last restaurants before entering the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, making it a very popular ‘pit stop’.
As a kid, I kept a constant lookout for bikes arriving at the restaurant, and whenever they’d stop, I‘d rush over, sit on the steps (sometimes for hours!), and just stare in wonder at the machines…They’d come from all across Canada and the States. As a kid, everything about motorcycles seemed cool, but mostly, I was inspired with the sense of adventure they seemed to promise, as I was already dreaming of someday expanding beyond my small town origins.
As an artist, I’m always attracted to the elegance of good designs; I find beauty in functionality and I’m drawn to the lines, symmetry, and ‘magic’ of well-crafted machines like classic cars (especially Porsches) and motorcycles. I also find beauty in motorsports…the passion, commitment, focus, and bravery of racers, especially those in the ‘vintage era’, when the racers were a special ‘breed’.
I’m completely self-taught as an artist, so I’m still figuring things as I go along…And, as with my music, it all comes ‘from the heart’.
Why do you think most people think they are not creative?
Mostly, I think it’s our completely out-of-date educational system, but that’s a whole other topic! I believe it was Picasso who said something along the lines that we’re all born as artists…the problem is remembering that when we’re adults.
If you haven’t done so already, I would highly recommend reading ‘Ignore Everybody: And 39 Other Keys to Creativity’ by Hugh MacLeod. I just love that book, and this is my favorite quote of his: “Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, “I’d like my crayons back please”.
Has it been difficult to make your life and living with your creativity?
Well, as a friend/colleague of mine once said, there’s a difference between ‘making a life’ and ‘making a living’.
My life as a professional musician has certainly had its struggles and challenges over the years, HOWEVER, pretty much everything good in my life has come directly or indirectly through Music, so it’s all been worth it.
At this point, other than a few commissioned pieces, the artwork is still mainly a hobby, so I can’t speak to that side of things, but I’m curious and open to see where it takes me. I’ve been very fortunate and the Muses have been very good to me!
Any parting words or insights you’d like to add.
It means a lot to me that you like my music, especially that you enjoy listening to it as you engage in your own creative endeavors!
I’m flattered that you considered me for your blog…thank you and “May the Force be with you”!
My parting words.
We are all “creative.” How you use your creativity is up to you. It can be writing reports, writing a book, cooking for your family, playing an instrument, singing, painting, drawing… You are here to live your best creative life!
You can see more about Darren and his work at his website. Be sure to follow him on Facebook and Instagram – you will be inspired!
With appreciation for my creative friends,