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Check Out Aaron Darling’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aaron Darling.

Hi Aaron, please kick things off for us with an introduction to yourself and your story.
I began drawing as a small child and continued all through high school without taking any art classes. I was always fascinated with graffiti & the characters that I saw when we traveled across the country & would fill my school notebooks with as many doodles as I could get in. When I moved to Austin in 2002, I knew there was lots of opportunity here to grow as an artist even though I had not ever really done any painting. I felt God’s calling to it when I started to nurture my relationship with Him, validating the verse in Psalm chapter 37 verse 4 that says, “delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.“ From there, I have not been able to stop. Soon after, I met my incredible wife and decided to pursue a foundational career in nursing while continuing to paint. Being in the medical field 13 years, 8 as a nurse, I decided to finally pursue my artwork full-time at the beginning of 2020. I have met & befriended so many amazing people from Sloke, Mez, Truth and Niz, to Andi Scull & the amazing people with the Hope campaign and Spratx that have helped guide & boost my art career to what it is today.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Painting, or creating art itself, is something every artist wrestles with. Getting things the way you like them and enjoying the process are disciplines that must be practiced daily. Once I started painting and realized this was the direction God had for my life, I decided, with the help of my wife and my brother, to get my degree as a nurse, which was incredibly difficult for me. This does not sound like it makes very much sense and didn’t to me at the time either. What it did though, was give me a wonderful job with very flexible hours & decent pay where I could love people and be a light to people who were in their most vulnerable stages of life. It also allowed me to connect with other creatives that were also in the medical field. My second art show was with another hospital employee and one of the doctors was in a band that played during the show that was held at Jennifer‘s Gardens in Central Austin, who herself is also a nurse. I would say the biggest but most worthy struggle throughout my journey has been to nurture my relationship with my creator who has given me these gifts. Doing this is the foundation and key to not getting sidetracked, comparing myself to others, getting into things I should not be getting into if you know what I mean. When I nurture that relationship, it allows me to put the struggle on His shoulders and not bear the full burden on my own.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
As a visual artist, I have always been drawn to the growth and beauty of the Austin skyline & landscape. I think I have painted well over 100 different skylines over the last 18 years! I am also in love with incredibly expressive faces and characters. This is my biggest draw to the graffiti culture, how bold & stylish characters are painted. I never had a cool name and it never made sense to me to paint my name everywhere, but when I realized I could paint characters with eyes peering back at the viewer, often with a clever or encouraging phrase attached, that’s when it got me. I am kind of known around Austin as the giraffe guy because of this bold, long-necked, face-making giraffe, who I call ‘Draff’, that I came up with in 2013. I first painted him at the Hope Outdoor Gallery, aka Castle Hill, after feeding one a baby carrot out of my mouth at the wildlife refuge behind the Waste Management landfill in Creedmoor months earlier. My daughter was around four at the time and I just wanted to paint more characters for her to enjoy. I couldn’t stop thinking about this giraffe so I decided to paint one on her wall one day. The whole family fell in love with it so much, I decided to draw it over and over again until I had developed this full-blown character. Then he took on a life of its own.

Almost more than that, I love painting large scale flowers on large walls. They bring an organic, life-giving feel to any environment that is calming and familiar for the viewer. I love their curves, their colors, and all of the elements of the graffiti style I can add to them. The same goes with portraits. Not only do I paint on canvas, but I am currently doing a massive wooden cut-out of Dolly Parton for my client to hang. I am also really excited about starting the ‘LuvYerNayBer’ campaign, which highlights the many ways that people share love to their neighbors, particularly small businesses and their community outreach. It’s based on part B of the greatest commandment given to us by Jesus Christ himself, first to love God with all of your heart, mind, soul, & strength, and then to love your neighbor as yourself. These last couple of years have been difficult on a lot of people and a lot of confusion throughout our world. This command is paramount for humanity to maintain its focus on what’s really important. I am most proud of my incredibly supportive family throughout my journey. I believe the ability to paint almost anything I want & having a very versatile style sets me apart from many others. Honestly, I don’t even feel like I have tapped the surface of what I am capable of, but my development is really just God’s timing.

We’d love to hear about any fond memories you have from when you were growing up?
In regards to art, my favorite childhood memory was the day I realized I could draw whatever I wanted. I had watched my brother doing his homework for his 5th-grade art class where he drew his own shoe and the lamp in our living room. He would also trace Sunday comics and then try to draw them by himself. It blew my mind that he was drawing the same comics that was circulating the country every Sunday in the paper. Although he never pursued his artwork much after that, I was absolutely hooked. This stands out as a major turning point in my passion to create.

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