We had the good fortune of connecting with Darrell Merrill and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Darrell, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
“Art isn’t a real job”
I work at my job almost 24/7. It’s not something that just comes easily. Just because I see something in my head or in my dreams doesn’t always means it goes onto paper, canvas, etc easily. There are times that I draw something and I hate the way it comes out, but I keep working at it until I’m happy with it. A lot of the times I dream artwork ideas then wake up and write them down so I don’t forget them. I keep notes of my ideas handy and try to fit them into themed art shows if possible. If they don’t fit into any show or events we have coming up, when I have down time I’ll either take the time to write it down, sketch it, or if I have an hour or so I’ll do research on it and put all the pieces of reference I’ve found into a folder on my computer like (color,composition, poses,etc). Our business has many moving parts. My wife is the manager, but she also makes handmade jewelry but she spends most of her time setting up art/vending shows months in advance so she keeps me pretty busy.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My imagination. My ideas have a twist on the normal. I look for an iconic way to represent my ideas with a different twist. I’m most proud of a commission of a portrait of Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi witch portraits are not my strong suit and the woman who ask me for the art never smile she was always very solemn and never smiled. When she came to pick up her art work she couldn’t stop smiling smiling ear to ear. I gotten here today with all I thought myself along with my wife(Raven)and I were working together when she broke her leg, I called in and they told me either I come in or both of us were fired, long story short we both got fired. It was one of the best things to ever happen to us. We knew then it was time to make a change and we haven’t regretted a minute of it.
No it wasn’t easybreaking away from my old career felt like a very big and scary risk, but my wife kept pushing saying we can do this we aren’t going back. She won’t allow me to go back to work even though there are times when things get really tight for us. She wants our art business to grow into a thriving business where neither of us need to think about a corporate job but to do that she believes I only need to concentrate on making art and not the rabbit race we all run everyday. Vending and art-shows are both a risk. Some shows lots of product sells, some just art, some just jewelry and sometimes both. There are also times when nothing sells. We grow and learn from those experiences of which shows work and which ones don’t. It’s always a gamble but you will never know if you don’t try.
I know it sound corny but the most important lesson is“don’t stop keep going, roll with the punches” and for ever one hit there’s two or more fulfilling smiles from a satisfied customers that my art really spoke to them and laid down there hard earned money for. Also when you own your own business that there are times when you make a ton of money and then there are times you don’t but that is what comes from owning your own business unfortunately.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I am here, I have been here since age 5 with something to say creating art is my favorite things to share with others. To create thing that are not real dragons, space ships, monsters, myths and to convey the emotions I feel whether it’s sadness, loneliness, anger or to infuse it with my silly senses of humor. My ideas in picture form waiting for people to see hear and feel and To talk to them. I want people to look at my art and feel something real in a surreal image. And to like my work enough to adopt a piece of it and take it to their home and make it part of their life. To put on there wall and invoke a smile every time they look at it.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
My Best friend Bob Armstrong who is one of my biggest fans since age 15 he would love to see what I have been working on and new finished pieces he hasn’t seen. We’d lunch a few times at Franks Pizza downtown some of best pizza in Houston Then I’d treat him to dinner at Brasserie Du Parc fine french cuisine across from Discovery Green in downtown Houston at least a few times in the week all their food is that amazing and there is always something new to discover on their menu, also there bars has some of the most outstanding with unique drinks from around the world. Dinner at the Hearsay is a must for fine dinning and excellent drinks. Sometime during week we would go get Korean BBQ at Gen Korean BBQ House where you cook your food at the table and and food adventure waits. Houston is full of food ideas I would keep my
food itinerary fast and loose and let my buddy choose so knowing Bob we would have to fit some Cajun food into lunch or dinner. We would go to The Whimsy Artisan Boutique who features art & handcrafted artisan goods from different artists around Houston they are located in the historic Houston Heights. Where some more of my arts is on display. And there’s like 10 cute shops antiques, toys art, etc. Last but not least finish of the week at Team Romel Studio’s another set of friend’s displaying my art were you always have a great time(art shows, food trucks, bands and DJ’s) to bring the week to a good time rock n roll event close, with friend people loud music BYOB and fun.And last but not least I would bid my friend farewell with a big hug cause I’d know wouldn’t see him for a while.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My wife (Raven) /muse/ my slave driver lol. She believes in me and helps me from “Maybe not that color”, to finding art shows and vending gigs. Shes the one whom convinced me to leave my old job behind and have faith in my skills. Also her awesome sales ability to sell my art doesn’t hurt. My kids (Leah Merrill & Tristan Merrill) who love art also(mine and many others) help because they are up to date on what in and characters that I wouldn’t think of.