Interview with: Hyper-Realism Artist Darren Baker

Time to read: 6 minutes

This week, we introduce you to Artist, Explorer and Humanitarian Darren Baker. Darren is a hyper-realism artist producing works of art comparable to photography. The techniques employed by Darren have been developed and perfected over decades of dedicated hard work. In 2011 he was appointed to paint an official portrait of Her Majesty The Queen.

Self-Portrait in Progress

Hi Darren. Good to talk to you! Can you please share with us, what is unique about what you do and what makes you stand out?

Everybody is unique, it’s all about applying our passion to express that uniqueness. I dedicated myself to creating my own style in art that is my idea of perfection through detail in drawing and painting. I think the meticulous nature of my work and attention to detail is what makes me stand out. Observers remark my art is close to photography. I’m not actually trying to recreate a photo but faithfully render details as accurately as possible, whilst hopefully injecting my own emotions and feelings into paper/canvas. I do love how you can use simple things like pencils and paper and brushes and board to create lifelike imagery- going from blank to something. 

What inspired you to go into art?

I was really encouraged when very young by my family to pursue art. I loved drawing all the time and the attention this created. I became obsessed with art and learning and improving. I was completely driven and wanted to learn everything possible about the practice and artists that spoke to me. I was the most dedicated student at art college and literally lived for art and trying to become as good as I could possibly become. I lived in the studio at college or in my bedroom, drawing and painting endlessly. One of the tutors I really respected, upon graduating, told me to go and paint The Queen! This must have stuck with me as it actually happened at Buckingham Palace 23 years later! Life literally went into overdrive from that point. But there had been many incredible highs and lows in working up to that particular summit. Self-belief accounts for so much in life. Anything is possible.

HM the Queen Official Portrait

What is the biggest challenge you have dealt with and how did you overcome it?

The most challenging thing for me was the loss of my sister to suicide 7 years ago. It was a nuclear bomb emotionally and the tremors are still all-consuming. It’s not something to ever overcome but react to and adapt to. A way of coping positively was to set up our mental health charity, The Leanne Baker Trust. Although Leanne can never be in our lives physically, through her spirit we can do so much to raise awareness of mental health and speak out about the dangers of not communicating and stigmatising the illness. It’s been a huge positive focus for me and my family to raise money and promote the work of our partner charity, serving people through art, talking and community. 

Leanne Baker Trust Kensington Palace mental health art evening fundraiser

Thank you for sharing that. Very inspiring how you turned this huge challenge into an opportunity to mean something for people with mental health issues. What would you say is your Mount Everest? What would you love to create in the world?

Through this experience, I have become intensely passionate about mental health and wellbeing and striving to prioritise this for the betterment of society. Adapting our life’s, outlook, mentality and how we can better interact through truth and pure emotion. I want the world to put mental health first not last, as I truly believe it will create a more harmonious existence through understanding and kindness. I want to set up a gallery to sell art in aid of mental health charities. A showcase and mouthpiece for mental health through art, a space where wellbeing programmes and coaching runs side by side with the exhibitions. I believe art has a really important power to help people meditate and express their feelings and therefore expunge internal negativity.

Raising funds for The Leanne Baker Trust and Movember

That’s beautiful. I’m sure this will make a huge difference for a lot of people. A few years ago you did our iDiscover Core Programme. What is the most inspiring thing that happened to you as a result of iDiscover?

It was an amazing and inspiring programme all-round, but the biggest thing for me was the shared experience of wonderful people coming together, speaking their truth and confronting their fears and supporting and willing each other on. It’s really powerful and life-affirming to witness and feel the combined energy of the human spirit, transformed and empowered by talking and working together. When this is done with compassion and empathy it is this kind of energy that can really move mountains and elicit real change.

What do iDiscover and its community mean to you?

For me personally, it was a real awakening after going through huge personal turmoil. It was a shared experience that will live with me forever, to see people open their hearts and work through real personal issues and challenges. iDiscover gave me really enlightening tools to work with on myself and increasing knowledge about what has shaped me. Raising awareness and understanding about my ingrained beliefs and acknowledging them with a view to developing and improving. That awareness of yourself and of others and understanding you and others is everything 

What is your most sacred daily/weekly/monthly ritual or performance hack that really works for you? 

Going for a walk everyday and being in nature and just letting go of overthinking and dwelling on the beauty; sight, sounds and solace of the earth. Letting your mind and body totally absorb the wonder of the sky, the sun, the clouds, the sea, trees, wildlife, the sound of a leaf fluttering in the breeze. The realisation of the enormity of the earth and universe and having real perspective on life, and being thankful for the moment, right now, here, being and breathing and being alive to the wonderment of nature.

Darren loves going for walks in nature. Here we see him in Peru.

What was your best adventure ever?

The whole experience of being a dad is a total adventure. A daughter is an absolute blessing and children educate grown-ups about the true meaning of life. To be grateful and live in joy and appreciation of everything and everybody around us, no preconceptions no fear just love.

Darren finds the experience of being a dad a total adventure

What is your favourite quote or the question you want to leave us with?

Can we look towards a life where none of us is afraid to reveal our truth, our vulnerabilities, our limits? It is not strong to always appear strong, but strong to acknowledge we have fear and weakness. It is Human. I believe this will create an atmosphere that will improve our mentality and overall experience, away from competing and judging. 

Beautiful. Thank you so much for the interview, Darren. We wish you all the best with your mission.