We had the good fortune of connecting with Derek Douglas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Derek, as a parent, what have you done for you children that you feel has had the most significant impact?
In 2019, I walked away from my career of many years which required me to be on a computer for 10-12 hours a day. I took the plunge and escaped comfort and security to put myself in the uncomfortable situation of being a career artist. It wasn’t easy at first, but the necessity to make art a career, motivated me to never stop creating.
I have so much more time with my daughter now and when I am creating art, I am in a much happier place mentally. Through this decision, I have shown my daughter that you can make a living doing what you love, but you still do need to approach it in a professional manner to really accomplish that goal.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets me apart: I don’t believe there’s much that sets me apart from others. I’m not the most talented artist nor am I the most successful. However, I’ve always worked in collaboration with other artists to create some pretty fun murals that people seem to enjoy. I’m able to do what I do because I have a group of really great friends that I love to work beside. With Tone Castle, we run “The Wall Saints” and we can cater to almost any style. With my other collective, “Cult 33”, we can give more of the wheatpaste/street art style that is a bit more free flowing.
Was it easy?: Absolutely not. It’s been a journey of mistakes turned into lessons, late nights, long hours, working in insane temperatures and a lot of financial investment.
How did I overcome the challenges: By learning from mistakes. If a mistake was made on an install, I make mental notes to avoid it on the next. If a technique is accidentally discovered, I make note and use that on the next one. I also collaborate a lot with friends, and we all seem to bring new knowledge to one another constantly.
Lessons learned along the way: First and foremost, be on time. Time is valuable for all of us, so it can’t be wasted under any circumstances. Next, present professional proposals to potential clients. If you take a commission and it’s for less than your normal rate, still give it the same care. Saying ‘yes’ to a person or company, still means ‘yes’ regardless of the pay. Know your fellow artists! There is so much to learn, and to offer others. Collaboration over competition.
What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story:
My art career began when I was in college. I became a Fine Arts major at UNLV with an emphasis in graphic design. After graduation, I did what most graduates do: I pivoted my focus to another field which led me to Internet Marketing and Consulting. While working online for all of those years, that led to me drinking a lot of coffee in cafes to break down the monotony of working in an office. I’ll come back to that later.
In 2012 (years after college graduation), I looked back towards the art world again. I began collecting art created by street artists around the world. That then led to me creating an online blog that alerted collectors of daily print drops which then led me to opening up an art gallery to exhibit street artists in Las Vegas. After a couple months where artists began to deliver only a piece or two for a solo exhibition, and another that completely no-showed, my artist friend and Tanya (Miscre8) hosted an art switch. There were 6 artists including myself, and we each worked on a canvas for 10 minutes and passed it on to the next artist, until we had 6 total canvases or original art that were touched by 6 different artists. I implemented my “mashup” pop culture style, and people seemed to enjoy it.
The next month, I created a bunch of mashups and put them on canvas to exhibit in my gallery. Surprisingly, the show did very well and I sold all of the pieces. After that, I just focused on creating pieces non-stop. Some went on canvas, some went up in the street. That eventually led to legal mural opportunities.
Once the legal walls started happening, I gained momentum not only on the mural side of my career, but also on the gallery side. I was invited to create murals for some large music festivals, some corporate clients, and that led to me picking up gallery representation in various cities.
When the COVID pandemic hit, everything changed. My partner Tone Castle and I (we have a collective called the Wall Saints) had opened our gallery/studio a week before lockdown. About a month after the initial lockdowns, there were some businesses that reached out for murals to be completed while their doors were closed. We also had businesses that wanted to create outdoor seating areas, which led to more public art installations.
Here is where the coffee ties in from earlier: In February of 2020, my wife and I began plans to open a specialty coffee shop in the Las Vegas Arts District called Golden Fog Coffee. As you know, lockdowns happened. Our expected opening of May 2020, ended up being in October of 2020 instead. During that time however, the building owner contracted myself and my Cult 33 collective members to install my largest murals to date on the shareDOWNTOWN building. One side has a 3 story Basquiat Mural, while the other side has a 3 story mural of Dennis Hopper.
With Golden Fog Coffee, we aim to bring the arts community together. We have monthly group shows, we have a rotating wall mural in the main dining area, and we have sticker walls in an “alley” of the shop where street artists and businesses are allowed to add their mark.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
In Miami, we’re staying in Wynwood. For all visiting, Wynwood Walls is a must. Walking through the gardens and dipping in and out of the galleries can take up a few hours for sure. Museum Of Graffitti is next on the list. So much history and it’s as visually stimulating as it is educational.
For that shopping experience, it’d be a sin to not visit The Miami Design District. To keep your taste buds happy, Politan Row Food Hall is the spot.
Depending on the date, I’d also be looking at the schedule of The Fillmore. I’ve seen some pretty amazing shows there. If it’s NBA season and you haven’t been to a Heat game, it’s definitely going on the list.
I am personally plant based and most of my travel revolves around food and coffee. My go to locations are Love Life Cafe, SoBe Vegan, Perrology, and Full Bloom Vegan. For that fine dining experience, I’m bringing them to Plant Miami. If coffee is the goal, I’m hitting Panther Coffee, Eternity Coffee Roasters, Breezeblock Coffee and Eternity Coffee Roasters.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people who have helped me along the way. From my Grandpa who used to draft buildings for fun, to my parents who worked 2-3 jobs each while also getting a college degree. They all led by example. Business wise, I had a 5th grade teacher named Tony Ulintz who taught us a curriculum that revolved around entrepreneurship and finance. The lessons I learned that year have stuck with me throughout my life.