Darren West was born in Sussex and lives in Worthing. His love of art has been present since birth but his passion for neon was the result of a happy accident. At 16 years old, Darren was working in an artist's space which had a small neon studio. Fascinated by the 100-year old glassblowing technique he saw a colleague using one day, he decided there and then that neon art was his calling and began a five-year apprenticeship the very next day. He has never looked back.
Darren is one of a select few neon artists around today who is a skilled master craftsman in glassblowing. He designs and creates all his pieces from the very first embryonic sketches to full blown colourful fruition. Both an artist and designer, Darren is a true pioneer of what he describes as a 'dying trade.' The techniques he uses involve making and shaping the glass tubing to create original, contemporary, colourful neon artworks from scratch.
Inspired predominantly by music - Darren's first ever piece was titled, 'The Jam and Weller' and he has used iconic images of Amy Winehouse, Marilyn Monroe, Debbie Harry and David Bowie among others in his work - plus politics, religion and sex, his unique, edgy, sometimes controversial use of quotes and juxtaposition of his neon coupled with his own designs have caught the attention of the celebrity world and gained him a hip underground following. Eva Longoria, Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) and Dragon's Dens' Sarah Willingham have all commissioned his skills to create them one-off custom-made West designs with his signatory thought-provoking messages attached. He has also designed commercial pieces for the BBC, Bacardi and Jagermeister and his work has been featured in Vogue, Daily Mail, ID and Design Magazine.
As well as working with canvas and screen prints, Darren uses various props and structures in which to create his neon art around and anything goes to achieve the desired effect. His piece where he placed a pair of neon wings on the back of a vintage Hells Angels leather jacket showcases the diversity of his trade and the often whimsical, reactionary thought-process behind his work.
His roots and love of underground art is apparent in his designs, earning him the reputation of 'the Banksy of the neon world.' Recently, he collaborated with US street Artist, Plastic Jesus, and their collective unique piece is currently being shown at The Hilton in Canary Wharf in London. His work is also featured in many galleries across the world. He has been shown in The Unit, Waltons Fine Art, Lights of Soho and is currently displayed at The Underdog and The Wellington Club in London where he plans to exhibit later in the year.
While neon has enjoyed something of a commercial renaissance in recent years, Darren West @The Neon Sanctum has always been ahead of the zeitgeist and has been pioneering neon art throughout his 30 year-long career with his originality and unique skills as a craftsman. Darren West @ The Neon Sanctum works from his fully-equipped studio which opened last year in Worthing.