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David Derr

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David Derr attended the Art Students League and his passion for life drawing continued as a primary focus for nearly 10 years while he made a living as an artists model and freelance commercial artist. Currently, Derr heads up his own design agency, D2 Studios Inc. Commercial success has never dimmed, in fact, has brought into sharper focus, his love for fine arts, and his expression of deep personal imagery. This is influenced by his interest in archeology, primitive art, mythology, classical music, and dance. Derr has been included in exhibitions juried by Ivan Karp of the OK Harris Gallery, Holly Solomon, of the Holly Solomon Gallery, both from New York, NY, as well as exhibitions curated by representatives from the Guggenheim and NJ State Museums. He has exhibited throughout the United States and Europe. His works appear in museums, corporate, government and private collections throughout the world. 

David Derr’s digital painting work can be seen exhibited at the End of Elm gastropub at 140 Morris St, Morristown, NJ until mid October 2022, with an artists reception on September , 7-9pm. 

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Q: What town do you live in?
A: Dover, NJ

Q: What kind of art do you create/what do you do in the arts?
A: Professionally I’m a graphic designer with my own business since 1993 serving clients around the country. Fine Art wise I work in a variety of media. Painting (mostly oil), Mixed Media on Paper, Digital works (since 1993, exhibited internationally), Assemblages, Photography, Drawing and dabble in poetry. I also play guitar, and sign semi-professionally with The Masterwork Chorus doing classical pieces. I have performed at Carnegie Hall and other NYC venues many times. And I still think I suck.

Q: Where is your studio/place of work?
A: Boonton NJ since 1986

Q: What is your art background/education/

A: When I was a child there were German neighbors whose son introduced us to cartooning. I always loved coloring in coloring books and around 12 I copied cartoons from the Peanuts books. I started with Adult Life Drawing Classes in the 70’s then went to the Art Students League on Saturdays for 10 years, again mostly life drawing. Same thing painting. An adult class that was mostly a studio space with minimal instruction.

Q: How do you balance your time in the studio/in the workplace with other commitments?
A: I still have to keep my business running but since the pandemic I work 2-3 days a week and that and paint 3-4 days a week. That’s just painting. The digital stuff I work on when I’m working at my computer here and there. The assemblages, whenever the mood strikes me. 

Q: What are you working on at the moment?
A: Right now I’m working on 30 x 40 painting in a figurative style, but not too tight. I’m using some of  my digital works as references so there is a lot of interpretation and color shifts.

Q: Has your practice changed over time? Why/How?
A: Until around 3-4 years ago I was working very stylistically from drawings I would create by just  taking a line for a walk. Then making them into strange unusual creatures that has a cartoonish feel with overtones of Chagall, Klee and artists from Paris in the 20’s. There are examples on my website.

Q: What is your favorite thing about being in the arts? Least favorite?
A: (Favorite) Creating. It's that plain and simple
(Least favorite) Finding galleries to exhibit my work without being raped.

Q: What inspires you?
A: Life inspires me. I live to created.

Spin, Oil on Linen, 30 x 36, 2006
The Heart is the Eye of the Soul, Assemblage, 27 x 25 x 14, 2010
Moonlight Blues, Oil on Canvas, 30 x 40, 2022
Transition, Digital, Variable Dimensions on Printout, 2016

Q: What are a few of your big artistic career goals? What is your dream project?
A: Fairly simple. Just to sell enough to live and be comfortable as a supplement to my other income.

Q: How do you stay connected and up to date with the art world?
A: I’m very bad with that. I don’t find much in the current art scene to be much to be excited about. Too much theory, not enough craftmanship. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given? 
A: Just put paint on the canvas.

Q: What memorable responses have you had to your work? 
A: Someone just standing in front of one of the older paintings for a good half hour or so studying it. Looking for all the hidden details.

Q: Where can people see your work/art?
A: At the moment, because I have no exhibits planned, online is the best place.

St. Sebastian, Oil on Canvas, 30 x 40, 2022

Q: Do you have any exhibitions/events/performances coming up? 
A: Not currently. I catch them as they come up. Oh wait! I’m part of the MoonArk project in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon Institute. I have one digital piece slated to be included on the Ark when it's launched and lands on the Moon, there it will become a world heritage object for the ages. This has been in the planning and building stages for a few years and was held up by the pandemic. See more at

Q: Where is your favorite place to find visual arts in Morris County?

A: Too many and too few to mention. Call me vain but my favorite is my own studio. It’s a creative junky thing.

Q:  Who are your favorite artists/artwork? 
A: Artists from the 1920s the beginning of modernism before it started sucking. Favorite museum/gallery (outside of Morris County)? Probably the Met, the Modern I love; however, the newer stuff is pretentious and not appealing.

Q: When you are working through problems in your arts practice, who do you talk to? 
A: I don’t really have problems with creating. Mostly it's with the sales aspect.

Q:  What advice do you have to give to other artists?
A: First craft, second feeling.

Q: What do you want others to know about your art practice/artistic themes/stylistic choices/materials you use? 
A: Nothing really, the art should speak for itself. It speaks to different people in different ways at different times.

Lightning Round

Q: What was the weirdest/worst “survival” job you ever had?

A: I worked as a driver for the State of NJ, shuttling severely mentally handicapped “adults” from their homes to daycare and back. Actually, they were very interesting. A few years ago, I was taking a tour of a fulfillment house in Cedar Grove and saw two of them. They always wanted to be a couple and they seemed to have done it.


Q: What is the perfect food?

A: That depends on my mood.

Q: As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

A: My eighth-grade yearbook says an engineer.

Q: What is your most treasured possession?

A: My creativity and love for most everything in the world (excluding politics)


Q: Are you an early bird or night owl?

A: Neither. I get up later in the morning than most and start my day around 9:30. I go to bed to read around 9:00

Q: What place would you like to visit?

A: Tuscany

Q: What superpower would you have and why?

A: I would like to be able to make peoples clothing disappear. It would be fun to do that since most people are so uncomfortable naked (I spent a few years being a professional artist's model). But I would reserve its use to people who are self-important. I would bring them down a few notches. 

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