I am only the me you see me as when defined by the time and circumstance I occupy space within. I have been "Daz" since before I left the UK for Hong Kong, long before that rapper but so were thousands of other people called Darren or whatever the nickname worked with back in the days when the Sex Pistols changed the world of words forever. For the same reason that I have tattoos my name is my choice to gain sovereignty over my physical self as being told who I am by someone who doesn't even know me is offensive to me - I say who I am and you either accept it or not. My work is scattered across the internet in a million clusters of data and most of it is crap, embarrassing or boring but it meant something at the time and that's the point - it only means something within the context of when it was made - I am not that person today however the part of me that is beyond a label has always been the same and needs no name.
No. I am spiritual. I believe in a creator but not some 'other' who is apart from me but that this physical self is a facet of the whole and the whole and its facets are sacred.
Hell no. United we stand and that's it.
My persona in SecondLife where I used my art to build structures and fashions.
My name when I was a college FM radio DJ.
My name last year and for a few years prior.
Murals require physical stamina as well as the ability to get messy. I am amazingly strong and my capacity for attracting paint and dirt is of epic if not legendary levels. I doubt I have been quite as paint splattered as Michelangelo but I take my shoes off more often, that's for sure!
According to an assistant of his, Michelangelo would spend so much time wearing his shoes without ever taking them off that when he finally did take off his footwear, “the skin came away, like a snake’s, with the boots.”
(Michelangelo as written by Vasari) and in the presence of the nobles he angrily called him a blockhead. Meeting one day a son of Francia, who was said to be a very handsome youth, he said: "Your father knows how to make living figures better than to paint them.''
I narrated this a couple of years ago now and after re-listening it still sounds true to me - make of it what you will but I'm just a weird, but harmless artist !
I wrote this over a decade ago on my original art website 99daz.com - I have polished it up a bit!
Part one - When I lived in England UK.
Daz is a nickname I was given by my mates when I was a mere slip of a youth growing up in the south of England ( and I still use it to sign my works of art - I don't think I've ever used my 'legal' name to sign my work so art historians and provenance validators beware! ).
I was born in Ely in the UK, but I am not the Darren Cox who owns darrencox.com and lives in Ely (he confirmed when we briefly communicated years ago) that’s just a coincidence!
I don’t believe in coincidences though but I do trust in synchronicity - and that has been how I have chosen the paths to allow me a magical and emotionally satisfying life full of adventure! I don't remember much of being really young - I know I was burned by a pan of boiling water by accident and still have some scars on my shoulder but thankfully my face is still pretty haha!
When I was around eight or nine my folks sold our house (where some demons actually had killed our cat with paint stripper), bought a camper-van and we traveled all over Europe. These are my first memories, France, Spain, Germany, Pisa, Venice, Yugoslavia (yeah a country that doesn't even exist now), I don't remember much but it was The Grand Tour and a great adventure!
My consistent memory begins with living in sunny Exeter in the south of England. I wonder what happened to my old friend Timothy Braddon and his guinea pig Wilbur?
I drew, painted and wrote fiction and poems and here I am in my 50's still doing the same thing!
I have no idea why or how but I was briefly in a gang called Task Force 13 - it sounds like the type of name that I would have invented (and probably did since I was born on Friday the 13th) but it was more to be cool than for any criminal activity I I suspect. I don't remember anything much of what we did except my friends and I wandering around aimlessly. .
Since it was the UK, people were inside a lot due to the weather (that is a shitty sentence as the weather is even worse in Illinois USA where I find myself now in terms of not being able to be outside much of the year haha) but suffice to say doing stuff inside the house was more important than outside if you weren't good at sports or had much money.
I was an avid reader, devouring Enid Blighton’s novels of adventure such as The Famous Five on Mystery Island and was with them discovering treasure and eating potted meat sandwiches with their intrepid doggy etc (the books appear to all be on audio now and I enjoy them that way now - and I'm pretty sure they were the inspiration for Scooby Doo where are you? ).
That literature inspired my writing but it was the appearance of Action Comics (NOT the ‘wimpy’ American comic with the same name!) that was brand new and targeted to my generation (and bare in mind this was exactly the same time that punk rock started in the UK) - but Action was banned and then watered down as the violence level was extreme (you might even be shocked at how they could have even published what they did considering the sanitized state of comics these days ) - there were no romantic interludes or wasted panels of filler dialog just aggression and bravery - I soaked it up as being a skinny kid in a poor family it seemed important if only for my safety.
Action’s immediate successor, the mighty 2000 AD featuring Judge Dredd was even better, less graphic violence but also little room for unnecessary romance and the stories had their genesis in the concepts and plots of the golden age sci-fi novels rather than the gritty WWII movies and drama's that spawned Morrissey's writing - looking back I doubt he was a 2000 AD reader but he is seven years older than me so maybe he was more sophisticated than the age needed to appreciate sharks chewing up people in uncensored gloriously gory detail - I think I also must have seen more vulva's than him by just random chance and luck haha but I read those comics from the day they hit the newsstand and while they aren't quite as good as I remember when i re-read them recently - there were moments of literary genius that I am still impressed by.
I was ok in school I guess - I don't remember being miserable or lonely at least, even if I wasn't any good at sports or particularly intelligent in an academic way. I am still friendly and weird in an interesting way that wins me friends and unexpected hugs and high fives even now at my day job but I think that I quit the cub scouts due to being bored rather than not fitting in - somehow their idea of instilling discipline and good citizenship by making us pull weeds in other people's gardens seemed wrong to me. and running port and starboard seemed like a pointless exercise - I might have got my last name from some nautical ancestor but I don't care to be trained to be a deck swabber - I'm the captain or navigator of my life or at least a passenger but I'm not a sailor and it annoys me to this day how much seafaring terminology I'm required to use in everyday life. I do not believe in your maritime law I am a landlubber!
I also got to experience church - nope, not for me - and even a transcendental meditation guru who seemed fake to my sister and I as he gave us the same 'secret' word assuming we would just follow his instructions because he was an authority - nope, my mind and soul are just fine without any more rules and regulations to submit to.
I don't think I was a budding coach potato who was lazy or too sick for physical activity but I had other things to spend my free time on that seemed far more important than following other people's arbitrary rules just to be 'nice' or curry favor to get what i wanted.
My sister an I would play 'office' which was a pastime we made up (not a game) where we wrote letters, made our own envelopes and drew stamps on them etc and delivered them to each other in our respective rooms - the fun is in getting something addressed to you! This is why it has been such a joy to make art zines over the years as I know the feeling of getting something delivered that isn't boring or a bill etc. Years later I suspect this is because my dad was away a lot - like living near the college he worked at during the week and he would, obviously, send money and letters home to my mum who would have been excited to see the postman - haha - I probably do have a double meaning intended there but both my parents are alive and I respect their privacy.
We had good times as a family in England - we had a great garden where we grew veggies and I never felt like I lacked for anything but maybe I am not as outgoing as I could be as we didn't go out as much as we could have due to financial circumstances but just writing that sounds like an excuse - I am introverted but not anti-social.
I appreciate that my parents allowed me pocket money to buy comics and Barretts sherbert fountains! I have glorious memories of walking through the garden, out the back gate across the vacant lot where something once stood (perhaps hit by a bomb in WWII ?) to the store where they sold comics and sweets - it was always a wonderful adventure! I don't remember taking a bus to school in England but I do remember my mum and I going to Sainsburys for groceries.
I also remember the main street in town where they had porno mags in the front window for anyone to see as they walked by (or at least they were mags showing uncensored pics from those Italian horror movies where naked women were skewered on stakes and gross other things that there's not a chance in hell would be allowed in plain view today )- if you think we've got more 'liberal' as a society in recent decades then you don't remember when the pendulum swang too far over to the 'freedom' side in the 1970's before society decided to enforce a separation of adult material from the sight of curious children.
I consider myself a pretty sane and responsible adult but the gross, weird and sexual things I didn't even intend to see but were right there in front of my curious young eyes did stick in my memory. whether I wanted them to or not and I'm not saying this as a joke or to get psychological sympathy but I remember every vulva I ever saw at least the ones in real life - but I didn't have actual sex until I left high school so this isn't some kind of admission of predatory behavior caused by mental perversion but just a statement that imagery can be very powerful.
I also don't think I was twisted into becoming some kind of sexual deviant by sneaking peeks at my dad's porn mags either as my intimate relations have always been with the intent of monogamy or at least consensual - if anything I should have lightened the fuck up and not been so love-orientated aka clingy and I wouldn't have screwed up so many otherwise interesting relationships or maybe I just liked wanking with a broken heart - TMI I know!!!
I didn't have any puppy love for celebrities that I remember - maybe that girl in Escape Into Night (a scary Twilight Zone type drama featuring a parallel universe and art ) or the girl in Timeslip (an awesome sci-fi time travel show - surprise!) and who didn't want to be around Sarah Jane Smith the pretty and scrappy companion for the 4th Doctor Who!
In some ways I think that my art is as inoffensive as it is (except to the real perverts who think nudity equates to violence) because of a deep appreciation for female humans in all their mysterious glory. I still can't figure them out and while I'm hardly submissive (as that feels wrong for me but I don't judge others) I would rather do what pleases them than not - and it's not because it might lead me to having my penis touched or anything quite as ecstatic but because they are powerful allies and balance my weaknesses out so I can concentrate on my strengths - if anything, my art is an homage to the powerful forces of the opposite sex in a visual fashion that is never a portrait of the external person but of that inner one who might need me to protect them while they give me the strength to do so.
If you think my figures are wish fulfillment or guidelines for how I think women should look then you are way off track but how else to show inner beauty in a visual way? I'm never going to reach that Robert A Heinlein described level of 'great artist' who can paint an old lady the way she is now and have the viewer see her as the 18 yr old she once was and feel her pathos or whatever - I'm not that type of artist and I don't want to be - if you don't like me or my work then move on as there are billions of us on Earth and I'm just me - the sum of my experiences and practices.
There was a time I remember where we didn't even have a tv but I remember watching Space 1999 at a friends house (I loved that show!) and then we got one (we got an official license stamp for it even as owning a tv was a very serious thing requiring strict legislation back then - now it is the one thing that is practically given away at stores when you look at the prices over the decades).
We watched the Muppet Show as a family on a regular basis - I know I was influenced by that show in a big way as I still want to turn my room into a set (now I have a whole glorious basement to work with yea!!) with a backstage of course (as that is where the real fun happens as anyone who has acted in a school play can attest to - at least I hope you kissed someone in the dark behind the curtain and laughed with your friends until you almost peed yourself trying to be quiet as the audience was out there as I did haha).
I acted in school plays and sang in school choirs despite being shy but the idea of entertaining people has always been higher on the list for me than being a hero or leader or intellectual or scientist or any other calling or career - the only career I even considered as a young lad was that of an archaeologist as my dad would take me on walks in the country and we would poke around for treasure like old bottles etc. I also watched fine entertainment such as the Six Million Dollar Man but the series that really stuck with me in the back of my mind- and would make me even more of an angry young man in the years to come was Survivors - l rewatched it on youtube recently and it's sort of like a polite Walking Dead without zombies - good stuff but not appropriate for impressionable minds like mine was in retrospect - maybe I was a little more sensitive to sex and violence imagery than I should have been or maybe it just toughened me up as I have generally been a peaceful respectful person my whole life that while not afraid of violence has been fortunate and Wiley enough to avoid most of it around me.
Suddenly we moved from Exeter England to Victoria Peak Hong Kong, then shortly after that to Repulse Bay..I moved half way around the world just to be inspired by other British lads in the genre of fine art rather than dancing or something I was even worse at back then - I am not a prodigy when it comes to art - my skill level now is all from practice and I know exactly when and why I got serious about practicing it.
I went to school at Stanley Fort School where my dad was my teacher for the semester that included the day 7/7/77. He’s retired back in the UK now, but spent the last couple of decades in El Salvador starting inthe 80’s, which, if you know your history, was hardly a vacation spot at that time. If wearing a tin foil hat is genetic it definitely came from his side.
I remember watching the Sha-Na-Na show on tv and still love do-wop music - and The Ramones (who were guest stars!).
My friends and I made our own version of the greasers from NYC, Baa Na Na, and recorded our renditions on cassette tape (mono of course and hopefully lost for ever!)My awesome friend Richard Winton and his brother Edward ("Wod") encouraged my creativity with our home-made comic books.
We read ‘golden age’ sci-fi novels,Issac Azimov, R.A. Heinlein, A.C. Clarke, Harry Harrison and copied the style of Marvel comics (Jack Kirby rules!) and wrote columns in the vein of Stan Lee (’Nuff said!). I loved being my own publisher and still do, back then we drew things in pen, snapped a staple on it and that was it, each comic an edition of one, no copies no editing, you didn’t make mistakes you made explosions with a whole lot of ink to cover them up haha!!
Richard and Wod were unusual as their mother was American and they had been to The U.S.A - little did i know that I’d end up American. The Army unit that Rich and Wods’ dad worked for rotated out, a Scottish brigade moved in and my folks split up.
I was officially in the C.B.A
The COOL BUMS ASSOCIATION
Give customers a reason to do business with you.