Darren Minke is the publisher and creative director of Alchemistas: A Visionary Art Experience, a groundbreaking collection of visionary artists from around the world. Keyframe caught up with Darren to discuss Volume 2 of Alchemistas and his creative process.
Keyframe: Give us some background on your journey into art.
Darren Minke: About 6 years ago, I packed up my truck and a homemade trailer with art and camping supplies and headed to California to check out some of the west coast festivals I had been hearing about. I attended more than 20 events that season, culminating in my first trip to Burning Man. I was immediately immersed into a world of interactive art, music and culture that I had never experienced before. This inspired me to dive deeply into the world of the emerging Transformational Festival Culture, where I began painting, showing my artwork, and building creative spaces.
Along the way I met some truly amazing artists, and over the next few years those relationships deepened as we attended events together and created new work side by side. I was really amazed by their work, the energy and intention behind it, and the community that was created around us. I am still working in this world today, doing somewhere between 15-30 shows a year and expanding and collaborating with other artists as much as I can.
This book is my attempt to capture some of the brilliant, groundbreaking work that is being created by these visionary artists that I have met. With the first edition, I mostly focus on the painters and digital artists that are closest to my own genre, but eventually I hope to expand to include other types of art as well. In addition, I am opening up part of the book to discovering new artists from around the world that are just emerging or have never published their work before.
We decided to call the book “Alchemistas” to illustrate how these artists take the base materials of their craft and transmute them into something priceless in its vision, execution, and message. “Beyond the Veil” refers to the visual journey that we hope to show the viewer, to lead them past the veils of their perception and glimpse a world they have never seen before. It is our hope that this book and future books continue to provide interest and inspiration to people everywhere for years to come.
The first edition of the book “Alchemistas – Beyond the Veil” was funded through Kickstarter and Indiegogo crowdfunding campaigns, and has now been printed and is available at www.visionaryartbooks.com, and through Facebook at www.facebook.com/visionaryartbooks. It was produced by Julian Reyes of Keyframe Entertainment, with help from Angela Russel of KnowWonder Entertainment. I am the Publisher and Creative Director for the book.
We also concurrently have an App that is being created for release on the iPad and iPhone that will provide a fully interactive portal for discovering more about the art and artists in the book.
We are in the funding and design phase for the next edition of the book, which will feature new work from internationally acclaimed Visionary Artists, as well as many more emerging artists publishing their work for the very first time!
The first edition of Alchemistas gathered worldwide support. Can you please share some details on the development of volume 2?
After the success of the first edition of Alchemistas, we developed an enormous network of artists and art lovers from around the world, with over half a million followers on Facebook. With this newfound community, we receive numerous submissions from new artists on a daily basis. It was apparent to us that the Visionary Art community was growing exponentially, and we wanted to showcase some of these emerging artists, as well as some established artists and masters of the craft. We were very excited and honored to show some work from Martina Hoffman and her late partner, Robert Venosa, who were essential founders of the movement decades ago. With the ongoing support of Keyframe-Entertainment, we were able to reach out to the visionary art network for new artists and for support for this artist-run enterprise, which essentially means that the artists create and curate the content, and we are completely funded by the visionary art community!
What was the inspiration for the second volume of Alchemistas?
The biggest inspiration was the amazing artwork that we were receiving from artists that we only discovered after the first book was published. We were surprised to see how many artists were diving into the fathomless realms of the Visionary Art Movement. We believe that Visionary Art gives people the means to explore and capture very rich and often indescribable internal visionary states, and share those experiences with the world… which is hungry for art with deep meaning and inspiration.
Tell us about the new contributing Visionary artists.
This edition will feature artists from around the world, whereas the first edition mostly featured artists that I had personally met and worked with on the west coast festival scene. We had such a great response to the book that we started meeting artists from various countries (including some where visionary art might even be considered illegal) Some of these new artists can trace their inspirations through some of the long-time visionary masters, while other artists developed a singular and unique vision all their own. It was really interesting to us to see how artists from completely different cultures had shared similar visionary experiences and brought them to life on the canvas or computer.
You can see some of the artwork submitted this year here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.772346759513667.1073741828.302114556536892&type=3
How do you decide which artists make it in the book? What are the factors?
Well, first off, we have to pick the best artists from hundreds of submissions! We like to use a three-point system for the selection process. First we expect a certain level of mastery of their craft, and professionalism in the presentation of their work, so that we can show highly polished and detailed images in the book. Secondly we look for originality of vision. Has the artist merely copied a more established artist, or have they truly developed their own unique style and imagery? Finally we decide if the artwork represents our definition of Visionary Art, which is to say that it differs from psychedelic, surrealist, or simple spiritual or religious art. We feel the Visionary Art may incorporate any or all of these previous movements, but the inspiration itself comes from a true visionary state – a deep internal experience or journey of the mind, body and spirit.
What do you hope to achieve with / through this second book?
As always, our main goal is to share Visionary Artwork with people who love it and need it around the world. We believe that Visionary Art can communicate, heal, and inspire anyone who comes in contact with it due to the fact that these visionary states touch a common ground in the mind and soul of human beings everywhere, and may even provide keys to a better existence on this planet. At the same time, we also hope to continue to provide visibility and support to the individual artist and the Visionary Art community. It is difficult to make a living as an artist and it is our desire to help these artists in their quest.
You’re also an artist and featured in the first book. What is your own creative process like?
That’s a bit of a tricky question since I have so many different creative projects these days! I started off as a painter and now I do a lot of experiential and sculptural work, as well as digital art, photography, and curation. However, my biggest inspiration has always been the Natural World… which is almost infinite in minute complexity and grandiose size at the same time! Nature has always fascinated me with its patterns, symmetry, and often overwhelming beauty. With the use of medicinal plant teachers, I also experienced a whole new world of awe and respect for Nature and the ancestral and possibly otherworldly wisdom they contain.
As for the actual creative process, it could be anything from playing with driftwood and plant parts I find to build a sculpture, staring at a pattern in wood grain to find an image to paint, or dissecting photos from my travels around the world to find images that capture something I saw in a vision or dream… It is rarely the same process every time, and for me that keeps it interesting!
Who are individuals and collectives who you’ve been working with?
Our main partnership has been with Keyframe-Entertainment, which is headed by Julian Reyes. They are one of the best supporters of creative projects that foster the growth of alternative communities and changing the paradigms of new culture. With projects like the film “Electronic Awakening”, “The Bloom Series,” the multimedia project Reinhabiting the Village, Project Nuevo Mundo, “Alchemistas” and more, they lend valuable direction and media support to leaders of the visionary movement that lie outside of the mainstream.
We have also received support and publicity through SolPurpose, The Bloom Series, Reality Sandwich, the Evolver Network, Beloved Festival, Envision Festival, Lucidity Festival, Moksha Family Art Collective, Area 51 Presents, COSM and Alex Grey, and the Beinart Surrealist Art Collective.
Tell us about your crowdfunding campaign and where people can contribute.
Our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign ends in 5 days!! See it here: igg.me/at/alchemistas2. Since we are artist-run and rely completely on the support of our community, it’s very important for us to get as much help as we can in raising the funds we need to design and print the book. The more we can raise now, the bigger the book will be and it will be less expensive for the fans when it is available!
We have some really great rewards for our supporters as well, including discount copies of both books, satin art tapestries, woven art blankets, t-shirts, original artwork and giclee or metal prints. You can see everything here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/alchemistas-volume-2-visionary-art-book#/story
Any other upcoming projects?
For me personally, I will probably be off to do a large project in Costa Rica at Envision festival, followed by a long journey and art retreat with other artists and shamans in the jungles of Peru. For “Alchemistas,” we will be relaunching the interactive app for Apple and Android devices soon, which features expanded details for visionary artworks, info about the artists, and some amazing animations and featured film clips. Eventually we may be partnering with some of the artists to produce merchandise with their artwork on it, and provide them with an outlet to market themselves.
Check out the Alchemistas 2 campaign and donate here: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/alchemistas-volume-2-visionary-art-book#/
Alchemistas website: www.visionaryartbooks.com
Alchemistas on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VisionaryArtBooks/