Sunday, July 1, 2012

Derek DeYoung Interview

Always thinking of something exciting to present to my readers. I thought of doing a piece on Derek while chilling at the beach in his hometown of Grand Haven, Michigan. Derek's works can be seen all over the fly fishing industry on many products. He has painted many recognizable paintings seen in fly fishing shops all over the country and on the walls of fly fishing man caves. Although Derek is very busy he agreed to do this interview with me and I hope all of you enjoy it and get a deeper insight to the man who is a fishing painting master!!!

Derek with a beautiful brown, the smile says it all!

MN: Tell me a little bit about your childhood? When did you become interested in fishing? (what kind of fish did you like to catch in MI?)

DD: I grew up on Millhouse Bayou in Grand Haven, Michigan and spent the vast majority of free time as a kid trying to catch Bass, Bluegill and Pike along the shore or out in our row boat. The DeYoung family as a whole is full of hunters and fisherman, so I grew up fishing and hunting with my Dad, Uncles and cousins in the outdoors. 

MN: How long did you live in Grand Haven, MI before deciding to move out to Montana?
DD: I was born and raised in Grand Haven and lived there until I graduated from Grand Haven High School in 1999. At that point I moved to Grand Rapids, MI to go to Kendall College of Art and Design. I met my wife at Kendall and we stayed in Grand Rapids until 2007 when we decided to move out to Livingston, Montana.

MN: What were your motivations for doing so?
DD: I started doing more and more business out west and it seemed like a better market for what I do. I decided to test it out before the move by spending a month on the road doing a series of art shows with lodges and fly fishing shops.  Not only did the shows go fantastic, I fell in love with the scenery and fishing of course.  Then I just had to talk my wife into it.
The master at work.
MN: When did you seriously become interested in art?
DD: I became interested in art when I was just a little kid drawing with my crayons... it didn't take long before fish became my favorite subjects.  As the third child in my family, there was a lot of sibling rivalry. I was certainly not the brightest child in my family, but I could draw. It was the one thing people often pointed out that I was good at.

MN: What motivated you to become an artist?
DD: You either are or aren't an artist.. and by not following that life/career path, I don't think I could have found satisfaction in life.

MN: Who were your influences in art?
DD: As far as a classical master, one of my favorites was always Van Gogh.  As cliche as it sounds, he always brought such energy to his paintings with such a simple style. That is something I strive for in my own work.

MN: Combining your profession and your passion is really a blessing! Is it hard to balance the two? 
DD: There are times I wish I could fish every day... but I also truly love painting.  The two really work well together and compliment each other.  When I spend a lot of time in the studio, getting out on the water is the perfect place to clear my mind.
4 in 1 panel
MN:  Do you wish you had more time for one of them? 
DD:  Yes, I wish I had more time for both! But like many of your readers, I am a fishing addict! Each year I make it my goal to catch new species, or larger fish. I plan trips to where I might be able to accomplish this.. and every season of angling becomes so different. Last year I tried Tiger Musky fishing here in MT. The first trip out we had three hits, and landed one.. a 52" state record! It was a fish I'll never forget. Five more trips out for musky produced no more hits.. I guess that is the name of the game.

MN: Is there a piece of your work that is your favorite? Which one and why?
DD: There really isn't one favorite painting.  There are bits and pieces of each painting in which I have breakthroughs on... I try to learn from those experiences. I recently really enjoy painting the "Trout Confetti" series.
Trout Confetti
MN: Where is your favorite place to fish? what makes it special to you?
DD: There is so much great water.  I can't really pinpoint one specific place.  I love to fish with friends and family and be able to share those experiences with them.  I also LOVE fishing new water, that is part of the thrill for me, exploring new water.

MN: Is there anywhere that you haven't yet fished that you would like to go, and/or a species you haven't caught yet that you would like to catch?
DD: I have done just enough Salt Water fishing to know that I enjoy it but not enough to really be proficient at it.  I would really like to go someplace and catch a big Tarpon.
Derek making a fish face, self portrait ;)
MN: My favorite piece you have done is the self portrait, the look on your face is priceless. It's give me the impression that you don't take yourself too seriously. Is that the message you were trying to convey?
DD: That's funny. I try not to take myself or my work too seriously.  In that painting, I actually tried to replicate the look on the fishes face in my own face.  I even made the color pallet of the fish and my skin meld together somewhat.  I was trying to convey taking on the fishes characteristics, suggesting I'm spending a little too much time fishing.

MN: Your artwork is amazing, your work can be seen all over the fly fishing community. Most notably Simms and Abel "stuff". How did you get teamed up with such big names in fly fishing?
DD: I realized early on in my career that my work was very marketable for products/marketing.  I started getting approached pretty quickly by companies wanting to use my work. When I moved from Michigan to Montana, Simms, whose headquarters are located 30 minutes from my studio, took notice and made me a great offer to work with them.  It has been a great relationship with them ever since.  We have worked on a lot of fun products with them like T shirts, water bottles, fly boxes, cigar humidors, etc. With Abel, I started seeing their "Artist Series Reels" and thought it would be so cool to have my work on one of them.  It took me two rounds of submissions for them to ask to see my portfolio.  I actually mocked up my artwork on their reels to make it easier for them to see what the DeYoung reels would look like.  We've been working together ever since and have done some really awesome reels together.
MN: The Abel reels really stand out and are admired amongst fly fisherman! Is there anything that would rival that in the works?
DD: I'm planing a pretty crazy painting project for next summer. I'm taking my wife and our two dogs on the road in our camper, and spending a month painting some of the northern Rockies most famous rivers. It should be quite an adventure, and it will push me to grow as an artist, which is always something I'm striving towards . We do have some big projects in the works right now with companies you may know, but they are exactly the works. I always announce new products and projects on my website at as well as my DeYoung's Canvasfish Facebook Page.

MN: Are you satisfied by your success so far? are there any goals in art that you would like to achieve?
DD:  At the same time as I am satisfied by the things I have attained in my art career, there are so many things still to attain.  To grow as an artist and to put out better work and original ideas every year is the main goal. All the rest just seem to fall into place if I concentrate on that.

MN: Have you ever considered doing something for ArtPrize in Grand Rapids?

DD: ArtPrize is something that a lot of people from back home have brought up to me.  I know it's been a really great thing for Grand Rapids and I have really admired some of the pieces who have won.  Just because of our day to day business I haven't had the time to invest in a piece but who knows?

Thought this was a great picture and I wanted to include Janell because of her participation in the piece :)

MN: Were you lucky enough to find a beautiful life mate that fly fished, or did she learn the art after you both met?

DD: She actually doesn't really fly fish too much.  She will fish if I set everything up for her to reel the fish in but for the most part she just likes to go out in the boat and enjoy the sun or scenery.  She also loves to cook out on the water or read magazines and thinks its cool when I catch fish.

Spending time together is what really matters :) Not only is Derek talented and sucessful, he is also a lucky man! Thanks again Derek and Janell for the time involved. You guys made this piece really easy for me.