By Nathan Weinbender
DEREK HARRISON PHOTO
If you’ve paid attention to Spokane’s art scene with any regularity, you’ve seen Darrien Mack’s name somewhere. He’s a visual artist. A photographer. Videographer. Music video director. DJ. Backup dancer. A graphic designer and station manager for Community Minded Television, where he’s a cameraman and editor for the monthly Lilac City Live talk show.
Mack, 27, has lived in Spokane his entire life, graduating from Whitworth University with a major in graphic design. He’ll be performing — both with his band Super Sparkle, and under his DJ moniker ROSETHROW — at this weekend’s Volume Music Festival, and hosting a First Friday art show at CMTV (104 W. Third) on June 7. Mack sat down with the Inlander to discuss the many plates he’s spinning at any given moment; this interview has been edited for space and clarity.
INLANDER: You’ve lived in Spokane your whole life, but have you considered migrating to an arts scene in a bigger city?
MACK: I’m the only healthy male in my family that’s on this side of the United States, so I feel like staying around to take care of those who took care of me growing up is the correct thing to do. I’m just trying to stay as healthy as possible to care for my little brother. He’s 13 and he has cerebral palsy, so I’m trying to help my grandmother take care of him. I don’t want to be 40, knowing that I could have just stayed here, and I could still thrive here, which I am right now. I can still do big things here.
Is that part of the reason you’ve kept yourself busy in so many different mediums?
I’ve been here since birth, so that could be one reason why you keep just seeing my name around. I think that I’m always trying to keep myself busy with my craft. What can I do to make my life hopefully better? And then, in turn, also make the lives of those people I just mentioned better. So I feel like if I continue to put myself out there in all these different fields — whether that’s videography, dancing for a band, DJing — someone’s going to find something they could see value in.
How would you describe your personal visual style?
Clean and colorfully bold. I’m kind of a minimalist within my design, I have a hard time in terms of noises and things getting in the way. Within these portraits that I’ve done, where it’s just someone’s head — no neck, just the head, and a color background — it’s just so simple. There’s no distractions. I look at design as a foundation for all forms of visual expression. Being able to organize it is the reason why I’m in it.
You’ve directed music videos for local bands like BaLonely and Super Sparkle. What about the medium speaks to you?
I believe it comes down to trying to convey an emotion with something that’s already been made. It’s my filter, interpreting someone else’s art in a way that hopefully accompanies it, rather than detracting from it. I would hope that anything that I pair with someone else’s art is a collaborative enhancement. I feel like it’s this cyclical process, where it’s like, “Hey, this song spoke to me, what can I contribute to it?”
Speaking of music, you’re a backup dancer for Super Sparkle. What has that gig been like?
I had never performed. I’ve done church plays and other stupid stuff in the past, but consistently performing, being in front of people — it’s new, it’s different. It’s given me the ability to be more selective in terms of my attention. I used to have this thing where the knowledge that there were this many eyes in the crowd would seize me up. Now knowing that I’m going to be jumping around the stage for the next 45 minutes, I’m going to have to do that regardless if those people are out there or not. How can I engage with them and acknowledge that they’re there, but still do my thing? It’s a weird balance. But balance is really a good thing. ♦