Q+Art: Collage Artist Darcy Yates Creates Haunting Portraits From Vintage Photographs

Q+Art: Collage Artist Darcy Yates Creates Haunting Portraits From Vintage Photographs

California-based collage artist Darcy Yates uses vintage photographs to create a nostalgic feel throughout her surreal compositions. Her colorful portraits are often haunting, incorporating clashing color palettes that leave viewers with a sense of familiar unease.

Q+Art is a regular column from the NOT REAL ART blog featuring contemporary creatives and artists from all over the world.

Yates takes a spontaneous approach to her collages, hoping to imbue the work with a child-like sense of naiveté. “Experimentation brings life to my art, and I enjoy the spontaneity of certain materials,” she writes in her artist statement. “Folk art has always fascinated me and I strive to bring that […] raw passion to each of my pieces.”

Yates’ portraits often start with a found “base” image or silkscreen print, which she manipulates with paint, thread, and textiles. The artist also uses a Spirograph drawing device to create the geometric patterns that appear across the majority of her work. The hypnotic circles add to the anxiety of each piece while retaining the artist’s love of nostalgic subject matter.

“I want you to feel a familiarity when you see my artwork,” Yates writes. Ultimately, Yates sees her work as an eerie glimpse into an intimate memory, and invites viewers to find the ghosts for themselves.

In Today’s Q+Art Interview…

Darcy Yates discusses buying art books for your coffee table, girl crushing on Kara Walker, and the importance of enjoying where you are. Scroll down to see more amazing images of Yates’ work and read more about her personal experiences in the art world.

Collage Artist Darcy Yates Creates Haunting Portraits From Vintage Photographs
‘Feed My Frankenstein’

What one book belongs on every artist’s shelf?

Darcy Yates: A bound book of their most recent work. Keep refreshing your portfolio and print it in a book form. Having a tangible professional portfolio on hand makes it easy to show collectors and galleries. Also, always keep a book of your favorite living artist on your shelf…support living artists by buying their books!!!! At the moment Robert Williams holds a special place on my coffee table.

If you could have dinner with any artist, living or dead, who would it be?

DY: Kara Walker. I have been a big fan since I saw her artwork at the Hammer in 2008. Her work is absolute brilliance.

What are you trying to express with your art?

DY: Chaotic energy.

Collage Artist Darcy Yates Creates Haunting Portraits From Vintage Photographs
‘Read Me the Rainbow’

Do you prefer New York- or Chicago-style pizza?

DY: The best pizza in the world is from LA's greatest—Pizzanista.

Would you work for free in exchange for exposure?

DY: There's a time and place for everything. But I think it's important for others to respect and pay for an artist's work and time.

What person has most influenced your work?

DY: Ray Eames—I could only wish to reach that amount of genius.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?

DY: The road is not long, stop skipping ahead.

Collage Artist Darcy Yates Creates Haunting Portraits From Vintage Photographs
‘Ghost Inside’

Is a formal arts education worth the money?

DY: Yes, any type of education is worth the money. You won't get anywhere if you don't apply the tools you receive through education or experience. Do what works for you, you have to make it worth it.

What are you listening to in the studio right now?

DY: The Great Women Artists Podcast.

How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your practice?

DY: I really miss going to art openings and events. It affects my networking because those are the moments I reconnect and meet new people.

How do you think the coronavirus pandemic will impact the art world in the long term?

DY: It has changed the art world in the long term…forever!! Even when the world gets back on track, we will never be the same again.

Darcy Yates

Darcy Yates: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Purchase Prints

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. All photos published with permission of the artist.

Want to be featured in Q+Art? Email editor@notrealart.com with a short introduction and a link to your online portfolio or three images of your work.

Morgan  Laurens 

Morgan Laurens (she/her/hers) is NOT REAL ART’s editor in chief. Morgan is an arts writer from the Midwest who enjoys saying “excuse me” when no actual pardon is needed. She specializes in grant writing and narrative-based storytelling for mission-driven artists and arts organizations. With a background in printmaking, pop culture, and classic literature, Morgan believes a girl’s best friend is the pile of books on her bedside table.