My interview with Rock Demarco, world-renowned performance artist and speed painter, took place on a quiet Wednesday afternoon and having personally seen him in action at the 2015 Runway To Hope Spring Fashion Soirée, I was eager to learn more about the three observations I had made during his performance: (1) Demarco loves art; (2) he loves Rock and Roll; (3) and he knows how to put on a hell of a good show. As I would come to find out over the course of the next 30 minutes, Demarco is also a hilariously wisecracking, generously giving, deeply passionate soul with a genuine disposition as colorful and attractive as the alluring art he creates.
“I’ve always been involved in art,” Demarco told me as I inquired about his introduction to the art world. Whereas many artists started in a classroom, Demarco started a little closer to home. “I drew and graffitied on walls with crayon as a child and I got scolded for that. Flash forward years later and now my parents have been bugging me to come do a mural on the walls in their house, but I’m not going to fall for that because last time I did that I got a scolding.”
The day may come when Demarco finally decides to forgive his parents, but they may have to get in line for that mural because they aren’t the only ones trying to get their hands on an original Rock Demarco piece. With a fan base exceeding 250,000 social media followers and a world-recognized brand, Demarco’s work is, needless to say, in high demand. Fortunately, prints of his original pieces are now licensed and sold around the world. Demarco is excited to be able to share his artwork and make a selection of his pieces available to all his fans through a deal he’s signed with retail giant Walmart. With prices starting well below $100, now anyone can own a Rock Demarco print by simply searching “Rock Demarco” on Walmart’s online store. To go from drawing on walls with crayon to signing deals with one of the world’s most powerful companies is something to be beyond proud of and it was clear that Demarco isn’t taking a single blessing for granted.
I shifted gears then and inquired as to the series of events that led Demarco to his career in live performance painting. To answer the question, we had to wind back to 2001 when Demarco first got involved in the entertainment world. It all began with a gig to create a portrait of a CEO at a general session. “They sent me the guys photo and I practiced it beforehand, said Demarco. “Then I went up on stage and painted him, which led to me traveling with my show ‘Paint It LOUD.’” From that point on, Demarco continued to create images live on stage at events around the country and the world. During that time, Demarco experienced a game changing moment through an unexpected interaction with “The Godfather of Shock Rock.”
“At one point, someone from Alice Cooper’s management saw me out on stage and said, ‘We would like to bring you out to paint Alice. We think you’re demographic audience is the same as his and we think the audience would enjoy seeing a six-foot painting of Alice’s face being created at a concert.’ So I performed at his show and everything went great. From there I actually became very good friends with Alice and his wife Sheryl Cooper. With that friendship a lot of doors opened.” – R.D.
Since that fateful encounter, Rock has gone on to do shows with an incredibly impressive roster of talent. The list going on and on, and on featuring everyone from rock stars Gene Simmons and Slash to Hollywood actors Johnny Depp and Dan Aykroyd to comedians, athletes, pop stars, TV personalities and more. “Art is music to my eyes,” says Demarco. “I have an appreciation for the music world and I have an appreciation for the art world so when I do my show, those two worlds collide and become one.” He’s also performed at movie premieres, professional ball games (yes, even the Super Bowl!) and has appeared on many major TV networks. Somewhere in between his demanding tour schedule, Demarco even finds time for commissioned work from both celebrities and fans. “I actually get a lot of commissions where people ask if I’ll do their car or their dogs. In fact, I once painted a six-foot painting of somebody’s three pound dog,” he exclaimed with a laugh. Even as Demarco spoke about his tremendous successes in the industry, there was an air of humbleness and gratitude that continuously revealed itself with each statement.
“I look back on some of the paintings I did 15 years ago and I like how my art has come out over the years, but you’re always improving so I don’t know if I’m at the ‘I made it’ point yet.” – R.D.
One of the more humorous moments of my interview occurred when I asked Demarco if he wore his signature gloves while painting in his personal studio. It was then that I learned there are two Rock Demarcos in the world, but I think this is best explained in his own words:
“There’s Rock Demarco that you’re talking to and there’s Rock Demarco stage character. Rock Demarco stage character is a very outgoing, wisecracking, mischievous person. The Rock Demarco studio artist is more subdued and passive although the stage character comes out a little bit. That was advice Alice Cooper gave me years ago. He said, ‘Leave your stage persona on stage, kid. Don’t live it cause if you live it you’ll crash in the end.’ I found that to be so true and pretty good advice otherwise I’d be taking a shower in my platform boots with full eye makeup on and trying to grab the soap with my gloves. It’s always funny when I meet people who know me only by my stage character. They’re like, ‘Wow, you don’t have any makeup on!’ and I’m like, ‘Um hello? I don’t wear makeup when I go into Publix.’ ” – R.D.
Another interesting fact about Rock Demarco the studio artist? He’s originally from Boston, but now resides in the beautiful Sunshine State. “I woke up one day and became a light weight,” said Demarco. “I couldn’t take the cold and the snow. Now I live in Winter Park and there’s something special about it, it’s really a neat place. The architecture and the brick streets reminds me of New England, but without the snow.” In addition to a love of Winter Park and the Florida sunshine, Demarco is also a vintage car enthusiast. “I have a car problem,” confessed Demarco. “If I wasn’t married I could live in a giant garage filled with cars with a sleeping bag on the floor.” But regardless of his passions and guilty pleasures, it all comes back to art in the end and for Demarco there’s nothing more rewarding than being able to give back through his celebrity platform.
“My paintings at charity galas sell for tens of thousands of dollars. I’m happy to say I’ve raised quite a lot of money for people in need over the years.” – R.D.
The total sales of Rock’s art at auctions have raised a whopping two million dollars for various charities with his highest painting reaching $105,000 and benefiting a charity started by Alice Cooper. As a close friend and fellow philanthropist, Cooper was a big inspiration behind Demarco starting his own foundation called The Paint Like A ROCKstar Foundation. The nonprofit provides art supplies and art therapy programs to children that are chronic and terminally ill in hospitals. For their last event, Demarco dressed in costume and painted a big underwater mural with the kids at Arnold Palmer Hospital For Children in Orlando. Now the foundation is working to develop a Paint Like A ROCKstar app, which will allow sick children who can not be exposed to paint to still be able to create beautiful art through their smart devices.
“Everything is fast paced in the entertainment world and it’s very grounding to be involved with children that need your help because there’s something genuine there that you’re really missing out on when you’re earning a living in the make believe world.” – R.D.
As our time together came to an end, I marveled at the never ending list of Demarco’s gigs, projects and personal endeavours. Last month alone, Demarco appeared as a surprise guest on The Chew in celebration of their 1,000th show and just a couple weeks later, painted live alongside Tony Bennett at Bennett’s 90th birthday at the MGM Grand. As if he isn’t busy enough, the #1 voted performance speed painter will soon star in his own TV show Paint Like a ROCKstar, which is currently in production. The future is exciting for Demarco and all of us at Style Magazines can’t wait to see that future unfold. For his fans and other art enthusiast, Demarco has four simple words of advice that he wants to leave you with: Unleash the artist within.
“I say that because I meet so many people out on the road that get inspired by seeing the live show. They’ll say, ‘I used to paint until I had a baby and I haven’t picked up a brush again,’ or ‘I painted when I was in school,’ and I always tell them, ‘You should revisit that. Art is a wonderful outlet. If you’re working on a painting or a project, time flies by and you create something that’s coming from within.’ ” – R.D.
Head over to www.rockdemarco.com to learn more about Rock Demarco and be sure to visit www.paintlikearockstar.org to find out how you can help support his foundation and their beautiful cause.