Born of the open road and the scent of burning rubber, artist and creative visionary Patrick Duffy De Armas has taken a full throttle approach to his career as an artist and business owner. As founder and co-owner of Electric Coffin, the conceptual design group whose large scale installations have been showing up in a number of the Northwest’s most celebrated restaurants and retail spaces, De Armas has begun to garner recognition and celebrated success as someone leading the charge in Seattle’s booming creative scene. As the curator and founder of Boxes of Death, a world-renowned lowbrow art tour, Duffy has assembled a line-up of both underground and well-known artists and grown a small art school project into an international phenomenon. As an independent artist, Patrick has been showing all over the West Coast and his conceptual vision and unrivaled work ethic has thrust him into another dimension, one that most artists can only hope to achieve by 30.
When did your passion for art begin?
Growing up I wasn’t into “art” per say. I was very much into hot rods, my entire room was lined with cut outs from magazines of cars and trucks. I was also into punk music and Mad Magazine. When I moved to Seattle and started working in the snowboard industry, I was exposed to art through snowboard graphics, street art, and the people around me. That inspired me to go to art school, where I was able to combine my new found love for art in the academic sense with my days of working in a custom shop back in Phoenix.
Who were you inspired by and why?
That is always changing. In the early days it was street artists and graffiti artists like Shepard Fairey, Chicken Kid, Faile, D Face, Neckface, ect. As I moved through school it was more lowbrow artists and pop surrealists such as Robert Williams, Jim Phillips, Charles Krafft, Mark Ryden, and others. After school I grew an affinity for more contemporary artists as well traditional Pop Art and artists like Robert Mars, Roy Lichtenstein, Chuck Close, and Greg Gossel. Now I am inspired by a completely different style of work. I think for me it is more about people who are pushing the boundaries and looking at things in a new way, conceptually. My personal aesthetic has changed over the years, but the common theme in who has inspired me was their approach to art and discord for the rules.
What has been the biggest factor in your success as an artist?
I wouldn’t say that I am successful yet. It’s fortunate that I am able to pay my bills through art, but I still have a lot of room to grow, and not in a monetary or popularity status way, but in my work and my thought process. I am constantly striving to think about what it is that is important to me and what I want my work to convey. And then strive to achieve work through that process that is successful conceptually and aesthetically. I don’t feel I am successful yet, and I don’t know if I will ever be successful.
What keeps you driven, why the ongoing need to be creative?
For me it is an internal drive, it’s about a way of thinking, but it is also tangible. I have an inherent need to always be thinking about ideas and concepts. I also enjoy the tactile side of being in the studio and creating a physical representation of those ideas. I think everyone is creative in his or her own way and the world needs people to tap into that and express that. Otherwise we would be come this grey, sterile society where all life becomes meaningless. Being a workaholic means I am always striving to create. However when I am not in my studio, I have found other outlets to tap into that need, but in a different ways, I have to be doing something. Once you stop creating, you have stopped living
What work or projects are you most proud of and why?
In my personal artwork I would say currently I am most proud of the “Fueled Spirit” series. It has allowed me to reconnect with a culture and lifestyle I am passionate about and push that through my artwork. I feel with this series of work I have come full circle into my original passions in life, and have revealed the sub text of why that stuff intrigued me as a child. Coming to terms with and being able to develop a body of work around my love of cars and car culture was a major turning point for me. Now, I am currently feverishly working on a few new shows really connecting the dots of the American car culture from the 40s-70s and high art. The largest piece in that series is my installation, “Black Magic” which is a dismantled 1977 Pontiac Trans Am arranged in the fashion of a model car as you would pull it out of the box. Scale wise it is the largest sculpture I have made, the history of the car and the idea behind the whole piece conceptually I feel is the most successful project I have completed.
That being said, I am extremely proud of what we have done with Electric Coffin, we have been able to bring gallery level art installations into public and commercial spaces all over Seattle.
I also curate a show called Boxes of Death, which has exceeded and is still exceeding any dreams I ever had for it. I have been fortunate enough to take my friend’s art all over the world, meet artists all over the world, and bring several new artists to Seattle.
What outside of art are you into?
Choppers, hanging with my wife and two dogs, interior design, eating, a good tiki drink, and naps, I am really into naps these days… I own 3 hammocks.
What projects are you currently working on?
Art specific, I am expanding the “Fueled Spirit” series developing works in several different media’s, for example Trans Am hood quilts… I am also working on two new shows, both in similar styles as “Fueled Spirit.”
Electric Coffin has a bunch of new work coming out soon, we are stepping into more architectural projects, and excited to show people what we have been working on.
Boxes of Death 6 is in the planning stages and will be kicking off next fall. Seattle, LA, NY, London and Tokyo.