During the New Year, we’ll begin making resolutions to better our lives. The launch of a new year signifies a fresh start.
People often strive for a more fulfilling career each and every January. As a member of the millennial generation, I confess: We are notorious for wanting to find a way to combine all of our passions to create the ideal which brings us both happiness and monetary compensation,
An inspirational guru for the new year, local artist and musician Doug Walker managed to wed his talents—an art form in and of itself. With work now on display at Luna Caffé throughout the month of January, Walker’s combination of photography printed on metal—entitled “Music, Metal and Dance”—culminates his life’s work of perfecting and honing his craft.
Best known as a musician, Walker graduated from ECU before earning a masters in music as a trained percussionist. Yet, his primary instrument remains the steel drum from Trinidad. He worked on cruise ships and subsequently ended up settling in Miami in the 1990s. “During that time in South Beach, it wasn’t a tourist destination like it is now,” Walker says. “Mainly, it was a hotspot for models and photographers.”
Having dabbled in photography before moving to South Beach, it seemed serendipitous that Walker’s neighbor happened to be a photographer who worked for “Vogue.” “My neighbor offered me a job, but I had absolutely no formal training and didn’t feel prepared to work for ‘Vogue,’” Walker admits. “I didn’t have a portfolio or, really, the confidence. I was shooting with film, and at that time professional photographers worked mainly with Polaroid’s; I really needed knowledge of that.”
The job offer sparked Walker’s desire to learn more about commercial photography. So, he enrolled in a photography course and learned everything he needed to know. However, by the time the course finished, Walker’s music career began gaining momentum. Playing at local art festivals, Walker established himself as a Caribbean, reggae, steel-drum player.
While working as a musician, Walker also shared stage time with dancers—particularly Flamenco dancers. “I wanted to put together a musical show,” Walker states. “I also began to research each dance and fell in love with the Tango.” Dancing soon became an integral part of his work.
After producing some of his own recordings, Walker produced CDs for other artists. Thus, he rediscovered a love of photography by shooting the musician’s cover artwork.
“Trying to re-brand myself as an artist was somewhat difficult,” Walker says. “Most people [knew] me as musician so it was hard for them to start viewing me as an artist.”
Trying to branch out as a photographer, Walker attended art fairs to exhibit his work. After spending 10 years in Miami, Walker started spending time in Wilmington. Today, he splits his time between the two cities. Yet, currently he hosts an exhibit at Luna Caffé in Wilmington’s Castle Street Arts and Antiques District. He prints his photographs on meta, brushing the aluminum before transferring the photographs so it gives them a 3D look.
His body of work is made up of images of cars and dancers. Coddling inspiration from the colorful, lively environment in Miami, Walker focuses on what surrounds him and inspires his life.
“The idea for the cars came from the 3D effect that the brushed metal created,” he elaborates. “I felt like it would make them look lifelike.”
After spending time in Wilmington, he connected with his friend Will Chacon owner of Luna Caffé. Chacon and his wife, Nina, were taken by it. “My work’s so bright and colorful that [it] creates a contrast to the dreariness of winter and really brightens up the place,” Walker states.
Fusing his talents with the same craftmanship he puts into all his work, Walker has created a profession for himself that allows him to combine his love of “Music, Metal and Dance.” His success serves as testimony that one can find the job they love through curiosity and dedication.DETAILS: “Music, Metal and Dance” Luna Caffé • 604 Castle Street December 1st – January 31st Monday – Friday 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. www.tango88.com