J. Darden is a self-taught artist whose interest in art first began when he was a child reading comic books and later grew as he wandered NYC musuems as a teen. He had always marveled at the skill he saw in the artists whose work hung on museum walls, always wondering how they were able to render such masterpieces. But it was not until he was well into his adulthood that he picked up a paintbrush.

Much of J's learning came from attempts to recreate what caught his eye, from photographs in magazines to the work of artists like Vermeer. J's art reflects his personal experiences, sense of history, and love of hip hop. As the son of an African American man from the South and a white woman from the Netherlands, J. also tries to connect the disparate history of his family. From color to composition, J. remembers what he was told when he started painting: "Paint what you see, not what you think you see."