Graduating senior turns a life of science into a life of art

By Kenna Caprio

In high school, in Miami, Fla., Danny Camacho painted his bedroom wall white. He drew on the wall and painted on it, using paint pens and spray paint. It became a canvas.

Danny Camacho portrait

“Whatever I could put on that wall, any media, I did,” the senior says. When people visited his family’s house, Camacho would hand them a pen or a marker and ask them to add to the wall. “It had everything from graffiti to signatures to ‘I love you’ on it,” he says. “It’s just something that happened. My sister’s (room) was clean and organized, and mine had this wall full of colors.”

Danny Camacho is a senior studying biology and pursuing his art. (All photos courtesy of Camacho)

He insists though, “I never thought, when I was younger, that art would be such a big part of my life.”

When he applied to Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Metropolitan Campus, it was as a biology major. In primary and secondary school, he excelled in science. Camacho intended to study medicine after graduating from FDU, with a particular focus on neurology.

Funny how life works. And art.

He’s still majoring in biology and will graduate on May 17, 2016 with his bachelor’s degree. But after commencement, his sights are set on his art career, not on medical school.

With pen and ink or pencil, Camacho creates his work. “I can’t draw faces or people. I don’t have the practice,” he says. “I usually do animals, or ornate geometric and symmetry-based work. They look symmetrical, but a lot are actually asymmetrical, unintentionally.” He sketches his ideas before putting the final piece into ink. But, at some point, “you just have to a choose the pattern. You have to commit to it,” he says. “If you’re going to put a dot there, it better flow. It looks kind of random, but it takes time to put one line in one spot. Sometimes it just happens.”

Danny C art Life and Death 2

“Life and Death” — art by Danny Camacho

Some of his artwork takes two to three days to make. Others sit on his desk for months. Making “Life and Death,” one of his current favorites, took about 72 hours total — but he left it on his desk over winter break, and finished it early in this semester.

“Sometimes I just grab the pen and I do a line, and I leave it. I don’t erase it. I just go with it. Because otherwise I’ll be stuck,” he says. His inspiration typically comes in random forms: “a shape, a creature or an organism. I use that as a focal point and go from there. I narrow it down to the shapes that I like most of all: flower petals, circles, triangles and line work.”

Danny C art Luna 2

“Luna” — art by Danny Camacho

It was during his freshman year of college that he started drawing on a regular basis — he had never taken an art class outside of the requisite courses in elementary, middle and high school. He focused on the Zentangle Method then, creating random, abstract patterns to fill an outline. His drawing of the Metropolitan Campus mascot Knightro is a good example of that style. By junior year, though, with the specter of the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) looming, he decided to become an artist fulltime after graduation. He just couldn’t picture himself taking the test and applying to medical school anymore. It was time for his art.

Danny C art Knightro

At FDU, Camacho has only taken three art classes — two in general drawing and now, printmaking with Scott Barnes, an adjunct faculty member.

Camacho used the Zentangle Method, drawing random, abstract patterns to fill an outline, in this pen and ink drawing of Knightro, the Metropolitan Campus mascot.

Recently, Camacho has been experimenting with his designs on other media. He wants to make a T-shirt line, putting those printmaking skills to use, and on sneakers. “I draw on plain canvas Converse sneakers, and I’ve done three pairs of them — one for my sister, and two others. I did a guitar as well. A guitar I can sketch on, but on the shoes it’s just go right into a pattern and design.” Right into a pattern, a design and graduation.

“He [Barnes] told me that one of his friends was a biochemistry major. And then started working on Wall Street because he was good at math,” Camacho says. “I was always into art and doing creative things. But I never thought it’d be what I want to dedicate myself to. It was my escape.”

Danny C art collage

More recently, Camacho has been experimenting with new media: drawing and designing on sneakers and a guitar.

Now, art feels like the right path, the only path. “It’s a delicate subject, and it’s rigorous to maintain a life after you graduate,” he acknowledges. “You have a lot of options and make connections, but when it comes to financial stability it can be very difficult.” But he’s resolute. “I’m going to do art, and do everything I’m capable of.” All Camacho needs, he says, is a cup of coffee or tea and to draw. “One minute there’s daylight…” and then it’s hours later, and he’s still somewhere sketching or drawing, lost in patterns, making one dot, one line and sticking to it.

To see more of Camacho’s art, visit or search @tglcamacho_art on Instagram.