When Darryl was in college in Arizona, he thought about a career in accounting. But in the summer of 1997, between his sophomore and junior years, he worked by the side of his uncle, silversmith Bobby Begay. The one-month stint changed his college major, as well as the course of his life, and he realized that carving and designing came naturally to him in a way accounting never could.
Begay grew up in a family steeped in Navajo traditions and was born to the Ta'chi'nii or Red Streak Extending Into Water Clan. His grandfather was ceremonial sand painter. his grandmother a rug weaver, and his uncle, Bobby, a Native America Church medicine man. "I incorporate my Navajo culture [into my jewelry] through symbolism and realism. I focus on landscapes, wildlife, symbols and the people..." He credits his uncle and his family with his successes; his grandparents performed a blessing ceremony and created a foundation for him with their many prayers.
Darryl uses the traditional Navajo tufa casting process which dates back to the 1850's and requires the artist to carve a double-sided design into the tufa before pouring in molten gold or silver. He then combines the intricate metal work with his favorite high-grade stones. Begay has been taught tufa casting and lapidary by some of the best - Bobby Begay, Raymond Yazzie, Vernon Haskie, and Robert Sorrel. He continually remains open to new ideas.
He believes there is a difference between Indian art and Native art where Indian art is romanticized. Native art is closer to where we are today and how we express ourselves as Native artists. He says, “I want collectors to know that there’s a huge difference between the two.”
Darryl also works with his wife, Rebecca Begay, who is also an accomplished silversmith. Darryl and Rebecca were winners of the the prestigious “Best in Show” Award at the 2009 Santa Fe Indian Market. His brother, Lee Begay, and his cousin, Philander Begay, are also incredibly talented artists.