Colin Darke is kind of a big deal on TikTok. At Rocket Loans, he’s known as chief compliance officer and general counsel. Online, he’s the Ambidextrous Artist. Darke’s two-handed sketches and paintings have earned him 700,000 followers and 100,000,000 views and led to appearances on television programs like Good Morning America.
Darke joined the Rock Holdings group seven years ago to help launch its tech-savvy personal company known as Rocket Loans. As a member of the executive team and board, he is managing all legal issues, running a compliance program, and preparing the company to execute an aggressive growth plan. When he’s not in the Detroit office, Darke is under the lights in his home art studio.
That’s nothing new. Darke has always been creating—but he hasn’t always shared his work. That changed in 2019 when his wife noticed their young son switching hands while coloring. When Darke started exploring his own ambidexterity, his creative output increased. In fact, he earned his bachelor’s in fine arts in watercolor painting from Western Michigan University and had an art show at the Royal Scottish Academy of arts while in school. He says he finds a simple joy in sketching pet and celebrity portraits. Darke put his unique work online, and soon, his two-hand drawings of characters like Harry Potter and the Office’s Michael Scott were going viral.
Cultivating dual passions of art and law has helped Darke find personal and professional balance as he brings all elements of self to the workplace. “Art and other creative pursuits can be a great way to deal with the stress and pressure of work, and sharing our outside interests also helps deepen relationships,” he explains. The art hanging in Darke’s office often sparks conversations and helps colleagues find common ground so they are ultimately more comfortable coming to him when problems or issues arise.
While some might assume that the passion that motivates an artist conflicts with the logic that guides a lawyer, Darke finds an overlap between the two disciplines. “Fine arts training helps you be curious, and open, and self-reflective,” he says. “Those same traits help attorneys analyze risk, look at many factors with a new perspective, and find creative routes to the best outcome.”
Before joining the Rock Holdings family of companies in 2015, Darke started his legal career in private practice and spent three years as Flagstar Bank’s in-house counsel. He came to his current organization when Quicken Loans was rebranding as Rocket Mortgage with the help of a high-profile Super Bowl ad.
Now, as chief compliance officer and general counsel at Rocket Loans, he’s guiding a lean team dedicated to managing risk and uncovering new opportunities. Those opportunities include solar loans. In late 2021, Rocket Companies announced a new plan to help users finance solar panels. Darke and his counterparts are instrumental in supporting this initiative and other similar endeavors. “We are a tech company that makes complicated financial transactions easier, and our legal team works with our internal partners to enable all they do as we launch solar panel loans and other important new products,” he says.
Earlier this year, Rocket Companies closed a $1.275 billion cash deal to acquire Truebill, a leading budgeting, spending, and financial management application. The move will add millions of users to Rocket’s platform and increase yearly revenues by approximately $100 million. It’s a natural fit as Rocket Loans builds its FinTech ecosystem, expands into solar, and considers other emerging markets.
Darke is excited about these new developments and is passionate about how Rocket can support its local communities in and around the Detroit area. Quicken Loans came to the city in 2010, and its founder, Dan Gilbert, has invested billions of dollars in city revitalization projects. In 2021, the Gilbert Family Foundation and the Rocket Community Fund committed another $500 million to these efforts tagging $15 million for a “Pay As You Stay” initiative that helps low-income homeowners pay property tax debts. “Giving back and existing for something bigger than profits continues to be part of Rocket, and every year there is something all of us can do together to help transform the city we call home,” Darke says.
Gilbert started Rocket Mortgage as Rock Financial in 1985. Today, what was once a single mortgage lender has grown into a large ecosystem that includes companies like Amrock, Nexsys, Edison, ForSaleByOwner.com, and LowerMyBills.com. Darke has helped implement a leadership training program and is a certified leadership coach for the entire group. He also works with his counterparts across the organization to make sure his legal strategies feed into the broader Rocket mission. In doing so, he helps ensure the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.