We had the good fortune of connecting with Denise Coke and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Denise, what role has risk played in your life or career?

As the owner of a Black-owned, woman-owned company, I’ve found taking risks is literally my entire life. Looking at the history of Black Americans, many people tend to play the safe route or as my mom says ‘keep their head to the ground,’ because they just want to take care of their families and live the ‘American Dream’ without any issues. We face injustices and inequality daily, so just making it to work and making it home is a big risk within itself.

While this is fine in some cases, this doesn’t allow us to A. have generational wealth or assets to pass down to our future families, B. have the tools to teach future generations careers that some may never look into or explore, and/or C. be unafraid to try something new we may have never tried before.

If I played the ‘safe’ route, I would have never traveled from New York to California by myself, hired a team to work with me on my 10 year augmented reality art show, invested money into one of the biggest shows of my life, traveled to over 5 countries and displayed art in 3, produced 3 successful art shows, and become one of the most versatile artists today.

What allowed me to take those risks was having a support system from friends, family, therapy, and self-determination. I had to be able to handle rejection and defend my work all at once. I feel that if there is ever an idea I would want to tackle, with a plan, I can make it happen.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

I would describe my art as Afro-feminism and Escapism. I make a lot of my art cartoon styled and based on Black womanhood because I feel that we are often depicted to the world through a male gaze or a poor representation that we normally don’t get to have a say in. My work shows us as mothers, friends, the girl down the block, and the women who surrounded me during my upbringing.

I also love drawing little boys because when I had my first art show, someone mentioned it would be dope if I could show more male characters since they don’t see a lot of those characters when looking at art. So I created my first little guy named ‘Orange Hat,’ a wide-eyed Black boy with a fuzzy orange hat and it was such a big hit that everyone wanted me to create an entire line from it.

How I got here is a little bit of a manifestation. When I was a kid I was always drawing and doodling and it was my dream to live in California. I would start my character design with Manga comic books and copying those styles. Going to high school for fashion design at HSFI, I realized I wasn’t the biggest fan of making clothes but I was really good at fashion illustration.

So when it came time for college selections, I wanted a career that incorporated art and technology- that’s how I got into graphic design. I knew some skills from creating Myspace pages and photo edits. I wanted to focus on making a design business, so in college, I learned how to make estimates and invoices and began to take clients doing flyers and logos. $NP Designs started as a clothing line which unfortunately was stolen from me by a bad business partner in 2011.

I was hired to be the designer for my college’s admissions office and got my first international client in Australia. After college, I started working in the field at an agency and then for Madison Square Garden where I was the lead motion graphic designer. I learned augmented reality there, so a coworker and I pitched the idea, which unfortunately got scratched. Despite this, I really wanted to do this with my art so I had my second art show where I introduced augmented reality into some of my pieces. I then began to create a team under my business and started to learn how to properly run a creative agency and in 2019 created my LLC and 2020 trademarked my artist name, deLaSNP.

Next year, I am having my 10-year celebration with my solo show titled A Decade of Dimensions. It was slated to happen this year but due to COVID, we pushed it to next year July 24, 2022. It will feature a vendor marketplace, photobooth activation, AR pieces, and more!

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I am the hostess with the mostest. I would first make my place a mini oasis and do a little spring refresher with some Sangria, maybe hang out at the pool and jacuzzi and just chill. Then we’d go down PCH because I love the drive from Newport Beach to Dana Point. Of course, do the touristy things link Santa Monica Beach, Hollywood Sign, and where Insecure was shot. Definitely a day party so they could see the party scene and a rooftop bar called Native Sol in Santa Ana with a BOMB DJ and great beers. I would love to do a quick getaway to either Joshua Tree for glamping, Solvang to this Black-owned winery, San Diego for the Zoo and amazing food or Temecula to do a hot air balloon adventure so they could see my adventures and then send them on their way.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am the hostess with the mostest. I would first make my place a mini oasis and do a little spring refresher with some Sangria, maybe hang out at the pool and jacuzzi and just chill. Then we’d go down PCH because I love the drive from Newport Beach to Dana Point. Of course, do the touristy things link Santa Monica Beach, Hollywood Sign, and where Insecure was shot. Definitely a day party so they could see the party scene and a rooftop bar called Native Sol in Santa Ana with a BOMB DJ and great beers. I would love to do a quick getaway to either Joshua Tree for glamping, Solvang to this Black-owned winery, San Diego for the Zoo and amazing food or Temecula to do a hot air balloon adventure so they could see my adventures and then send them on their way.

Website: https://delasnp.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/delasnp.grfx/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/denisecoke93/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/zagawd

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deLaSNP/

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/np-designs-new-york

Other: https://www.pinterest.com/delasnoop https://www.tiktok.com/@delasnoop? https://www.instagram.com/eclacktic/

Image Credits
Jamie Tobias Jessica Neely Sophie Mariee

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