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  • Leila E. Cole

Get to Know Dena Cooper

Updated: Apr 2, 2020

From: Fredericksburg, Virginia

Pursuit: Illustrator

Where did you grow up/hometown? My parents separated when I was very young so I spent my summers in Fredericksburg, Virginia and the school year in St. Johns, Michigan. I’m definitely a Virginia girl at heart and I moved there to go to college shortly after graduating high school.

Although we realize that no two days are alike, what is a typical day like for you? I’m not at all a morning person, so holding a steady schedule is definitely a challenge for me. I start the day with the best coffee I can get my hands on and the obligatory emails that come with running your own business. Most of my days are spent painting in my studio in Brooklyn but about once a week, I try to schedule all of my meetings with clients to get out of the house and socialize.

What projects are you currently working on? I’m getting ready to launch my blog, "Brushstroke a la Mode". It’s centered around my life as an illustrator and I will be sharing some intimate details about my past, present and future as a creative, hoping to inspire others to take a leap of faith into their most creative lives. I’ve always loved writing and I’m so excited to share some of my thoughts and experiences with my audience.

Translated into “she sees”, Elle Sees [NYC]’s digital platform is a curated guide to culture and lifestyle —what are your must haves for productivity? What gets your juices flowing? The official answer is Stumptown coffee - I promise I’m not an affiliate! I would have to say the key to my productivity is knowing when to step away from a project and come back with a fresh perspective. As an artist I also find it absolutely essential to have the very best materials (that I can afford) on hand at all times in addition to a well curated Spotify playlist.

What’s the most challenging part of your career? Receive any ‘vote of confidence’ lately that you’re so glad you did? The biggest challenge I face daily is the question: What’s next? I’m constantly thinking ahead to what my next move will be and setting small goals for myself. When I meet those goals, it’s beyond satisfying and there’s usually some sort of embarassing victory dance. My latest victory would have to be winning the DrawADot. open call for Maison Margiela which had me smiling ear-to-ear for 48 hours minimum.

How do you stay inspired? I feel so lucky to live in New York City where some of the world’s best art museums are at my fingertips. At least once or twice a month, I try to do something new and culturally significant in the city, but sometimes just walking down the street is enough to renew my creativity and point me in some new direction that I hadn’t thought of before.

How would you describe your creative process? My creative process is constantly evolving. I started my career as a womenswear designer which is why I am constantly looking to fashion for inspiration. I love painting runway looks and model portraits, so I’m perpetually on or flipping through magazines looking for an image that strikes me to interpret in watercolor.

Where do you go to hideaway? My apartment is a visual oasis for me. I love staying home with my husband on the weekend or cuddling up with my cat and reading. It’s so important to have a comfortable space that you can retreat to and I feel so lucky to have accomplished that in my Brooklyn apartment.

What are you most proud of/your most satisfying accolade thus far? My hometown in Michigan wrote a newspaper article about me and I was so touched by their pride. A few family members and friends in the area clipped the article and sent it to me.

Any SPRING 2017 “must-have”? Mules on top of mules! Embroidered mules, Gucci mules, heeled mules...they’re all so good! My favorite are the Alberta Ferretti 'Mia' mules that I illustrated.

Words to live by? Anything is possible in this life. If you want something go get it - you get one chance to make the most of your circumstances.

#Brooklyn #illustrator #artist #Spotify #NewYorkCity #mules #Gucci #AlbertaFerretti

Elle Sees NYC
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