The Beauty of Danielle's, "Black Queens Colouring Book"
By Wanna's World
Danielle, also known as DMC MTL has been causing quite a stir on social media in a good way. This self-taught illustrator and graphic designer based in Montreal, Canada is the creator of the brilliant, Black Queens Colouring Book that has gone viral on Twitter with over 20K retweets. At just 27-years-old, the proud Gemini, credits minimalism, technology and cartoons as influences in her work. Not only is her work playful, she celebrates every aspect of blackness in all its glory.
Bahi Cosmetics got a chance to speak with the wonderful designer about her aspirations, the beauty of creating on her own terms and why she chose to make black women the focal point in her creative, colouring book.
Bahi Cosmetics: What made you get into graphic design?
Danielle: I’ve always been an artsy person; from drawing friends’ names into pictures in elementary school, to helping out my high school art teacher (with other students), paint murals on the school’s walls. When it came to the: what do I want to do with my life point, towards the end of high school, I decided I was going to be a Fashion Designer. I was always fascinated with how a person’s outfit could express/change their mood. Little did I know, an art project in school would change my mind completely.
We had to create a pillow, from scratch, with a silk-screened image we created. When it was time to put the pillow together, with good ol’ needle and thread, I realized that I hated sewing, and there’s no way I could do this for a living. So it was back to the drawing board.
My mom mentioned Graphic Design to me, and I didn’t know much about it, but was intrigued, so I did my research. Fast forward to College, I did a 3-year Graphic Design program at Dawson College, in Montreal. It was the one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. [They gave us knowledge in more than just graphics/computers, we took things back to the beginning with history classes, drawing, photography, sculpting, etc.
Since graduating in 2011, I’ve worked as a part-time freelancer, while being in the corporate world, but I always wanted to be my own boss. With the hard work I’ve put in, to increase my client list, I can now say that I am a full-time freelancer, another amazing decision I’ve made.
BC: List the biggest challenges and rewards that come with working in your field.
As a freelance graphic designer:
- Everything (communications, invoicing, scheduling, etc) is up to you.
- You're alone more often than not
- You work with different clients regularly
- You are your own boss
- I’m an introvert, so being alone works out really well
- I’m always being creative, while working with different projects & clients
BC: What inspires you?
Danielle: Visually, I am inspired by my/our culture; my everyday life, as well as other artists, designers, photographers, and musicians. Mentally, I’m inspired by the hard-working women of colour I see (virtually) every day. The products, blogs, videos, etc.. that are produced & put out in order for them to share their voice and live their best lives, pushes me to do more – “they have the strength, so do I."
BC: Who is your greatest influence?
Danielle: That is a great question, I’ve been pondering on this one for a while, and I honestly don’t think I have a single greatest influence. My mother and late maternal grandmother have always been my biggest influences, in their different ways. By how they did things, and carried themselves as black women, through their personal stories, or quotes from their different sayings have always been in my thoughts, and help me get through tough times, and great times.
BC: What made you decide “it’s time” to design a colouring book for black women?
Danielle: My colouring book started with a simple avatar icon/design of myself, in my signature two “Pom-Pom” hair style. I wanted to create an avatar for myself that could possibly be an alternative for social media profile pictures or anything that wasn’t “Bitmoji” (I’m not a fan lol). From there I started making other women, wondering if people may appreciate the look & style, like I did. I got great feedback from the designs and wondered what I could do with it. I went to my followers and asked what they thought of posters, stickers or a colouring book.
The idea of a colouring book stood out to me, because it brought me back to when I used to colour the most, when I was a child, and made me realize we didn’t have things like this… so… what if I could be a part of changing that. There are colouring books made, in regards to black people, but I thought it would be great to continue the momentum they started, and create more opportunities for representation.
On her website Danielle makes it a point to state why representation is everything to her:
“My colouring book are meant to help with showing more positive representation of people who don’t get that very often. I want to continue that conversation of representation and also give people a way to say, “Ya, I’m included too. For kids as well as adults.”
BC: Did you expect the response to be that massive (re: colouring book)? Do you have plans on making a colouring book for men?
Danielle: Definitely, didn’t expect the amount of love I received in person or through social media, for my colouring book. I am beyond grateful. Thank you!
Note: Shortly after this interview, Danielle made the perfect follow-up to her popular colouring book, Black Kings Colouring Book. Buy it here (http://dmcmtl.com/product/black-kings-colouring-book/)
BC: What are your words of wisdom for someone starting out in your field?
Danielle: First, congrats! It’s hard to figure out what you want to do in this crazy world. Even if you don’t stick to this line of work, it’s still a great path to start with.
Whether you want to work for yourself or work for people in an agency/office, I think it’s always best to get a good base. Educate yourself in the world of design; through traditional school or online courses, it doesn’t matter how, but make sure to learn as much as you can, to get a great base. (Base = Education). From there, get as many work experiences as you can. I LOVE being a freelancer, but to me, it was necessary to work in the offices that I did; I gained more knowledge, met great people, and even made connections for future work endeavors. All this to say, make sure you start with a great base, and you’ll find your way from there.
You can purchase the Black Queens Colouring Book here (http://bit.ly/2nl2jT6).
Want to know more about this designer? Find her on social media: