D’ana of COVL Speaks on the Growth of Her Brand, The Rapid Evolution of Visual and Digital Content, Her Upcoming Project with Essence Festival and More.

I appreciate how the concept of an artist can range from a variety of different fields. I’m also a huge fan of the direction that the world is shifting to which is focusing more on visual and digital aesthetics whether it be social media, website related content or elsewhere. D’ana of COVL is one of the incredible forces out there that’s contributing to the growth and overall expansion of digital creation.

COVL, which stands for Collections + Volumes, is the graphic illustration company that D’ana started back in 2012. Using the brand as her foundation, D’ana of COVL has taken her storytelling abilities to new heights by working with brands such as the New York Times, Corona, Champs Sports, Agenda Show and many more.

I had the opportunity to chat with D’ana of COVL and she name dropped her biggest digital inspiration, the longest project she’s ever worked on, making COVL a tangible brand and what’s to come for the future.

1 – How did you get started in digital design?

I always owe my start in digital design to the power of suggestion. Without someone suggesting that maybe I was in the wrong industry, I probably would’ve never tried.

2 – What would you say your source of inspiration was?

When I stumbled across Hattie Stewart something clicked and suddenly it all made sense.

3 – What was the first ever digital piece you created?

Man, off the top of my head, I illustrated over a photo of me. And, I wasn’t even using PS back then. I was using Pixelmator so imagine that!

4 – Do you remember that first digital design you created that helped contribute to your come up? What was it?

I don’t. Which is a shame yet at the time I wasn’t going so fast that I can imagine whatever piece it was still holds true to who I am today.

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5 – What is your creative process like? In other words, take us through the first step of creating a design to the final step.

My process is simple… well, at least for me. I always start with a color scheme because it sets the tone/mood of what I’ll create. Then, I’ll play around with shapes and patterns until it feels right, even if the piece never sees the light of day.

6 – It’s evident that depending on the coloring, the number of layers and the piece itself that some designs will take longer than others. Time-wise, what was the longest piece you’ve ever done?

A project once took me an entire week because it consisted of 72 illustrations and a custom alphabet. The campaign I’m currently working on takes the cake. It’s a month long project and it’s definitely keeping me on my toes.

7 – What is it about adding color that you think makes your designs stand out?

Color has always been my form of therapy, so it all comes from a very open and vulnerable place. It was never intended for it to be consumed by others yet over time it has positively impacted others which in return positively impacts me.

8 – It’s been said that some of the best creative minds see colors when they’re in the process of creating. Do you find this relatable?

Color is everything. It’s what connects us to many things from what we eat to what we wear. Some minds embrace this fully and others are too naive to understand it’s full potential.

9 – The world of digital is growing and thriving every day. In your opinion, how important has creating digital content become?

I identify myself as a digital artist. I’ve allowed myself to encompass any medium that thrives within the digital space. I’ve never underestimated its importance because it rules everything around me. It’s how I connect with new and familiar faces, it’s a portal for me to take such a mere idea and execute it on a level I could never fathom had this era never existed. Reaching a mass audience without having to overexert your resources still mind boggles me yet it’s exciting as hell.

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10 – You’ve been given the amazing opportunity to create a piece for this year’s Essence Festival. How did that happen?

Someone once told me, “Build it and they will come” and that has been my mantra ever since then. I am always putting COLV first and by doing so, I live in a world where I can unapologetically be myself and fortunately, that has led me to opportunities with brands that appreciate that.

11 – Speak a little bit more about your upcoming COVL x HERSPAWN editorial project.

Simple: we just wanted to have fun and create. Sometimes you just need to play dress up and flex those creative wings.

12 – Talk more about the COVL brand. Are you only putting your focus on digital creation or are you looking to spread yourself out into other lanes? If so, what are those lanes?

This year I’m all about challenging the current facets of COVL and introducing it into the physical realm. That’s all I can say for now : )

13 – You’ve managed to be apart of a lot of dope collaborative projects. Which one would you say was your favorite project? Why?

I try not to play favoritism because it subconsciously puts a constraint on my future endeavors. So to be real, I still don’t have a favorite project. They all have equally contributed towards my growth, happiness, and love for design which is a win-win, right?

14 – What else can your fans expect from you for 2018 and beyond?

Becoming more present, more tangible experience, and more COVL magic!

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Cleverly Chloe Speaks on the Importance of Building a Social Presence, The Creation of ‘Clever in the City’ and the ‘Clever Coins’ Podcast, Her New Lane as a Creative Director and More.

In most cases, it’s hard to focus on multiple things at one time. When you’re busy focusing on one aspect of your life and trying to perfect it, you completely neglect another part and/or a particular craft. It’s rare when you can find the connection or similarities in the different dreams you’re pursuing and tie them together but that’s exactly what Chloe did. The young creative from the Bronx took everything that she knew best and used them to her advantage to build a foundation based on things she was talented in. Using her inspirations from her childhood to then building her own inspirations as life continued on, Chloe constructed a large following from the ground up based on her talents as a podcast host, short films/webs series actor, social media personality, event host, and so on.

I was able to catch up with Chloe in our interview below to talk about her life inspirations, what pushes her to constantly be creative, the importance of building a presence for yourself on social media, her strong connection to Dinner Land Network and more.

1 – When did you have that realization that you wanted to be a creator?

If I’m being honest, I can’t say I ever had the eureka moment where I woke up and decided; hey this is what I want to do. It sort of developed over time. Being a creative takes time. You have to try your hand at so many different things to figure out what it is you’re good at. For me, I’m talented or I’m blessed enough to say that I am talented in multiple areas and I was able to find a way to meld all the things that I love together.

2 – Coming up, what was your sense of inspiration for your creativity?

My mother was very creative. She was a collector of things. She collected magazines with so many timeless black women. I grew up with looking at them on the covers. I saw black faces constantly. I saw women in power, women in the theater, tv, dance and more. My mother was a big reason in me finding out and discovering all of my talents as she rolled me into the dance theater of Harlem at the age of three to study ballet, modern and Jazz until I was 16 years old.  She recorded every television award show from MTV VMAs, the Billboard Awards, and the AMA’s. I also watched the NAACP Image Awards, the Essence Awards, and the Source Awards. She was a big film buff. I watched black and white film at a young age. I knew every actress and every actor from the 19050s up until the 1990s. I was able to sit and watch every televised music award show there was. We would even record them. I was engulfed in entertainment and I think that fueled my desire and my passion to want to further express myself.

I was a child model. I was going to acting auditions and go-sees. I was a very talented child but I was a timid child until I grew older. I was able to release my creativity and it was a great expression for me. I was also a sketcher. I could design and draw. I knew how to do so many things and I just wanted to be able to do them all at once.

3 – When did you get your first shot at showcasing your creativity to the public?

That’s so hard to say. I think for those who’ve known me intimately, they could tell you that I’ve always been creative. From being a child in school, I was expressing myself through acting or design. I could make clothes as well but I guess to the public it would be through my blog, cleverlychloe.Tumblr.com. That’s where a lot of people saw that I was a talented writer and it wasn’t just about being obnoxious on social media.

I wrote an article that summarized the latest episode (at the time) of Tax Season from my friend, Taxstone, featuring my friends Ravie B. and the late Combat Jack. In the episode, Combat challenged the music and hip-hop industry as well as the personalities. We wanted the large platforms to do better as far as pushing the culture forward and the things we’ve done for the culture lately. I think that grabbed a lot of peoples attention who didn’t think I had much to say.

4 – You invest a lot of time into social media but it’s all apart of your image and your brand. In your opinion, how important do you think social media is for young creatives? How important is it for emerging brands?

If it wasn’t for social media, Cleverly Chloe and the brand wouldn’t exist. It sounds cliché to say but I think social media gets a bad rap. You can literally use multiple free platforms to make money and get your voice or message heard. I think people have to be smart about how they use their platform. If you have 1,000 followers that means you have a network to reach 1,000 people. Don’t waste it.

Repetition is key. Symbolism is key. Alliteration and being redundant is key when it comes to building your brand notoriety. A lot of people remember me and it’s not because of my face but because of my name, it’s easy to remember. I did that on purpose. Everything  I do has a purpose. I’ve never just jumped into something because I was afraid to miss an opportunity. My social media brand is a reflection of that.

5 – Was there any particular moment that you can remember where you noticed that your name and what you do began to catch on to people? How did that moment feel?

Oh yes, I remember that moment all too well. I think it was after Clever in the City was featured in REVOLT as one of the top five web series to look out for in 2017. I was exceedingly humbled and after that article, I started seeing projects for work that I had inspired which is humbling and flattering. But, you definitely take notice of what you do and how it affects or inspires people.

After that, I was being asked my opinion on things and that even started after my website and my blog took off. I saw that people cared about my opinion. That’s an honor and also an incredibly heavy weight to bear because now you have to be careful. It’s about what you say and how you say it to people because now you’re trying not to offend anyone. Your main goal is to inspire people to want to do better.  It can be a little overwhelming.

6 – In a world where content is constantly flowing, it’s hard to sometimes create an idea that belongs to you? Where do you currently pull your inspiration from? Has it become difficult for you and your team to brainstorm ideas?

I love classic sh*t. In my new lane as a creative director and a person who is trying to produce original visual content, my job to research things as well as put a new spin on what our generation finds appealing. I know my main purpose so my direction is always clear. To promote and inspire new talent to the masses, that’s always my goal.

I pull inspiration from old movies or books that I’ve read. I also get inspired by New York itself. My web series is dedicated to my city where I’m from. There’s a lot of inspiration to pull from. Even walking around and seeing people, I’m a studier of human nature and consumer behavior. I’ve pulled from everything which probably hurts me more than it does help me because I’m somewhat of a perfectionist. I don’t want to put out anything that sub-par. But, I get a lot of inspiration just from everyday life.

7 – You’re the creator of two well-known platforms. One being Clever in the City and the other being Cleverly Coins the podcast. What was the process of putting these two ideas together?

This was probably the most fun I’ve ever had in creating a project that I knew made sense. Clever in the City is obviously inspired by Sex and the City. I have always felt connected to the characters on there as young women going through life. Now, being a creative working in New York and living here I can relate to so much. I wanted to do a unique spin in which I was able to showcase my friends in the industry that I work with that are also doing the same thing as me. It’s very tough to be a creative here and I wanted to showcase the people that were successful and how you can be when you really stick to it. I also wanted to show how influential the city is to that culture.

I literally isolate myself from people while creating. I delved into all the seasons of Sex and the City and watched every episode. So, every episode of Clever has infusions of that series just to kinda tieback a correlation.

The Clever Coins podcast was great fun to do because I have a history of podcasting and people wanted to hear me again. I also wanted to extend the conversations from each episode so they came together quite seamlessly. I had a lot of fun involving everyone that I’ve had for the first season and it was just such a magical moment that I hope to be able to re-create in the future.

8 – You played in a web series called Appropriate Culture. How did you manage to get into that? For those who don’t know, what was the series based on?

So, the great thing about Appropriate Culture is that it’s written, directed and stars its creator, Julian Stephen. One day Julian called me and told me he had a script and he wrote a character with me in mind and asked if I would be willing to read the script and see if I would be interested in joining the project. Above all, I was flattered but I was a little hesitant. I wasn’t sure how ready I was to get back into acting. It had been a while but I knew I needed to start. I read the script and I thought it was really funny, really smart and knew there weren’t that many young black comedies. I felt that we could do something really unique and different. The rest is pretty much history.

The show is based on two brothers living in New York trying to figure out and balance dating friendships. They have a dad who gives them all sorts of crazy advice but it really showcases how young people have to adapt into young adulting. As cliché as that may sound, Julian did a great job with picking a diverse enough cast to where everyone can bring something different, watch the show, and recognize somebody in a character that they see.

9 – How did you link up with Dinner Land?

When my manager and I first got together, she asked me what I wanted to do and I mentioned that I wanted to relaunch a web series. She asked if I knew of any production people are videographers and I told her no. She immediately thought of Dinner Land. We already knew them from working with Taxstone and Combat Jack. I was familiar with their production value and some of their contact and I was interested in seeing if they would be able to bring this vision I had to life. We had a sit down with Shake, the producer of my web series, and the rest is history. We were able to really create a great synergy and he really helped me in bringing Clever in the City to fruition.

10 – I recently interviewed Yan, one of your colleagues from Dinner Land. She shed a lot of light on the brand as a whole. In your opinion, why do you think Dinner Land has become so important to our culture and to the emerging creative?

It’s quality over quantity over there. They don’t just take on any assignment just say they did it. They actually want to see unique ideas push the forefront. I am so humbled and appreciative that they took a chance on Clever because I knew I wasn’t trying to waste anyone’s time with bullsh*t content. Doing safe sh*t is easy but it’s also boring and Dinner Land is willing to go outside the lines if it means producing original work that has value. I love Dinner!

11 – With everything that you’ve involved yourself in throughout the last few years, what do you think the most important and memorable moment was? How did that moment help contribute to who you are today?

I don’t think I can chuck it up to just one moment. I had so much fun in 2017. I experienced extreme highs and extreme lows from hosting in front of thousands of people and coming out of my acting shell again and being on the web series in front of the camera. There’s so much that pushes me. I think to be able to force myself out of my comfort zone as far as entertaining. that’s what I love. I love to live in those moments. I think we are often chasing that high and I’m blessed enough to be able to experience multiple highs.

12 – Who are some women in the industry that you admire? Why?

I have a great circle and network of women that I get to watch and that I respect. From my friend Raven a.k.a. Ravie B. to Nina Parker. There is another friend of mine by the name of Bridget Kelly and Karen Civil has been a constant inspiration for me. Women in film and television like Shonda Rimes, Mara Brock Akil and Lena White. I have seen my friend Scottie Beam do amazing things these past few months since leaving Hot 97. I look at my friends and my support system around me. I have so many women that I watch. Gia Peppers is another one who I think is awesome. Yara Shahidi I think is the voice of the black women in the generation coming behind me and I can’t wait to see what she does in the future. There are so many people that I constantly watch and I can’t wait to work with them.

13 – As a woman working in this industry, what has been the most important piece of advice given to you that you still live by today?

I remember once, Combat and I were driving in his car and I told him I was hesitant on wanting to do too many things too soon and I might want to take my time with doing some things. He told me; “Chloe, go after that shit now! You’re only young once. You’re talented, you’re smart, you got the drive do it now before it’s too late because there’s always going to be somebody behind you trying to do it better.”  He was always helpful and constantly inspiring me. whenever I felt down he told me so many inspirational things. He believed in me so much. I’ll remember everything he ever told me. But, it definitely will help me in not being afraid to release my projects and my work.

14 – What’s next for Chloe and her team? What can your fans expect from you in 2018?  

More Clever in the City and more Clever Coins podcast. I’m going to be helping with other peoples projects right now and doing a lot as far as creative direction. You’ll be seeing my name in credits if you pay attention.  I’m looking to grow as an actor and on-camera personality.  I’m trying to delve into multiple arenas so right now I’m perfecting my craft during this hibernation mode.  However, I’m looking to emerge for spring and summer 2018 on top!