Do you mind if I call you Sir Dean?
Tell us a little about yourself and where you're from?
Original name, Dean Nelson, but artist name, I go by Sneak. My branding is Draw Cool Shit, which is a mixture of everything, and it comes out kind of as one, which is my artistic style. So to say that I do a little bit of graffiti, a little bit of clothing, down to either graphic art from logos, to murals, I do a little bit of everything. So yeah, that's my go-to as an artist, more of such to say.
How did you hear about the contest?
I actually found this on Instagram and me being the artist that I am, I love a challenge. So of course I saw the Afro and I got interested like, "Oh, let me see what this is about". So it took me two seconds to read the rules and literally sketch out what I wanted. I literally scrolled through your page for like 15 minutes and it had to be like two o'clock in the morning because I'm a vampire. But I got to work in the day.
So yeah, I did that right away. And then I pulled out my iPad and I did everything digitally and boom, that's how the magic came together. Because when I have an idea I love to get it out as quick as possible.
What do you like to do outside of art?
Literally everything I do is art. So even when I do go out and do activities, I do festivals, music festivals, concerts, I'm literally I out creating. So I'm doing murals, I'm going to art museums, I'm traveling, I'm looking around. I'm not really the active type, I was never really in the sports. Everything is literally art. Even literally, I'm a little bit of a chef. That's like my plan B or I cook in my spare time. I went to school for that as well.
How did you get into art?
I actually, from the young age of around four or five, I was diagnosed with diabetes. Being in the hospital with no TVs, a nurse literally handed me a pencil and piece of paper. From that day I just, I literally continuously created and I have never stopped since.
What kind of music influences you when you're creating art?
Heavy on the R&B and hip hop. But I do also do like electronic, I do a lot of house music. I got to taste for everything. I could even get into a little bit of country, a little bit of soul, jazz. Yeah, I have an open ear. I really do love to listen to music as I create, because I love to put that passion into the work as well.
Being from New Jersey, tell us a little about your upbringing and what influenced your art being from where you're from.
Well, originally I'm from Newark, New Jersey. That's where I was born and raised and eventually I moved out to Somerset. A lot of my influence comes from graffiti and comic books. As a kid, I was one of the OG nerds where I was kind of bashful to be into anime, Marvel, and DC comics. So I was one of those heavy kids collecting the books and I would literally save school lunch money to get the most interesting comic books, which one of my favorites was Spider-Man. I'd copy the details of my favorite books and just walking around town in Newark. I would walk around and see the bare walls like in Jersey City and copying the graffiti as quick as I could, whenever I would see. Yeah, I was that kind of kid.
If you were to be a comic book hero, what kind of comic book hero would you be or what superpower did you have?
Hmm, I would say if I had to pick, it'd be a Miles Morales Spider-Man. I know that's a heavy, go-to a lot of these days, but just the influence of the original Spider-Man that I grew up with now also being a young black kid. Yeah, I love that influence. And plus the extra powers? Yeah, Miles Morales Spider-Man most definitely. I've even cosplayed it as I've gone to Comic-Con for the past two years.
Do you have any future plans in the works?
I have a lot in the bag as far as starting my own clothing brand to collaborating with other clothing brands as well as doing murals and art shows, and getting deeper into the faction world. As I said, starting my own brand. Yeah, I'm trying to put my hand in a lot as well as opening up a sip and paint with some business partners and starting a sneaker brand with another.
Where can our audience see more of your stuff? Do you have a website?
You want to thank anyone?
I could thank a lot of folks. Thank mama, my mama for giving me life, thank you guys for having the art contest, and putting me on a platform. I really do appreciate everything because all I'm trying to do with my artwork is spread my story to the kids and adults alike and simply spread a smile. So I could just simply thank everybody that's gotten me to this point, especially you guys.