Starving Artist is for the “real, the necessary, the chic and the versatile,” Luis Danté says. It’s a clothing line dedicated to those with a vision and the hunger to pursue their greatest ambitions.
Danté, a Washington, D.C., native and Starving Artist originator, has dreamt of pursuing a career in fashion ever since he can remember. Since earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Bauder Fashion College in Atlanta, Danté has been on a quest to elevate his designs.
Well, his dreams are starting to become a reality with the recent launch of his clothing line. A self-professed “hustler,” Luis Danté sat down wit 101magazine’s fashion reporter, Lauren Hilton, to share his grind to success and how he plans to feed the souls of people everywhere through his Starving Artist designs.
Lauren Hilton (LH): What does it mean to be a “Starving Artist” and where did the concept come from?
Luis Danté (LD):A Starving Artist can be anyone who is pursuing a dream that is considered radical or unattainable. The concept came from the recent social and economical struggles facing today’s young adults.
LH: When did you first start production of the Starving Artist line?
LD: Starving Artist was born in August 2012, so it’s still very new.
LH: What made you want to become a clothing designer? What sparked your interest, and when?
LD: Ultimately it has always been my goal since I could remember but I spent about several years learning the business as a freelance fashion stylist. The biggest thing that made me pursue my calling is the lack of motivation and willingness to help starving artists in the fashion industry.
LH: What does fashion mean to you?
LD: Fashion to me is freedom. Freedom to express oneself using great visuals that include different hues, textures and shapes.
LH: Do you have any stories about first starting that you could share with us?
LD: Everyday is addition to my story. It’s still a little early to give a complete one right now but what I will say it would probably be a romantic-comedy/action-thriller. (laughs)
LH: Do your clothes reflect your own lifestyle? Where do you gain inspiration for your line?
LD: My clothes reflect the lifestyles of dreamers, visionaries and realists everywhere! I gain inspiration from everything!
LH: Who are some of your favorite designers?
LD: That’s easy. Jay-Z and Diddy because of their entrepreneurial spirits, but creatively John Galliano. That man has the uncanny ability to create almost God-like visuals though his designs and the overall production of his shows. It’s crazy! (laughs)
LH: Has any other clothing designer influenced your thought/design process for the Starving Artist line.
LD: Clothing designers, no. I am influenced mostly by Sallie Mae. Student Loan repayment is real!(laughs)
LH: What is your favorite part of being a fashion designer?
LD: I love the fact that the things I create can change lives.
LH: What is the most difficult thing about being a clothing designer or what challenges have you faced?
LD: Time and Money. Like most starving artists, I have a 9-5, and being the driving force behind the brand is like I have two and a half jobs, which equals not much sleep.
LH: How did you overcome these challenges?
LD: I have just recently teamed up with my consulting company that really believes in my vision so I’m really excited about that!
LH: As a new designer, how do you brand your clothing and make sure that the public is aware of the Starving Artist clothing line.
LD: Lots of product placement (press samples), word-of-mouth (street marketing), my new PR team (A&S Consulting) and social media. Follow us on Instagram @starvingartistdc.
LH: What is the most rewarding thing about being a fashion designer?
LD: Seeing the finished product and the impact that it has on my clients. Not only do they get a cool, kick-ass piece of clothing, they also become motivated and inspired in the process. It’s really dope!
LH: Do clothes make the man, or does the man make the clothes?
LD: They actually go hand in hand especially in my case; the man makes the clothes that make the man. No, but seriously, clothing should be an outward expression of who you are and what you want to become, and I firmly believe that.
LH: Is Starving Artist strictly T-shirts, or are you hoping to expand?
LD: In January, we will be launching a sweatshirt line that will feature more complex graphics. So stay tuned.
LH: Tell me a little about the “Definition Collection” T-Shirt designs you have now. How do you decide which words to put on a shirt? For example, “Hustler” or “Hungry,” why these words as opposed to “Entrepreneur” or “Famished?”
LD:I chose words that were meaningful to me that also complemented the ideal starving artist. It was also very important to me to choose words that were easily identifiable.
LH: How long is the usual design process for a shirt in terms of from brainstorming an idea, to when the shirt is actually printed?
LD:Weeks! Have you every heard the term “My next move gotta be my next move?” This applies to the design process. There is no room for error so I do lots of research and editing before printing.
LH: Where do you offer your clothing designs?
LD: Primarily online at www.starvingartistdc.com for now! But I am looking and open to my T-shirts being sold in boutiques so if you know anybody. (laughs)
LH: What stores would you like to see carrying Starving Artist designs and why?
LD: Everywhere, especially places that have nation even worldwide success, because I want my clothing to be accessible to everyone.
LH: If there is one thing you want people to know about Starving Artist and Luis Danté, that is…?
LD: That we believe that everyone had the birthright to be recognized to his or her divine gifts and that’s why “Starving Artist” is so important because we realize that it’s hard out here! I also want people know how important my brand is amongst people in our generation. Not only is our “All Black Everything” design concept hot, there’s a powerful meaning behind the brand that is very apparent in our designs and that’s really important to us!
LH: What do you see for yourself and the Starving Artist brand in the next five years?
LD: We are working on becoming a movement that will remind, highlight and inspire starving artists all over the world. We will also be partnering with a Washington, D.C.-based charity to donate five percent of our overall sales to. So in five years, I see Starving Artist becoming a lifestyle brand and still attainable to everyone.
LH: What advice do you have for those starving artists and those wanting to pursue their career dreams?
LD: Hustle. Set long and short-term goals to bring you closer to your dream. And remain humble- hungry.
LH: What do you want the world to take away from the Starving Artist line?
LD: Our goal is simple: to promote the talents of artists, mavericks and visionaries while infusing positive messages through fashion.
LH: What is next for Luis Danté and the Starving Artist?
LD: Lots of hustling and global expansion! I will continue pushing the Starving Artist brand, because a brand like mine is so overdue in the fashion community. We also will be partnering with Fashion Fights Poverty to volunteer and donate a percentage of all Starving Artist proceeds. So stay tuned, because the Starving Artist Movement is about to be crazy!