DSA graduate makes his mark on downtown Durham
BY VIOLET DEWIRE
The sounds of needles buzzing fills the air as customers sit and relax in the sunny space, waiting for their appointments. A small group of skilled artists and staff engage in quiet conversation as they focus on their work. Their mission is to create everlasting works of art- pieces that are important to both the customer and the artist.
Kohen Meyers is the co-owner of Choice Tattoo, a tattoo shop in downtown Durham. He graduated from DSA in 2006 and since then, he has taken his love for visual art and created a successful career.
Meyers became interested in art at a young age, and in sixth grade he was accepted into DSA. During middle school, he took many different arts classes to see what he would like then eventually settled into visual art. By the time he graduated, Meyers had taken all of the school’s available visual arts classes including portfolio and independent study. He believes that DSA’s range of both art and academic classes were part of what made DSA a good experience for him.
“Being able to have a nice balance between math, science.. and then [art classes]...- to me, it didn't really seem like classes just because it was stuff I had fun doing. But it was a nice balance... it keeps you focused on everything,” Meyers stated.
Even in his non-arts classes, Meyers would draw and practice his skills. Mr. Cross, his Enligh teacher in 9th grade, noticed.
“Kohen did doodle some [in my class]. You could tell he was ready to get out and go do something else,” Cross stated.
After high school, Meyers became interested in mixed media art, and had initially planned to attend a school for painting. Though this did not happen, he continued to look for a job in which he could work with his hands. He became interested in tattooing from a friend who was a tattoo artist at the time.
“Tattooing seemed like it was a way to keep doing what I wanted to do,” Meyers reflected.
Meyers went through multiple apprenticeships and eventually earned his permit to be a tattoo artist. He has now been working in the field for over ten years, and has developed a portfolio with his own unique aesthetic.
“After I taught [Meyers] he started doing some really cool art based on stencils... it had this cool urban vibe to it,” Cross recalled.
Today, Meyers focuses on his work by spending a few hours of every day drawing. He tries to complete between 1 and 3 tattoos each day, depending on the size and complexity of each one. He believes that hard work and practice are what lead to a successful career in the arts, and talent is something that is worked for, it doesn't just happen.
“You’re not going to get good at something if you don't practice… a lot of people say that ‘Oh, you're talented, that's why you’re good at things’… I feel like… it just comes from repetition and being put in a situation like [DSA] where you have these classes that make you do things,” Meyers stated.
Although it is hard to find a career in the arts after high school, Meyers believes that perseverance and hard work will give you the best opportunity to achieve your artistic goals.
“It is a lot of [work], but you just have to keep trying until you get it…. I really feel like the main thing you’ve got to do is focus on [your passion], and every opportunity you get to pursue that, you take it,” Meyers concluded.
Success in a hectic world: former DSA student Hector Muñoz makes his mark
By CAROLINE BATTEN
A student scrolls mindlessly through their social media feed, pausing a moment to look at a model wearing a fashionable shirt with the downtown Durham skyline glowing behind them vibrantly. This is no corporate advertisement, however. This is homegrown, Durham-raised passion. Enter Hector Muñoz.
Muñoz graduated from Durham School of the Arts in 2015 and is currently in his final semester towards receiving his associate’s degree in science. On top of this, he co-hosts the Bull City Pioneers podcast with close friend Luis Mencias, and is also building up Hectic Wear, his clothing business that was founded in 2017.
The Hectic Wear line features hoodies, sweatshirts, hats, and shirts all designed in-house. On his website and Instagram, members of the Durham community stylishly pose amid a backdrop of city edifices, murals, and nature. Muñoz’s passion is evident in how he has built his brand from the ground up.
“I told myself a long time ago that my life is finite and if I want to find fulfillment in life, doing something that brings your happiness and helps others at the same time is the greatest form of fulfillment,” Muñoz reflected.
This quest has been aided by his friends, family, and especially parents from Honduras, who Muñoz explained worked to the bone so their family could have a better life in America, which is something that has had a large impact on Muñoz. He sees the opportunity available in his life and takes it. This drive is what also inspired the podcast, Bull City Pioneers, which he co-hosts with Luis Mencias.
“What initially inspired the podcast was me and my cousin’s desire to do something together that could bring something to the community through simple conversations we have with people. We wanted to do something productive with our lives and saw an opportunity with the hyped up trend of podcasting,” Muñoz said.
The podcast, currently 32 episodes and counting, is freely available to the public on anchor.fm, stitcher.com, Apple iTunes podcasts, Spotify, and RadioPublic. The friends have interviewed everyone from artist Liion Gamble to former DSA teacher Sean Grier. For Muñoz, the podcast highlights giving back to the incredible and diverse people of which his community is comprised.
“We bring on local and rising creatives who are passionate about their craft whether it be making music, creating artwork, running a pizza business, or create short films. We have conversations about their daily struggles and successes within their craft and talk about the process of building and being a creative,” Muñoz explained.
Muñoz has a deep connection to these interviewees, in the sense that he can connect because he has experienced day-to-day struggles with his brand and balancing work, school, family, friends, and passions, just as they do.
“I learned one day that in this life we have a choice. We can either live day to day with a pessimistic view of the people around us and the life we live or we can embrace the adversity and be grateful for all of the moments we experience and be kind to others. Find your escape. Be passionate. Be kind. Inspire. Leave a legacy,” Muñoz’s website states.