South Florida-based headwear brand Dungeon Forward introduces #ArtBlk, a limited capsule featuring collaborations with four Black artists whose work boldly captures black creativity and heritage in four collectible crowns for the culture. This collection marks the launch of a new “low top” variant of the brand’s most coveted crown, “The Sunika Kuraun.”
CEO and Chief Designer David Castro curated The Black Artist Collective because of a unique bond they all share with him and the brand, bringing a long-standing, ancestorial practice of Umoja — or “unity” in Swahili — to the project. “We embrace the fact that we are a black-owned, thriving, creative business, and we want to breathe life into everything we touch. We connected with those we admired to create products that couldn’t exist without collaboration. There is beauty in the honesty of this collaboration, and we get to drop a new silhouette in the process,” he also adds.
“Creatives move the world forward, and collaboration breeds growth,” he continues. As an artist and architect, Castro employs authentic storytelling in all that he does, seen in the crown’s construction and design. “It only made sense for us to create authentic products with our contemporaries that share a perspective on the world through the product. This capsule will captivate many, and the depth of the designs will inspire the culture for years to come.”
The four artists chosen for the Black Artist Collective are:
- Chuck Styles is a Philadelphia-based multi-disciplinary artist who has completed projects with HBO, Starz, and Topps. At the age of six, Styles found comfort in the arts while surviving harsh social conditions. After ten years as an award-winning barber, he pivoted his career to follow his deferred dream. His crown is titled BeenSuper after his piece “Been Super Boy.” The design is an effort to remind people of their blind confidence as a child as it is their true form.
- “X” (Xavier) Payne is an illustrator, painter, and designer who emphasizes color and storytelling to create what he calls Black Pop. Using childhood influences from popular culture, Payne aims to create a graphic visual language that many will regard as familiar, personal, and emotional. XPayne’s crown Afrikana examines what it is to be a hunter and gatherer — a cultural origin that transitions from childhood to a warrior/explorer — with subliminal messages highlighting the things that directly influenced XPayne’s youth.
- Melissa A. Mitchell is an Atlanta-based Miami-born creative whose love of vibrant colors, unique shapes, and bold, dark lines is visible throughout her work. Melissa has created over 500 original art pieces, including 40 larger-than-life murals. Forbes, Vogue,and ESSENCE have all featured Mitchell, and her wearable art has adorned such stars as Lupita Nyong’o, Amara La Negra, Rebecca Gross, and more. Melissa Mitchell’s crown is titled Ikenna, which is Igbo for “my father’s power” – an ode to Melissa’s father, who was and still is, one of her greatest influences since his passing.
- Nathan Delinois (Nate Dee) is a Miami-born Haitian-American who combines Hellenism, hyperrealism, and Art Nouveau in his projects. ABC, NFL Network, and NBC have all featured Nate. His murals can be found on the streets of Miami and the world. In 2014, The New Times listed him as one of the “10 Miami Artists to follow on Instagram.” Nate’s crown is the Haring Ibon and is the adoration of a very personal friendship. His artwork is uplifting and empowering, breathing life back into anyone who views it.