Children tend to get into trouble when they draw on walls, but not Denise Fort. That’s because she’s a grown-up and people generally love what she does with her artist’s marker pens in places on public view.
Denise’s work at Raglan Roast’s hole-in-the-wall outlet in Volcom Lane is a case in point.
There – alongside the fiery coffee roaster – is a fine example of one of her murals in black ink, done a few years ago after Denise got talking to the then-barista, Bobo.
He encouraged her to draw on the tables – and the wall. The result was big, bold, alien-like fantasy gardens of sorts with lots of detail to keep things interesting.
“I like to have fun,” Denise laughs. “I create my own world.”
Her version of the world is on Raglan Roast cardboard coffee cups too. They’re decorated with her quirky, intricate drawings in miniature.
The 37-year-old designer cum artist is currently down-country connecting with old friends from Raglan Roast in Wellington where she also draws on walls, cars, guitars and so on.
The vibe on Cuba Street in the capital is “the best”, Denise reckons, when it comes to her kind of art. There she’s even completed the odd large canvas in public – as she has done in Auckland and Sydney – with passersby tossing coins her way.
It’s busking and it works, she reckons, although sometimes being “exposed” to everyone on the street is a little daunting. “But you get more confidence the more you do it.”
While she needs money to get by, Denise likes the idea of being defined by what she does rather than by what she earns.
Soon this “creative human”, as she calls herself on her business card, will head back north in time for Raglan Arts Weekend over Easter. Europe – where she studied industrial design in Munich – is half a world away but “I like it here more”.
She lived in Raglan and sold her artwork at the annual open studio event for seven years up until 2017. Then came a stint in Canada, a country she also feels more at home in than her native Germany, before returning to Raglan in January.
Denise is looking forward to showing her collection of prints, jewellery and T-shirts again, this time alongside friend and fellow arts weekend stalwart Miranda Caird.
Both artists are based at Whale Bay, Denise in an old bus behind Miranda’s bach cum studio at the ocean end of Calvert Rd.
“The view is inspiring,” says Denise, looking through the bus’s back window towards Indicators and the lagoon. “The sunsets (while) lying here are absolutely amazing!”