WHAT DA FACK IS DAFENGA?
By Michael Machette VanHelsing
As a child, my mother and I used to lay on the floor and color in giant coloring books together. In elementary school, I started doodling, sketching and scribbling on everything.
I got good at drawing things I made up in my head.
In my teen years, I started painting on clothes with squeeze paint in little bottles. I would draw on the clothes in pencil then pen. Next, I would fill in the colors by smearing the paint with my finger. Next was the black outline and details.
After a while I was able to afford an air compressor and an airbrush. I studied, bought books, practiced on paper and old clothes, then I got my first airbrushing job. Somebody wanted me to airbrush the Ice-T 'Cop Killer' album cover on a T-shirt.
That was a scary first job. That album cover was pretty good. As I was finishing up the shirt, the customer called back and asked for a SECOND shirt with the same thing on it. Now Most maybe none of you have airbrushed before but ummmmmm, airbrushing the same thing twice and the two pieces looking exactly the same is HARD AS HELL as a beginner. But?... I nailed it!
Anyway I brought up that little segment to say that I didn't know how good I was until I was put under that pressure and my limits were tested.
I did that for a while and while growing up, me and my best friend used to always draw together and share stuff we'd draw when we weren't hangin' out.
I became well known in my neighborhood as an all around artist and I landed a job in a nail salon in the area airbrushing nails.
After I left there I got a job at a comic book store in Manhattan and being around comics all day on top of being in Manhattan all day led to nothing but a whole new adventure as an artist.
Around this time in my life I learned about the 'garment district', where I could buy boxes of white t shirts for low prices. Then I started making and selling shirts.
That went well for a while then airbrushed clothes went out of style and that income opportunity died out.
Fast forward to later in life, which is around 2004 - 2005 I went to 'Katherine Gibbs' School for Fashion & Business Management. I took Business Management, but most of my peers were taking fashion and creative arts courses so I ended up studying both. I left early for personal reasons.
2006, I had been living in North Carolina and I met an OG from a legendary crew in Queens NY that was getting expensive clothing from New York and selling it in NC.
We ended up being from the same neighborhood and thus working together. So for a few years in Raleigh NC I was selling 'Evisu', 'Red Monkey' and other designer jeans, Bape clothes and sneakers, Jordans, Timberlands, fitted hats, watches etc...
I got locked up in Jan 2007 and I got out in 2008. I wasn't able to really get back on my feet until 2009 when I decided to go to the studio and start recording music again.
In 2013-2014 I hooked up with guys from my neighborhood. One of my old friends had screen printing equipment in the basement of his restaurant. So me and another dude teamed up and started designing and printed out T-shirts. Then I would come upstairs and set up a table outside and sell the shirts. That didn't last long, But I got experience using screen printing equipment and software.
Being that I took a LONG break from drawing and painting, I needed a way to get back into it, but my life didn't consist of being able to sit for hours 'drawing'.
Therefore, in 2017-2018, I created a clothing line Called DAFENGA NYC. It was my way of getting my art out of my head and making money at the same time. I am an artist. I almost lost sight of that and of self. The brand helped reawaken the creator within.
I named the brand DAFENGA as a clandestine yet classy way to say ' THE FINGER'. The symbology is that this clothing line is for all the rebels out there that are tired of being told what to wear. For those that are tired of wearing the same thing everybody else is wearing.
Another message I am sending with the brand, logo and image is... I AM GIVING THE WORLD OF FASHION ....THE FINGER!!!
Although, I love and respect the world of fashion I want to declare that I don't need anyone's approval to make clothes, I don't need to be accepted in any circles to become a successful fashion designer. I don't have to be UNDER somebody else in order to be successful and that I don't have to sell any part of my brand or myself... in order to make it in the world of fashion and to become a household name.
Additionally, DAFENGA NYC fans get to be 'the first' to have on the newest designer brand.
As of recent, I was going through a REALLY hard time and it was a period of depression with heartbreak on top. There were times I didn't want to do anything, there were times I didn't want to be alive is how bad that gets for those that don't know what it's like.
When I hit rock bottom and didn't know which way to go in life, I heard a voice in my head yell "YOU'RE AN ARTIST! CREATE!"
After that I have been on a non-stop creative rampage and I brought DAFENGA NYC back to life. I was working on a real estate company and my consulting business (and still am), but MY ART is the only thing that made me happy and the only thing that made me feel better, it is also bringing in good money.
So the brand lives because it literally saved my life. Thus I share my art, the brand and the message with the world. DAFENGA NYC is my fight, my rise from the ashes and my victory. It can be that for you too. The logo is a BADGE that I wear proudly. It is a symbol of 'Deprogramming' and freedom. This brand represents ANYONE who wants to give corruption, conformity and oppression DAFENGA!
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