Artist Damon Brown celebrates Black culture and community in Starbucks latest drinkware collection


Damon Brown knew he loved art from an early age. It started with cartoons and superheroes. Then on to Japanese anime and urban art, and his imagination began to explore the interplay of color, shape, story and texture. When he went to college, he studied classic art and painting techniques. “When I got out [of college] I was able to pull everything together – the animation, the street art, the graphic design, everything together to come up with my own style,” Brown said.  

“My goal for this collection was for it not to feel that it’s one month only – but taking it farther and giving you something more artistic that can be enjoyed and celebrated beyond February – when it should be every day for us.” 

He returned to his hometown of Seattle after getting his degree at Washington State University and has made lasting contributions to the city’s artistic landscape – from large-scale public art projects to brand packaging and designs. He also created the mural on display at the Starbucks store at 1st and Walker in Seattle and designed a poster featuring the Siren in honour of the company’s 50th anniversary. 

“I call it complex simplicity. I try to do a blend of shapes and movement and let your mind – the viewer’s mind – connect with the art and fill in your own blanks with your own imagination,” Brown said. “It’s a magic i’ve developed over the years.” 

Now Brown’s art will be showcased in the latest of the Starbucks Artist Collaboration Series, which celebrates the unique stories of artists from all over the world. His pieces of drinkware will be available in participating U.S. and Canada Starbucks stores starting Jan. 30. He was inspired by the idea of community, deliberately integrating the viewer’s perspective into the artwork. 

“It’s as if you’re walking down any street, they are walking with you,” he said. “It’s drawn like you’re behind them, or you’re in the community with them walking parallel as they go by.”  

For the colour palette, he chose soothing shades of pale blue, green and cream with a 1960s vibe. “The colour is an intentional play on the classic color palette of red, black and green that you may typically see represented in Black art or during Black History Month— to make it more modern and purposeful.”  

The design’s graphic elements convey a modern sensibility. “There was a conscious effort to put a stylistic modern shape with this movement and put some hairstyles in there with some different braids and those kinds of things that you classically don’t see on merchandise,” he said.  

Three pieces of drinkware are featured each one marked with Damon’s brand name, Creative Lou, based on a nickname from childhood:  

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A 24-ounce cold cup depicts two people looking outward together, almost holding hands. In the background, geometric shapes are open to interpretation.

“In the background, the shapes show community,” he said. “I created them so that you feel represented, and you feel your place.”  

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Two people in motion walk toward each other in the design for a 16-ounce stainless steel tumbler and 24-ounce cold cup, with bright accents of red.  

“My goal for this collection was for it not to feel that it’s one month only – but taking it farther and giving you something more artistic that can be enjoyed and celebrated beyond February – when it should be every day for us.”