Big Brain Awards 2013

Dake now works as a full-time freelance illustrator. Her client list includes McSweeney's, Business Week, Lucky Peach, Wired, New York Times, and New York Times Magazine (to name a few). At 23, she's a big name in the national illustration scene but says she's ready to focus on her hometown.

She grew up in Phoenix, went to Chaparral High School, and moved to Los Angeles to attend Art Center College of Design. After graduation, she flew across the country and set herself up in New York to make contacts with local publications and other illustrators. But after a year or so, she realized that for as much as she was paying to live in a tiny studio, she could move back home and live in her own house built by one of her favorite architects. So she jumped on a plane and flew back to Arizona.

Step inside Dake's 1958 Haver home and studio, and you'll see that she's a champion of Phoenix. She has vintage city maps on the wall and stored in flat files; she has a collection of Midcentury Modern furniture she's raced around town to lay claim on; she just finished creating a series of images of iconic Phoenix signs (including the Log Cabin Motel and Mesa's Diving Lady), which are on display and up for grabs at Phoenix Metro Retro.

Brandon Boetto
Brandon Boetto

Location Info


The Monarch Theatre

122 E. Washington St.
Phoenix, AZ 85004

Category: Dance Clubs

Region: Central Phoenix

"I know people leave all the time to go to the cities I've come from, and I often feel the need to stand up for Phoenix," she says. "But here's where I can make a difference . . . More than anywhere else, I feel like I belong here."

Dake says she's on a mission to connect with local illustrators and find a place in the local art scene, whether that's attending and supporting local events like Modern Phoenix Week and Phoenix Design Week or opening her own pop-up gallery for illustration work (fingers crossed). And all this while continuing to challenge herself.

She's known for her bold and detailed editorial work and celebrated for her unique style, which she says can only be described as "how I draw."

"I think, more than anything, it's just important to be yourself and stay true to what you do and how you do it," she says. "The second you try to be different or force your own work to be something that's unnatural, you're just being someone else." — Claire Lawton


Local artists Michelle Ponce and Damian Jim have worked on small projects and art pieces together since they met a few years ago, but when they connected over the idea of a contemporary Native art zine, the two knew they were in it for the long haul.

Jim is from the Navajo Nation and Ponce's family is from Puerto Rico, but the two have a shared affinity for Native culture and artwork. They published the first issue of Ziindi, a simple stapled art zine, in early 2012 and hosted a launch party in a pop-up gallery in downtown Phoenix. That's when things really clicked — not only did they realize there was a real reaction and need for a contemporary Native outlet, but they saw firsthand that the local community was interested in seeing contemporary Native art up close.

Ponce says Ziindi's target audience is Native youth growing up on reservations throughout the Southwest. She and Jim hand-deliver hundreds of zines to schools and community centers in Native communities as soon as they roll off the presses. But as important as arts education and awareness for youth on the reservation is for the two, they also wanted to create a space where Native artists could gather while passing through town, where emerging artists could show their work, and where the community could come see a cultural artform that Jim and Ponce say has been largely misrepresented and commoditized by local institutions.

So between their day jobs and personal art projects, the two continued publishing Ziindi ( and began brainstorming and looking for a spot they could settle into and create a cultural hub for music and art.

In December 2012, Jim found an online ad for a space open on Sixth and Roosevelt streets in downtown Phoenix, and the two jumped on the opportunity. As they moved in, they learned more about the space's history in the Phoenix art scene. It was built from rubble by local art champion Greg Esser back when Roosevelt was in its ghost-town phase. The space became an artist residence and studio for artists including Brian Boner and Mike Lundgren, among others, and has served as Roosevelt Row headquarters and, later, Regular Gallery, which Esser opened in 2011.

And so the life cycle continues. Jim and Ponce named the gallery 1Spot because it's the "one spot" you'll always be able to find contemporary artwork by emerging and established Native artists. And though they're both careful to acknowledge the presence of the Heard Museum, they also note that emerging artists in their community need a space to showcase modern art — beyond the traditional work that's generally on display at the museum.

The two happily admit that 1Spot is a bit off the beaten First Friday path, but they agree it's fairly easy to find. The front of the gallery was given a fresh (and fitting) paint job long before they moved in by Native artist Thomas "Breeze" Marcus. As part of Jackalope Ranch's exhibition of maps by Phoenix artists in 2011, Breeze covered the wall in his own interpretation of an archaeological map of the Hohokam canal system and ancient village sites.

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OK wow, lets roll that beautiful bean footage!


He sounds like a future famous designer.  I liked reading about him.  Much luck and success to him in his future in design and hopefully I'll see his clothes in the best shops in the future.

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