London designer and illustrator Denzel Kessie, otherwise known as Bllack Line, puts his unique style down to "letting go", a calm attitude that has defined his work and ultimately led him to clients such as the NHS, and Nike.
"I used to obsess about everything being perfect," he tells Creative Boom. "I'd fret over lines and colours, and wanted my work to look as close to the subject matter as possible. But then I started to have fun with it and relax. That's how I developed my style."
Denzel developed an interest in art from the age of ten but it wasn't until a teacher at college pointed out that he could turn his creative passion into a career that he considered graphic design or illustration. "I was blindly doing something I felt I was good at, never realising it could be a profession," he says. That thoughtful push in the right direction ultimately led him to study Graphics & Illustration at the Cambridge School of Visual & Performing Arts.
Denzel graduated with honours in 2018 and immediately went freelance, picking up clients such as Build On Belief, Hype Collective, and more recently, Nike, to help launch its Air Max 270 React shoe. In 2019, he was also named one of the finalists in The Guardian Illustration Prize. Since then, he's been keeping himself busy with commissions and personal projects. One recent series was Colors, based on the popular YouTube channel by Colors Studios where Denzel illustrated some of his favourite performances – Jay Prince and Mahalia being amongst them. "I wanted to do something to mark Black History Month," he says, "And celebrate some leading artists."
Earlier this year, marketing agency Creative Nerds, commissioned Denzel to create a series of illustrations for Rise Above and Loneliness Awareness Week, focusing on themes of loneliness, being active, controlling emotions, combating social anxiety, sleep, body positivity, and dealing with change.
"I love to create content around my interests in music, fashion, hip-hop, and sneaker culture," he adds. "But at the end of the day, I just love to draw and design." Discover more of Denzel's work at bllackline.co.uk.