The Story of Dak the Bison

  • By Kayla Cote
  • 19 Dec, 2016

From passion project, to finished product.

Meet Dak


When I moved to Fargo from Minot a year and a half ago, it was a leap into the unknown. I bid farewell to the burgeoning art scene, where I lived in   Minot Airspace Lofts , in search of the next challenge. I said goodbye to my family, to the place I had called home for the last nine years. I felt it in my heart it was time for a fresh start in life, something new, something exciting. The summer before I moved, I found myself spending more time in Fargo, partaking in events and getting to know the people in the lively city. Early that fall, I decided it was time to make the move.


In the midst of the last year and a half, there have been many other leaps. Like living in South Africa, falling in love, and getting married. But love story aside, (that can wait for another day,) I also launched my design agency Cote Creative. That’s right -- the classic millennial endeavor to support oneself doing what they love. And for me, that has always been design.


Launching my own design agency was simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. It is that thrill of conquering challenges and bringing innovative design concepts to reality which keeps me going. And I cannot think of a better place to start such a journey. The community in Fargo rallied behind me, supported my business, my design and my dream.


That deep-rooted appreciation sparked another leap. Last month, I launched one of the biggest and most challenging projects yet in my career as a designer. And at the time, I didn’t even know it. It started with this inkling of an idea, a desire to express my appreciation for Fargo in art form. I spent some time conceptualizing the idea in my sketchbook for a unique take on something familiar. All the classic icons of Fargo came to mind, and I eventually settled on incorporating the Bison; both a nod to the Dakota’s prairie wilderness, and an iconic symbol of a football team’s fame.


When design after design didn’t work, I finally took the framework of the Bison, and designed the word Fargo to fill the space. And boom. When I saw it, I got this feeling -- that gut feeling when you know you hit something on the mark. I spent the next couple of weeks further refining and defining the design.


The bison design, christened “Dak” by a Facebook name contest, now needed a way to come to life. It was a steel-wood sign for local startup Tellwell that brought Grain Designs to mind.


Grain Designs is a local company that specializes in reclaimed wood furniture, home goods and art. Grant Koenig of the Grain Designs team said they have been recently looking to collaborate with other local artists.


“This community has so much talent,” Koenig said. “The more we can help get that out, the better.”


When I approached them with Dak the Bison design, they saw it as the perfect ode to Fargo. The challenge, then, was turning a 2-D design into a 3-D composition. I had to think of how to keep the look of the original design incorporated into a 3-D structure. With good teamwork, the piece eventually came together.


For both myself and the Grain Designs team, collaborating with two different art mediums was a healthy challenge. Grain Designs Blain Mikkonen calls it “the creative exploration.”


“You grow whenever you have conversation with other artists in the community,” he says.


In this case, the combination resulted in something beautiful: a multi-dimensional art piece made of hot rolled steel and reclaimed cedar with a white wash. Dak the Bison truly came to life.


Dak made his first debut at Altaire Medical Spa, after I met owner Rick Schue -- a great supporter of local art. When I first showed him the designs for Dak, he knew right away that it would be a fitting piece for the entryway of their new company building, which was built last September. Other local artists, such as Dan Francis Photography, already decorate the walls of the spa.


“People here sometimes think that they have to go a special place to buy quality art,” Schue says. “But local talent is amazing.”


Support from business owners like Rick is so crucial to the success of local artists. For myself, for Grain Designs, for photographers, painters, sculptors and makers of all kinds -- it means the world to see a piece be created, come to life, and find a home.


As I look around at the community that has become my home, and the community effort it took to bring Dak to life, he is truly the ode to Fargo I set out for him to be. Creating Dak has only reminded me of why I do what I do. I want to fill the walls of Fargo with good design.


And this is just the beginning.


_ _ _


You can learn more about my studio, Cote Creative here . Check out Dak the Bison here !


By Kayla Cote 19 Dec, 2016

Meet Dak


When I moved to Fargo from Minot a year and a half ago, it was a leap into the unknown. I bid farewell to the burgeoning art scene, where I lived in   Minot Airspace Lofts , in search of the next challenge. I said goodbye to my family, to the place I had called home for the last nine years. I felt it in my heart it was time for a fresh start in life, something new, something exciting. The summer before I moved, I found myself spending more time in Fargo, partaking in events and getting to know the people in the lively city. Early that fall, I decided it was time to make the move.


In the midst of the last year and a half, there have been many other leaps. Like living in South Africa, falling in love, and getting married. But love story aside, (that can wait for another day,) I also launched my design agency Cote Creative. That’s right -- the classic millennial endeavor to support oneself doing what they love. And for me, that has always been design.


Launching my own design agency was simultaneously thrilling and terrifying. It is that thrill of conquering challenges and bringing innovative design concepts to reality which keeps me going. And I cannot think of a better place to start such a journey. The community in Fargo rallied behind me, supported my business, my design and my dream.


That deep-rooted appreciation sparked another leap. Last month, I launched one of the biggest and most challenging projects yet in my career as a designer. And at the time, I didn’t even know it. It started with this inkling of an idea, a desire to express my appreciation for Fargo in art form. I spent some time conceptualizing the idea in my sketchbook for a unique take on something familiar. All the classic icons of Fargo came to mind, and I eventually settled on incorporating the Bison; both a nod to the Dakota’s prairie wilderness, and an iconic symbol of a football team’s fame.


When design after design didn’t work, I finally took the framework of the Bison, and designed the word Fargo to fill the space. And boom. When I saw it, I got this feeling -- that gut feeling when you know you hit something on the mark. I spent the next couple of weeks further refining and defining the design.


The bison design, christened “Dak” by a Facebook name contest, now needed a way to come to life. It was a steel-wood sign for local startup Tellwell that brought Grain Designs to mind.


Grain Designs is a local company that specializes in reclaimed wood furniture, home goods and art. Grant Koenig of the Grain Designs team said they have been recently looking to collaborate with other local artists.


“This community has so much talent,” Koenig said. “The more we can help get that out, the better.”


When I approached them with Dak the Bison design, they saw it as the perfect ode to Fargo. The challenge, then, was turning a 2-D design into a 3-D composition. I had to think of how to keep the look of the original design incorporated into a 3-D structure. With good teamwork, the piece eventually came together.


For both myself and the Grain Designs team, collaborating with two different art mediums was a healthy challenge. Grain Designs Blain Mikkonen calls it “the creative exploration.”


“You grow whenever you have conversation with other artists in the community,” he says.


In this case, the combination resulted in something beautiful: a multi-dimensional art piece made of hot rolled steel and reclaimed cedar with a white wash. Dak the Bison truly came to life.


Dak made his first debut at Altaire Medical Spa, after I met owner Rick Schue -- a great supporter of local art. When I first showed him the designs for Dak, he knew right away that it would be a fitting piece for the entryway of their new company building, which was built last September. Other local artists, such as Dan Francis Photography, already decorate the walls of the spa.


“People here sometimes think that they have to go a special place to buy quality art,” Schue says. “But local talent is amazing.”


Support from business owners like Rick is so crucial to the success of local artists. For myself, for Grain Designs, for photographers, painters, sculptors and makers of all kinds -- it means the world to see a piece be created, come to life, and find a home.


As I look around at the community that has become my home, and the community effort it took to bring Dak to life, he is truly the ode to Fargo I set out for him to be. Creating Dak has only reminded me of why I do what I do. I want to fill the walls of Fargo with good design.


And this is just the beginning.


_ _ _


You can learn more about my studio, Cote Creative here . Check out Dak the Bison here !


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