BY ALAYSHA MAPLE
Life comes with its share of colorful ups and monotone downs. Danielle Renee Collins, an 18-year-old Central Carolina Technical College student enrolled in the associate arts program, is a prime example of how life’s experiences can shape a budding artist.
Danielle and her military family moved around frequently until settling in Sumter in 2014. The move would follow the passing of her mother and precede the deployment of her father. Her grandmother stepped in their place, an act of love Danielle expressed gratitude for, sharing “if it wasn’t for her, I probably wouldn’t be here right now. She was my rock and my best friend.”
Growing up, Danielle faced her own challenges, including being diagnosed with Asperger’s. In her early school years, she often felt like an outsider. But this never deterred her from pursuing her artistic dreams. That journey began with traditional pencil-to-paper drawing, a skill inherited from her mother. Young Danielle’s early fascination with Sonic games soon bloomed into a passion for video games and their intricate, digital design, leading her to envision working for the Japanese multinational video game and entertainment company Sega.
Following the completion of her two years at CCTC, Danielle plans to transfer to the Savannah College of Art and Design to earn an illustration degree with a minor in game design. With Sega on the backburner, she now aspires to work with smaller game development companies and indie comic creators.
“I feel like a lot of their works have more heart and care put into them,” she explained. “I want to help smaller game companies get to their goal and let others see what they care about.”
But before her name may share a credit line with other creators, Danielle plans to wrap up a few projects of her own, including a manga titled “Golden Gates.” The story revolves around Maxine, a young girl whose life takes an unexpected turn as her best friend begins acting strangely, right around the time a series of killings occur at her all-girls school. Maxine’s older brother, Maximo, a priest and detective, is determined to solve the mysteries surrounding the school. Meanwhile, in heaven, God’s son, Gabriel, has been sent down to live with Maxine’s family. Together, they must all work to uncover the dark secrets behind the killings.
Danielle’s artistry revolves around storytelling and character development, which can be seen in her digital artwork that hangs in the CCTC Gallery. Each piece shows the progression of the young artist’s skills, exploding with color, contrast and an artistic style that originated in Japan, popularized around the word – but still uniquely Danielle.
No matter how the colorful tone of her life changed, Danielle remained devoted to her art. Thankful to her family and friends – her anchors to life and biggest supporters of her art career – she continues to develop her skills, work on her projects and strive to help others – including the next generation of creatives – make their mark on the world, one digital pen stroke at time.
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