By Jack Coyle | firstname.lastname@example.org
A large, noisy, postal van covered in colorful hand-drawn designs screeches to a halt in the driveway. The once government-owned vehicle has been rebranded into a portable mural with yellows, reds and greens. The speakers are blaring the tune of the song “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus, yet the voice rapping along is Biggie Smalls – an eclectic remix to say the least.
The driver of the vehicle steps out with spiked teal hair, a denim jacket and a pair of sweatpants that have the same designs as his car. This is Noah Cook – and if you could not tell, he’s different.
Cook is one of many student-artists at Flagler College but few have seen such success at his age. At only 19 years old, Cook has designed work for Taco Bell, Bonnaroo Music Festival and local restaurant Kazu Sushi Burrito.
And it may have never come about if it were not for a love interest.
“I started making artwork in fourth grade because I had a crush on my fourth-grade art teacher,” Cook said, “and I was the best artist in the class and I used that as an advantage to talk to her.”
Regardless of his reasons for picking art up, Cook quickly excelled. It was not long before he started to receive commissions and national attention.
In 2017, Cook was one of a select group across the country to win Taco Bell’s Live Más Scholarship. The scholarship is not based on academic achievements, and is instead awarded to “the innovators, creators and dreamers,” according to Taco Bell’s website.
The people at Taco Bell were so impressed with his application that they decided to commission some of his work for their personal offices in Irvine, California.
“They wanted to commission a painting. They wanted me to put a few things in it like a Baja Blast or something. I could design it however I wanted I just had to have a few commercial things in it,” Cook said.
This led to an even bigger opportunity for Cook.
“They told me they really liked the paintings I did for them. They wanted me to come to this big event for all the people who own Taco Bells in a Waldorf in Arizona to do a live-painting. So they set me up in the lobby and I just had four canvases and I had two days to just sit there and do them,” Cook said.
When Cook had finished, his canvases were silently auctioned off for charity.
Cook’s paintings ended up raising over $20,000 in scholarship money to go back into the Live Más Scholarship for other students like him.
After returning to St. Augustine with that valuable experience, Cook began painting murals for local businesses and experimenting with new styles.
Cook is known for his unique brand of what he calls “doodles” primarily achieved with sharpie markers and bold colors.
“My artwork is ‘positive and doodly’ and intends on making people love it, question it or just kinda stare at it,” Cook wrote on his website.
But recently, Cook has began expanding his horizons. This began with a hyper-realistic picture of rapper, comedian and actor Donald Glover who Cook draws inspiration from. Cook has also started designing his own clothes which he wore during the interview.
Cook is not exactly sure what he’s going to do in the future, but he is sure of one thing.
“Yeah, art will be my life,” he said. “I’ll always do this.”