Steve Duque | Colombiano, Artist, Businessman


Steve Duque has been skateboarding since he was 13 years old.  He had no idea that this pastime would turn into something so special.  — By Jess Evora

Anyone who knows anything about Colombian culture knows that Colombians are obsessed with futbol (soccer).  So for Colombian American Steve Duque, his disinterest in the sport was a bit of a point of contention.

Duque (who grew up in Cumberland) picked up skateboarding at the age of 13. It was not a popular decision among his peers.  “A kid once said to me, ‘Why are you skating? You’re not White.’” Duque said.  “But I never really cared what people thought.  I enjoyed it, so I would skate.”

This pastime would lead to a new hobby for Duque: collecting skateboards as memorabilia, something he would continue to do for years; something that would ultimately lead him to turn his pastime into a form of art. 

In 2012, inspired by a Skateboard documentary called “Second Nature” by filmmaker Janne Saario, Duque decided he would begin transforming his old skateboards into wall decor.  But one night, he tried something different.  He took smaller pieces and began creating a napkin holder.  During this process, he was left with even smaller pieces that he didn’t know what to do with… at first.

He eventually came up with an idea.  It was this idea that turned Duque Skate Art into what it is today.  He beautifully handcrafted tiny pieces of recycled skateboards to create miniature works of art, such as key chains, pens, and even earrings.

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After completing his first few pieces, his business mindset kicked into gear. Duque made as many items as he could and boldly approached small boutique shops in the Providence area asking if they would sell his work.

He had no specific business plan. What he did possess was a strong drive to get his art out there.  The fear of failure simply didn’t enter his mind.  The work ethic of his parents and the supportive foundation that is embedded in Colombian culture left him no room for doubt.

“I think often about everything my parents had to go through.  They came from Colombia to live their American dream,” Duque said. “To see where they came from, and what they went through is a huge inspiration.  My parents didn’t have the opportunity to finish high school, yet they still persevered and achieved their goals.  For Colombians, strong family values, hard work and determination is everything.”

Doing Things on His Own Time

Things are clear now for Duque, but the path wasn’t always so sure for him. He graduated from Cumberland High School without a strong sense of what he wanted to do.  He started college a year later, but would soon realize he wasn’t sure which direction to take.  He left his educational program, and decided to work full-time.

Years later, he decided to get out of his comfort zone, and moved to Portland, Oregon, where he lived for a year.  All of this led to a long pause in Duque’s educational pursuits.  However, he acknowledges that Duque Skate Art may not have been born if he had continued down the “traditional path” that so many of us are expected to take. 

“It’s funny because I didn’t realize what I wanted to do until I was 30 years old,” Duque said. “Yet, everything is falling into place.”

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Duque is currently a 2018 Fellow of the RI chapter of the New Leaders Council (a highly-competitive program), and is looking to go back to school to earn a business degree. Duque has also been featured in PVDMonthly magazine and WPRI’s The Rhode Show. 

Today, you can find Duque Skate Art in 9 stores throughout the state (including RI’s local gift shop, Frog and Toad, and the local skateboard shop Civil).  You are also likely to run into Duque Skate Art at many local festivals in RI. 

And like every decision Duque has made in his life, each creation that comes out of Duque Skate Art is made with incredible patience and intentional care.  All pieces are unique and are still completely handmade by Duque himself.

-JE


Support

Purchasing Duque Skate Art is a great way to gift someone you care about (or yourself) with something beautiful, local, and unique.  It is also a great way to support a young entrepreneur within our community.  We rise by lifting each other up.

Reach out

  • Email: duqueskateart@gmail.com

More on Duque

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US & OUR CULTURE

A blog that celebrates the diversity and the impact of today’s young professionals

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“If you want to go fast, go alone.  If you want to go far, go together.”
– African Proverb 

 

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