A model in Maui wears body paint and activewear designed by Breanna Cooke of Dallas, inspired by the movie 'Chasing Coral.' Photo courtesy of Breanna Cooke.

May 5, 2022

By day, Breanna Cooke is a Dallas-based designer, known for her fantastical body paint and costume design. In her off-time, as a member of Citizens Climate Lobby, she's a local hero for the environment.

Recently, she combined her two passions to bring attention to a global environmental crisis — the threats to coral reefs.


Growing up near Toronto, Cooke, 39, said she has always been drawn to sustainability issues, but it wasn’t until recently that she truly began to pursue activism.

“I’ve always been environmentally aware,” she said. “Everyone kind of knew me as the person that recycled and chose the more sustainable options, and then in 2016, I hit this point of feeling that I wasn’t doing enough as an individual, especially with regards to the climate.”

Breanna CookeDallas body paint artist and graphic designer Breanna Cooke is also an environmental advocate. Courtesy of Breanna Cooke.

So she joined environmental and climate awareness organizations, including a local chapter of CCL, and her passion quickly flourished. 

From then forward, she’d begin to use climate messaging in her body painting work and some of her design work, which she describes as climate “artivism.”

Often blending body paint with painted fabric and costume pieces, Cooke’s signature style is to blur the lines between the skin she paints and the costume pieces she creates, which are usually a mix of hand-painted fabric and digitally printed designs. 

She said most of her work includes vibrant colors and flashy patterns, because she expects this style initiates conversations more frequently. 

“I’ve learned from my body paint work that when someone’s wearing really vibrant art on their body, people want to talk to you to ask questions about it,” Cooke said.

When she learned about a call-for-art that blends vibrant colors with climate awareness, she knew she had to be part. 


"Chasing Coral" Fluorescing Coral Scene

A scene from Chasing Coral shows the discovery of coral glowing in fluorescent colors before they bleach. Courtesy of Glowing Glowing Gone Campaign.

The Glowing Glowing Gone ocean awareness campaign was developed by the Ocean Agency during the filming of the Netflix original documentary, Chasing Coral.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, more than 75 percent of Earth’s tropical reefs experienced bleaching-level heat stress between 2014 and 2017, with nearly 30 percent of reefs reaching mortality level.

As researchers and filmmakers traveled the ocean for the documentary, they discovered that most coral would shine in fluorescent blue, purple, and yellow hues before bleaching.

As researchers and filmmakers traveled the ocean for the documentary, they discovered that most coral would shine in fluorescent blue, purple, and yellow hues before bleaching.

“It was like the corals were trying to make a sunscreen for themselves as sort of a last-ditch efforts to save themselves from the heat, and then they would bleach,” Cooke said. “The corals were glowing in these colors to try and catch our attention as they come out to die.”

Partnering with Pantone and Adobe, the Ocean Agency uses these glowing blue, yellow and purple colors to encourage increased ocean protection and climate awareness. The goal is to turn these “warning colors” into “colors that everyone can use to inspire action.”

“When I came across the Glowing Gone campaign and saw the way it combined vibrant colors and design with activism, it really spoke to me,” Cooke said. “This seemed like the perfect way for me to create art that helps increase awareness about the need for climate action.”

Breanna Cooke's Coral Reef CollectionBreanna Cooke designed activewear with vibrant, staghorn coral that she hand-drew before having it digitally printed onto the product. Photo courtesy of Breanna Cooke.

Teaming up with the Glowing Glowing Gone campaign, Cooke designed activewear with vibrant, staghorn coral that she hand-drew before having it digitally printed onto the product.

Once perfecting her design, she traveled to Hawaii with a model, who she painted to match her design.

“My initial vision was to do an underwater photo shoot with body paint and apparel in a pool. It would just complete this really cool imagery to show people what I’ve done,” Cooke said. “But there was this opportunity for us to go to Hawaii — and I know there’s issues with traveling and the carbon offsets — but I knew whatever I did in Hawaii would create a growing impact for this campaign.”


Cooke's fluorescent coral reef-printed collection includes everything from $3 stickers and $10 scrunchies and hairbands to $45 sports bras and $82 high-waist yoga pants.

Breanna Cooke's Coral Reef CollectionA model shows off items from Breanna Cooke's Coral Reef Collection. Courtesy of Breanna Cooke.

She uses 79 percent recycled polyester with non-toxic inks in her activewear, while her paper products are also sustainable, printed on 100 percent recycled paper with soy-based inks. To ensure reduced carbon emissions, she has all products manufactured in the U.S.

Additionally, 10 percent of the proceeds from her Glowing Glowing Gone collection is donated to the Ocean Agency.

Although she strives to make her work as eco-friendly as possible, she said it’s difficult for an artist to offer 100 percent sustainable products. Additionally, it limits supporters, who would otherwise purchase her climate awareness products.

“Breanna's hope is that in the future, eco-minded materials, products, and manufacturing will be the norm, not the (more expensive) exception,” her product website states.

Currently, she offsets 100 percent of carbon emissions from delivery, helping fund the Acapa – Bajor Mira y Frontera Forest Conservation project in Columbia. She has also partnered with EcoEnclose to ship products in sustainable packaging with an increased focus in biodegradable options when possible.

Shop Breanna's Coral Reef Collection.


Dallas woman crochets 'climate' scarf

Climate Book Club aims to build environmental literacy in DFW

Dallas artist rescues castoff hubcaps

Stay up to date on everything green in North Texas, including the latest news and events! Sign up for the weekly Green Source DFW Newsletter! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Also check out our new podcast The Texas Green Report, available on your favorite podcast app.

Main category: