Tiffany & Co. is a name synonymous with elegance and style, so when the company began building its new store on Greene Street in SoHo, it was no surprise to us that it would come up with a way to make even its construction site look gorgeous. Enter Danny Roberts, one of four artists commissioned by Tiffany & Co. to beautify the store's construction facade.
Danny has already collaborated with the likes of Forever21, Gwen Stefani's Harajuku Lovers line, Dazed & Confused and Rachel Antonoff to name a few. If you haven't seen or heard about his romantic, stylized fashion illustrations yet, you'll be hard-pressed to miss them now!
While on the hunt for street style, I stopped by the 97 Greene Street location to view the finished painting and ended up chatting with the humble and talented Roberts about his largest work to date. So, how did the collaboration with Tiffany's come about? It actually came by email. I got an email from Tiffany and Co. about a month and a half ago asking me if I was interested in being a part of the project.
How do you feel about having your work so large and publicly prominent? It's pretty surreal. It was a huge honor to be asked to do anything for a company like Tiffany's, let alone something so massive and public. It was an amazing experience.
You lucked out in the weather department while creating the painting, did you have a back-up plan in case it rained? Yes, we did. We were pretty nervous about the rain and were checking daily weather reports. The paint was permanent and water resistant, so our only back-up plan was extending our stay in New York to finish up the painting when the rain stopped. Luckily, we didn't have to go to plan B.
How long did it take from start to finish? I only had 33 hours of live painting time in New York. Since most of my pieces take longer than that, we decided that I would start the piece two weeks before we flew out to New York, and then scale the piece up and make a massive print and finish the piece in the 33 hours. The base painting took a little over 100 hours, and the live painting was a little less than 33 hours. So in totality, it took around 133 hours.
Is this the largest piece you've ever done? How large is it exactly? Yes, by a lot. Before that, the largest painting I had done was 5ft by 6ft. This piece is 15ft by 35ft. Did you get any comments from passers by while you were painting? Yes, my brother and sister said people had some very nice comments. For the most part, when I'm painting, I'm pretty focused and didn't hear much. In terms of your typical paintings, what's your weapon of choice? Hmmmm... typically, I enjoy doing ink and water color mixed with pen and color pencil. Or if painting large, I love oil painting.
What are three things you can't live or paint without? 1. A large flat brush 2. A small details brush 3. A fairly large pallet.
What's on your iPod right now? Do you have a painting playlist that you always listen to? I have about three or four painting playlists that I cycle around depending on my mood, but currently I've been listening to a lot of Neko Case, Midlake, First Aid Kit, The Dø, Sarah Jaffe, Ryan Adams, and Mumford & Sons.
Do you have any painting rituals or funny habits that you always follow while creating a work? Not so much. The morning of starting a big painting, I wake up really focused, make a lot of coffee, and stare at the canvas for a while trying to visualize what I'm about to paint. What's one song that you feel sonically describes your work? Wow, that is a tough one. Maybe a mixture between three songs: 1. "Bookstore" from the Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind soundtrack 2. "Comptine d'un autre ete : L'apres midi" by Yann Tierson from the Amélie soundtrack. 3. "Avril 14th" by Apex Twin
When you're not painting what's your favorite thing to do? I love hanging out with family and friends. I also write a lot of music on my down time. Also, I was an athlete my whole life, so I love playing different sports in my free time.
What can we expect from Danny Roberts in the future? Any projects in the works that you want to share? I am hoping to start expanding into photography. I actually majored in photography my first year in college. I have a bunch of editorial concepts I feel that are better realized with photography. My brother and I are writing a fiction novel that we hope to have published in the next few years. I am also a part of a music group called "The Dream Walking Society", so I've been co-writing a full length album that we are hoping to release in the next few years also.
Lastly, what's your motto? Never stop learning.
Photos by Ashley Jahncke unless otherwise noted.