Recently, Danny Roberts and his brother, David Roberts, have been finishing their epic tale, soon to be shared with the public in a 450-paged (give or take) illustrated storybook. Meanwhile, back in the blogosphere, the busy artist continues to communicate with followers, filling them in on current and up-coming projects, piquing interest with behind-the-scene glimpses into his studio.
A well-trafficked persona online, Roberts is surprisingly discreet for being a blogger, and all the more intriguing for it. The artist’s body of work speaks for itself; from his series of blogger portraits published back in 2009 (including one of fashion blog godmother Susie Bubble) to this spring’s collaboration with Tiffany & Co. (watch the short film documenting the making of the Tiffany mural here), Roberts has demonstrated a quick and lovely evolution that has beguiled the online community, the fashion industry and the greater art world.
Staying true to his online roots, Roberts posts his creative inspiration on Igor + André, as well as his tumblr, Inside My Brain, regularly for fans to peruse. Admirers are also invited to send in questions to the artist via Formspring or his Twitter account. With his growing audience captivated by live painting sessions and progress posts on projects, Roberts is stepping outside of the online sphere, and into the spotlight as one of the brightest talents of the new breed of independent artists born from Internet fame.
Below, FILLER talks to Roberts about his swelling fan base and working in the “dream world” he calls fashion.
You have a notable presence in the online community, from the many blogger portraits you’ve created, to the back and forth repertoire with your audience via Twitter. Has this path opened up your work to a wider audience?
It has most definitely helped. The Internet provides a really convenient way to share things with the whole world.
Why the name Igor + André for the title of your blog? Why not name it after yourself and your brother, the two talents behind it?
Actually, I haven’t really said why it’s called Igor + André yet. It’s named after a project I’ve been planning for the last two years, but it’s not ready yet. Hopefully we’ll be able to share it soon.
Very intriguing. A few years back, you did collaborations with Harajuko Lovers and Forever21. Are fashion partnerships such as these something you want to continue with?
I have been interested in exploring doing more on the textiles end of things for a designer. I don’t really have anyone in particular in mind though.
We hope a possibility arises soon! I understand you went to school for photography, and then switched to fashion design. Is your background in fashion what draws you to concentrate your illustrations on the industry?
I think the reason I stick with Fashion is because it is kind of a door into a dream world for me, and I like entering that dream world. I guess, to me, seeing a fashion collection is like picking the wardrobe for the story that is constantly being written in my head, if that makes sense? Fashion inspires just about every part of my art.
That being said, is taking a step away from fashion illustration to explore another artistic medium something you are considering or would ever consider?
What’s your creative process like, can you take us inside of it?
I don’t have a set process. It depends on the project. Sometimes, I will just see a picture that inspires me, and I will sit down and draw it right away. Other times, it can be an idea that I have that I think about for a long time, that I will finally write down or sketch.
What’s the shortest and longest time it has taken you to finish a portrait?
The shortest time for a portrait is about a day, for example, the Models.com portraits I did of new up-and-coming models Spring 2011; the longest, my oil painting of Sophie Ward, took me about a month.
What about your most challenging portrait, who was the model behind that one?
Lily Cole and Gemma Ward because they have unique shaped faces, and if you get their features just a little bit wrong, it doesn’t turn out.
I can imagine, the portraits turned out beautifully in the end. From what I read, it seems like fashion design still crosses your mind occasionally. Any aspirations on creating your own line?
I would prefer to collaborate with an existing fashion house for a couture collection that pushes the imagination, along the lines of John Galliano and Alexander McQueen. That is what I enjoy designing the most.
Have you ever been afraid that having your passion become a career would make it seem like a chore?
Yes. Always. You have to find a balance. If it ever got that way, I would choose to keep my passion, and get another job. I enjoy what I do, and I want to continue to enjoy it. One of the secrets to success is enjoying what I do.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a full time artist?
I don’t think I could do any one thing for a long time. I would do something that challenged me until I learned it, then I would move on. I like making things, which could manifest itself in a lot of different ways. Mainly, I like thinking of an idea and making it.
I think it’s safe to say you are currently “making” something pretty unique as an artist. Not only are you a young successful artist, you are a young successful businessman. When you began, did you set out with a business plan and a strategy to avoid the “starving artist” route?
I knew making the choice to be an artist is notoriously a hard way to make a living, and I set out, not so much with a business plan, but to find a way to make a living. I was ok [with] that if I could not make a living doing art, I would find another occupation and still do my art on the side because it is what I love to do. I still approach it that way since art is so subjective; what people like today, they may not like tomorrow. My family has helped me a lot with the business end of it, especially my brother David.
It’s clearly a smart partnership. You currently sell your work on etsy, but I’ve heard you have plans to open your own online store? Any news on this front?
The print store is a lot of work, and our plans with it are rapidly changing, and I am not quite sure what is going to happen with it.
You and your brother seem very close; I understand you are writing a storybook together. The updates on your blog make it look and sound enchanting! Could you elaborate on the plot and a release date?
David and I are a few weeks away from finishing the rough draft, which will be approximately 450 pages. Since this is our first book, I have no idea how long it will take to get it published. The story is about a girl who inherits a strange magical ability when the man she loves is mysteriously murdered. When her new power attracts the same people who are connected with his death, she must flee and learn how to use this ability in order to save everything she loves.
I read that you said a princess named Josette wasn’t in your first book. How many books are you planning on creating, is this the first of a series perhaps?
Yes, this is the first book in a series.
Did any of your own favorite childhood books inspire your story?
Yes, just about every one of them. The book was inspired by everything in our lives.
As of late, your projects seem to have become larger, both physically and status wise, like the recent mural for Tiffany and Co.’s SoHo location. Other than your book, any major projects coming up?
I actually just made a video for IMG Models for their Spring 2013 show package (above). It was really fun! My brother David and I came up with the idea to use candy in the video to brighten everything up. In addition to that, we always have things in the works, but they are at such an early stage that I can’t mention them.