June 25, 2013 2:02 PM

TWELV met up with the always-unpredictable artist Delano Brown for lunch in Bryant Park. Brown, who recently had his first show at Smart Clothes Gallery in the Lower East Side, stunned his audience when he broadcasted his creative process on a live model by painting abstract roses on her all-white dress. As seen in the impressive demonstration, Brown prefers everyday items – most recently taking on designer garments and accessories – to canvases as the outlet for his inspiration. The 22-year-old Baltimore-native explained to the New York Times that targeting designer duds is not because of his love for fashion, but rather “to disrespect [the brands] a little bit.” Despite his disdain for designer apparel, Brown has been embraced by the fashion community and sought after by Louis Vuitton, as well as various stylists to adorn clients like Fabolous and Chris Brown. With his warm demeanor, positive attitude and distinctive, contagious laugh, Brown opened up to us about his artwork and his “hard-headed” decisiveness when it comes to which projects to take on and which to pass up. Make no mistake: “Art-repreneur” Lano, as his friends call him, is an artist-not a designer.


What got you interested in art?

“I noticed that things without art were, generally, not beautiful. I’m inspired by everything, so I’ve kind of always been an artist, ever since I can remember at least. It’s really easy to be inspired; I guess I’ve always been creative.”

Can you describe your rise to fame?

“(Laughs) I woke up one day, and I was famous. I don’t know, I’ve kind of always been an internet presence, but I wouldn’t even say I’ve had my defining moment yet. We reach pinnacles, and we set goals everyday... All the accomplishments that I do have are all the things I said I was going to do from the beginning. Everything’s a surprise, but nothing’s surprising; I’m surprised by everything in terms that I take everything in stride, and I’m humbled, but at the same time, I planned to do it, so I’m not really surprised.”

Explain why the public cannot buy your art in stores.

“I don’t do stores because they wouldn’t know how to sell a product of mine like I would… Even aside from that, I just always felt like it’s a little more important, you give it a lot more value, if you keep it exclusive. [I want to] keep the clientele feel[ing] a little more important, like they’re a part of something.”

Any other artistic endeavors besides drawing and painting?

“I am a tattoo artist. I still tattoo. I’ve been tattooing for the past five years, not so much the past few months just because this has been consuming most of my time, but I work more so on large pieces and portfolio work. Tattoos, music, I do a little bit of everything.” 

Favorite artist?

“I could say Basquiat. I could say Keith Haring. I could be real obvious… [But] I like to feel things out for myself. In terms of artists I really relate with, it would have to be Basquiat. When I look at him and see his films, his documentaries, [from] the way he moves and the way he sells his pieces to the way he goes into each piece – went into each piece, rest in peace – his whole thought process was something that was kind of scary; watching it I saw so much of myself in it that I almost got disappointed that I wasn’t going harder with my artistic abilities, and it kind of inspired me to get off my ass a little bit.”

What is your inspiration behind your abstract floral designs?

“Roses are timeless, that’s probably why I stay so close to those. Even as a tattoo artist, I was known for detailed flower-work, so it naturally went with me. Roses are timeless; they’re classic. It never gets old. No matter where you’re from, what your walk of life, you know what a rose is when you see it. I guess I always appreciate timeless things, so it kind of went with me.”

In your opinion, what is the hardest step in creating a masterpiece?

“The hardest step for me right now is making it look easy. (Laughs) I don’t know, you don’t go into a masterpiece with the thought, 'This is going to be a masterpiece.' You just go into it thinking this is another piece of canvas or clothing whose ass I’m going to kick. The hardest part isn’t creating it; it’s getting people to understand it for what it is… It’s [also] just challenging myself; really, the hardest part is staying on my toes, keeping myself surprised with my own talents because I have to surprise myself, otherwise it’s not fun. I’m my biggest critic; I’m the first to all my shows. I’m here to see me before anybody else, so I got to put on a good show for myself.” 

Do you ever get nervous before a gallery show?

“I’ve only had one, and no, I was not nervous at all… [I painted the model in the white dress] like it was a performance. It looked like a concert in there. I don’t really get nervous. It’s different now knowing that people have expectations of me, so for me to be out here acting as though they don’t would be foolish. Nothing [nerve-racking] about it, just delivering what people expect.”

What is your dream project?

“It changes everyday. On the way up here, we were talking about doing car interiors. I could go down a list, I have so many ideas. Eventually, my dream project would probably be my fantasy studio – a decked out studio, whether it’s a gallery or a store or whatever, but it’s – a multi-purpose studio you can come to and we can hang out, [and] I could work in; I wouldn’t have to leave basically. That’s probably the next project I’m working towards.”

What do you think about the opportunity to work with Louis Vuitton?

It’s cool. Louis Vuitton is very Louis Vuitton-ish. (Laughs) I mean it’s a staple. I’m not going to say no, but, at the same time, until it happens, right now it’s just a rumor.

Do you have a favorite designer you’ve collaborated with? Anyone you hope to work with?

I haven’t done any solid collaborations yet. I mean I’ve worked on existing pieces, but I haven’t done a solid collaboration yet. I would like to get with Pharrell. I’ve actually sat down with [him] already. I would like to really pick his mind, and we’ll put together a crazy project. I like this designer right now, his name is Boris Bidjan Saberi… What he does with contours is fucking ridiculous. It’s real deconstructive, but it looks hot, crazy. I like his artistic direction a lot.”

Do you like being called an “artrepreneur”?

“I made that up, so hell yeah.”

Anything people would be surprised to learn about you?

“Everything. I speak Italian. (Laughs) I took Italian for four years – it’s sexy, pretty intriguing stuff - but I haven’t been [out there] yet.”

You recently painted a baseball (which can be seen on Instagram @yeahlano). What are your favorite sports?

“My favorite sport is boxing because I like to fight. (Laughs) I like soccer too because I like to kick… I boxed from age 7 to 14, and I got violent, got crazy, so my mom took me out of that and said, ‘Hey, enough of that. Do something else.’” 

Finally, is it ever difficult for you to stay in the creative process?

“No. The hardest part, like I [was saying before], is not getting content with what I did before but looking onto what’s next… It’s never difficult; it’s just being patient, more so, being patient with the stuff that I’ve done, knowing where I want to be in a few years, and working backwards from there, taking the necessary steps to get there. It’s easy… Everything is a surprise, but, like I said, I already saw it coming. That’s going to be my yearbook quote: Everything is a surprise, but, trust me, I see it coming.”

By Katie Davidson

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