FIT TO BE T’D
IN A MARKET THAT CRAVES ONE-OF-A-KINDNESS, EVAN YORK IS SPOONING IT OUT FROM HIS BATHTUB.
Byline: Katherine Bowers
Handmade. If the word conjures up images of craftsy sweaters and folksy patchworks, wipe them clean. Artist Evan York is giving handmade a funky, urban spin with T-shirts he draws on and then dyes in his bathtub.
Each one-of-a-kind, One of One Tee sells for $80-$100 at Ron Herman-Fred Segal Melrose, Epoch and American Rag.
“A lot of people can’t afford art, so I thought if you could put a little bit on clothing, you can reach a lot more people,” said York.
His creations are lopsided, compelling and definitely gritty. He draws in washable, permanent ink and then tosses the T-shirts into his washer/dryer.
The results: From a gray-blue T-shirt, a man with swirling, curly hair looks out. An orange shirt has flowers crawling, vine-like, up one side. Faces with large eyes are somewhat of a specialty, although for people who prefer something less edgy, York does flowers, abstract buildings and compasses. Fall colors include plum, cocoa, gray, sky, royal blue, red and olive.
Art spills off the shirts and spatters all over York’s small apartment, located on a narrow street in Hollywood, Calif., where Bette Davis, Jack Nicholson and Christopher Reeve all once lived. Janis Joplin overdosed in the Hollywood Hotel up the street.
In York’s reddish orange bathroom — where the hand-dyeing takes place — swirls of black, yellow and blue jump from the walls. Canvasses line the kitchen and walls of the main room, which serve as bedroom, living room and studio. A door has a trompe l’oeil paneling and an action figure protruding from the groove where a chain lock would fit.
At press time, York had sold a mere 150 pieces of his One of One line. But if business booms, it’s clear he’ll have to move. York has also started drawing on vintage Levis, which have been picked up by American Rag. He said he’s recently gotten a hold of the coveted Fifties Levi’s known as “red lines.”
He is also working on a secondary line, Evan York, retailing for $36 and featuring colorful reproductions of his oils and watercolor canvases on baseball jerseys. Other pieces feature York’s black-and-white photographs, as well as urban scenes his father took in the Sixties. The signature line sells in American Rag and in Jean Factory, a 10-store specialty chain in Japan.
Angela Pearce, a buyer for American Rag, said both of York’s lines are doing well in the store.
“Out in L.A., everyone wants to be their own trendsetter. They want to have an original piece, not something everyone else has,” she said.
The artist got some unusual exposure at the start of the fall television season when actor Zack Ward wore a T-shirt brandishing York’s self-portrait on the premier of “Titus,” a new comedy from Fox Network.
“I’m having a little party for the premier, and I told my mother I finally got my face on TV,” York said.