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Textile artist Darragh Rose on creating accessible and functional art in NYC

By Adele Dever · Oct 11, 2018 · ·

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Darragh Rose is an NYC-based painter, print maker, and textile artist. Nooklyn Showroom Director Jordan Ringdahl collaborated with Darragh on a stunning model apartment inside of the brand new luxury residential building in Two Bridges at 10 Rutgers. In partnership with Jordan, Darragh created a custom series of colorful silk-screened scarves for the showroom. Her wall art, along with artist Dina Nur Satti’s ceramics, furniture curated from CB2 and Crate and Barrel, and eye-catching accents, seamlessly brought out the best in the space.

Driven and talented, Darragh has a lot to say about making art in New York City, prioritizing accessibility, and her process of creating custom work for the Manhattan showroom. Darragh sees inspiration all around her; she absorbs the energy and complexities of life in New York City and channels it into her art. “I feel very much self-motivated being in New York City, being around other people. Whether they’re artists or not, everyone here has to work hard just to live easily.”

From youthful exploration to passionate professional

It wasn’t until her junior year of high school in Virginia (just outside of D.C.), that Darragh first took an interest in art. It began as a reaction to not making her school’s volleyball team. Darragh recalls, “I was always sports-driven when I was younger and [when] I didn’t make the team…it threw me in a new direction. I said to myself one night, ‘I’m going to buy a sketchbook.’ I made my mom drive me to Michael’s and I bought a sketchbook, some pens and microns, and I started drawing.”

From there, art became her top priority and she jumped into private lessons and art school applications. Eventually she gained acceptance into her first choice school in NYC — School of Visual Arts— for Illustration with a concentration on Printmaking. Since graduation, she has assisted at SVA and done freelance work across design, printmaking, fashion, and painting.

Ultimately, Darragh found that the best way to exhibit all of her talents would be to launch an overarching project to house all of her work. She knew that as an artist working across multiple mediums, she needed to establish a common thread. Thus, she launched her brand, Blunt Object, which showcases her experimental textiles as a printmaker and painter.

Wearable is accessible

Making her art available to consumers was a driving force behind the choice to work in textiles and fashion and the creation of Blunt Object. Darragh realized that while not everyone could shell out money for her fine art pieces, more people would invest in wearable art. With fashion, art could be appreciated while still being affordable and holding a practical use. She explains, “I wanted to apply my work to a medium in a way that people that I know could afford it and be interested in it. And also, through observation, I found that people are really receptive to [fashion].”

When describing the types of projects that she focuses on, Darragh contemplates: “It’s so broad. In the last month I’ve done production for a fashion presentation for a designer. I also just put out a collaboration with my brand and Babe Mania — it was a 24-piece collection that launched in Soho.”

To showcase the variety of her work, Blunt Object’s Instagram features people from rappers to designers to regular (but good-looking) people sporting beautiful hand-painted leather jackets, printed shirts and hoodies, and other custom pieces made by Darragh.

Living and creating in NYC

Darragh admits that the chaos of the city can be exhausting. With ideas and sources of inspiration constantly swirling, it can be tough to consistently put forth her best work. “Living in New York City, sometimes I feel like a backed up printer. You keep sending new ideas to print but it gets jammed,” Darragh says. “It’s usually an accumulation of crap inside your brain. But the inspiration is endless.”

To make it as an artist in New York, Darragh emphasizes the importance of using a breadth of existing work to pave the way for new opportunities. She lets no excess inspiration go to waste — from collab launches to production jobs to custom commissions, her range of know-how and talent is evidenced by her broad and diverse body of work.

Though she lives in Brooklyn, Darragh makes use of the facilities in her alma mater, SVA, where she’s been printing since 2012. “It’s basically my second home. Most of the best things I’ve made have come out of there,” she says. “But otherwise, I’m a painter on a pretty small scale. I do a lot of jackets and ink drawings that I turn into silk screen.”

Beyond SVA, Darragh’s cozy studio is an ideal home base. Since she mostly creates in small quantities, she’s been able to work primarily from home — there, she has all of the space and supplies she needs. It doesn’t hurt that she has truly found a sense of belonging in Prospect-Lefferts Gardens, where she’s lived for two years.

“I absolutely love my neighborhood. I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere else in Brooklyn,” she gushes. “It’s this small town feel. People say hi to you on the street, and I know so many people here that every time I leave my house on I run into someone. It’s more than just knowing your bodega guy. It really is knowing a full community of people.”

Darragh takes inspiration not only from the larger expanse of the city, but also from her immediate surroundings, neighbors, and people she comes into contact with in her day-to-day life. “[The] spectrum of diversity in in all aspects: socio-economic, racial, age, just feels harmonious. I’ve felt very welcome here and I’ve genuinely made some of my closest friends living within a six-block radius.” One of those friends was Nooklyn Showroom Director Jordan Ringhdahl.

10 Rutgers: Bringing color, shape, and texture to a modern space

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Darragh first met Jordan about a year ago while she was working in a coffee shop in her South Brooklyn neighborhood. He was a regular customer of hers, and when he found out she was a fellow artist, their friendship began to form. At that time, Jordan was putting together his first-ever showroom for Nooklyn, and he found Darragh’s collection to be a perfect complement to the pieces he had already curated for the space. “It was mostly unframed because I was broke and he said, ‘Hey, what do you think if we frame all of your work and use it in the showroom?’ And I was like, what, is this guy hitting on me?” Darragh laughs. “That evolved quickly into a great friendship and we had a nice little gallery show at the building and a beautiful reception,” she says.

I attended the celebration of Jordan’s first showroom last year and remember hearing about the new artist he was so excited about, Darragh. It was apparent from that night that they created stunning work together — all of the elements meshed perfectly within the space. It would only be a natural choice for them to work together again on a Nooklyn project.

When Jordan asked Darragh to collaborate on the 10 Rutgers showroom, no art had been selected for the space, though Jordan had been conducting a lengthy search involving various local artists. He strove to find an artist whose work would complement the larger vision for the building. “Our original prompt was to do something fun to distinguish 10 Rutgers from other buildings in the Lower East Side,” Jordan reflects. “It needed to be fresh. A place where college students and young families could come together while still feeling the luxury. We didn’t want it to look like another stuffy space.”

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From this idea, Jordan decided to play with bright pop colors and floral imagery; a tropical feel with a modern twist, using simple but bold paintings and accents. He created a mood board that featured textural elements like rattan and black lacquer. Then, Jordan received new renderings for the building’s
in-progress lobby — while the aesthetic had shifted, he became even more excited about the project. “It looked like art deco in Spain, a perfect balance of vintage and modern, with brass deco-style elements and marble.”

Soon, Jordan found himself sitting in Darragh’s studio, discussing the challenges he was facing and consulting her for thoughts. He had settled on a theme to guide the showroom’s design — a night out in the Lower East Side. As they talked through ideas, an a-ha moment struck: “I said to her, if I were to buy silk scarves at vintage stores across Brooklyn, would you print large block colors and strident lines on them and create something brand new and custom?” Rather than utilizing existing work, he proposed commissioning Darragh to produce new pieces for the space. Her artistic sensibility and aesthetic, combined with her ability to balance color and bold choices with minimalism, seemed like the perfect fit. Darragh came on board enthusiastically, and they began discussions about color, style, and furniture selections.

She elaborates, “[The pieces] were definitely made with everything that you see in [the space] in mind. But at the same time, they were made completely organically with the end result in my head.”

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The idea to use silk screened scarves came from Darragh’s previous work withtextiles, but for this project, she used the scarves that were handpicked by Jordan to complement the rest of the showroom’s interior design, furniture, and decor. It was important to keep the color scheme cohesive with the rest of the showroom — “Through each part of the process, every time I mixed something, I would send [Jordan] photos saying ‘You like this color palette?’. We kept bouncing things off each other and ended with these pieces.”

Jordan says he knew from the start that his arduous search for the right artist had been worth it. “With every picture Darragh sent, it got better and better. When I got to see the work in person I was like, without a doubt, these will look magnificent framed. And then even the framer was excited!”

Darragh describes the designs she developed for the space as “kind of an abstract landscape. I think of them as rocks and geodes — there’s a lot of pattern and texture used in the silk screen. Between Jordan sourcing the scarves and then choosing the frames, it all fit beautifully in the space.”

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Darragh’s work is both inspired by and made for New York City and the people who shape it. Through every new project she takes on, she becomes more dynamic and energized. Whether it’s a future Nooklyn collaboration, a new installation, or more wearable art pieces, we can’t wait to see what Darragh creates next!

Follow Blunt Object on Instagram here and find her other work here. Interested in getting a closer look at 10 Rutgers? Follow @10rutgers on Instagram and schedule a tour here.

Photo Credits:
1) Photo by Javahn Spill
2-5) Photos by Nick Doyle