Step inside the home of artist David Foote, whose illustrations appear in our July catalog alongside Aline Weber. David is a modern day jack of all trades – his list of accomplishments includes illustration, painting, children’s books, film and even a beauty line. Read on for a tour of his beautiful Brooklyn home and the inside scoop on his current projects.
How did the collaboration with Free People come about?
I was already working on fabric for a fashion designer, and it was all florals, and weirdly enough what they wanted was kind of in the same vein, so I combined the spirit of what I did in my last children’s book, which is all vines and that kind of vibe and I just combined that with the floral. The way I work is that whatever I think of the first second I look at things, I’ve found that’s what works best.
How does fashion inspire your work?
Well I worked in fashion for many years, I did fashion illustration for womens wear daily and other places, and then I worked with fashion designers doing prints and all sorts of things, and I went to parsons at the same time, so fashion has always been ingrained in what I do. In New York it’s impossible to not be influenced by fashion because here it’s so strong.
And funny enough, every time I do a painting series its called a collection, so every time I do a series it’s like its own thing with its own set of inspirations. A lot of artists kind of always do the same thing forever and they work on a style…I think, whatever I’m inspired by I kind of use it for whatever series I’m working on.
How long have you lived in Brooklyn?
I’ve lived here for 6 years. In this apartment. I think at the end of the day for a person to be inspired and create, your living environment has to reflect that so that’s why this apartment is the way it is. Its full of things that are visually interesting. There’s a lot of fur, and feathers, and things… it’s actually practical because if I need reference I have all the things here, and most of them I use…the ferns, the roses – all the Free People roses were done from that. So they might look like crazy props but they’re actually really functional.
When you’re working what kind of environment to you like to be in?
Exactly like this. Literally, just like this. I was working before you showed up.
(his studio, pictured above, is a dark space in the center of his apartment, lit by lamps and with soft music playing)
What sort of music do you listen to while working?
All sorts. A lot of time when I work I listen to classical music because funny enough when I’m painting, the way the brush moves, and the speed that I paint, if the music has a certain rhythm it stunts me. And I got into waltzes because the rhythm that they have makes me go really fast. If I’m listening to waltzes I can paint something in a week vs. two months. It drives me in a different way. I think musical frequency has 100% to do with anything manual like painting, and at the same time it also affects it.
You do so many different things, is there one that you’ve found most rewarding, that you love the most?
Film is what I want to do. Film is what I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always drawn and painted, since I was a year old, I mean my first drawing was a mickey mouse seven times my size. That was my cover for my portfolio to get into art school. Drawing is what I do, film is what I’ve always wanted to do. Fine art is something so singular, you’re always alone, it’s all your own decisions, you’re in a room with your painting, every brush stroke is yours. Film is so collaborative, it’s just a different experience and that’s kind of what I’m looking for now. And it’s exciting, it’s on its way, we’re shooting in September. We have great actors, it’s a cool movie.
What is it about?
Its called “Famous” and it’s a thriller, it’s about a young aspiring actor who becomes a male escort for all the women on the Upper East Side. It’s a fun ride.
So what has been the most challenging?
The soap company. It’s something that I started for my mom and it’s just the two of us, and it’s grown – now we are relaunching the entire brand with liquid soaps, and it’s a totally different world but I love it. Now I know every single ingredient in soap, every fragrance, every single additive…and at the end of the day it’s satisfying because we actually make good products. our products are 100% natural…a lot of people make claims when they say a soap is moisturizing, and they use trace amounts of stuff. When something says it has Shea butter it has like 0.005 % of it, we use 2%. We use really high percentages of things, our soaps are mostly colloidal oatmeal which is amazing and they’re completely natural, zero preservatives, zero fake colorants, there’s nothing bad in them. And it’s rare when you actually see something like that. It’s all about making something good, making a luxury product.
(at this point he gives me the above sample of the soap and I swear it’s the most amazing fragrance I’ve ever smelled)
Our July catalog explores the concept of dark vs. light…would you say your work is more dark or light or a combination of both?
I think it’s a combination of both… like white magic. That’s the best way to explain it. Its dark, its kinda shady, but it’s also light.
What does free mean to you?
Free is doing what you want. Free to me is being able to do what you love in life. Whatever that is.
Photos by Julia.