Dana Veraldi | New York Times
The Artist Behind Deer Dana and Its Celebrity T-Shirts
October 7, 2015
Born in Denville, N.J., lived in Paris and Ann Arbor, Mich., and grew up in Gulph Mills, Pa.
In a large studio in Brooklyn Heights with an adopted cat named Frankie.
Claim to Fame
Ms. Veraldi, along with Kevin Tekinel, her business partner, is a founder of DeerDana, a line of illustrated T-shirts and tote bags that feature cartoonish portraits of contemporary icons likeKanye West, Martin Scorsese, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Larry David and Lil Wayne. The T-shirts have been spotted on a fair number of celebrities, including Jay Z, Beyoncé, Dakota Fanning, Katy Perry and Jonah Hill. Ms. Veraldi draws each portrait by hand. “Because I’m not trained in fine art, there is a sense of childlikeness, a sense of humor and imperfection to it,” she said.
She began making T-shirts as a photography student at the Maryland Institute College of Art, and continued to do so when she moved to New York. A few stores, including Patricia Fields, carried her T-shirt, but the first major exposure came in 2008, when one of her friends, the model Agyness Deyn, wore a DeerDana T-shirt with her own likeness in the pages of Time’s Style & Design issue. She began selling her shirts on her DeerDana website, which at the time contained mostly her photography. “It was very lo-fi,” Ms. Veraldi said. “I was printing the shirts myself, in my apartment, on any cheap blank garment I could find — from men’s undershirts to tank tops.”
Ms. Veraldi recently created collages for Tory Burch as part of a promotional campaign for the book “Tory Burch in Color,” and collaborated with Uber on a line of T-shirts that read “Uber NYC.” Past projects include a lunchbox for Walgreens, illustrated portraits of Bruce Weber’s dogs and bunny T-shirts for Playboy.
Ms. Veraldi is creating a tote bag for La Mer, the skin-care brand, and shirts for Reformation that feature illustrations of planets and the text “Give Me Space.” She recently made T-shirts featuring her rendering of Ol’ Dirty Bastard for Diamond Supply Company, a skateboard brand, as well T-shirts for Madewell, the upmarket cousin of J. Crew, that feature illustrations of food associated with New York, Paris or Tokyo. “The Japanese one has sushi eyes and shrimp tempura mouth,” she said. “They’re cute.”
She sends a shirt to every person she illustrates. “Kanye sent me flowers, which was unusual,” she said. “Martin Scorsese’s production company ordered a large number. I gave them to him at cost.”