Romanticizing New York Through Illustrations: A Conversation with Tanu Vasu, Bergdorf's Beloved Artist

Fetishizing New York Through Illustrations: A Conversation with Tanu Vasu, Bergdorf's Beloved Artist. A conversation with art currently

Courtesy of Tanu Vasu

To be showing at Bergdorf is a dream, no? Artist Tanu Vasuhumbly tells art currently as we catch up about her exclusive prints on view and for purchase at Bergdorf Goodman’s seventh floor galleries. Part of their permanent collection, Vasu has been working with the luxurious department store for over a year now; while simultaneously working with other brand collaborations such as Tiffany & Co, LVMH, SuperGoop!, and hotels like The Carlyle Hotel, and The Plaza.

With a fervent obsession for the big city lights, Vasu has developed inspiration-based paintings, most of which illustrate the bustling scenes of New York City. Though her career began in fashion, her transition into the art world became a defining moment with no point in return. From designing postcards to fine tuning artistic concepts, Vasu’s work easily connects with her rising audience and leaves a bright impression – think Florine Stettheimer, with added New York spirit.

Her process? Everything is hand inked after several pencil sketch drafts and in person collaboration, really honing into old world slow creative techniques. To name some of her successes, it’s worth mentioning her recent, special watercolor holiday-maps of fifth avenue, or a bespoke sticker collection for Tiffany's.

Currently, Vasu makes her way over to Soho’s Salon 21, where her prints will be adorned throughout the gallery, and continuing to channel her unique frame of the city’s vibrant energy.

We sat with the artist, to chat about her inspirations.

Do you recall the first time you visited New York City?

I was 10, visiting from Sydney with my mum and remember the opulence and storied nature of the city, I always loved history and art and remember thinking “this is my place in the world”. I loved the ever changing avenues, cast of colorful characters and overall magic this city encompasses, I remember thinking what a dream it would be to live in such an enchanting city!

Growing up in Australia, did you have an idea of what the city was and if so, has it changed since you’ve moved in?

I think you idealize a city that you want to live in, has it been different to my imagination? of course, but I also never imagined all these great possibilities and incredible opportunities I’ve received. Am I in constant awe of this city and continually learning from it? Absolutely!

You mentioned wanting your artwork to outlive you (metaphorically speaking), and that’s so great! How do you think your work will?

I think the idea of creating something that outlives us as artists is incredibly exceptional and special. I often buy vintage memorabilia like hotel postcards, maps and old artworks. I am inspired by the fact that one day my work for a lot of these fabulous stories establishments will live beyond my time and have a legacy on their own! The fact that my art gets to be associated with such great brands and businesses, I have the immense honor of a lifetime in helping shape their visual identity through my art direction and illustrations. How special!

Connectivity to your art is important to you. When did you decide to take your art seriously? Were you always an artist or did you have a different profession prior to art?

I worked in fashion for a decade prior to pursuing the incredibly special career of being an artist!

I think the way people connect to their clothing is monumental and I wanted to create that kind of bond of how people see art and illustration (not to mention the chicly dressed people in my illustrations). There’s an attachment, almost that I like to celebrate. I’m attached to art I’ve received from hotels I’ve stayed at or check postcards from restaurants etc and I think treasuring things like that create that deep connection with art. Rather than seeing something in a gallery or in a setting where it’s solely for view but being able to take it and keep it as a prized possession makes it valuable because your own memories are imbued into something I’ve created and in turn it forms a bond between artist and engager.

I often get a sweet dm or email from people telling me that the postcard I created for such and such establishment was a huge part of their memory of their time in that city! Which is so momentous to receive!

Who was your first brand collaboration and how did that inform your future artistic development (if it did)?

I was incredibly fortunate to have had the honor of working with the four seasons hotels, co Bigelow, Supergoop!, The Carlyle Hotel, and Marvis in my first year of creating!

All of which have their own deep history. I love stories and layers of history that I can imbue into my work and partnering with brands whose legacy is so deeply rooted that I can pull inspiration from. So yes, I suppose it developed my style as I love stories and layering them within both my self initiated pieces and my brand partnerships.