By Molly O’Neill
For Danny Fox, art can take any form…as long as it’s perfect. He learned calligraphy from his grandfather, and as a child would hand-letter his school’s signs and posters. He strayed from the art when he discovered graffiti, but some years ago, Danny says, “I realized…I had a better product that I wasn’t using, and a higher education as far as handwriting goes.” He rededicated himself to the ancient art, and continued to grow.
The love was always in the letters. Danny says, “It’s more about the lines and the shapes than what the word means…and if it can be something a little edgy, that’s good too.” Today, when commissioned to paint on storefronts and bedroom walls, Danny often chooses words and phrases based solely on their aesthetic value. But permanence equals pressure, he says: “You gotta do it right the first time; it’s ink. You can’t erase it.”
‘Party and Bullshit’ calligraphy
The love of shapes and lines also led him to screenprinting. “It’s almost like magic,” he says; “you just swipe the ink and the picture is there.” Well-worn screens adorn his studio wall, dried paint framing bunnies, soldiers, Mexican wrestling masks and one conspicuous thong-clad obese girl. The ability to reproduce images over and over fascinated him, and he discovered he could apply that principle to jewelry by making molds. But, of course, it still has to be immaculate.
’50 Yards Of Tape’ :: Wall Installation by Danny Fox
“I’m more fascinated by knowing something is actually perfect,” says Danny, “so if I draw a vectorized circle in Illustrator and I tell a machine to cut that circle out of a piece of whatever, I know that at no time has any human flaw been introduced to it at all.” But lest you think this process dehumanized, says Danny, he occasionally hand-carves jewelry to fulfill his primal urge: “I get the hunger for a big chunk of metal on my hand. Like the new ring I just made – I wanted a giant ring, and from there I just get out the wax and I start with a rough ring, and I’ll refine it and refine it. I guess you get in the zone.” Though hand-carving begins with a rougher product, the end result is as perfect as a human hand can make it.
Double Knuckled Rings :: Danny Fox
“Growing up,”he says, “I kinda knew I had to live in Philadelphia. As soon as I moved to Philly, it just felt right.” Perhaps there’s an analogy to be found here between Danny’s art and his home city. After all, he says, “I like anything old and with character.” Philadelphia surely meets those criteria. And the DIY mentality of the city matches Danny’s coffee table silk screens and self-taught design. He’s constantly seeking out new ways to create – “There’s so much cool stuff to play with out there,” he says. “It’s the toys that drive what I do…Once you realize you can do it, you can’t not do it. It’s so exciting.”
This drive for fun and excitement fuels Danny’s attitude. “If you’re your own party, everybody wants to go…” he says. “Just have a party every day.” When he works in his South Philly studio, he says, “I turn the music up really loud, I’ve always got a case of National Bohemian in the fridge.” But at the end of the day, the real joy comes from creating something flawless. “Things have to be precise and as perfect as they can be,” he says, “and that’s kind of the fun of it.”
Photos courtesy of Danny Fox.