Arts & Culture

Students dig Brunonian threads

After exploring other interests, Danny Sobor ’15 returns to his artistic roots with his T-shirt designs and prints

By
Contributing Writer
Wednesday, February 6, 2013

With a knack for colorful, street art-inspired designs, Danny Sobor ’15 incorporates Brown-specific cultural references in prints that can be found across campus. Sobor said he came to Brown with a developed interest in screen printing and stenciling — he designed and sold T-shirts in his hometown of Chicago.

“I came to Brown wanting to make a splash,” Sobor said. He first gained recognition for posters and T-shirts featuring Ruth Simmons’ face accompanied by the caption “T(Ruth).”

The image is popular and can be found in many sophomores’ rooms, said Sarah Weiss ’15, a fellow T-shirt designer. Sobor continued his printwork, later producing “Thank God it’s Chicken Finger Friday” T-shirts, which he sold outside the Verney-Woolley Dining Hall this past spring. He also designed a poster with an image of President Christina Paxson’s face attached to a dinosaur body with the caption “T-Pax,” according to his website, dannysobordesigns.com.

In his first year at Brown, Sobor tried to stay away from the Visual Arts concentration despite his strong interest in art. He took “12 classes in 12 different departments,” including economics, education and neuroscience, he said.

Though he spent his days exploring Brown’s diverse academic offerings, Sobor said he devoted many late nights to his artwork — a passion that became his means of relaxation. Sobor said he continued using stencils to create spray-painted works of art on canvas in the stairwells of Emery-Woolley during this time.

As a sophomore, he “decided to channel the majority of his energy into creative pursuits,” Sobor said. He said he plans to create his own concentration, “something like neuroaesthetics — a cross between art and neuroscience,” he added.

Since choosing to devote more time to his art, Sobor has started experimenting with a wider variety of artistic genres. “I try to be a jack-of-all-trades — poster-making, T-shirt making, logo design and just general artwork,” he said.

Sobor said he has taken on as many projects as he can handle, focusing on logo designs for student groups. He regularly designs for Brown Concert Agency and Improvidence and often receives emails from other student groups for T-shirt design commissions.

His website showcases the variety of media with which he works, from traditional painting to his recent foray into furniture design. But his distinctive style — described by suitemate Noah Fradin ’15 as “psychadelic minimalism” — pervades his work.

Last spring, when Sobor and his Sigma Chi fraternity brothers spray-painted a table for their house, a new project, “Swag My Furniture,” took off, Sobor said. The table featured colorful geometric patterns on the legs and an image of a woman holding a burning copy of Jane Eyre.

Impressed by Sobor’s work, neighboring fraternity Delta Tau soon asked Sobor and Fradin to help them create a similar table of their own, he added. Sobor said this series of events inspired his current furniture-decorating business.

Sobor, who relies largely on word-of-mouth commission, said he typically only asks students to repay him for the cost of materials used. He then transforms their old furniture with masking tape and neon-hued geometric patterns, he said.

Weiss said Sobor’s T-shirts and furniture have created a considerable buzz on campus. She added his success may be due in part to his “Chicago hustle” — a persistent drive for self-promotion and willingness to utilize all resources available, a characteristic she attributes to their urban hometown.

“You almost have to beg people to buy your art because you have no credibility,” Weiss added. Sobor promotes his work heavily by selling T-shirts and posters on the Main Green, advertising on Facebook and giving T-shirts and posters to friends.

“If someone comes in and says they like my work, I usually give it to them,” Sobor said. “ But I always say ‘refer me’ — say it was me who did it.”