A few weeks ago I did a trend post on the use of rope in interiors, apparel and accessories as it was something that I quickly saw as a trend that inspired me. I’m not in the habit of talking about trends much anymore, but I do love it when something that is so basic and utilitarian becomes an over-arching trend. Rope is a medium that is so useful and purposeful, but at the same time can be used to create beautiful art as I learned from New Orleans artist, Seth Damm of Neon Zinn.
I originally saw Seth’s work at a friend’s store, Garment Modern Vintage, in Austin, TX and also spied it at the Dallas location of Tenoversix. It wasn’t until I shared my post on social media that I got connected to Seth through friends and found out that he was living in New Orleans.
By the looks of his art, I expected to meet a very bohemian and boldly dressed artist in Seth. I was pleasantly surprised to find a very humble and grounded man when I met him which immediately challenged my perception of his art and was a great reminder to never have expectations. After speaking with Seth I found out that his purpose in making his art is “to challenge perceptions of the world and how things are processed.” Funny how that worked out.
Growing up in Seattle Seth spent much of his time drawing and painting. It wasn’t until he lived in San Francisco that he started to explore sculpture which led to a commission for a performance installation which was the catalyst for him to start re-considering the way he thought about his art. He was led back to Seattle and started an art lending library which gave the opportunity for people that “normally” wouldn’t be able to experience art to rent donated pieces for a 3 month stint. Seth became very passionate about the idea of art connecting people beyond social boundaries and this project allowed him to install and share art is some very unexpected places such as crack houses, homeless missions and low income residential homes. These acts sparked Seth’s passion and he worked for free on this project for five years until he discovered his new medium, ROPE, while working on an installation with some friends in Marfa, Texas.
His first debut with rope was originally structural using piles of rope to create his installation. Seth loved working with the rope and started to experiment with jewelry and did another show in Marfa a year later which got glowing revues and encouraged him that he might be onto something with his art to wear rope creations.
Neon Zinn was born and inspired by his favorite social justice writer, Howard Zinn who’s life passion was in civil rights and equality for everyone. It didn’t take long for Neon Zinn to launch and before he knew it he was showing at Art Basel and getting attention from high profile store buyers. This interest fueled his creativity and Seth soon began creating his one-of-a-kind hand-dyed creations for top stores all over the world. In addition to the stores mentioned above, his creations have been featured New Orleans’ Exodus Goods, Marfa’s Freda, Piknik, Hotel be Tulum, and the newly curated online shop by Design milk called Adorn Milk.
Prices for Seth’s 100% cotton rope one-of-a-kind pieces have an average price of $125-$400 with larger commission pieces going for $2000. Neon Zinn has garnered a great social media following and has connected Seth to a handful of performers and musicians that have commissioned him for a pieces to wear on stage- LouLou from Thieveory Corporation, Solange Knowles and Fitz & The Tantrums, to name a few.
Although his pieces have been sought after by top stores and the fashion fold, Seth creates his art to be worn and appreciated by ALL types of people. He is inspired by the unexpected and his art is created to challenge the social confines that our culture has a tendency to place people in. His last two lookbooks were created guerilla style and he used people that came upon his path at his chosen location to be the models for his collections. His favorite photos of his creations are when they are on people that you might not expect to wear them.
Here are some selects from Neon Zinn’s instagram feed: