Go inside the worlds of art, fashion, design, and lifestyle.
Last summer, Bombay Sapphire released its first-ever artist-designed bottle by Henrbu Brantley. Even though its released occurred in the United States at the height of the pandemic, there was much success and buzz in the art world surrounding its debut. After his partnership, Brantley worked behind the scenes to recommend the second artist-designed bottle collaboration to occur with his friend and fellow artist, Steven Harrington, which came to fruition last month.
Known for his graphic, cartoon-inspired paintings, drawings, and sculptures, the Los Angeles-based creator was committed to creating something that embodies the brand's ethos—"Stir Creativity." On the bottle, characters with wide eyes and smiles are surrounded by motifs that speak to gin's complex makeup, including lemon slices, goblet glasses, herb sprigs, and florals. Other details reflect Harrington's relationship to art and his personal painting style, with paintbrushes, swaths of color, and mixed patterns swirling among his iconic palm trees and warped yin-yang symbols.
In celebration of its launch, Harrington spoke with Whitewall about how his design for Bombay Sapphire was inspired by the brand's creative messaging and sustainable focus, and how his studio, personal art collection, hobbies, and projects mirror his passion for art and design.
WHITEWALL: What did you want your design for the bottle to embody?
STEVEN HARRINGTON: I was inspired not only by Bombay Sapphire’s passion for supporting artists but also their commitment to being the most sustainable gin brand globally. All of their botanicals are on track to be 100 percent certified sustainable this year which takes decades of relationship building with their farmers and suppliers from around the world.
So, when it came down to my design, I really wanted to spotlight the sustainably sourced botanicals, if you look closely you’ll see elements like the lemon peel, almonds, and juniper berries which are all used to create Bombay Sapphire gin. They are a part of a larger collage of motifs like my signature palm tree characters, and use of psychedelic-pop, bright colors.
WW: What excited you most about working with Bombay Sapphire?
SH: Bombay has always had a longstanding history of working with artists from all disciplines – from bartenders and artists to emerging creators. Their entire brand ethos is "Stir Creativity," and it’s all about inspiring and enabling more creativity in the world. They have a great track record of supporting the arts and the community, so I was thrilled when they approached me for a partnership.
WW: How are you enjoying Bombay Sapphire today?
SH: I have been a fan of Bombay Sapphire for years. Gin can be an incredibly creative canvas to experiment with, given the different combination of botanicals, and with Bombay Sapphire, specifically, they have a great balance of ten botanicals that’s been delicately vapor-infused, which gives it an especially bright and vibrant taste.
These days, I really enjoy a Bombay & Tonic with a squeeze of lime. It’s crisp and refreshing—the perfect summer cocktail.
WW: What facets of L.A. living do you embed into your designs? What else inspires your work?
SH: Being in L.A., the weather plays a huge role in my work. That 75-85 degree weather year-round really inspires how folks here dress and make their way out into public spaces. People in Los Angeles are not afraid to celebrate color through fashion and I love to bring that sunshine into the studio with me. I’m always trying to capture the sunburnt Los Angeles landscape.
Other than L.A., when I'm looking for inspiration I try to place myself outside as much as possible. Getting out of the studio inspires my work whether it’s a walk around the block or a day trip through the city, it all pushes my creativity to bring what’s going on outside inside to the studio, otherwise, I’d be just making art about art.
WW: How would you describe your studio, and what's a typical day like there?
SH: Though my art tends to be bold and bright, I like my studio to be organized and tidy. I’m really a designer at heart and I like for all things to have a space which is theirs. I consider my studio to be an empty void; it's more about setting aside the time to create work to put into that void.
A typical day for me is relatively straightforward. I get to the studio as early as possible, immediately my head is down, and I am focused on whatever I’m creating that day, so I typically end up leaving on the later side. I find that I often get so caught up in my work that time moves incredibly fast.
WW: Your work spans paintings and drawings, large-scale installations, hand-screened prints, limited-edition books, toys, and design objects, furniture, sculptures, and more. Is there something you haven't explored yet but aim to?
SH: I’ve dabbled here and there with large public sculptures throughout my career, but this is something I would love to explore further. More than anything it’s just rewarding to share your art for free with the public and getting to see their reaction. I like the idea of bringing the work of art to the public rather than bringing the public to my works of art. It's exciting!
WW: What was your first artwork?
SH: Wow. It’s hard to recall, but I do have vivid memories of myself as a skateboard enthusiast, at the age six or seven, looking through skateboarding magazines and being wildly interested in the graphics and drawings. I would study them like it was my job—Powell Peralta, Santa Cruz, all the classic skateboarding companies I loved and the graphics they used. I remember creating my own fictional skateboarding brands and creating everything from the boards, to the outfits, helmets branding, even cutting out pieces of boards from magazines. This is where I first found excitement in being able to build my own little world with art.
WW: What's in your personal art collection?
SH: My personal art collection is a lot more, well, personal. Rather than buying new art, I like to trade my art with other artists or even offer one of my pieces for a quick sketch. I have a collection of smaller drawings and quick sketches from artists I really admire, like Milton Glaser, Paul Rand, Victor Moscoso, and a lot of contemporary artists. I hold these close to my heart because they have allowed me to meet and connect with these artists who I have admired for ages. These sketches mean so much to me because it’s less about the work of the well-known artist and more about the personal connection of having their pencil sketch on paper.
WW: What are you working on next? Any upcoming shows or other collaborations we should know about?
SH: I actually have my first official museum installation/solo show opening in Korea towards the end of next year. I’m excited about this one because it is my largest installation project to date so be sure to keep an eye out!