Made In Forest Hills: A BowtieBoy And His Wearable Art

9 Mar
(Nicholas Tee and his Legos Bow Tie at Eddie’s Sweet Shop, a century old soda fountain with the best ice cream in town)

My obsession with Nicholas Tee Ruiz ‘s wearable bow tie art began last March, when I first laid eyes on a Legos bow tie he was wearing in a Facebook pic. As a connoisseur of bows in all forms, I was drooling with envy over the fabulous neck-piece , which was unlike anything I had seen in menswear accessories to date. At first, I thought the bow tie was perhaps designed by Marc Jacobs, since he had designed Lego headbands and belts for a women’s RTW collection back in 2008. I was in awe when I found out that my good friend Nic had actually constructed the bow tie himself as part of a project known as At this time, Monroe and I were working hard in preparation for the launch of Jandy Monroe in April, and immediately wanted to incorporate a story on the project. However I was informed that any feature on the project would have to wait until the 11 bow ties in the collection, which were each inspired by different benefit and exhibition openings at the MoMA, were completed. Jandy Monroe finally got the go ahead at the beginning of 2012, and I must say, it was well worth the wait!

Below read about Nicholas Tee Ruiz and follow him through a photos series shot by Joseph Gray, taking you on a short journey through Forest Hills, the birthplace of this bow tie boy’s neck art!


(The Bow Tie Collection)
Nicholas Tee Ruiz, a New York City based artist, designed and handmade all eleven bow ties in The Bow Tie Collection (2011). Each neck piece was inspired from the exhibition openings and benefit events during that calendar year at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), where he works in Special Programming and Events.
A chance meeting with singer, Janelle Monáe in November 2010 sparked his idea to create these wearable works of art. “She wears this fantastic bow tie in her music video “Tightrope,Nicholas said. He adds: “I started looking for a similar one in NYC, but couldn’t find anything – so I decided to just make one myself.” The occasion for his very first bow tie was the opening of Picasso: Guitars 1912-1914 on February 8, 2011. (Check out the guitar pick bow tie above)

(At Forest Hills Train Station, wearing a bow tie constructed from chandelier crystals)
Nic’s custom pieces have ranged from looping film negatives with images of scenes from Pedro Almodóvar movies for MoMA’s fourth annual Film Benefit, to a Legos bow tie for The Armory Show 2011 after-party, and a wine corks bow tie from the restaurants of his favorite chef, Jose Garces for the German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse exhibition opening. Even computer wires, circuit boards, and a workable QR code became the bow tie for Talk to Me: Design and the Communication between People and Objects. “The bow ties have style and design influences from the art in the correlating exhibitions and also a sustainable aspect because all of the materials were found and recycled from my day-to-day life,” Nicholas explains. An actual Queen’s Chronicle newspaper helped shape his bow tie for de Kooning: A Retrospective and leftover chandelier crystals from a neighborhood lighting store became the bow tie for Party in the Garden 2011.
(Playing checkers in Macdonald Park, wearing his nylon stocking/gold scissor bow tie)

For his next Collection, Nicholas will be designing, and once again hand crafting 100 different bow ties. Continuing with his love for eco-friendly designs and materials, these bow ties, like his first Collection, will be constructed from fun and found resources.

I want this Collection to be participatory for the fans of my first Collection, so I’m asking people to supply me with materials that they would like to see made into a bow tie. You hand me a box of old cocktail stirrers, you’re gonna see cocktail stirrers like never before. I’m not giving myself rules or guidelines, I really want to push the artistic craft and hopefully educate about sustainability along the way. I don’t want to restrict myself to a specific size, or a certain form – the sky’s the limit. I just hope none of the submitted materials require dry ice… if so, we may need to chat.”

In addition to his next collection of 100 bowties, The Virgin Company, has asked Nic to design and create an exclusive bow tie made out of the balloon envelope from one of their retired signature red Virgin balloons…..AWESOME!

Nicholas’ first gallery show is this summer, which will coincide with the launch of (his online shop, Fall 2012) – he plans on shadowbox framing all eleven bow ties from the Bow Tie Collection with a special back panel that will allow for quick and easy removal. “On the wall during the day, to around your neck for a night out on the town – is how I like to see it,” he says. Fans of Nicholas’s bow tie art can receive a special invitation to the gallery launch event by supporting his recent Kickstarter campaign. (CHECK IT OUT!!)

(In his Film bow tie outside of one of the top Pizza shops in NYC, Nick’s Pizza)

As if working at the MOMA full time and launching his own bow tie business were not enough, Nicholas has also recently taken up DJing at some of NYC’s hottest parties, where you can find him under the name DJ @BowtieBoy. Check him out March 23rd at Deity NYC for the Whatever Party, where he’ll be spinning with another Jandy Monroe collaborator DJ Vito Fun! Stop by wearing your most festive bow tie; you better believe I will!



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