Spotlight On: Dan Wilcop, clockmaker and designer
Dan Wilcop is bringing a fresh take to a medium otherwise considered to be more function than art. By designing wall clocks and sunglasses, he is reinventing classic objects with a unique take. Inspired by mid-century modern designers, childhood cartoons, and contemporary fashion, his designs are bold, sleek,clever, and of course, necessary for blocking UV rays and telling time.
“I've always wanted to try my hand at wearable art and fashion so I decided to dive into the medium with my own voice and style.”
Dan got his start going to the thrift store across the street from his house, finding canvases and objects to paint on. Some of his original finds include old, broken clocks he would upcycle and completely transform by spray painting the hands and replacing the motor.
“Interacting with clocks more and more got me interested in the concept of time so I began working exclusively with timepieces.” Eventually, he began to construct his clocks from scratch using a laser cutter.
Both Dan’s clocks and his glasses are created from original drawings or through online research-something he really enjoys doing. “I equate it to a producer digging for vinyl records to sample,” he says. Once he’s happy with his design he creates a prototype to see what it looks like in real life. And then it’s refine or redesign from there.
With catchy names like “Drippy” and “Chaos Emeralds”, his glasses are fun to say and fun to wear- they look exactly as they sound.
Perhaps one of Dan’s most significant projects to date is his “NO” shades design- a statement against catcalling and street harassment. In the video promo for the design, a mirrored frame with the letters N-O sit across the face of his good friend and fellow artist, Rebecca Baruc, as she casually walks through the city.
“I've been part of an art, performance, and comedy DIY collective called The Shithole for 6+ years,” he says explaining his inspiration behind the concept. “Through the years I've seen and heard many stories from women and queer folx on-stage regarding unsolicited interactions, harassment, and abuse in the city.”
Not only does the word NO hold so much power in its short two letters, but it also happens to be a very symmetrical and pleasing word from a design point of view Dan says. The glasses themselves are immediately and quite literally eye catching-they’re mirrored.
There’s a type of genius to its simplicity. It’s painfully beautiful and forces the viewer to confront both themselves and reflect on the nature of the word, its message, and the reason for its necessity in the first place.
When asked what is most important to him as an artist, Dan said that he strives for positive personal growth, healing, and pure self-expression. “Externally, I want to engage with my audience in a way that makes them smile, laugh or think twice about the world we're living in.”
Its this self-awareness of both himself as a person and his need to care for his viewers and audience that makes Dan, the human, so inspiring and Dan, the artist, so successful.
Favorite part about the Chicago creative community?
Chicago feels like THE place to sharpen your skills. I've noticed a real sense of comradery and support in whatever art form I'm apart of. There's a midwestern charm that other metropolitan cities don't have.
Favorite TV show?
Hot tea or cold coffee.
Favorite Chicago artist?
Visual: Matthew Hoffman, Kristopher Kites, Justin Mensinger
Audio: SABA, Noname, Smino, Mick Jenkins
Favorite spot in Chicago? (can be a neighborhood, restaurant, bar, etc.)
Cafe Jumping Bean in Pilsen. It feels like a perpetual family reunion every time I visit.
"Spotlight On" is a bi-weekly series highlighting Chicago creatives with a twist. We share a slice of their stories and what they love, hoping to inspire and connect.
Words by Lolo Ramos