Celebrity T-shirt designer Dana Veraldi is coming to Philly

Artist Dana Veraldi attended the Shipley School.

Dana Veraldi is an expert when it comes to capturing the likeness of famous faces. And she has the T-shirt sales to prove it.

The 33-year-old New York artist, who grew up in King of Prussia and Gulph Mills, has perfected Dolly Parton’s lashes and seemingly unending swirls of curls. Veraldi’s black-and-white sketch  of shaggy record producer Rick Rubin is particularly on point. She’s mastered the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s kind-eyed serenity. And her Cindy Crawford interpretation is precious — consisting simply of the model’s full red lips, a tube of lipstick, and her signature beauty mark.

Camera icon Dana Veraldi
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on a Dana Veraldi shirt.

Verladi’s artistic accuracy is why her 2012 rendering of Kanye West as a pharaoh prompted the narcissistic rapper to send her flowers. And it’s certainly why Veraldi’s portfolio includes the coolest of limited-edition collaborations with “it” brands such as Uber, Madewell, and Pressed Juicery.

On Sunday, Veraldi and her sister, J.Crew executive Amanda Veraldi, will address an audience of do-gooders at the Merion Cricket Club for a tea and fashion fund-raiser for Career Wardrobe.

I caught up with Veraldi to talk about her popular 10-year-old DEERDANA brand, what inspires her collection of more than 120 designs, her favorite illustrations to date, and her forthcoming collaborations.

Tell us about your artistic journey.

I went to the Shipley School for middle and high school. I graduated [in 2007] from MICA [Maryland Institute College of Art] with a degree in photography and a minor in graphic design. While there, I took a screen-printing class and started drawing pictures of my friends and family on T-shirts. But I didn’t try to sell them. [I thought of it as] a cheap and easy way to share my art with friends and family without being too serious. Then a few stores got interested in them.

Which stores?

Pat Field was the first store that sold my work, and then Colette in Paris. But for me it was still a small passion project. I printed all the shirts myself, and I had a slew of jobs, including an assistant to a fashion stylist and working in events at Adidas. I funneled the money into my company, and it grew very organically. It wasn’t until three years ago that I was able to focus on my company full-time.

Who was the first celebrity to wear one of your T-shirts?

I don’t like to use the word celebrity. Half of the designs are authors and filmmakers who one might not think of as celebrities. I like to think of them more as cultural icons. The first “known” person I did was my friend [model] Agyness Deyn. And she wore it in a Time magazine photo shoot. I didn’t make it with the intent of selling it. I really just started drawing people who I was inspired by, like Carl Sagan. I did Obama shirts back in the day.

Who are you working on these days?

The next shirt I’m releasing is Cher.

Why Cher? Why now?

I was looking at photography books and saw pictures from her in the late 1970s. And I just decided on old-school Cher.

You’re partial to old-school icons, huh?

I’m just influenced by the things going on in the world. But I do try to break up my subjects. Like, I wouldn’t do three social activists in a row. More like an actor, a singer, a filmmaker, and an author.

Do you have a favorite rendering?

Right now, Frida Kahlo. It’s the flowers I love. It’s fun to draw an accessory. I really like drawing hair: facial hair, hair on the head. I’m really bad at drawing teeth.

Anyone ever not like any of your renderings?

I never had any negative feedback from a person. [But] I feel like when Larry David looked at his, he made the same face he made in the drawing. I don’t think Howard Stern would wear his shirt, but he thinks it’s funny.

Has anyone asked you to do a shirt?

All the time. Bu I feel like I would embarrass them if I told. Coach K — you know, [rapper] Lil Yachty’s manager — every time he sees me, he asks me. I think it’s funny when people want to wear a picture of themselves on their shirts.

Would you wear a picture of yourself on your shirt?


For more information on the Career Wardrobe Empowering Tea and Fashion Show call 215-568-6693 or visit www.careerwardrobe.org

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