I am obsessed with candy—I often joke that Sour Patch Kids are my favorite food, and I'm not really joking. So when a friend DM-ed me about a new Sour Patch Kids artist, I had to learn more.
New Yorker Robyn Blair Davidson takes candy (not just Sour Patch Kids—bubble gum, Starburst, gummy bears, Fun Dip, Ring Pops, and tons of other nostalgic favorites), and turns it into whimsical works of art. And the Internet has noticed: OK! magazine dubbed her "the most in-demand artist of 2018," and her social media star is rising. But the original art doesn't exactly come cheaply—Davidson's work, available to purchase on her site by robynblair, ranges from $1,200 to $3,600 depending on the sizes (16 inches by 24 inches all the way up to 36 inches by 48 inches).
Here's some really great news for sweet tooths, though: Davidson, originally from Potomac, Maryland, has teamed up with Dormify for an exclusive print collaboration, which launches Monday. The same sugar rush, at about a tenth of the price ($145 for a framed 16-by-20 print). The collection is part of a larger Dormify partnership with ArtSugar, a charity-based art retailer, which will also feature work from Anna Panchenko and Katy Hirschfeld. Five percent of all of the proceeds will go to GirlsWhoCode.
We spoke to Davidson about her work and the new partnership with Dormify. You can find the full Dormify x ArtSugar print collection on their site here.
What inspired you to start creating art with candy? When did you start and how has your work evolved?
I've always been candy obsessed and if you ask anyone, I was rarely seen without a bag of Haribo gummy bears. I'm also infatuated with the packaging. There's almost an art to it and I love how they're constantly changing, but also hold a nostalgia to the time when they were most popular. Old or new, they're always happy, colorful, and make you feel like a kid again. There is something about candy that is just infectious and I wanted to capture that feeling in my home.
My original piece was made with Dubble Bubble and on the outside of the plexiglass said 'In Case of Emergency, Break Glass' in hot pink. From there, I experimented with different types of candies, different phrases on the glass, different sizes, and even adding in neon components.
You've been called the most "in demand Instagram artist of 2018" by OK! magazine and featured in other publications like Forbes. What has that experience been like, and why do you think the idea of designing with candy resonates with people so much?
It's been surreal. I started this in March and it's been the most exciting ride! I'm finding people are super nostalgic about candy. Whether they remember eating a certain candy when they were younger or getting candy from a special person in their life, everyone has a memory and a story with a candy they connect to. Candy is universal and timeless.
How do you create your work? And what materials do you use?
I use a special glue to hold the candy in place and preserve it. The outside of the piece is plexiglass.
Is there any candy you've had a particularly hard time working with? Or any you just can't work with at all? Why or why not?
So far, I've only worked with the candy that I think will work and have been really happy with the results. I also only work with packaged candy, never loose or open.
One of my favorite styles so far is boxed movie theater candy. At first I had a hard time with the boxes because they didn't fit perfectly, but then I decided to add small Nerd boxes to fill in the open holes and then I added soft bags of Sour Patch Kids to pad the boxes. I love the way it turned out!
Is there a chance that the candy might melt or go bad?
I always suggest keeping my pieces in room temperature and out of sunlight. With that said, I do use a special glue to not only hold the candy in place, but it preserves the candy from going bad—so no need to worry!
Apartment Therapy readers have strong feelings about using words in design—some love it, but others do not. Since your work features cheeky sayings like, "in case of emergency, break glass," what would you say to critics?
I would say—that's okay! Art is personal and not every piece is for everyone.
I do think that my pieces are a good stepping stone to adding something with words into your home. The candy definitely overshadows my text in my pieces, and the phrases I use become secondary. Also, the cheeky sayings serve as a great talking point and tend to stand out when they put a smile on people's face. Every piece is different and the feedback I hear most is that people love knowing that they have a truly unique piece of art.
How did your collaboration come about with Dormify? Why did you decide to partner with them? Does your fan base tend to skew younger?
Dormify has always been on my radar as a brand I wanted to partner with. Dormify was founded by and is run by an amazing group of women, one of whom happens to be my best and oldest friend, Stephanie Kimel. Upon launching my brand, Stephanie was so excited to figure out a way to be able to offer by robynblair to Dormify's college based audience, and great looking, framed prints were the answer. Dormify has a direct line to high school and college aged design-obsessed consumers, and I am excited to tap into that market through this partnership by offering them a taste of my brand at a different price point. And of course, working with my best friend makes the partnership even sweeter!
How do the posters compare to your original artwork? How are they created and what's the same/different?
The posters are photographs of my original pieces. In the photos you still feel the depth and texture of the real candy, which I love. All of my originals are 1.5 inches is depth so you see the candy layers from the side—with my prints you do not.
What will the price point be for the new posters? What sizes are available?
Right now you can buy 16x20 framed printed on Dormify.com for $145. We're also working on some new print styles that will be available for purchase without a frame as well.
If people love your work, how do you suggest they incorporate it into their homes?
I suggest choosing your favorite one or two pieces (that will definitely pop in the room) and anchoring them with neutrals.
Would you ever design with any other food other than candy—maybe a savory snack?
Absolutely! Working on something special right now!
What's your favorite candy?
That's a tough one! If I had to choose one, it would be fresh sour belts from a candy store.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.