meet the artist
Meet The Artist

The Lounge Looks Back: Getting to Know Our “Meet the Artist” Series

From minifig dioramas to cardboard recreations to photorealistic illustrations, our “Meet the Artist” series has profiled some truly amazing creative minds.

By Watchonista

We doubt this will come as a surprise to anyone, but we here at Watchonista consider watchmaking to be a form of art. So, naturally, we get a little obsessive about art on watches. That is why we started our “Meet the Artist” series, written by our intrepid Editor-at-Large Rhonda Riche, in 2021.

Of course, we also love to share our passions that reach beyond the realm of horology. That is, after all, why we decided to dedicate each Saturday to The Lounge.

With all that in mind, we asked ourselves: Why not truly combine the two and take a look back at some of our favorite “Meet the Artist” profiles?

So, without further ado, let’s take a quick look back at one of our favorite article series. Enjoy!

The Talented Lee Yuen-Rapati a.k.a. @onehourwatch

Lee Yuen-Rapati, a.k.a. @onehourwatch, is based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, and works in illustration, typeface design, and industrial design. He was also inducted into the GPHG Academy (Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève Academy) in its inaugural year and remains an active member.

In 2014, Yuen-Rapati started his One Hour Watch series – a project that involves creating an original watch drawing every day in one hour or less. Each image is unique and often drawn from Yuen-Rapati’s imagination. They are also more than technical – on any given day, you might see a sketch based on an iconic piece or a more abstract image that focuses on a singular element, such as a date window or set of lugs. He also works with a variety of mediums like watercolor, pencil, and pen to evoke different emotions.

Yuen-Rapati has also worked with independent watchmakers like Ming, Habring², and J.N. Shapiro. Most recently, he created the conceptual art for MB&F’s HM10 Panda watch, which sold at Only Watch 2021 for CHF 620,000.

Imaginative and insightful, if you’re not already following Yuen-Rapati on Instagram, you should be.

To read the rest of our profile on Lee Yuen-Rapati, a.k.a. @onehourwatch, click HERE.

The Incomparable Dan Tanenbaum a.k.a. @watchpartsmotorcycles

If you follow watch-related content on Instagram, you are probably already aware of Dan Tanenbaum’s, a.k.a. @watchpartsmotorcycles, instantly recognizable and highly sought-after sculptures.

In fact, when met up with Tanenbaum at a coffee shop in the Forest Hill neighborhood of Toronto to talk about his inspiration, craft, and process, he brought his favorite timepieces – a Rolex Submariner Reference 6538 (his personal favorite) and an Urwerk reference 103.09.

But what you may not know is that Tanenbaum’s origin story is just as beautiful.

To read the rest of our profile on Dan Tanenbaum, a.k.a. @watchpartsmotorcycles, click HERE.

The Amazing Assemblages of Gabriel Lau a.k.a. @labeg

For a watch enthusiast, Instagram can be an almost bottomless rabbit hole and unreasonably addictive. Not only do I have frequent FOMO for all the incredibly beautiful timepieces that pop up on my timeline, but I’m also frequently tempted by the accounts of unique artists.

Perhaps “tempted” is too weak a word. When watches and art intersect, I’m in real trouble. That’s how I found myself as the proud owner of a vintage Rolex Explorer 6150 – albeit one rendered in layers of cardboard by Hong Kong-based Canadian artist Gabriel Lau, also known by his Instagram handle, @labeg.

And even though Lau explores other themes in his practice, he has found many fans in the watch-collecting community. So, when Watchonista wanted to dive deeper into his horological inspiration and process, I spoke with Lau about his amazing assemblages.

To read the rest of our profile on Gabriel Lau, a.k.a. @labeg, click HERE.

The Timely Expressions of Bryan Braddy a.k.a. @badartnicewatch

North Carolina’s Bryan Braddy, a.k.a. @badartnicewatch, is what an art critic would refer to as an Outsider Artist. That is, someone who is untrained and who operates outside of the establishment gallery system.

Being an Outside Artist isn’t a bad thing. After all, some of the most influential works of the 20th and 21st centuries came from self-taught artists. Picasso and Jean Dubuffet were heavily influenced by folk art. Moreover, important outsider artists such as Bill Traylor, Howard Finster, and Maud Lewis are now well-represented in museum collections.

This brings us to the drawings of Bryan Braddy.

By day, the North Carolina artist works in Tech. In his off hours, he paints watercolors of his favorite timepieces. A couple of years ago, Braddy began posting these images on Instagram and soon amassed a loyal following of watch and art enthusiasts, all drawn to his unique vision.

To read the rest of our profile on Bryan Braddy, a.k.a. @badartnicewatch, click HERE.

Diorama-O-Rama with Andrei Stihi a.k.a. @watchfigures

Andrei Stihi leads a double life. By day, he works in the automotive industry in Michigan. But in his off hours, he creates compelling dioramas composed of minifigs and watches on his Instagram account @watchfigures.

There’s no telling why some Instagram accounts can so fully capture the imagination the way @watchfigures does. And while the pairing of timepieces and little plastic people is automatically endearing, that’s not the only reason we look forward to Stihi’s dioramas. Like time itself, Stihi’s images are ephemeral, with each composition capturing a specific moment, yet each of his minimalist tableaus has a narrative.

Watchonista needed to know more, so we talked to Stihi to find out how the account came about and what makes up his artistic raison d’être.

To read the rest of our profile on Andrei Stihi, a.k.a. @watchfigures, click HERE.

The Eye-Popping Pencil Drawings of James Ma a.k.a. @jamesma.illustration

While the detailed, figurative drawings of the full-time, self-employed illustrator James Ma, a.k.a. @jamesma.illustration, seem a million miles away from action painter Jackson Pollock’s drippy abstractions, they do share an important characteristic: The physical act of creation is a crucial part of the finished artwork.

It is so important to Ma, in fact, that he also has an influential YouTube channel that chronicles his process with time-lapses of his work and behind-the-scenes videos of his daily life.

Longtime fans of his work, we finally met up with Ma in person at the Canadian launch of Watchonista Vol. 4 at the Breitling Bloor Street Boutique in Toronto. He was there drawing a Premier Chronograph in real-time but, amazingly, took questions from the crowd as he did it!

To read the rest of our profile on James Ma, a.k.a. @jamesma.illustration, click HERE.

(All images provided by the attists)

And receive each week a custom selection of articles.