It is tricky, at least on the surface, to ascertain what it is exactly that Chris Black does. The website of Done to Death Projects, his creative agency, opens with a clean blue homepage, reminiscent of a production company from the early ‘90s that you sort of remember but can’t quite place your finger on. He has clients (Stüssy, New Balance, Converse, to name three); products (Patti Smith tees, a lighter, Eric Chakeen’s And Away They Go); a link to his own book, I Know You Think You Know It All, a tongue-in-cheek how-to guide to standing out in the modern herd. There’s a lot there. Further digging is required to wrap your head around Chris.
And so you dig.
You find the podcast, the Twitter feed, the Instagram. It then becomes more clear what defines Chris Black–exemplary taste and a sharp opinion. His aesthetic and cultural interests are varied. He has a photographer’s eye. His pithy wit thrives in digital. The catalogue of knowledge is encyclopedic. And, because of all this, regardless of the topic, Black’s trove of content, be it a rib on John Mayer or a quip about Phoebe Philo, feels all quite… substantive. The brand work that Black does is an extension of this. He’s the voice you want in the room.
Below, we crash Black’s apartment to talk original AIM handles, high school superlatives, and a Borders bookstore on Ponce de Leon.
Alright. Let’s start with what you do, in your own words:
Through my company, Done To Death Projects, I consult with agencies and brands, write, produce, and talk. I co-host a podcast called Public Announcement and I offer hot takes, advice, and unsolicited opinions on Twitter.com.
Where you live:
East Village. Manhattan forever.
Notable projects from fall of this year:
An IDEA book about t-shirts by Stüssy, the Woolrich F/W 2017 campaign, a zine with A24 films and director David Lowry, and the Public Announcement destination homepage.
How many hours of sleep you get a night:
I only require six these days.
How many tabs are up on your screen at any given moment?
No less than ten. If it goes above that I start to feel crazy!
First AIM messenger handle:
XctownX. I was straight-edge and from Conyers, Georgia. That explanation does not make it any better.
High school superlative:
I dropped out, so maybe “Least Likely to Succeed.”
How would you get your culture fix pre-Internet?
Magazines. The Face, i-D, Index, NME, Dazed & Confused, Artforum, Spin. I would shoplift them or sit in Borders on Ponce de Leon Ave in Atlanta and read for hours. It was the only way.
Three magazines currently on your coffee table:
The Gentlewoman, Apartmento, New York Magazine.
Culture writer / website that’s really nailing it right now:
I miss Gawker. But The Cut, The New Yorker, The Ringer, Business of Fashion, and The Daily Mail all do a good job. I have to mention Page Six–I am a sucker for the classics.
Best book you’ve read in 2017:
I loved The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy and I also loved Meet Me in the Bathroom by Lizzy Goodman.
Shoe of 2017:
The New Balance x Stüssy 990 v4. But I wear penny loafers most days, so what do I know?
Weak opinions are like _________.
My kryptonite. Nothing is worse than a wet blanket.
What’s a good day in NYC look like for you, from start to finish?
Get up early, go to Barry’s Bootcamp, look at the internet, get a few Tweets off, have lunch at Dean & Deluca with a friend, sit on a bench with an iced coffee and watch the people walk by, have a few good stop and chats, go see some art, and finish it off with dinner at Via Carota.
Topic you’re most interested in writing your second book on:
The last two years of my life. It has been… eventful.
Best compliment you can get on the streets of NYC:
“You look like a damn snack!”
Person we should be following on Twitter (aside from @donetodeath):
Conversation you’re most tired of hearing:
Anything about fantasy sports or the golden age of television.
Is there anything that gets by you?
Hopefully not. That is my greatest fear! One can never be too informed.