Artist Spotlight: WatchpartsMotorcycles

Sneakertopia is home to over thirty contributing artists, ranging from sneaker customizers to classically trained painters, and everything in between. Being that we are a museum, showcasing talented artists from the community is a top priority. For the first article in the Artist Spotlight series, we are going to take a deep dive into the work of Dan Tanenbaum aka watchpartsmotorcycles! 

As his name suggests, Dan works with watch parts as his medium. Originally, he was making miniature motorcycles out of watch parts, but now he mostly encrusts objects with the repurposed timepieces. The resulting art is mesmerizing; seeing thousands of tiny watch parts meticulously attached to iconic objects creates a surreal and beautiful effect. The emphasis on machines in Dan’s work certainly emanates a steampunk aesthetic, but the overall mission statement of his art is much more profound than that. 

Dan has been a watch collector for over twenty years and noticed a bucket of discarded watch parts at one of his watch dealer’s storefronts about ten years ago. Upon discovering they were destined for the trash, he asked if he could have them. After some fiddling around, Dan started to make sculptures from the discarded watch parts, or as WatchpartsMotorcycles says, “breathing new life into these amazing and intricate parts that were no longer useful in a working timepiece.” Being a watch collector, Dan appreciates how much time a watch spends on a person’s wrist, they essentially experience a person’s life with them. The idea of the parts ceasing to exist was unsettling to Dan, so he figured out a way to let them live on indefinitely.

To source all of his materials, Dan has collected these parts over the years at various flea markets, antique shows, and estate sales. Not only is obtaining the parts a mission, but the actual act of encrusting these objects and adding all of the intricate details can take upwards of fifty hours! When Dan is working, he describes it as a “near meditative state” where he can, ironically, lose all track of time. 

Considering his large following and prolific body of work, it is hard to believe that this is only a hobby for Dan! He is a technology entrepreneur by day. After years of being a practicing artist, WatchpartsMotorcycles has a long list of collectors, including Steve Aoki and Chief Keef! His work is truly inspiring and brings the term “upcycling” to an entirely new caliber of art. The level of detail and quality of each piece is astounding to say the least. Sneakertopia is lucky to have the work of such a gifted artist inside the space. Dan’s fully encrusted Air Jordan 1, Louis Vuitton accented Kaws figure, and designer grenade pieces are on display and for sale at our HHLA location!