Thomas Danthony picturing the city

French-born, London-based illustrator Thomas Danthony produces graphic depictions of buildings and cityscapes that range from hard-edge brutalism to softer modern romanticism. From clients such as the English National Opera to Liberty and Microsoft, his take on cities is much in demand. We asked him about his ongoing fascination with cities and the built environment.

How long have you been interested in Architecture, Landscapes and Cityscapes? What draws you to them? 

Thomas Danthony: I've always liked architecture, but I reckon I got to start reading more about it when my brother started studying it four years ago.  I have been living in cities my whole life, so even if natural landscapes are always the best I learned to see beauty in concrete and glass too. I see buildings as man-made mountains and really enjoy discovering new cities.

What makes a compelling image of a building or landscape?

Thomas Danthony: It depends what you want to express. I think a strong composition is the base of any good architectural picture, then the colours will influence the atmosphere. 

I wish architecture studios commissioned more illustrations instead of producing those very cold realistic CG renders of new buildings. It would allow us to reintroduce a bit of poetry into their pictures.

Could you tell us a little about your Brutalist project? 

Thomas Danthony: The Brutalist project started with James Park from Black Dragon Press, when he reached out to me to commission a series of screen printed posters about Brutalist architecture. I discovered Brutalism when I moved to London a few years ago and have loved it ever since, so it was a perfect match.

We decided to focus on London and I was free to pick the buildings I liked.  I created a series of three posters, they work separately but a lot of people like to have the three of them side by side.  From there I also designed a booklet with an essay from Michael Abrahamson, with a bit more info about the buildings and a small map (which are still available).

Which images have had the best response from clients or on social media?

Thomas Danthony: Lately I have got good feedback regarding a cover I drew for Portfolio Magazine. Whenever I can, I try to design my own buildings, it’s a lot of fun to imagine a building that will live only in one picture.

(Danthony's cover, front and back, for Portfolio magazine)

Which buildings or architects do you most admire? 

Thomas Danthony: I like a lot of different styles but at the moment my favorite architect is probably Oscar Niemeyer. To go back to brutalism, my favorite building in London is The National Theatre by Denys Lasdun. 

In a different style I also really like the Liberty building. I was lucky to be commissioned to draw it for their Christmas invitation last winter.

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