Faces of AWNY: Tanu Vasu

Tanu Vasu is an illustrator and fashion designer behind the popular @nyccurated Instagram account. Her illustrations of New York chronicle life through a whimsical color palette and celebrate the sophistication of the city that never sleeps. She works with the likes of the Fifth Avenue luxury shopping district, Supergoop, Four Seasons Hotels, Intermix, Bloomingdales, TimeOut, Soho House and many, many more incredible brands. And she’s from Sydney! We love seeing glamorous New York through her antipodean eyes and are very excited to chat with her today.

Tanu Vasu. Photo credit: Supplied

Hi Tanu! 👋 Let’s start with some background about yourself – why you moved to NYC? Where are you from originally, and how long have you lived in NYC? 

I was born and raised in Sydney and it was my dream to move to NYC from a young age. I was so enchanted by the allure and high octane energy this city has to offer. As a fashion designer and illustrator, I have been lucky enough to have spent close to a decade living in Manhattan. In this time, I’ve come to realize that this city is more than the iconic landmarks and cultural icons that make the area so remarkable, which led me to start illustrating life in the city in my whimsical style.

Manhattan’s streets by night illustration for Intermix, illustrated by Tanu Vasu.
Photo credit: @NYCCurated

What neighborhood do you live in and why did you choose that area?

I lived in SoHo for the first few years as it was my dream neighborhood, I adore the colorful cast of characters you can find in Lower Manhattan. A couple years ago I moved to West Chelsea. There’s a serenity and a calming inspiration that navigates this part of the city by the galleries and the Hudson River.

What do you like and dislike about living in NY?

I like that you can get anything at any time – and of course that this city is my ultimate inspiration!

I dont know where else you can get so much of everything in one place, anything you want New York’s got it.

I think there are moments when things appear not to be going your way or you’re lacking on inspiration, then you see something magical, like the jazz quartet or a random street where everyone is singing in the snow, or something that relates to you as a ‘personal sign’ and your like yep, thats why this city is so incredible!

One of Tanu’s illustrations for the TimeOut Market in DUMBO, with the Manhattan bridge in the background. Photo credit: @NYCCurated

Tell us one of your ‘only in New York’ moment/s?

I love iconic New York institutions like The Odeon and The Plaza. I love experiencing the interiors of ‘Old New York’. I adore classic ‘New York’ experiences like boating in Central Park, picnicking in Washington Square Park, dinners in the Village with dear friends, high tea at Palm Court, ahh I could go on forever….

What’s your favorite New York spot?

Nostalgic dinners in the West Village for sure! The quaint neighborhood charms with ambience over dinner, especially in the summertime.

I have recently been finding myself spending a lot of time at Chelsea Piers, I think sitting and working by the water reminds me of home in a nostalgic way,  I also have been loving all the activities in there,  also a Bluestone Lane just opened up there! 

A map Tanu Vasu illustrated for client Supergoop. Image credit: @NYCCurated

Anything you miss about Australia?

My family and friends! And a frothy cappuccino!

What are your top 3 tips for friends visiting NYC?

Feel every emotion the city has to offer, while it may be intense it is what makes the city so spectacular! Do as much as you can, museums, galleries, restaurants, musicals, opera, ballet, sightseeing, visit all the boroughs, take the subway, hail a yellow cab… I personally love touristy things, the red double decker bus tour is fun, cruise over to the Statue of Liberty. 

What’s your favorite NYC brunch spot?

I love Dante in the West Village (owned by Aussies), and my everyday go to Bluestone Lane to celebrate the Australian culture that lives in this spectacular city! Loeb Boathouse and The Odeon is also high up there on the list.

Tanu’s drawing of The Odeon on the streets of New York. Photo credit: @NYCCurated

Favorite NYC cocktail spot & cocktail of choice

Bemelmans Bar at The Carlyle, A Rosewood Hotel. I adore the Madeline series and being at Bemelmans makes me feel like I’m included in his fantastical illustrations. Also, what an incredible inspiring place to collect my thoughts and feel inspired!

A map of illustrated by Tanu Vasu for The Carlyle. Photo credit @NYCCurated

What was your biggest win this week?

Living my dream in this amazing city!

What’s the biggest challenge or road block you’ve been faced with since being in NYC and how do you overcome it?

I feel like NYC at times takes you and throws you and sometimes there’s prolonged waiting but it’s all worth it when you finally achieve your goals. It required hard work and dedication to your dreams, I’m a big believer in the power of this city. If you’re here, you’re half way to your end goal.

An illustration by Tanu for HousingWorks. Photo credit: @NYCCurated

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about living/working in NYC?

“Just be confident and be the absolute best at what you do. Don’t worry about others in your space doing similar things, it will only confuse your work.” – said by my wise mom. 

Connect with Tanu

Author: Tarley Jordan

Tarley has been an AWNY volunteer since 2012. She is award-winning marketer from Sydney (with stops in Brisbane and Rockhampton), who moved to New York after meeting her husband in a typical New York chance encounter. Find her on Instagram: @tarleyj

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