celebrity shopping

What Artforum Editor-in-Chief David Velasco Can’t Live Without

Photo: David Velasco

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked Artforum editor-in-chief David Velasco about the indoor herb garden, lip balm, and books he can’t live without.

I grew up poor as fuck, so when I got older, I wanted fancy things. When I moved to New York, I didn’t have any money at all, and this was the most expensive lip balm to me. Sometimes I couldn’t even really afford it — I would buy it with my last $25. It’s one of the most luxurious items I can imagine affording when you have no money. Just having it in my pocket was comforting: It has this metal casing and this heaviness that I loved feeling. Also, it does feel great on your lips. But the kind of trivialness of it and its expense are part of its appeal, in a maybe not great way.


In the summer of 2004, I went to Los Angeles with my boyfriend. It was a magical trip. We had met a few months before, but that was the moment when we really fell in love. We stayed at a friend’s house; she is an artist and had a lot of art books. I remember leafing through The Other Side and being totally transported by the pictures. It was one of those moments where I felt the miracle of art — how somebody could expand their world in a way that invited others in. It was an important moment for me. Nan has saved lives with her work, both in terms of preserving the lives she has encountered and then literally with her activism and interventions in the opioid crisis. She’s just this unbelievable figure to me, somebody who is a life-giving force. And this book is something that actually manages to encapsulate that. Not an easy job for a book to do, but it does that.


Unlike the Fresh Sugar balm, this is a really inexpensive product. I have absolutely no idea what it does, but I put it on my face every night — and I have for years. My friend Kevin McGarry, who’s a writer, turned me on to it. The cream is the base for all of my face care, and I always have it with me when I travel. It feels like something from a different era, like something a grandmother would use on her skin. It doesn’t feel luxurious; it doesn’t smell like anything. It’s a really simple white cream. It also seems to really work.

I drink Coke Zero like I drink water. I decided to go dry in July, so when I go out to bars with people, I drink Coke Zero.