He is one of the most warm hearted people I’ve ever met. His work strikes with passion and raw honesty. Donovan was born in Texas to a military family that originated from Boston. The early years of his life he moved around the US every few years as military families do. Settling back in Texas as a teenager Mr. Vriens-McGrath discovered the theater and a creative outlet. At the fragile age of 16 he came out, left home, and left school after being accepted into an acting conservatory where he studied for two years. After turning 18, he moved from Dallas to New York and let the city give him the education he wanted. During this time, Donovan studied with some of the world’s most renowned acting teachers, performed at public theater, Williamstown theater festival and even had a quick stint on Broadway.
Along with the acting training Mr. Vriens-McGrath discovered yoga, took his first teacher training at the Sivinanda Yoga Vedanta center in New York, took in all that the city had to offer in its burgeoning yoga scene and has been a practicing yoga teacher ever since. After New York, in his mid twenties, Donovan moved to LA to further develop his acting career. He spent years at the Groundlings theater (yes, the same one where our favorite comedians Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig started) performing and writing, got a few gigs on TV and supported himself acting in commercials and teaching yoga.
When Mr. (then only) McGrath met his husband, Matthias, he discovered a different world of creative possibilities. Exposed to his work and influence, Donovan then started to take pictures and found that this is the only other thing that gave him as big a rush as acting or teaching so he instantly loved it. Mr. Vriens-McGrath started off with taking a few pictures for fun and with Matthias’ support and encouragement Donovan has now published work in Out, Blend, and Glamour.
In 2011 Matthias and Donovan launched BL33N, the project that introduced me to their unlimited creativity and the endeavor that brought them to Berlin in 2012. The online extravaganza and T-shirt company sold currently at Colette and a multitude of other concept stores worldwide marks a milestone in Donovan’s career: “This was a big moment for me as a photographer as we shot mostly everything together and many things on my own that I feel proud of.” Exciting things are coming for BL33N this year – with a new website and collection in the works. I’ve heard it’s relentlessly fabulous so I’d keep my eyes open if I were you.
In Berlin Donovan got to enjoy the freedom of riding your bike practically everywhere, tanning naked in Tiergarten, drinking in public (like every American) and the open minded sexy and creative mentality that the city attracts with. He captured this state of mind in his “Tuff Boy Fun” body of work that you get to see for the very first time here on Grateful Grapefruit. Get your napkins.