Mix massive talent, a ferocious work ethic and a little Aussie charm, and you have the makings of a dynamic art duo known as Dabs Myla. With each passing show, installation and mural over the past three years, the couple has gradually solidified themselves as major players within the New Contemporary art scene. And there are no signs of stopping. Even after the tremendous success of their latest solo exhibit at Thinkspace, The Best of Times, Dabs Myla didn't rest on their laurels. In fact, they continued to push the creative envelope participating in Young and Free at 941 Geary, Impetus at University of Arizona, and the upcoming Moniker Art Fair in London. Oh, and let's not forget their recent spread in the October 2011 issue of Juxtapoz. Very nice.
Though these two graffiti artists are white hot and busier than a beaver, they graciously took some time out to answer a few questions about the inspiration behind their latest solo exhibit The Best of Times. Here they talk about embracing the California lifestyle, graffiti pioneers who influenced them and bunny slippers.
*all gallery photos by Sam Graham
Your art is always personal, however The Best of Times takes on a more intimate narrative this time around depicting your joint experiences living in Los Angeles over the years. Tell us about some of your most memorable or best times spent in LA.
DABS: Man!!..There's really so many! Every day feels like the best of times. We feel so lucky to be able to live over here, with each other, being able to do what we love to do, and most importantly..doing it together!
MYLA: Our wedding day was up there as probably one of the best times! It was so amazing having so many of our closest friends from Australia and California with us at the same time!
How is your lifestyle in LA different from the one in your hometown of Melbourne? Do you find yourselves embracing the California lifestyle and doing "LA things" like stalking celebrities, indulging in tofu, or using recyclable bags?
DABS: Our life here is a lot different to when we where in Melbourne. In Melbourne we ran a gallery called Per Square Metre, as well as making our paintings so it was quite hard to really focus on our work because there was always distractions from running the other business. We loved our gallery, and met so many great people in the 3 years we had it, but its been really nice since we have been living in LA having all our time dedicated to our paintings. We do find ourselves embracing the Californian lifestyle!We did as soon as we got here! It really feels like we have always fitted into Los Angeles. We still stalk celebraties! We eat a hell of a lot of Tofu and we only use recyclable bags!!
Your new works are brimming with references of California scenery, architecture, even Smokey the Bear! Aside from subject matter, how has living in Los Angeles affected your work?
MYLA: Los Angeles has such an insane energy about it...everyone is here for a reason, and so many people have moved here with an intention. I think that the energy of the city is all around and we have tapped into that energy and let it power us up!
Food is becoming a more prominent theme in your work. Very suggestive too with hot dogs, donuts, sundaes with cherries on top, and lickin' lollipops. Are we seeing the inspiration of a newlywed couple?
DABS:Yup...thats kinda the idea!!
Your gallery work is divided equally with Dabs creating the animated characters and Myla painting the photo-realistic buildings. Dabs- What is your favorite character to create and why? Myla- What is your favorite style of building to depict and why?
DABS:I think my favorite is the 'cock and balls' character!!I dont think anyone else really shares my enthusiasm for him as me, so i don't really paint him as much as i would like to?
MYLA: Ha ha...I think he is awesome too! The buildings I love paintings the most at the moment is super detailed ornate ones with many surfaces and ridges ect. They are the hardest and challenge me the most but are the most rewarding and fun!
From an outsiders perspective, your collaboration seems like an effortless stream of imagination. Are there ever moments where either of you experience a struggle with ideas or execution? How do you help one another overcome "artist block"?
MYLA: We just try to be as supportive and patient with each other as possible. There are always points where one of us starts to get frustrated or is just having trouble, but we are really lucky to have each other to remind us that its not all that serious and to breathe!
It's hard to imagine starting to learn graffiti without being influenced by the New York style of the late 70's, early 80's. Who are the graffiti pioneers you most admire and how have they influenced your lettering and style?
DABS: I was a big fan of SEEN when i first started noticing graffiti, there is something so slick and fresh about how he went about painting graffiti that always appealed to me, from the first time i opened Subway art...instantly classic. But a lot of my inspiration came from the writers in Melbourne who where killing it before me and especially when i was first coming up. NEW2 and TAME where huge in my eyes. As well as CURE, PLOT, PARIS, PUZZLE, EPIC/OCTAPUS and JAWS.
Out of all the LA murals you've collaborated on, which one did you have the best time creating and why?
MYLA: Last year we painted a wall with two of our really good friends CRAOLA and JERSEY JOE RIME. The weather was perfect and the whole wall just came together so easy! It was just one of those days, everyone was just having a good time, and the end result was really great!
Who are the contemporary graffiti artists you most admire? Anyone you'd like to work with but haven't yet?
MYLA: POSE is killing it right now! We have never worked on a wall with him, but would love to one day! I think it would work really well. Also we both really love what ROIDS from London is doing! He has such an interesting style, so fresh and unique! We are heading over to the UK in October, so hopefully we will all have time to get something done together.
If you could only have one piece of artwork from art history hanging in your home or studio, what would it be and why?
DABS: Pretty much anything from Mark Ryden...he is a true master and we love his work!
Those who love you and your work know that you're two mad dorky peas in a pod, are lovers of vegamite, and have a work ethic that is off the charts. Tell us something about yourselves we wouldn't already know.
MYLA: Dabs wears my bunny slippers when his feet get cold at night and at the moment I have been using the 'c' word like there's no tomorrow!