From Australia with Love: The Art of DABS MYLA
Influenced in equal measure by street art and classic animation, DABS MYLA depict the industrial world around them with glossy hues and dark undertones. Working endlessly day and night, this soon to be married Aussie duo have taken the LA art scene by storm. In the past year alone, they've created countless paintings, tagged the walls of our fine city with their signature graffiti, and collaborated on murals with heavy hitters such as Greg "Craola" Simkins, Augor and Rime. Although skyrocketing to popularity in a short period of time, their success story is no "flash in the pan".
Drawn to the endless excitement big cities can offer, it seems logical that DABS MYLA would focus their attention on the overstimulated city of Tokyo for their next exhibition. Here they take some time out of their insanely busy schedules to talk about subway porn, dinosaurs and their upcoming show at Thinkspace: Tokyo Deluxe opening Friday, September 3rd.
Platinum Cheese (PC): Please tell us a little bit about your upcoming show at Thinkspace "Tokyo Deluxe". What inspired you to undergo this project?
MYLA: In the past we have painted about places and cities and the characters and situations that we see in these places. What better place to base an exhibition on than Tokyo?! There are so many crazy things going on there with a very busy and dense city that we could paint...its been a lot of fun to create a body of work where the characters, ideas and reference just keeps flowing!
PC: Name a few of your favorite things about Japan?
MYLA: Takoyaki (fried octopus dumplings), beautiful buildings and signage, Japanese crepes with banana and ice cream!, 10 level gaming parlors and the awesome claw skill tester prizes, edamame, Illustrations in their posters...oh I could go on forever! We just loved the time we had there!!
PC: What's your impression of the street art scene in Tokyo? Did you do any murals during your visit?
DABS: They have a very crazy street art scene in Tokyo. Not so many murals?..but a lot of tags and a hell of alot of stickers!! We planned on painting some graffiti while we where there..butour main focus was on exploring, eating andgathering references for the paintings. We met up with some local writers who were going to take us to an abandoned hospital near Yokahama, but that morning they had put extra security there to guard it?..so it was a no go!
PC: Street artists in general seem to evolve from a mentality that's guerilla in spirit. What drew you to street art way back when?
DABS: I started painting graffiti about 15 years ago.I was just a young little guy..and pretty keen for finding trouble. All the older kids that I was hanging out with where all writers, and would be out bombing the streets and train line a lot! They sort of showed me about the culture, and started taking me out bombing!..I loved it!!..and had always been interested in art/drawing..so as I got a bit older I started moving towards the more artistic side of bombing(painting pieces and characters)..
PC: Was anyone else in your family an artist and did they encourage your artistic talent?
DABS: My uncle Barry is a really fantastic artist. He definitely inspired me as a kid, I loved going to his house when I was young because he had such an amazing collection of illustration and animation books that I could look through.
PC: How did the two of you meet and start collaborating?
MYLA: We both studied Illustration together at art school in Melbourne. That's where we met and eventually fell in love! Right from the get go we started collaborating together on paintings and on walls, maybe after about 3 years of being together we decided to completely join forces and started collaborating on all our work!..that's when Dabs and Myla officially became DABS MYLA.
PC: Behind the bright colors and animated characters there seems to be a social commentary at play in your paintings. For instance, "Thirty Five Minutes Home" depicts an industrial machine churning out famous Disney icons and "Diamonds in the Rough" reminds me of the documentary "Confessions of a Superhero" with (often pathetic) aspiring actor types lined up on Hollywood Blvd. Is it ever your intent to expose the outward appearances of places like Disneyland or Hollywood, beneath which a darker entity of exploitation resides?
DABS: Definitely..sometimes the actual meaning behind the picture is a little harder to see?but there is always something meaningful in our paintings, even if we are the only ones who can see it! We really like the idea of dark subjects and situations, but portrayed in a much fluffier light!...I think because that's what we are like....every one always tells us how cute we are, and how nice we are...but under that there is definitely some darkness!!!! We are graffiti writers after all..sometimes we are definitely in situations that are not so light and fluffy!!
PC: Did anything you saw in Tokyo give you a similar vibe?
MYLA: Yes...Tokyo has that vibe all over it!!...thats why it was so perfect for us to make a show about it. There is so many aspects of that city that lend themselves to these kind of scenarios. It's all so playful, there is a total cuteness plastered over the city..soft toys and doll-like girls everywhere you look...but then 6 story department stores dedicated to sex toys and blow up dolls!!...men reading cartoon virtual porn on the subways, rows and rows of them. I think that in western culture that would be something that generally people hide, but in Japan its all out in the open!!
PC: With your bold cartoon style I see a natural evolution into animation films. What would you imagine a Dabs Myla film would look like?
DABS: Probably some warped vision of Strawberry Short Cake meets City Of Lost Children!!
PC: Before moving to Los Angeles, you owned and operated the gallery Per Square Meter in Australia. How has that experience helped with your careers as artists?
MYLA: From running the gallery we understood the other side of things, making us appreciate the gallery owner/artist relationship and how important they both are! When we started running the gallery we really had no idea of how things worked... when we left after 3 and a half years we both felt as though we had gained so much insight into this scene.
PC: Last November you showed at New Puppy Gallery (Golden Age) but also co-curated a small group show with Dan Levy of Pretty Picture Movement. How was the experience and do you have aspirations to curate another show in the future?
MYLA: I'm sure sometime in the future we will do something similar again...it was a lot of fun! Curating a show with Dan was awesome, he really helped us get the show together!
PC: Which contemporary artists do you most admire and/or are inspired by?
DABS: Two Artists that we really admire and are definitely inspired byare Logan Hicks and Greg Simkins! Even though our art work is completely different to both of them, over the years we have been inspired by their attitudes and work ethics as artists. They both have a lot of knowledge about the industry and set a great example for us as how to go about the business side of art.
PC: If I were to spend the day with DABS MYLA, what could I expect?
DABS: Most likely to be bored out of your brains!!..Pretty much everyday we awake around 8..eat some granola and yogurt, sit down at our desks and start working! We sit opposite each other working, listening to music and chatting away, cracking jokes and talking a lot of shit!..a little lunch break at our desks, then back to work...keep at it till 7 or 8..eat some dinner...then back to work till around 11...get into bed, watch a bit of a movie or something, go to sleep..and then start the whole thing over again!!..........pretty exciting stuff!!!
PC: What's the one thing you guys can't live without?
MYLA: Each other!!!
DABS: Donuts!!!......and each other!!....and donuts!
PC: The one thing you guys can't live with?
DABS: Dinosaurs!!...actually..i don't mean that..that's a little harsh!!..just T rex's!!..Their moody sons of bitches! And I'll never live with one again!
PC: What's next for DABS MYLA?
MYLA: The week after our show our family and friends from Australia are coming out to LA on vacation to celebrate our wedding with us! We are getting married in Vegas so it will be a vacation type of wedding!!! We can't wait! After the wedding its back to work, we are having a show at M Modern gallery in Palm Springs in February as a part of Modernism week! We will also start planning our next Thinkspace exhibition which will be next August! Oh hamburgers, we better get back to it!!