Fuelled by paint fumes and a harmonious work ethic, Melb-born graffiti artists and lovers Dabs and Myla have teamed up to create an unstoppable force. Never a pair to knock heads when it comes to collaborating, this duo have packed their swag for the big smoke in ’09, relocating to the land of Disney. With year-round passes to the theme park strapped to their belts, the whole world is about to become their playground. Having recently worked alongside Fila and Teen Vogue (literally two days after landing in LA) the creators of Per Square Metre Gallery are about to takeover on a worldwide scale. We caught up with the perky pair to chew the fat and find out just how they stand working together ten hours a day, every day!
Hey guys, how has the move been from Melbourne to the sunny shores of LA?
Awesome, we really like it here a lot. We have been looking forward to the move for a while, and it’s been even better than we expected.
What was the decision to pack up and relocate for the next two years?
We have visited the States a few times in the last couple of years, and the last time we were here we were talking on the plane home about how much we both love L.A. and how we wish we could just stay for ages. So, by the time we got off the plane in Melbourne we had come to the decision that within the next eight months we were going to move. And here we are. No half steppin’ in the DABSMYLA team, I tells ya!
What goals do you have in mind while over in the US ?
This goes without saying - to paint on as much of the city as we can. We have a fair few projects ahead of us. We also have a lot of work lined up for group exhibitions, on top of a pretty big solo show later in the year. We are also planning to fly over to New York next month for a project, as well as going to Miami in December for Art Basel. We definitely will be keeping busy. Not to mention we also have year passes to Disneyland, so we can safely say there will be a lot of Disney days over the next 12 months. Myla can’t get enough of that place.
Is the Dabs and Myla story one of true love found through spray paint fumes? Tell us how you hooked up to create this unstoppable duo…
We actually met while we were both studying illustration at school. We became good friends over the two years we where studying and after time we inevitably fell in love. We were both into a similar style of illustration and painting. Not long after we got together I took Myla painting with me and showed her everything I knew about graff, which at the time wasn’t much. Being the genius that she is, it didn’t take long for her to master that shit.
When did you both start making the transition from walls and trains to gallery spaces?
About three years ago when we started up the Per Square Metre Gallery in Collingwood, along with Sear and another friend from school. To be honest, before that, neither of us really had dealings with the fine art world or exhibitions. But the four of us just threw ourselves right in to it. We all learnt so much about that side of the art world very quickly - it’s hard not to when you are running an art gallery.
Was there a specific time when art dealers started to really recognize your work as something that needed to be showcased?
For the first couple of years as exhibiting artists we never really showed much outside of our own gallery. No need to buy a cow when you get the milk for free. It’s only been in the last year that we have started to show outside of Per Square Metre, and outside of Australia. I guess people started to take more notice the more we developed our style.
How did it differ for you guys process-wise – having to be confined to acrylic woods and walls indoors, rather than on the streets?
No different really except that we had to deal with the fact that it was going to take a lot longer to paint with a brush on canvas than it would to paint a wall so in turn it taught us to be more patient.
You’ve described your style as ‘a balance between sweet and sour’ – can you embellish for us?
It’s based on the kind of people we are. Myla is super sweet and I’m.....well......not as sweet!
OK! Did you find that mastering your own personal styles on top of finding a complementing balance between the two of you difficult at all?
Not really, it just slowly happened after time. For a long time we where both doing our own thing and would occasionally do a collaboration together. But after years of working next to each other on separate work, we had already started to develop similar styles just from being so close. So when we decided to start working on all our pieces together it didn’t take long at all to find a nice balance.
You say you work pretty much ten hours out of any day, five days a week illustrating – how do you not get sick of each other?
You would think that we would! But, dead serious, we never do. We have never had a fight about anything (and never over the work). I guess we are both just too darn adorable to get sick of each other.
You guys must be pretty big into the sneaker scene too, having worked alongside adidas and Fila plus showcasing kicks in your art work – can you tell us more about working with the brands and just how you got into sneaker customising?
Working with Fila has been great. I love their style - they have a total retro feel going on. I must admit, I love a classic pair of tennis shoes. It’s really cool because we have always loved trying to place a nice pair of kicks into as many of our paintings as we can. Nothing tops off a painting like a great pair of shoes. And so reversing that by painting on a great pair of sneakers - forget about it! You can’t go wrong when the surface you’re painting on is already a dope piece of work in itself.
How about the Wango Tango Festival in Cali, where you guys worked alongside Fila to customise kicks for Teen Vogue? How did that all come about and how was the experience for you guys?
It was crazy. We were contacted by Fila just two days after we arrived here in the States. A good friend of ours (and amazing artist) Logan Hicks, put them in contact with us. I guess they spoke to him, and he said he knew some people who would be well suited to what they would want so he gave them our website to check out and they loved our work. We had a lot of fun at the festival and they where stoked with what we did with the shoes, so all round it was a pretty positive experience!
It sounds like you guys have made some pretty awesome connections already overseas – what’s coming up next?
A lot of sunny days, greasy burgers and a whole lot of painting.
Sounds dope! We hope you have your Tim Tam and Vegemite hook ups on lock!
No doubt! We brought a good stash with us, although the Vegemite is starting to run low. But we have some visitors coming soon, so they’ve got our back.