Photos courtesy of Jonny D1G1TAL.
Los Angeles based street artist Jonny D1G1TAL is a rebel without a crew. He grew up in Hollywood and Downtown LA and has been through a lot. He usually lets his art do the talking, but the reclusive artist opened up and answered a few questions for all of us. Thanks in advance to Jonny D1G1TAL for the great thought provoking art and for giving us an insight into your life.
According2g: You come from a graphics background, when’s the first time you did street art?
Jonny D1G1TAL: I went to school in Downtown Los Angeles so I did the typical tagging, hand-drawn stickers and whatnot. The closest I got to street art was creating graphics in Photoshop and posting them online. I was just a kid admiring a local artist doing his art in the street, which was extremely different from the norm in that day. A while back I posted photos from my childhood room, more specifically the door. Back in the day I bought stickers directly from Shepard Fairey from the Obey Giant website (around 1999). I felt I couldn’t touch what he was doing so I didn’t want to make a real attempt until I had enough confidence in my art and myself. Roughly 10 years later, with age and refinement come my wacky and insightful messages.
A2G: Can you tell us who has influenced you?
JD: I’ll start with the cliché artist and say Shepard Fairey. I feel I had a connection with Obey before many others did, elitist as that may sound. Banksy’s political statements inspire to no end as well. I want my art to both have an ironic, comedic and political message. Sometimes I feel happy, sad, manic, depressed, or all of the above. It comes out in my art. I put it all out there and see what sticks. I would say that my modern day influence is my child as she is the inspiration for the Hipster Baby.
A2G: I’ve read online where you’ve said you’ve seen and experienced it all. Tell us some of the wildest things you’ve experienced.
JD: Without revealing too much, my prior career was involved in a field that isn’t the most mainstream. At one point, I was considered the youngest successful adult movie director in their industry, so when I go all out, I go all out. It’s been a few years since my daily grind included the adult movie industry, as I switched the majority of my business to online ventures. I’ve seen, heard, witnessed, and experienced enough in those 5 years that would drive the average man to Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder. Suicides, homicides, and armed robberies are just a short list of the things that were attached to some of the individuals I had encountered. To top that off, I have parents that came from a communist nation that kept them from leaving, so I have a different viewpoint of the world from the average American.
A2G: What’s the reaction been to your work on the streets?
JD: It’s all been pretty much positive. My parents, who I thought would be fucking livid, absolutely love it. They have one of my prints hanging in their living room. I’ve also had the usual negativity including torn down posters, capped pieces and written on pastes. A funny thing happened the other day along the lines of a sabotage attempt. I stopped by one of my old spots to check it out. Apparently someone put “Your Street Art Sucks” in tiny letters on my poster and then capped it with a Xerox copied page from a book. It was a few blocks from Fairfax High so it looked a student’s work. I tore it down and capped the entire box. You can’t please everyone, so that’s why I aim to please myself. Oh yeah.
A2G: You are very prolific. How much time do you spend making/putting up art?
JD: I split my day literally in half, where I spend at least 5 hours on art daily, but mostly keep it to nights. Ideas will popup all day from reading the news and listening to podcasts so I keep a log of my ideas on my laptop. Nightly I’ll paint, paste and produce art. I go full force into everything and anything I do. In May I have my first art show so I know my work has been seen on a wide-scale in a small amount of time.
A2G: Any plans for expansion into other cities?
JD: In the coming months I plan to make my rounds into the southern parts of Los Angeles and then potentially Santa Barbara. If I take a flight anywhere, it will be New York City to go on a pasting and painting spree. I’m aiming for sometime after the winter season because I know I cannot deal with the cold. Being an LA native has made me weather-spoiled.
A2G: Open Mic – Say your thing….
JD: If I were a rich girl…
A2G: Tell us one thing you think might surprise readers?
JD: At a young age I was determined to be eligible for Mensa. Or Nambla. Can’t remember which one, both were fun either way.
A2G: What’s the most positive experience you’ve had from your art?
JD: So far it’s probably receiving the positive feedback from Free Humanity at his first LA art show. I knew I had to have been doing something right to garner his attention, even for a moment. The most fun I’ve had pasting was a night-trip I took with the Birdman and Common Cents. Those guys are awesome to hang out with, really fucking helpful and very welcoming to a newbie like myself.
A2G: Future Plans?
JD: Last week I pasted an enormous 7-foot homeless angel floating on a building on Melrose Avenue. I think I want to go in the direction of enormous pastes and bigger stencils. I had some issues with my posters so I went on a spray-paint and stencil spree last week. It made me realize that I want to start hand-painting characters on the streets using my acrylics. I will also release more unconventional artwork in the streets for free in the vein of my “Corruption: Spice of Life” bottles. I’m all about being and existing outside of the box.
JD: I’ve always wanted to be a comedian, but I hate people and I hate most social interactions. Maybe becoming a writer would’ve suited me better but I fear rejection. I would hate to write a script and realize it’s utter shit. I can only fit so many words on a canvas or a poster so my one-liners have to be tactful and insightful. I don’t over think them or make time for them as they just leak out of my head every so often. It’s usually when I’m reading or watching the tube that I’ll have an idea for my next odd or clever statement.
Thanks again to Jonny D1G1TAL! You can find out more about Jonny D1G1TAL and see lots more great images of his work on his official website. Remember: his art is not criminal. It’s criminal minded!