Photos and art courtesy of Desire Obtain Cherish.
One of the things that turns me on about street art is the skill it takes to paint the town red (sometimes literally) while the rest of the world is sleeping. Another thing that I enjoy are the clever jabs at society that street artists take in hopes of bringing social awareness to new levels. It’s very rare to sucessfully pull off these two things, but Los Angeles based street artist Desire Obtain Cherish not only does it but is at the top of the street art movement as a result of his great art. Like any masterful artist, DOC does not just do one thing. He’s also involved in a dubstep project called Obtain. You can hear some of his music and even download some free tracks too! Desire Obtain Cherish’s first solo show is showing at Lab Art in Los Angeles (through September 14, 2011), so do not miss it under any circumstance. Desire Obtain Cherish was kind enough to answer a few questions for all of us and without any further delay, the DOC is in!
According2G: How did you get involved with street art?
Desire Obtain Cherish: A street artist named BAMP asked me to go out pasting with him one night. I was deep into making music at the time and thought, sure I’ll go paste some stuff to support my dubstep project called OBTAIN. I had been toying with DESIRE OBTAIN CHERISH for sometime. Mainly thinking about the ridiculous nature of our society and how we consume.
A2G: Where did the name Desire Obtain Cherish come from?
DOC: The 3 words together derived from what I consider to be our natural cycle of self will. Originally it was Desire Obtain Covet. But I felt no one would understand the word ‘Covet,’ so I kept it simple. We Desire. We Obtain. We Cherish. Very often we Destroy. Only to start it all over again. The word Destroy seemed a bit negative, so I left it with Desire Obtain Cherish.
A2G: Tell us about your first time… as a street artist.
DOC: I first made 3 riot / police shields with the words DESIRE – OBTAIN – CHERISH replacing the word POLICE, and my DJ partner at the time, DJ Wolfie, thought it would be funny to go down the street to an anti war protest and just stand there with the shields. So we did. The results were instant. 10 seconds into it we had about 100 cameras on us and microphones put in our face asking us what the hell was DESIRE OBTAIN CHERISH? I simply said it was a movement, and kept my mouth shut.
A2G: Your credentials are pretty impressive. Can you shed some light on your background?
DOC: I went to art school at Parsons and studied Environmental Design. Mainly art theory. I think that theory is like a poison that can fuck you up for the rest of your life. You end up getting out of school and are so deep into deconstructing every aspect of everything that you get lost into a ‘word’ before you ever make anything. I got big awards at school because I was a good con artist and could give the instructors enough fodder to keep them talking for hours. When I got out of school, I knew that I needed to get back in touch with real life before I was going to set on any path of making art that touched anyone including myself. I was tired of theory and didn’t want myself or art too seriously ever again. So I did exactly the opposite of what my mentors wanted me to do and took a job at an ad agency.
A2G: Who are some of your influences/heroes?
DOC: I do have quite a range of ‘art’ influences. Claes Oldenburg, Jeff Koons, Matthew Barney, Warhol… More recently Blek Le Rat, John Fekner, all I think for obvious reason, but there is something to be said for putting your work on the street and or doing an art performance so speak or what I call an ‘art interruptions’ which is why I gravitate more towards public takeovers. Exactly the opposite of art theory.
A2G: What do you Desire, Obtain or Cherish?
DOC: Living in the moment.
A2G: Please walk us through the process from start to finish of one of your legendary billboard takeovers?
DOC: Well each is derived differently. Usually I scout the location a day or two ahead of time, climb up measure and cut samples of the board to match color. Go to home depot and get the paint needed. Go to Kinko’s and output whatever is necessary. Then on the night of, grab my tools and blanket to cover the lights and get to work. Most police at 3 in the morning aren’t looking up at billboards they’re focused on the streets in front of them. It usually takes at least an hour or so to complete, Painting on vinyl doesn’t dry very fast, so you have to take your time. The Stella board I recently hijacked was more spontaneous. I saw it in the afternoon and knew exactly what I wanted to say. Climbed up that night with a can of red spray paint. I only like to hijack boards that can be slightly altered. More subliminal. The image originally on the board has to inspire me.
A2G: Is street art a crime?
DOC: Is defacing someone else’s property a crime? Yes. Spray painting on a building is a felony. And apparently wheat pasting is a misdemeanor. Enough counts of wheat pasting can bring on a felony. That seems to be the case in Los Angeles, although I’ve heard conflicting stories. I have another street artist friend that is going to court this week on 12 counts of vandalism. Does the public mind? I guess its up to those you ask. I think with as many pictures that get snapped, and as many blogs that exist on street art, and with the amount of focus on it this year with Banksy’s film about Brainwash [“Exit Through The Gift Shop”], the public is looking to the streets with a new focus. MOCA’s recent show in LA [“Art In The Streets”] has infuriated the police. So much so they’re cracking down on everyone pasting and aggressively buffing murals. But these days it seems you can’t be taken seriously unless you actually get arrested. Your value seems to rise if you’re wearing handcuffs.
A2G: What’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened to you as a result of your art?
DOC: I’d say just the response that I’ve been getting from fans is really what it’s all about. Gallery shows are a nice venue to play with, but after I make the work and hang it, I’m really over it all. Momentum is stronger with each new piece, and when I’m in that moment of creating – I’m the happiest. So as long I’m blessed to create work or asked to create work, I come alive. I was asked to participate in the Madrid Street Advertising Takeover (MaSAT) in Spain this year. That came as a shock that my work had been seen across the globe and that the curators asked me to contribute.
A2G: Any plans for expansion into other cities?
DOC: Would love to. I’ll be hitting Miami this year for Pulse. I have another ‘art interruption’ planned there and may show some work at Aqua with ‘Cyrcle’ and a few other street artists from LA. Just started planning hitting the streets in NYC and San Fran once my solo show is wrapped here in LA. Would love to get involved in a group show in other cities… we’ll see. Just taking it one paste at a time.
This is the DOC you’ll want to make regular check-ins with. Stay in touch on Desire Obtain Cherish’s official website. Also, you can listen to his music – Obtain – at this link. Of course, you can see his art on the streets of Los Angeles (and soon in other cities!) as well as at Lab Art in Los Angeles (located at 217 South LaBrea). Thanks Desire Obtain Cherish! I cherish this great sneak peak into your fascinating life and great art!