Studio Visit: Artist David Young V

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Photo courtesy of Grace & Frankie

If you haven’t heard or read about artist David Young V, please click here, here, and here. D Young V stay-making work and wheat pasting the world with it. He’s also written about his travels through his Bombing series, here, here, and here. His work is timely to put it modestly, especially if we’re about to elect an orange-faced-tycoon who wants to turn our country into a Mad Max dystopian paradise.

DYV gives a quick update on his travels, future projects, relocating to Oakland, working with artist Eddie Colla, and more. Cheers. Clink.

TMG: How has traveling and bombing influenced your perspective and your work?
D: Traveling and bombing has influenced my perspective and work tremendously. I believe that the idea of traveling combined with doing street art, motivates me to explore new places and cultures. It has become the motivational tool for me to get out of The Bay and go abroad.

TMG: How has your work changed over the years?
D: I came to San Francisco to be an “abstract painter”. The city changed me into pursuing my intricate ink work and printmaking. A few years later my work took a far more militaristic and social narrative causing me to explore dystopian ideas and social changes. The nature of this work pushed me into street art and mural making.

TMG: What references do you use for your letters and symbols?
D: Most of what I have referenced in the creation of my encrypted letters comes from a variety of resources. Some of these are: Russian Constructivism, graffiti letters, propaganda posters of all eras and cultures, a vast array of science fiction films, the Mayan written language, the English alphabet, Scandinavian runes, and Celtic knot work.

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Photo courtesy of Mirus Gallery

TMG: Which artists have directly influenced you?
D: Initially Blek Le Rat, Shepard Fairey, Banksy, and Dan Witz were huge influences on me (and still are). Most recently I’ve gotten into Tom Sachs. He’ll be hosting his “Space Program: Europa’ at YBCA in San Francisco. I’m very excited about that project.

These days, books and graphic novels have influenced the way I experience the world (and it’s history). Some of these works include: Brian Wood’s DMZ, Alan Moore’s Watchmen, Rolf Potts’ Vagabonding, Alan Kaufman’s Matches and Drunken Angel (amongst other works), Chuck Palahniuk’s Survivor, Max Brooks’ World War Z, Charles Robert Anderson’s The Grunts, Charles Bukowski’s The Post Office, Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art, and most recently Gore Vidal’s 1876.

TMG: You recently moved to Oakland. How’s it different from where you used to live in The Tenderloin?
D: I live in East Oakland, near the Coliseum. I’m in my fifth month here after moving from the Tenderloin in San Francisco. I’ve lived in and around the TL for the last 13 years. It’s been a positive change. I am still surrounded by artists. I live in an industrial live/work space. East Oakland has a more industrial setting. If you’ve seen the house that hosts ‘Project Mayhem’ in Fight Club, where I currently live is not far off. I do miss the convenience and bar life of The Tenderloin, but I love the solitude of East Oakland. I can get far more done here without the distractions of SF. I still frequent the Tenderloin constantly, so my presence is pretty much always there. However, It feels good to get out and rest my head somewhere else for a while.

The Tenderloin, due to its proximity in San Francisco’s downtown, has been going through a steady process of gentrification throughout the last few years. It still remains the Tenderloin with all its grit, foulness, longterm tenants, and underground hip culture, but gentrification has priced out the working poor, middle class, and generations of artists wishing to move to San Francisco. I fear the same will eventually happen to East Oakland, but for now it remains an area filled with a diverse population of working people and small business establishments. There is far less pretension here than there is in San Francisco. The pace is also a bit slower here, which I like a lot.

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Photo courtesy of DYV
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Photo courtesy of DYV

TMG: There’s a lot of talented artists that hold day jobs to support their work and it’s not something to be taken lightly. You have a reputation of being prolific when it comes to productivity. What keeps you so motivated?
D: My art has been my single largest motivating factor when its come to pushing through life. I believe that people need purpose to carry on. Some get it through their job, religion, or starting a family. I get that same purpose through doing art. Most decisions I make are made with the expectation of moving myself forward as an artist. Even the jobs I have taken-on, are done so, to widen my skillset as an artist.

TMG: Are you and Colla competitive?
D: Only when it comes to Bocce Ball.

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Photo courtesy of DYV
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Photo courtesy of DYV

TMG: Can you describe a vivid memory, or tell a story about something you experienced during your recent travels?
D: In Istanbul I met four street artists who took me out to bomb Kadikoy (the Asian side of Istanbul). The artists’ names are: Ares Badsector, Canavar, OneSon, and Gevsek. They brought me to a long wall outside of a playground in a wealthy neighborhood. We set up base there for several hours working on collaborative wall pieces.

There was a guy sitting in the park that they kept talking too in Turkish. What struck me about him was that he had a ‘Tenderloin’ look about him. I paid it very little attention until he muttered something in English. I asked where he was from, he said “California”. I said, “I live in California, where in Cali do you live?” It turns out he lives in San Francisco, just a few blocks from my place! I showed him my ‘I Love TL’ tattoo as proof!

He purchased a one-way ticket from San Francisco to see his family. He was waiting till daybreak to knock on their door and surprise them. I hope everything worked out for him. Small world.

TMG: What are you working on now, and what should we look out for in the future?
D: I’m planning a few collaborative projects with Eddie Colla. We are doing a 3D collaborative mural piece for The Midway Gallery in SF next month. Additionally, we are working on a piece for the upcoming Aspen Art Fair. Zener Schon Gallery is representing us there. Eddie and I will also be doing a collaborative wall in September for the Kaaboo Festival in Del Mar, CA. I’ll be doing a mural for Sea Walls Project through the Pangeaseed Foundation in San Diego at the same time. I’m currently working on a solo installation of new works at The Loin in San Francisco. That’ll open on September 1st. Then finally, I’ll be travelling to Israel in December to spread my work throughout the country’s walls. I like to stay on my feet.

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