Title

The Surreal City of Dabs Myla

DabsMyla, MTV Movie Awards | Courtesy of the Artists
DabsMyla, MTV Movie Awards | Courtesy of the Artists

Dabs Myla, a new brand of art adventurers are taking over the streets of Los Angeles. They're young, polite and married. Dabs, a suave, Don Draper look alike with a crisp haircut and witty comedic timing, and Myla, a super cute pixie wearing technicolor hair, could pass for the latest pop star if she had a guitar around her neck. Dabs Myla kick ass with concept and technique, executed with paint brushes and spray cans. Dabs Myla's dazzling displays were noticed by MTV and consequently, they were tapped to create sets and logos for the 2015 MTV Movie Awards. Their surreal city, inhabited by their "very large" signature characters will debut at Nokia Theater on April 12th.

They met in art school and have been inseparable since. They start and finish all their pieces together and share an intimidating work ethic. A chance meeting with notable stencil artist Logan Hicks, in 2007 changed the course of their lives.

"We were running a gallery in a pretty rundown, empty furniture store," explains Dabs. "It was only open a few months when this American walked in from the hot sun, and says 'is this an art gallery'? It was Logan Hicks."

A long story short, they ended up hosting a successful show for the former L.A. resident, which in turn resulted in an invitation to visit. Good times with new friends were had, a string of fortunate events happened, and the rest is history. "It was at the opening, and we were making small talk," says Dabs. "We thought, yeah, we could actually do that...we had never even thought about L.A. before then."

Dabs Myla | Courtesy of the Artists
Dabs Myla | Courtesy of the Artists
Dabs Myla mural | Courtesy of the Artists
Dabs Myla mural | Courtesy of the Artists
Dabs Myla mural | Courtesy of the Artists
Dabs Myla mural | Courtesy of the Artists
Dabs Myla mural | Courtesy of the Artists
Dabs Myla mural | Courtesy of the Artists
Dabs Myla mural | Courtesy of the Artists
Dabs Myla mural | Courtesy of the Artists

It just so happens that SoCal's hottest street art stars are also actually Australian, originally hailing from Melbourne. Yet, California's mid-century modern style suits them. Whether its taking inspiration from the architecture of case study houses, the Palm Springs color palate of turquoise, pink and avocado green, or even the cocktail hour, pool side naughtiness that ensues in their compositions. Their feel-good, super-flat style references 1950's illustrations, even reinventing the fonts from those hand-painted signs, made modern with well-placed graf drips. There are a lot of characters in their work, taking cues from the elaborate graffiti productions they have created on the streets around the world. There is a feel good sweetness about them that draws their audience in, yet, it's there you'll find a private joke for those 18 and over depicted by randy, squirting hot dogs or a stick of butter in a centerfold pose smoking a cigarette.

"I think that our work has changed so much because of where we live," explained Myla. "It made a really strong impact straight away. The colors in our work got brighter and we started using combinations that we hadn't used before that were based on this city and the vibe of Southern California."

Dabs Myla, "Touchy Subjects," Seventh Letter Store, Los Angles, 2014 | Photo: Brent Broza
Dabs Myla, "Touchy Subjects," Seventh Letter Store, Los Angles, 2014 | Photo: Brent Broza

Dabs Myla work hard to create these imaginary worlds on canvas and walls, however, its important to them that their art becomes an experience for their audience. This results in elaborate, amazingly well-crafted and detailed installations, meant to be walked through, touched and Instagrammed. Sometimes this includes super-sized spray cans and spectacular chevron patterned mountain ranges in their pop up gallery shows, or even Swiss cottages, a precocious fish pond and a towering birthday cake in their 3-D art room commissioned by Sanrio for their 2014 Hello Kitty Convention.

While they are fast becoming favorites of blue chip collectors and budding young graffiti artists alike, they are quick to mention what art continues to inspire them along their journey. "When we moved here, there was a billboard on the 101 that said LOS AWESOME by (graffiti artists) RIME, REVOK and AUGOR and had a snowman in sunglasses (in 2009)," Myla explains. "We saw it every time we drove down the 101. It just described how I felt about being here."

Dabs Myla, MTV Movie Awards | Courtesy of the Artists
Dabs Myla, MTV Movie Awards | Courtesy of the Artists

"It blew my mind," Dabs adds. "They had just painted it maybe a few weeks before we arrived. Its not there anymore, but its one of our all-time favorite pieces."

What's next for Dabs Myla? There's an upcoming solo show this summer in Los Angeles and soon, a trip to the Ono'U international Graffiti Festival in Tahiti, quite possibly the most beautiful place on earth to have a street art event. No doubt we will find some Polynesian influences in their next body of work. Dabs Myla are breaking big and they have thank Los Angeles for that. "We love it so much here," exclaims Dabs. "And its because we moved here that our lives have improved. I can't imagine being happier where we are and doing what we do. We just had a feeling out of nowhere, based on nothing, and acted on it."

 


 

Dig this story? Sign up for our newsletter to get unique arts & culture stories and videos from across Southern California in your inbox. Also, follow Artbound on Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube.

Story continues below

 

We are dedicated to providing you with articles like this one. Show your support with a tax-deductible contribution to KCET. After all, public media is meant for the public. It belongs to all of us.

Keep Reading

Full Episodes