DabsMyla consists of what seems to be the happiest married couple on earth. Dabs and Myla claim to never argue with each other, or even disagree creatively. Their easygoing personalities translate into a carefree artistic style, which comprises of graffiti art and nostalgic mid-century illustration. Lucky for us, the duo will be at ComplexCon showcasing something completely unique.
If you haven’t seen their work, Myla recommends checking out their Instagram page to get a sense of what they do. Complex spoke with DabsMyla about their working relationship, the Hollywood art scene, and their native country, Australia.
Be sure to check them out at ComplexCon on Nov. 5-6.
How would you describe your artistic style?
Myla: We’re a collaborative team. We’re a husband and wife who work together. We’ve built our style from all of the influences we’ve each had throughout our lives. In a few words, we love using color, and we use a lot of characters in our work.
Dabs: Our work is usually reflective of the things going on in our own lives, between the two of us being married and creating artwork together.
Are there any aspects of your style that are specific to one of you in particular? If I’m looking at a DabsMyla piece, and I knew you both well, would I be able to tell who contributed what?
Dabs: It’s really a blend. Maybe someone who knows us really, really well (like a few close friends) may be able to guess sometimes. They might get it like 80 percent of the time. But then there’s always that 20 percent where no one can tell because it is a real mash. We’ve been working together for 11 years now, and when we first started, there was more of a definitive line between what the two of us did. But over the last 11 years, we’ve been sharing skills, and like in any relationship, the more time you spend together the closer you become. We’ve become able to finish each other’s sentences and each other’s work. It’s very hard for even us to be able to make any distinction anymore.
Myla: When we draw things, I might start something or he might start something.
Dabs: From the beginning of the drawing, we both would have something to do with every single piece. If we had a painting and it had a picture of a bear on it, there’s a good chance that maybe I started that drawing of a bear, and then said, “I don’t know what to do with this guy’s feet.” And she would finish that guy and figure out what to do with his feet. Then she might have started painting, and I might go over him, put highlights on him, and put a hairy texture or something on him. So it’s always both of us.
Are there elements of your style that complement each other? Are there any that clash?
Myla: There’s definitely nothing that clashes. We get along better than any two people can get along. We have such a great relationship, and there’s nothing that ever clashes. I think we knew from very early on what both of our strong suits were. We’re always really honest with each other, and no one gets upset with that honesty.
Dabs: We’re pretty flexible, so if there was ever something that one of us was doing that was maybe clashing with what the other one was doing, we would never have even noticed or made a point of it because we both would have adapted. If there ever was anything like that, just by knowing how we work (and without even talking about it), the other would make it fit. A clash would just not happen. We’d rectify that difference in style.
I know you’ve previously worked with many of the artists who are going to ComplexCon. Are there any artists you’re excited to see at ComplexCon who you haven’t met before?
Dabs: I don’t think there’s anyone there who we haven’t met before. Ron English will be there. We’ve met him and we love his work. And Patrick Martinez will be there. We know him too and we love his work, as well. Seventh Letter is going to be there, and they’re good friends of ours.
Is there other stuff aside from the art that you’re excited to check out at ComplexCon?
Myla: Yeah, the whole event is so exciting! It’s just so phenomenal, and we’re beyond excited to be a part of it.
Who are some artists whose styles you really admire?
Myla: Oh my gosh. There are so many.
Dabs: All for different reasons.
Myla: We have some friends of ours who we’re really inspired by that are making incredible things, like Greg “Craola” Simkins. We’re both really inspired by Greg and the things he does. We make completely different kinds of work, but I’m inspired by how hard Greg works. I love what his stuff looks like, and I love the subtle things that he does as an artist and as a person.
You had your own street art gallery in Melbourne. Do you feel as though your art is received differently in the U.S. than it is in Australia?
Dabs: Yeah, it is. But that’s also because since we ran the gallery in Melbourne, we’ve gotten better at what we do.
Myla: Yeah. When we were running the gallery, we were trying to do our own work and run the gallery at the same time. Running a gallery is so time-consuming. Once we stopped doing that, we could focus on our work 100 percent, and our work got a lot stronger. And that was when we moved to Los Angeles.
Dabs: In those first few years of living in Los Angeles, we were really able to immerse ourselves in what we were doing and in creating our style.
What are your goals for the future? What do you see yourself doing in the coming years?
Myla: Well, we’re not sure actually. We’ll just keep working hard and pushing our style and pushing the boundaries of what we think we can do. We’re really into challenging ourselves and never taking the easy way out. We just want to take every opportunity we get and do it bigger and better than we would in the past.
Is there anything that you miss about the Melbourne art scene? How is it different from the Hollywood art scene?
Myla: We definitely miss our family and friends.
Dabs: Part of what makes up the Melbourne art scene is the people. We miss seeing them all the time. Also, Melbourne’s such a small city and there’s always interesting, small DIY things happening in Melbourne. You see a lot of that stuff going down in Melbourne, whereas in Los Angeles, you miss a lot just because Hollywood is so big that it’s hard to keep track of everything going on. Melbourne’s a smaller community, so it’s a bit more tight-knit.
If someone were new to your art, do you have a specific piece or two that you would show them to introduce them to your style?
Myla: Someone who doesn’t know our style should go to our Instagram to see a bunch of stuff.
Dabs: Last year, we had a show in Los Angeles called “Before & Further.” It was a really big, immersive installation and a huge body of paintings. It was all tied together in this one big building. We painted the outside and inside of the building. We built these installation components, and [created] the sculptures and all these paintings. It’s not one piece, but it was something we were really proud of. It was great for people to see that. It had nearly every element of everything we do. I think a lot of people who came to that show not knowing what we do left with a good grasp of what we’re about.
Can you discuss your choices of colors? Is there any process for choosing colors?
Myla: Well, we met at art school and learned color theory from the same teacher. We’ve applied that to our work ever since, and we have exactly the same technique for using color. We have the same appreciation for certain colors. There are some colors that we don’t use very often, and others that are favorite colors of ours. We put a lot of value and time into mixing the colors the way we do because we need them to be exactly the way we imagine them to be.
Dabs: Usually, when a color decision needs to be made, we both come to the same conclusion separately. Like if I ask, “What do you think of this eyeball over here? I was going to use a dirtier teal color,” [Myla] will say she was thinking the same thing. I don’t know how we make the decisions, but we definitely seem to be making the same decisions.