Doaz One first reached out to me several years ago through Instagram about trading stickers and collaborating on artwork. He was the first artist to initiate this type of exchange with me, and this interaction opened me up to further collaborations with other artists. Until we sat down to work on this article, we had never met, but had been trading stickers and panels for collaborations through the mail. As we had never met face-to-face, I was a bit nervous and hoped we would find some things in common when we collaborated in person. As it turns out, we’re around the same age, have similar surnames and are both lefties … we hit it off right away.
Ck: I see you brought some panels with you. For these interviews, we have usually collaborated on paper that I can wheat paste later, but I like that you brought some panels.
Ck: Do you want to each take a panel then we can swap?
Dz: Sure, do you want to draw one of your guys with the head open on this one and I can have something coming out of it?
Ck: Sure, I can work with that.
Dz: The hole I drilled here is for the LEDs I have been putting into new pieces. So if you want to work that in…go ahead.
Ck: Sounds good. I actually did a series of paintings a while ago where I broke pieces of wood then built them into a new shaped panel. I used LEDs in these pieces to illuminate the negative space in-between the broken pieces, so this is right up my alley.
Ck: So what got you interested in street art?
Dz: I grew up in New Jersey in the 90s and would come into New York City to skateboard and for a weekend class I took at FIT through my high school. We would hang out around the Brooklyn banks and other skate areas. The scene then was a lot of tags. I started to see a lot more stickers from punk rock bands, which is where my first stickers came from.
Ck: I had a similar introduction to sticker culture, between bands and skate stickers everyone had a sticker collection. Skate culture was my first experience with brand loyalty. Half my friends skated certain brands strictly because of the graphics on the skateboards.
Dz: Absolutely! In the 90s, all these companies were really carving out a niche with their graphics style. Michael De Feo (the flower guy) was one of the first street artists that impressed me using similar tactics with his use of really hard lines and bold images. I remember one of his large-scale wheat pasted flowers above SVA that really just sticks out in my mind. I was drawn to graffiti as well, though I was always more of a character guy. I would mess around with tags, but I was never good at lettering but even graffiti lettering was getting abstract and detail oriented in the 90’s.
Ck: Yeah a lot of German graffiti writers took things to the next level at that point. Artists like Mirko Reisser (DAIM) who took NYC wild style graffiti and adding two-point perspective and foreshortening to graffiti lettering making it appear 3-d and sculptural.
Dz: Exactly! That’s the type of painting that was blowing my mind. I wanted to include some of that style in my work, but as I started developing my own craft I realized I wanted to go in a different direction. What separated me from a lot from other influences is that I’m color-blind.
Ck: Really? That’s really interesting; I never would have guessed that. Is that why you use so many neutral tones in your work?
Dz: Absolutely. That’s also why I use so many patterns and bold lines in my work as well. I am looking for a lot of contrast and these elements help me achieve that. A friend once told me that the contrast of bold lines on the colored backgrounds in my work make my pieces vibrate. I’m just trying to create pieces with high contrast and it interests me to see how people see the work differently.
Ck: The first time I encountered a color-blind individual was in an elementary school art class. I vividly remember the kid next to me getting yelled at for making the sky the wrong color.
Dz: My first memory of having to deal with color-blindness was in art class too. I was about five years old and I kept coloring brown leaves on green tree trunks. The teacher kept pointing out that I was coloring wrong and mentioned this to my mom. We went to see a doctor about it and that’s when I found out that I was color-blind. To this day I can’t tell the difference between brown and green. Over the years I’ve found myself drawn to black and white photography and images with bold lines – probably because of my color blindness.
The patterns in my work also come from my upbringing. I was raised by my mom and my grandparents. I spent a lot of time in my grandparent’s house surrounded by 1960s and 70s patterns as well as the traditional Hungarian art that they had in their house and at the Hungarian church we attended. I was drawn to the hard outlines and the graphic nature of the stained glass windows, which fed into the repetition of patterns in my work.
Ck: I’m thinking back to some of the collaborations we’ve done over the years. They must have looked so different to you. I just hope they don’t look like shit!
Dz: There aren’t a lot of colors that don’t jive with me. That’s why you see colorblind people walking out with crazy outfits. It’s lead me to create work with more contrast over the years.
Dz: Can you hand me the color you’re using for his hair?
Ck: Sure. It’s interesting that the longer you create art in your life, the more you realize how much your upbringing influences the work you make.
Dz: Agreed - but it takes so long to figure that out. If you were to have asked me 10 years ago where my style came from, I would tell you I watched a lot of cartoons and read comics. But over time, as you start to refine your style - you see common themes in your work and start to understand the origin of these influences.
Ck: There are still themes in my work that I don’t understand. It took me years to understand that I draw characters with their heads cut off because I had brain surgery numerous times when I was young. I never correlated the two.
CK: When I first moved to Bushwick in 2008 there was such a mixture of street art…wheat paste, tags, roller pieces, stickers, and bolt ups. The diversity made me realize that I needed to do more with my craft. Every city has its own vibe. Some cities are dominated by tags or just stickers and you want to be able to be a part of the conversation in each different scene. I’ve seen so many artists cycle through the street art scene over the years and I see less and less of the new generation making bolt-ups…placing you into a smaller niche of street art. What got you into bolt-ups?
DZ: I started doing these about 10 years ago when I was purging my work. I wanted to make new work, but needed to find a use for the surplus that I had already created. So I started to put up the older panels in different neighborhoods as a way to inspire myself to continue to create and gift these pieces to a neighborhood. I like that people can walk down the street and encounter a piece that might give them a chuckle on a shitty day. I also like the longevity of the piece. It takes me a while to make a piece. Even when I used to do graffiti I was the type of guy who wanted to find a spot where I could have a few hours to paint. Bolt-ups allow me to spend time on a piece and to put it up in a way that it can last for awhile. It’s also a less saturated scene. When you put up a sticker in a hot spot it can disappear in a week or less. Bolt-ups tend to stand out. It’s nice to have a piece last and to get a bit more attention.
CK: I do a lot of carpentry and I appreciate the idea of spending more time on a piece. I like creating and framing a panel that I’m going to paint. The process of making the object is just as important to the painting I will create.
DZ: I like the physicality of a bolt up, as well. Maybe it has to do with my grandfather. He was never a carpenter per se, but after living through the depression he knew how to make things to survive. Working with my grandfather around the house was my first introduction to building and creating things by hand. Everything we would make together always had hammer marks on it. We never worried about measuring things. Because of his influence, I find myself more drawn to work where I can see the mark of the artist. That is why I’m drawn to the arts and craft movement as well. I want to see the paint strokes; I want to see the artist in the work. It’s something I loved about early graffiti as well. Seeing the cuts and the aftermath of the artist in the piece. When I don’t see that in a piece it becomes impersonal to me.
CK: I agree, I feel the same way in my own work. Even when I’m making silkscreen prints I need to color it by hand so my mark is on every piece. Well, you’ve found a great niche. Your pieces are already unique, and the new addition of the LEDs in this new series will attract the public even more when you bolt them up on the street. Thanks for sitting down with me. I look forward to getting these pieces up on the street!
Doaz One is a street artist based out of New Jersey. Check out his adventures by following him @Doaz0ne on Instagram.