This is the first in what will hopefully be a long series of a posts where Tim Hans photographs artists and someone at Vandalog interviews them. I’ve known Tim since we were in high school together and been a fan of his photography for nearly that entire time, so I’m excited that Tim will be sharing his work with the Vandalog community.
To start off this series, Tim met up with the Australian duo Dabs and Myla. I interviewed Dabs and Myla last summer as part of the research on the book that I’m working on, and I’m now publishing some highlights from that interview for the first time.
Dabs on getting into graffiti in Melbourne:
I grew up in Melbourne. I didn’t even venture that far off my own train line. I lived on a trainline called the Belgrave Line. I lived way out on the end of the line, so most of my time was spent traveling in and out of the city on that line. So I didn’t really see much other than my local graffiti. I didn’t have that much money for magazines and books either, I had a handful of magazines, which were mostly an Australian magazine called Hype, but I didn’t really look beyond Melbourne even into other parts of Australia other than those few mags. The only graffiti I was paying attention to was what I was seeing in Melbourne at the time and what had come before me.
Dabs’ early views on street art:
When street art really started to boom, I was really against it for some reason. Graffiti writers didn’t like putting the two things in the same category: Like a skateboarder and a rollerblader. When people started putting those two things together, skateboarders started hating rollerbladers. I think it was a similar thing with graffiti and street art. But over time I guess I got a bit more tolerant and a bit wiser to what it is. Now, I don’t really have a problem with street art! But I do think the two things need to be segregated more because they really are so different.
On why their work has found an audience:
Myla: I think what people say continuously is that it makes them feel happy when they see our work. I think that’s why people like it. It’s because everything we do is so positive.
Dabs: The most common thing we hear is, ‘I really like your work. It just fucking makes me smile.’ Even from the hardest dudes. It’s cool when anyone says they appreciate or like our work, if its like an old lady, a little kid or a middle-aged girl or whatever, but I love it when super-hard dudes say that. I get a kick out of it.
Dabs on working both indoors and outdoors:
The transition from a street-based artist or a graffiti writer to fine art is notoriously hard. It’s a really difficult thing for people to make that transition. So many people I know have found it hard. They are so far away from each other, and finding a way to make that transition other than just reproducing it onto a canvas can be a super bitch. For us, it was pretty easy I think because we always went at it on a completely different path. That was one of the reasons why we never painted characters on walls was because we where trying to keep our graffiti and illustrations separate from each other, and I remember about 4 years ago Rime said to me ‘Why wouldn’t you paint characters on walls? That’s stupid. That’s what your paintings are. Why wouldn’t you do that? It helps tie things to your paintings.’ Originally, when we started working together, our graffiti was our graffiti and our paintings were something different. Even though they are under the same name and made by the same people, it was like we were attacking them as different people, just with the same name. We tried to push the two away from each other, and eventually the roads have kind of worked back into each other. I’m happy for it to be like this though!
Photos by Tim Hans