April has been a busy month for the artist known as DILLON, and he likes it that way. The American-born artist living in Italy has recently finished a new batch of work, done with some provocative concepts over some eye catching patterns (using aerosol over stencils and acrylic on canvas of course). He has also been showcasing his art at various shops and cafes around Italy, as well as embarking on a book signing tour.
DILLON was born in Phoenix, Arizona and lived mostly in Las Vegas, Nevada before relocating to Italy. He attended private art lessons at the age of 9. As a kid growing up,
[caption id=”attachment_1885” align=”alignright” width=”280” caption=”DILLON contemplates his next brush stroke”][/caption]
Dillon spent most of his days creating art of famous icons and composing music with friends. His first professional sale, at the age of 14, was followed by entertaining audiences through painting live at gallery exhibits. Upon completion of high school, Dillon’s time was divided between painting large scale portraits of celebrities, recording his own underground music, and acting in local independent films. Dillon turned from a local sensation into an international success in 2004 when his artwork was revealed through online auctions and illustrative websites around the world. Ever since then, his work has been showcased in galleries throughout the United States and Southern Europe.
Right now, DILLON is hard at work on his latest project, boldly named “The Worlds Largest Self Portrait.” This piece will consist of many faces of famous icons or people that have either inspired or influenced DILLON in some way. It will resemble mostly the self portrait sticker but filled with fine detail of famous faces making up the total image. The overall size of this canvas bound painting should fit firmly within a decent sized soccer field. DILLON then says that he plans to auction it off for a favorite charity or a good cause. Recently, Jetcomx’s head writer was lucky enough to chat with the man himself.
[caption id=”attachment_1887” align=”alignleft” width=”239” caption=”DILLON showcases his artwork on a skateboard deck”][/caption]
Andrew Boni: Thanks for taking the time to talk with Jetcomx. We really appreciate it. So, tell me, who exactly is the man behind the moniker DILLON? How did the name come about?
DILLON: Well, 50 Cent was already taken, plus I didn’t want to hurt John F. Kennedy’s feelings. No, seriously some of my friends called me by my middle name during high school and I guess I enjoyed the chance at taking on another identity. Also, I started signing my paintings DILLON because I didn’t like how James Wright looked. It looked like every other artist out there. I wanted something distinct and resolute.
AB: Describe to us a day in the life of DILLON.
DILLON: Ok, so I get up around 11am because I stayed up the night before thinking of ways to obtain a Ferrari. I do the email checking thing. I head into town with my portfolio, some stickers, and a notebook for “instant ideas”. I grab a cappuccino at a random café and scope out galleries or places of interest to set up shows. I attempt to speak to the business owner, knowing little Italian. Hit or miss, I return home with ideas and start painting new projects. Oh, wait I gotta’ make a bottle for the baby. I love on my 2 month old baby girl and kiss on my wife, plug in my iPod and chill in my studio thumbing through magazines, books, or websites to stimulate inspiration… for ways to obtain a Ferrari.
[caption id=”attachment_1891” align=”alignright” width=”250” caption=”DILLON poses with his Marilyn Monroe & Kurt Cobain”][/caption]
AB: At what age did you determine that art is what you were going to be doing for the rest of your life?
DILLON: I don’t think there was ever an exact time or age that I realized I was an artist or that art was a way of life for me. I think more or less, that I became a product of my environment. Or maybe that I became what my environment lacked. And in return my environment became a product of me (A continuous process that takes years to achieve). Basically, I was about 4 years old. :)
AB: Do you think that it’s more difficult for people to make a living as an artist today, than say 50 years ago?
DILLON: I can still remember that old saying, “starving artist.” I don’t think that expression is thrown around as much anymore. I believe this is because today’s technology (the web comes to mind) has somewhat snuffed out the stereotype of the “poor” artist and replaced it with artists quickly surfacing to the top of their game. Yes, it’s much easier. It’s absolutely wonderful.
[caption id=”attachment1899” align=”alignleft” width=”279” caption=”DILLON paints live on the streets of Italy”]_[/caption]
AB: How has society’s obsession with all things technological (the internet, the iPhone, Photoshop, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, etc) affected what you do?
DILLON: It has affected my career tremendously. Let’s face it; I sell more than half my work on eBay with a substantial amount of help from photo hosting sites like flickr.com. Most emerging and established artists would still be in the dark if it weren’t for these programs. But, they are merely the tools of our time. The only thing that separates one artist from the other is the patience to learn them.
AB: What made you decide to leave everything you knew behind and move to Italy? How well received is your work in Italy?
DILLON: To make a long story short, my wife’s choice to secure a future and try to better our lives by signing on with the U.S. Air Force has provided us with a very rewarding experience. As far as culture reception and such, the Italians, for the most part, have welcomed my style of art with open arms.
AB: Which contemporary artist do you think has most profoundly impacted society?
DILLON: Playing a notable part in the election of President Barack Obama through his campaign poster/ portrait… I would say Shepard Fairey hands down. But, I admire Banksy. I believe he has accomplished a much greater influential impact on society.
[caption id=”attachment_1902” align=”alignright” width=”327” caption=”DILLON's rendition of Marilyn Monroe”][/caption]
AB: Speaking of Shepard Fairey, what’s your take on his work being used as an icon of Obama’s historic presidential campaign?
DILLON: It’s a dream come true in the eyes of an artist.
AB: Where do you get your ideas & draw your inspiration from? Do you experience artist’s block often?
DILLON: Gandhi and Genghis Khan (They happen to be the historical figures I am researching right now). I would have to say that the people who have influenced me are Walt Disney, Stan Lee, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Tamara de Lempicka, Shepard Fairy, and Banksy. (In order from earliest to now.) __I get artist’s block all the time! But sometimes it’s quite the opposite. I’ll have such an abundance of ideas that I don’t know which one to execute first.
AB: What are some words of advice that you would like to give to aspiring artists?
DILLON: You can remain who you want to be or become who you are. You have the unique position as a self-determining agent responsible for the authenticity of his or her choices to become knowledgeable and great at whatever you do. But first; if you want to be heard, you have to listen. Do not fear the absence of knowledge. Embrace it. Now go do something.
AB: Do you plan on returning to the US any time soon?
DILLON: Not sure? I just came back from Croatia, Slovenia, and Austria after checking out their art scene. Maybe I will come home for a short stay after I check out the United Kingdom or Switzerland. I want to take in as much as I can. Only then will I truly be able to give something back.
AB: Well that concludes this interview. Do you have anything else that you’d like to say?
DILLON: No, I think that about sums it up. Thanks for the opportunity to express my thoughts and ambitions! Here are some available links to my art: