Photo Credit: Kenyatta Kelechi

CH.89: If you were to categorize or describe the style of your artwork, what would it be and why?

JD: I make star spangled abstract paintings. Imagine five-pointed stars piling up between many layers of earth-based paint––paint layers that crack, peel, and otherwise become unstable. That paint is being delicately held together with egg yolk, animal glue, and thin layers of wax. Tactility and an experience of paint as a moving, living – even breathing – thing is central to what I am doing. I treat paint as a collaborator.

CH.89: Where do you draw your inspiration from?

JD: I draw inspiration from looking at paint and the things that it does. The way two different consistencies or colors of a paint sit on top of one another. The way certain layers of paint look when they are sanded smooth. The different ways paint can look when it peels. My biggest inspiration is the way weathering, and other things that take place in the slow accumulation of time, operate on paintings. Not just the paintings in museums or places like that, but also painted surfaces like walls or cars.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about what your creative thought process is like when starting a new project/ piece of artwork?

JD: It is usually just a simple thought about color, composition, or materials that starts a new work. A lot of times it actually starts with the substrate. I just started a few paintings where I stretched muslin over burlap. That was my idea. I try not to have any big ideas before I paint or while I am painting. Big ideas lead toward ideology and ideology is the highway to hell.

CH.89: Is there anything in particular that you would want people to take from your artwork?

JD: I would like them to feel a oneness with the texture of their existence. To realize they are limitless and absolute. That every notion is a temporary tool for survival. I won’t rest until this is exactly what people take away from my work. In the meantime, I am open to the variety of experiences people have with the paintings.

CH.89: Can you talk a little bit about your lifestyle as an artist and what that is like?

JD: I keep a studio that is about a 15 minute walk from my home and I am usually in there about 4 – 5 days a week. It has windows where the sun comes in and a back porch where I can do power sanding and fling paint around. I order the same sandwich every day from the bodega near my studio. The man that owns the bodega knows I am an artist and says he will connect me with some people he knows in Dubai. I am always waiting for big breaks like this. I try to be friendly to everyone I meet, but sometimes it is hard if I am too hungry. I go to art galleries often, where I mostly look at the paintings. Sometimes I go for runs in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and even play pickle ball. I’m just an ordinary person. I watch all the important television shows to keep up with the changing times.

CH.89: When starting out an artistic task, do you think it is better to have a particular direction/set plan guiding your way? Or, is it better to act on impulse and go from there?

JD: I think it is best to alternate between the two, or else you get stuck in your ways. It doesn’t have to be every other time though. Variety is the spice of life.

CH.89: What is one major lesson you’ve learned as an artist thus far?

JD: You can be serious and crazy at the same time. That’s alright.

CH.89: Do you regard personal style & taste to be of highest importance?

JD: I think personal style & taste are the things that feel good to you, and if you do what feels good you will be satisfied. Unless what feels good is really bad for you! But it can be hard to know what is too much of a good thing until it is already too late.

CH.89: What do you consider to be the hardest thing about being an artist?

JD: Paying out to the landlords.

CH.89: What is one thing you love about being an artist?

JD: Doing exactly what I want to do in the moment I want to do it in. This is freedom. The landowners are what stand in our way. We must rise up.

CH.89: Is there anyone in particular, any artist’s that inspire you in any way?

JD: There are so many. Recently I have been looking at Lydia Gifford’s paintings a lot whenever they pop up on my Instagram feed. I love the way the paint interacts with her substrates. It feels so physical and real. I get inspired to make work that has that same juicy reality.

CH.89: What do you think of technology in terms of being a useful tool for artists today?

JD: Instagram is important. That is not big news. It’s just an easy way to casually interact with a lot of people at once, get more people thinking about what you are doing – even if it is only for a second or two. But that technological encounter has to lead to a more lasting physical encounter if it is going to be truly meaningful. I don’t think that virtual space can be truly meaningful because: 1. it doesn’t have enough texture; and 2. it doesn’t smell like anything. If the Silicon Valley people can fix those two problems I will revisit. Photoshop is important too, because you have to edit your images before you put them online. But I hate Adobe for forcing me onto their subscription service. Adobe is a landlord. We must rise up.

CH.89: Do you think being an artist allows you to view the world differently from those who don’t follow creative paths?

JD: No matter what you do with your life you will experience the world differently based on how you spend your time. Different artists will experience the world very differently. I can relate more easily to painters because we have a lot of experiences in common. We have started to look at things through a more similar material lens, and according to certain underlying strictures. I don’t know how other people view the world. I look out at the world and all I see is a civilization lathered in layers of paint.

CH.89: Do you enjoy traveling? If so, do you have a favorite city?

JD: Yes. I wish I could travel constantly in a magic flying bus that held my studio. In the past 4 years I have come to love Tokyo. But I also love New York. Living in NYC is the closest thing I have found to the magic flying bus.

CH.89: Do you have a favorite author or book?

JD: I spent 2021 reading nothing but Haruki Murakami novels. I don’t know if he is my favorite, but doing that will really put your mind in an interesting place.

CH.89: Any future goals or plans for your artwork?

JD: I would like to work on large scale projects that are shown in well known cultural institutions. That is my goal. They don’t all have to be large scale, but it would be nice to have the luxury to be able to make some big works. There is a cost associated with having that kind of space. Which brings us back to the landowners… 😉 I hope to become part of the conversation, as people say.

CH.89: What does being an artist mean to you?

JD: It means the world to me.

CH.89: What’s the last song you listened to? 

JD: Waymore’s Blues by Waylon Jennings

CH.89: Any last words on the aesthetic of your artwork?

JD: It is not for everybody; but I wish it was.



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