Dabs and Myla are the Melbourne graffiti scene’s very own Bonnie and Clyde. The couple have been working together for the most part of a decade, holding down walls with the infamous SDM crew and developing a signature style along the way. Recently the two have coverged their artistic identity into one entity, Dabs Myla, and skipped across the ocean to LA where they now live and work. We caught a few moments with the dynamic duo while they on a whirlwind visit back home, catching up on life in the States and the future of their work as a branded artist.
Hey guys, could you introduce yourself to us?
DABS/MYLA: Hey, we are DABS and MYLA.
We are a married couple from Melbourne Australia, currently living in Los Angeles. We are both graffiti writers and artists and collaborate on all of our work together.
How did you two meet initially?
MYLA: We met about 8 years ago, we studied illustration together and over our time at school we became really good friends and eventually fell in love!
When did you start painting together?
DABS: We actually started painting together straight away. The first weekend we spent together after we got together, we sat up all night and collaborated on a painting!
It was pretty dope too, for a first collaboration. We sold it in a group show years and years ago, [I] wish I had a photo of it, I don’t think we even took one. Would love to be able to look back at it now or show people the beginning.
Nowadays you’re approaching your work almost as one individual, what
prompted that transition?
M: For the first few years we were together we had been working on a lot of collaborations together, but we still worked separately on our own painting. We had spoken a lot how we really enjoyed the collaborations more and that it would be good to start collaborating all the time, but had never really thought about becoming one!
I remember one time we where sitting on a plane waiting to take off, and it had been delayed. We where stuck on the runway for hours and while we sat there we had a small meeting about our artwork and what we wanted to do.
Then we just said why don’t we become one entity! Instead of being DABS and MYLA, we will become DABS MYLA, and outside of graffiti and painting our own letters we will work together on everything we do.
What’s it like working exclusively with your partner?
D: It’s the best! I feel so lucky to be able to work all day along side the person I love.
It doesn’t work for everyone, so many people say to us that they have tried and it went horribly. I guess we just have the right temperaments or something. It works so well for us, we never fight or argue about anything, and especially never about our work!
Stylistically you’ve both developed complimentary painting skills, how much influence do you think you have on each others approach to making work?
M: A lot. Over the past seven years working together I think we have taught each other so many things and shared skills that it’s hard to even know where and what came from each of us! We are always saying to each other ‘was that my idea or yours?’ and we can never tell or remember what came from who, it’s crazy.
You relocated to the States in 2009, how’ve you found that move?
M: We love it! We have been in LA now for about 3 years. And as each year goes by I think we fall deeper in love with this city.
It suits us here so much, and it really feels like our home here now.
You’ve been down with SDM in Melbourne for years, have you had a chance to rep them on your travels?
D: Of course! We will always be proud of our crew and try to put up SDM wherever we can. I have been part of SDM CREW for about 13 years, it’s something I’m really proud of and always will be.
Recently you’ve been working tightly with the Seventh Letter guys, how did that come about?
M: For a few years now we have been friends with a lot of different people who are part of The Seventh Letter and have painted a bunch of walls with a lot of the guys since we have been living in LA. We have also done a few shirt designs for the company over the last year. They are all really great people and it’s an honor to be part of such an amazing collective of some of the best artists in the game.
You recently did a quick tour of Melbourne, what was it like revisiting your stomping ground?
M: It’s always great to come back to Melbourne. We try to get back for a quick visit at least once a year. The hardest thing about living away from Australia is being so far away from our families and all our friends,
We have two baby nieces and we don’t want to totally miss them growing up.
D: I think its good to try and get back to Australia at least once a year. Even if it’s only for a week or so, just to keep our Australian identity! If we spent a long extended amount of time in the States without coming back I feel like we could lose our Australian identity and start to become more American than Australian.
What’s the best thing about Melbourne?
M: Our families! And our friends of course. It’s hard to be so far away from them all the time.
You’re getting more and more recognition outside of the graffiti scene, how do you balance the expectations of the art world with your own approach to your work?
D: We are extremely lucky to be dealing with really great galleries who all totally believe in our vision and creativity. When we have a solo exhibition we love to be able to create an installation and build the space into something other than just artwork hanging on the wall. Our main gallery here in LA, Thinkspace have always been really great and accommodating. All the galleries we have shown in have been, so we can’t really complain at all.
What keeps you guys motivated?
M: I think we keep each other motivated. That’s the thing when you are working with someone else, you never want to slack off because you feel guilty that the other person is working away while you take it easy.
For the last three years we have been non-stop, all day every day. So there hasn’t really been a chance for either of us to be lacking in motivation. We have commitments to people and goals of our own, and the only way to take care of all that is to just work your ass off all day everyday. Apathy isn’t an option!
Dabs Myla’s current show, Break Night Lovers, runs at Known Gallery (Los Angeles) until May 19.