Get to Know D Young V

If you don’t know who D Young V is, you’ve probably seen his art plastered on the walls of Space Gallery and many other notable galleries in San Francisco. D Young V is a well respected artist in the SF art community, and one to definitely watch out for. Many great things to come from D Young V in the future.

Check out this interview to get an insight on the motivations and the life of artist D Young V. Also, make sure to see “Truisms” A Tribute to Jenny Holzer at Space Gallery from October 10th-16th. Show includes Sanjin Agic, John Felix Arnold III, Robert Bowen, Eddie Colla, Sean Desmond, Michelle Kim, Aaron Lawrence, and Nathan C Warner.

Your work appears to be very influenced from politics and war. What about soldiers and the experience of being physically involved in a war interests and inspires your artwork?

In many ways it’s not only the soldier that interests me but rather the uniform. The uniform is a symbol that people will either fear, love, honor, cherish, respect or hate. The uniform is associated with a variety of different meanings. If you see a soldier you assume patriotism, war, country, sacrifice, oppression, authority, violence, order, discipline, etc.  If you see a punk, you assume rebellion, aggression, chaos, anarchy, left wing thinking, creativity, etc. Anything can serve as a uniform, the car you drive to the clothes you wear. Much of it is symbols to express who you are (or what you wish to be perceived as) to the rest of the world. One of the goals of my work is to alter the view of these symbols and place them into a new or contradictory context, allowing the viewer to rethink the meanings.

If the flag, uniform, politics and national identity are stripped away, you are left with only a person. I am very interested in knowing what leads a person to join the armed services (particularly in the US). I feel that some people are simply attracted to conflict, others discipline, some adventure, curiosity, escaping, direction, etc. I feel as though many people in this country have a misguided view of patriotism and nationality. Many people seem to invest much of their identity in this new form of patriotism, not so much out of love for country, but more to create some sort of security, strength, purpose or meaning in their lives. It’s a great feeling to be a part of something greater then yourself, but also foolish to blindly accept the decisions others make for you without question.

I’m not one to define what patriotism is or point the finger at anyone. I’m still attempting to develop my own views on this. I love the country I live in, but often feel that we’re going to have to seriously rethink our actions, philosophies and what our role is in the grand scheme of things if we’re going to evolve (or survive for that matter) as a nation.

You are very involved in the San Francisco art scene. Which artists in particular influence you the most? And, in general, in your seven years as a San Francisco resident how has the art scene changed since you first arrived here as a fresh young academy student?

I try to be involved in the SF art scene/community as much as possible. I believe that attendance and support is necessary for any scene or community to thrive. As far as ‘street’ and ‘fine’ artists that influence me the most, there is an extensive list. I’ll try to keep this list as brief as possible. In SF/ Bay Area there is: Brandie Grogan, Eddie Colla, Hugh Leeman, Jesse Hazelip, Casey Gray, Jason Vivona, C-3, Aaron Lawrence, John Felix Arnold III, Mike Giant, Emory Douglas, Brett Amory, David Choong Lee, Robert Bowen, David Ball, Megan Wolfe, Red Jordan Arobateu and a remaining list that would take up pages. I love SF/ Bay Area!

As far as the rest of the world is concerned: Blek Le Rat, Shepard Fairey, WK Interact, Banksy, H.R. Giger, Ramon Oviedo, Oswaldo Guayasamin, Wayne Douglas Barlowe and a near countless number of others. The SF/Bay area art community is very supportive, easy to navigate, immensely creative, and dynamic. It offers a limitless amount of possibilities.

To be honest, it wasn’t until roughly two years ago that I became more seriously involved in the SF art community. Babylon Falling gave me my first solo show in January of 2009. The owner of Babylon Falling, Sean Stewart, had introduced me to a lot of street art, politics, culture and new people living in the community.

In the two years that I’ve been involved in this art scene I have both grown a lot as an individual person and artist. I feel that I have witnessed the community here grow as well, with more talent presenting itself and many more people getting involved as time goes on. I am never really sure as to whether it has always been like this and being more involved has introduced me to the creativity that has always been here. This world is continually expanding and becoming more present both in the art world and local community as a whole.

Tell me a little bit about your side job as a building manager in the seedy Tenderloin District.

Being both a building manager and living in the Tenderloin is a love/hate relationship. I love being a building manager because it’s a fantastic job for an artist. You are giving enough free time to work on your art. In addition to that you don’t have to pay rent and get enough contract work to keep you afloat. Managing a building here allows me to deal with honest hard working virtuous people on one hand. On the other I have to deal with the dregs of humanity: irresponsible, depressing, psychologically damaged individuals with little or no concept of reality or respect for the place they live in.

The Tenderloin is packed with galleries, artists, events, culture and loads of action. This neighborhood is probably the most ethnically diverse area of San Francisco, containing people of nearly every race, culture, and class. With all that comes their food, way of life, creativity and color. I love that. The down side to all this is that although the Tenderloin is a centrally located neighborhood in a major city; it is loaded with drugs, petty crime and lost souls. It is one of the most run down parts of the city. Although this grit may add to its character and appeal, it can burn you out and lower your opinion of people in general.

Why are you attracted to street art? How has street art changed your work? Do you see a distinction or difference between your work on the street and your work in the gallery?

I am very attracted to street art because of its boldness and character. I feel that my work translates very well to street art. I often like taking pre-existing people, symbols and familiar objects, then presenting them in an entirely new way, hopefully causing the viewer to rethink they’re significance, use and meanings. An example of this could be a suicide bomber with a Chanel belt buckle with the word ‘fashionable’ inscribed on the bomb, or a reinforced DPT vehicle used as a local militia patrol unit. Placing these images on street walls implies the possibility of something like this actually happening.

In addition to that I feel as though the street artists I have come across in recent years are very socially conscience, intelligent and welcoming people. There is a purpose to what they do that often wraps itself with issues and people existing in their local communities. In a lot of ways street art is about delivering a message. I have also found that street art often presents its message without pretension, welcoming the community to interpret it in any way they see fit.

I do see a distinction between the work I put on the street and that of a gallery, aesthetically its often variations of the same work. However, the simple fact that you have to take as little time as possible to get your image up on the street often dictates the type of work you put out there. Opposed to in a gallery you can spend mass amounts of time thinking and rethinking your approach. At this point in the game I feel as though my gallery work is far more developed then my street art. In coming months I want to find ways to make my work more specific to its surroundings and really use the environment to my advantage.

What other interests of yours influence your work? Film, music, food, drinking?

Punk Rock music and culture has been a large influence on my life and work. The energy, ideas and aesthetics of Punk dominate my art. It was through my years involved in Punk culture that opened me up socially and gave me a new sense of identity.

The sci-fi action genre also fuels much of my work as an artist. I want film to take on much stronger role in the process/presentation of what I do. I often align myself with artists in the film genre to get a feel for what they do and try to absorb their process.

I believe that the sci-fi genre has the ability to express many aspects of our society though creating an imaginary one. These imaginary worlds mirror us by using various symbolisms. Religion, spirituality, history, politics and any conceivable issue can be recreated and displayed by taking symbols, circumstances, people and events and placing them in an entirely different context.

Tell me how you feel about the human condition and how your work is influenced by this view? Do you believe that the human experience is a cosmic tragedy readily oppressed and alienated by rationality, science and technology?

I suppose the one of the primary things that has inspired and driven this series is the duality and contradiction in all humans. At first observing this in sub culture and politics. All people seem to be odds with their morals and ideals. The way one feels often contradicts the way that one thinks. The most outspoken people will often scream and preach to no end, while their actions will directly oppose their ‘so called’ ideals. I believe that circumstance alone will dictate the course of our actions in our lives. We build ourselves up with beliefs to fit our reality, to overcome our insecurities and compensate for the things we do not understand. As we move forward the experiences, challenges and hard ships that present themselves will change those very beliefs in order to fit our changed perceptions.

One of your staple clothing items is your blue US postal service hat. Where did you get it from and how long have you had it for?

Oddly enough the afternoon of the opening of my last Gallery Three show in September of 2009. I quickly ran over to Kaplan’s on Market Street to buy some new gear for the show. As I was paying for the new items at the register I glanced over at a bin of blue US Postal Service hats for around three dollars a pop. I couldn’t resist. I didn’t wear the hat nearly three months after the opening. It was that day that changed my life. I can no longer walk two blocks in this city without someone commenting on it. I get asked directions by people thinking I’m a mailman, people ask me if I really work for USPS (I almost always say yes now), others congratulate me for my service as a Postal Worker. It’s crazy; I just roll with it now.

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