Don John

Don John

By Gemma Gonzalez

For the last two years I’ve had the pleasure to do a few collaborations with Denmark based artist Don John. The style of Don John is very strong and has what I call ‘that special trademark’ that makes his whole work so attractive to the eye and creates a deep impact to the soul.

They are like pieces straight out from a dream; some kind of surreal and oniric tales where their subjects are full of magnetism and strength, yet they ooze a beautiful blend of darkness, fragility and innocence.

Hello Don John, how are you doing? What are you working on at the moment?
Couldn’t be better, thank you. Right now I am working on a mural project here in Copenhagen called City Faces.

Don John, Berlin
Don John, Berlin

How would you describe your work in your own words?
I work a lot with the themes Civilization Vs Nature, Human Vs Animals and transformation. Technique-wise I work with stencil graffiti, linocuts.

Tell us a bit about yourself, like what were you like as a little boy? What did you enjoy doing or what did you want to become?
I thought the best way to illustrate it, was to show you a picture of me as a kid. It also shows my favorite hobby, playing my plastic guitar in front of the tv, with my pants around my ankles, I was rocking hard back then 🙂 I dreamt of being a stuntman.

Where did you grow up? How do you think your family, and where you grew up affected you?
I grew up in a small town on Funen. I’m an only child, so when I wasn’t with friends I had to find ways to keep myself occupied. I could spend hours converting cardboard boxes, from my grandparents grocery store, to cars or drawing  my favorite cartoon character  Sgt. Rock.

I think that helped for the huge patience’s needed for stencil and lino cutting.

Don John Stencil
Don John Stencil

When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?
It was never my intention to be one. I just fell in love with painting on the streets and I found out that people liked my stuff enough to be able to make a living from it.

Who are your favorite artists and how much do you feel inspired by the works of other people?
Some I really like is Jeremy Geddes and Conor Harrington. I think they have the ability to combine great motives and themes with an amazing technique.

Following the works of artist I admire motivates me to constantly push my own work further.

What do you love most about what you do?
The process of creating something and the freedom.

Don John, Berlin
Don John, Berlin

Do you prefer painting on the streets or would you like to focus on gallery exhibitions and solo shows first and foremost?
If I won the lottery, all I would do is probably street work and murals. But the exhibitions helps to pay the rent.

How is the process of creating one of your works? Do you always start from a draft?
Naturally it starts with the idea that can come from many different sources, sometimes it even pop up by itself. Then I find some references to work from, I grab a pencil and go for it.

What kind of materials and stuff do you like to use to create your pieces? I see you like to work directly on wood.
Yes I use wood for my stencils and Fabriano paper for the lino cuts and illustrations.

If you could own any piece of art in the world, which would you choose?
The Man with the Golden Helmet by Rembrandt.

What was the last thing that inspired you?
A The Hives concert.

If you could fill a swimming pool with anything you’d like (your favorite items, whatever), what would it be?
Water, two air beds and my girlfriend.

What does the future hold for Don John? What do you hope for?
I’m having a dual show together with Fumi Nakamura, at Kunsthalle Galapagos in New York in March. I really look forward to that.

Okay, that’s all. Just one more thing: thanks for making me look badass as the “Deer Girl”. I didn’t expect horns could fit me so well!
Some people have the ability to pull off anything, even antlers. Apparently you are one of them.