Ten Questions 026 – Jonathan Zawada

March 21st, 2012 by Mat Dolphin

What Jonathan Zawada does is difficult to define as his work blurs the lines between design, art and illustration. The one thing we’re sure of is he’s a uniquely talented guy and we’re big fans of his. Alongside a number of exhibitions showing his personal work, he has been commissioned by clients such as The New York Times, The Type Directors Club, Nike, Sixpack and Commonwealth Stacks.

Based in Los Angeles by way of Sydney, he works in a way which creates wildly varied and always visually stunning results. Effortlessly moving between commercial client work and experimental personal projects, Jonathan seems to approach each piece from a completely different perspective resulting in a body of work which is both amazing to look at and truly original (the latter of which is a rare thing to see these days).

Mr. Zawada kindly agreed to take the hot seat and answer our Ten Questions. Here’s what he had to say…

1. How do you describe what you do?
I used to say graphic designer but in the past year or so that has gradually given way to artist, as the focus of the majority of my work has changed. The bit I really struggle with is when people ask “what kind of artist?”

2. What made you want to do what you do?
Like most kids I always loved drawing and making things. We didn’t have much when I was little so in place of having the things I really wanted things like posters and video games I spent a lot of time drawing my own posters and making elaborately detailed board games for myself. My career has really evolved all on its own, I don’t think I ever really pursued it, I just wanted to be able to pay the bills and I got lucky a lot along the way!

3. How would you describe your workplace?
I’ve never really had a studio, it used to just be a desk with a computer in the dining room of my apartment but we’ve recently moved from Sydney to LA so now it’s even less structured; I spend most of my time painting in the basement of my gallery and the rest of it on the computer at a tiny desk in the corner of our lounge room or on the laptop roaming around the place. I like making do with whatever is at hand rather than setting up a specific environment to “work” in.

4. What is your favourite colour?
I really don’t have one – wish I did! My recent mantra has been that there are no bad colours and no bad colour combinations!

5. Who is your favourite artist or writer?
It’s pretty hard to pick a favorite, but I’ve always loved Ed Ruscha, Gerhard Richter and Katherina Grosse.

6. What was your previous job?
I’ve been working on my own for quite a while now. I guess my first and only real other job was building websites when I was 17 for a funny little broadcast and print production company. That and working in a cafe!

7. Do you work within a team? If so, how many people do you work with?
I’m really bad at working with other people. I’m impatient and pretty controlling so for most of my career I’ve really just worked on my own. In recent years my wife Annie has come on board to help me out with the business and production side of things and also to give me a fresh set of eyes when I need them.

8. Do you listen to music whilst working? If so, what do you listen to?
Always! I really listen to almost everything. Lately there’s been a lot of Meshuggah, The Weekend, Shabazz Palaces, Simian Ten Holt… The list goes on. I also really enjoy listening to talk podcasts like This American Life, Planet Money and the Science Show.

9. Who inspires you to do what you’re doing?
My wife and my cat! I also have an incredibly encouraging gallery called Prism here in LA.

10. Which advice has helped you the most?
The one thing that sticks out was when I was working with a friend and he told me I was just rewording the problems, not offering any solutions. I often remind myself of that when things are getting tough.

Huge thanks to Jonathan for his involvement. We think his work is stunning and he happens to be a very humble and friendly bloke. Sickening eh?

You can see Jonathan’s portfolio here and check out more of his brilliant Fashematics project (previewed above) here.

Thanks for reading.

Phil & Tom

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