If youâ€™ve ever played a game of Bingo with your grandmother, you know that Bingo dabbers, those messy markers that bleed all over N16 when youâ€™re trying to mark N4, take the clean out of the official game of Good Clean Fun. Taipei based graffiti artist Dabs knows it too. What may have begun as a joke has turned into a very fitting name for the artist who isnâ€™t afraid to get messy. Truly, Dabs dabbles. Dabs has tried his hand in a range of media and occupations, from computer animation to jewelry design, from art dealer to teacher, making him todayâ€™s urban Renaissance Man. He travels around Asia â€œstaining the environment and peoples minds,â€ in his words, like a Bingo dabber on a fresh Bingo board.
Dabs began his career in art at a young age, painting soldiers and models and â€œnerd[ing] out in [his] basement making war dioramas.â€ Then he moved onto skateboards, painting under the influence of punk music and California artist and skateboarder Mark Gonzales. Later, Dabs dabbled in video game animation. Before long he was designing clothing, jewelry, tattoos and murals on both a commission and commercial basis. All the while this man has been teaching for his primary income, and for a brief period he owned a gallery as well, exhibiting both local and foreign artists.
â€œWhen Iâ€™m doing random bombing sometimes I just hit anything and I donâ€™t care at all, and that can also come off nicely.â€
The art form closest to his heart, of course, is graffiti. Dabs dabbles in aerosol, marking pens, wheat paste, computers and light tagging to name a few. He travels all over Asia tagging randomly in some cases, premeditatedly in others. Both methods work, according to the artist. Often heâ€™ll scout out spots beforehand and contemplate a composition and color scheme that will compliment the spot nicely. Other times, he says, â€œwhen Iâ€™m doing random bombing sometimes I just hit anything and I donâ€™t care at all, and that can also come off nicely.â€ Spontaneity is a challenge for Dabs, but often he finds it will generate better results than something planned out. He notes Asian tattooing, and Asian woodblock prints, as well as Pop art and comic books as artistic inspiration in many of his works. His favorite surface to tag is metal.
Because of his dabbling, Dabs has had the chance to do some major art world networking, and lots of opportunities have arisen as a result. His love for old school graffiti and hip-hop style name chains drove him to collaborate with his jewelry/clothing designer girlfriend on custom jewelry, which he sells on his website. He also contributes to the clothing design for his girlfriendâ€™s label PetShopsGirl. Heâ€™s done t-shirt designs for a Hong Kong label called SubCrew, and for a new Taipei label called Skatopia. He also has some friends in advertising, and he was recently asked to do some light tags to be incorporated in a television commercial. Occasionally, Dabs even gets commissioned for murals and other paintings, but he says this is rare. He decided to open a gallery in an effort to further his networking, and, in the spirit of collaboration, Dabs started a graffiti crew in 2003 called Youth In Asia (YIA).
For an artist, Dabs is extremely realistic about his lifestyle. He teaches to keep a steady flow of income, so the art for him is just a source of pure fun. This is why he likes to continue to challenge himself, and to constantly try new things. Heâ€™s getting interested in the cross over collaborations of graffiti and other media, including sculpture and digital art. He still believes graffiti is only really graffiti if itâ€™s being done on the street, which is why he respects the sculpture work of artists like Revs and Phase2, who do sculpture street installations and lettering inspired works. These days, heâ€™s focusing a lot of his efforts on the clothing label, but would like to do more group traveling exhibitions in the future. As long as there are interesting opportunities presenting themselves out there, Dabs will continue to dabble.