For the Australian-born, LA-based artist, creative drive has always come natural: “charcoals, pencils, graphite, oil pastels whatever the specifics, I’ve always loved drawing. I started teaching myself computer graphics when I was about 15, in the mid to late nineties, while I was in high school and I pretty quickly combined hand drawing and digital whenever I could.” Mr Zawada says. From there everything else flowed. And the result? A remarkable, varied body of work, including; intricate, surreal drawings, oil landscapes, sculptures and installations.
With his work seen on album covers for electronic music artists like The Presets and Flume, to t-shirt designs and even his own gallery of art, Jonathan’s diverse practise and use of vibrant colour has fast gained worldwide attention: Elton John recently picked up one of his paintings during a Los Angeles exhibition.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE PROJECT AND/OR COLLABORATION TO DATE?
My series of Affordances objects (tables, lamps, vases and rugs) has been the most satisfying I think. It feels like it’s the purest as all of the objects started life as something I was just making for my own home. There’s also something that sits outside of time or any notion of fashion in them which can often be hard to see when you’re in the middle of a project. By definition commercial collaborations are always transient and so even the best ones can’t help but become dated or tainted in a way by the need to move away from them but my Affordances objects, and by extension my mesh works feel like they sit outside of all of that and are pure in that the only motivations in creating them are my own, they aren’t about communication I guess so the message is never fully passed.
DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR ROUTINE OR ARE NO TWO WORKING DAYS ALIKE?
Now that I have a son, my days are a little more structured in terms of the hours I keep but beyond that no two days are very much alike. Some days might be spent entirely animating something in 3D, other days cutting aluminium tubing and other days painting or drawing. For the most part, days tend to be a messy mix of lots of different things, like I’ll animate something while waiting for some paint to dry or solder a lamp while waiting for an image to render. The only thing that is consistent is forgetting to reply to emails!
Moving to Los Angeles and putting my commercial practice on hold for a few years was a huge risk and my life is completely different now as a result.
HOW DO YOU CURE CREATIVE BLOCK?
I don’t really think about it or feel like I get creative block too much. I guess there have been a few instances in commercial jobs where I need to come up with an idea quickly for a deadline and I can get a bit stressed out but generally I feel like I have far more ideas in my head than I have time to get them out so it always feels like there is a bit of a library of proto-ideas to draw upon. One thing I have noticed is that doing boring tasks helps a lot with being inspired. For example, painting can be quite a repetitive, slow manual process but you end up in something of a lucid state of thinking, I’m occupied enough that I’m not consciously able to think about something but not so occupied that my head is prevented from drawing different ideas together. Actually, washing the dishes and sitting in traffic can be great for that too!
WHAT HAS BEEN THE GREATEST RISK YOU HAVE TAKEN THAT HAS PAID OFF?
I think moving to Los Angeles and putting my commercial practice on hold for a few years was a huge risk and my life is completely different now as a result. That isn’t to say that it paid off necessarily, there’s a lot I miss about my life in Australia and I’m constantly worried that something disastrous is going to happen but that is generally outweighed by the opportunities that have arisen from being here. I’ve met so many incredible people here and been pushed outside of the comfort zone I inhabited in Australia and in some ways I think that has actually been detrimental in that what I do is even less well defined now than it was before but personally I feel like I’m getting closer to the kinds of things I really want to make.
A DREAM MEETING WITH A CLIENT IS … One that hasn’t happened yet, when the project is still entirely potential and no limitations have been placed.
MY PERSONAL MOTTO IS… Life is too complex for mottos!
I AM CURRENTLY LISTENING TO… Death Grips, Air Max ‘97, Mark Pritchard, Kelela, Soundcloud.
MY PROUDEST MOMENT…Was the day my little boy learned to walk! He has a genetic deletion called Potocki Schaffer syndrome which means he has a number of delays and disabilities and the day he first walked was the result of years of hard work from him and so many other people. I never thought it would happen!
3 THINGS VITAL TO MY DAY WOULD BE…Plants, Twitch, and my wife Annie.
View more of Jonathan’s work on his website.