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SHINE up close: Mural artist DAAS

Bill DeYoung

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The St. Petersburg Arts Alliance’s 2018 SHINE Mural Festival begins Oct. 6 and runs daily through the 14th. It’s a public art project that’s equal parts revitalization and beautification.

In a nutshell, 37 artists will descend on the city to create rather large works of art on outside walls (one will actually paint a car, in a popular Asian style) in various locations.

SHINE ’18 features six international, five national and 26 local artists, including nine wall artists, six “Coast Bike Wraps” and 12 “Corner Canvas” murals.

One of the most renowned international artists is actually a Floridian – he grew up in Jacksonville and St. Pete. In fact, DAAS – that’s his legal name – received an A.A.S in Graphic Design from Pinellas Technical College.

Winston-Salem, N.C.

DAAS has been living in Osaka, Japan for a decade. His bold, bright, geometrically-inspired murals – based, he says, on the precise and tender folds of Japanese origami – brighten streets in Japan, China, Nepal, Portugal, Jordan, Canada … and St. Petersburg. In 2017, he collaborated with local artist Cecilia Lueza for a Crescent Heights Neighborhood Association project, on the side of JWags Saloon, 2312 4th St N.

“I actually came about being a muralist by chance, really,” DAAS explains. “Early in my career, after graphic design school, I met a locally established muralist in Daytona Beach, who offered me a job as his assistant. We worked together for nearly six years, producing murals mainly for commercial clients. This experience provided me with a great wealth of knowledge about materials, styles, methods and application.

“The large-scale aspect is what I enjoyed the most then and now.  I love how the scale alone can create an impact and change the visual landscape. The attraction to public art for me is how it’s such an effective way to bring art into the environment for anyone to enjoy.”

He flew around the world at the behest of Universal Studios Japan, to work as an artist/performer. He fell in love with Osaka, he says, “and decided it was where I wanted to call home.”

Shanghai

In the States, DAAS explains, his original murals “were for friends who owned businesses, or just asking permission from a building owner if I could paint the wall.

“When I moved to Osaka, there wasn’t much in the way of street art around the city – and I really wanted to change that. The more walls I could paint and document around the city, the more known I got, and the easier it became to actually charge a fee for my work.

“Now, most of my focus is on public art projects, which are funded by cities.”

Some of DAAS’ most striking work is in China, where he was commissioned by the Nippon Paint Co. LTD – one of the largest manufacturers of paint in Asia – for The Color Way of Love Project, which he describes as a “corporate responsibility program initiative started as a way to give back to the community.” He is one of several mural artists from around the world regularly participating in the annual public art project.

The program has two distinct parts: Color, Way of Love, which focuses on rejuvenating primary schools in rural parts of China; and Color, Way of Love Art + City, which focuses on creating large-scale murals within the city of Shanghai.

“I moved to Japan in 2008,” DAAS explains. “Since then, it has evolved into a more relaxed and fluid style, incorporating a greater variety of dynamic colors and subject matter.

Osaka

“Moving there and being exposed to origami was a major influence for my style, and the very precision-based mentality of Japanese craftsmen helped me to really refine my work and pay attention to the small details. Basically, approaching everything you do with the intention of making it the best your talents can create.”

Beginning Oct. 6, DAAS will be working on the west-facing wall of Tri-J Towing, 125 19th Street S. (His wall, a.k.a. canvas, is actually on 20th Street).

“This is my first year to be part of the SHINE Festival,” he enthuses. “And I am absolutely honored and excited to be invited.”

Stay tuned for more on SHINE 2018.

 

“Efflugence,” a collaboration with Cecilia Lueza for the Crescent Heights Beautification Project and the City Of St. Petersburg.

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