Artist and Graphic Designer Jonathan Zawada is famous for his bold, conceptual works that have been used in music, publishing, fashion and corporate industries. Regularly teaming up with Modular record label, Jonathan has been quick to put his succinct stamp onto the collective. Jonathan has since created work for the likes of Nike, Warp records and Coca-Cola. I got a chance to sit down and talk past, present and future with Jonathan.
Natasha Arnold: So, who are you?
Jonathan Zawada: I’m a graphic designer and artist from Sydney, Australia where I live and work in my little apartment with my wife Annie and my cat Phatskull.
Natasha: Where are you from? What is your background?
Jonathan: I was born in Perth, Australia and I grew up between there, Melbourne and Sydney but my heritage is a mix of Scottish, Ukrainian and Polish. I never completed any tertiary studies I just kind of went out and started working as soon as I finished high school so I’m largely self-taught.
Natasha: What are your personal influences?
Jonathan: Science and mathematics are the most inspiring things to me, I’ve never had a skill for either of them but I find them ceaselessly compelling.Natasha: Which artists or movements influence your body of work?
Jonathan: Recently, the work of Helmut Ditsch, Harm van den Dorpel and Eric Yahnker have been big influences on my art. When I was young and first discovered Photorealism that completely turned me on to art and intrigued me no end but I’ve never really been one for movements – to be honest I barely even no many of their names. Consistent influences over the past 10 – 15 years have been people like Matthew Barney, Minoru Nomata, Ed Ruscha etc..
Natasha: A lot of your work plays on the theme of surrealism and optical illusion, what interests you to create this kind of work?
Jonathan: I’m not at all good at working in an expressive way so I tend to need structure and framework in my work so that I know where I’m going. I think a lot of the time what comes across as surreal is actually the result of a specific kind of figurative, symbolistic shorthand that results from the conceptual ideas behind the work. I guess a lot of it is the result of my interest in science – particularly chemistry and physics, that the world is so infinitely complex that the superficial appearance of it never seems to be a satisfactory representation of its real beauty to me.
Natasha: What’s next for you?
Jonathan: I have a small exhibition of graphic prints at a gallery in Barcelona called Vallery which opens on the 28th of April and after that I’m actually looking to relocate to Los Angeles where I’ll be working on a body of work for a show during Frieze in London in October.
Natasha: What’s your most memorable dream or nightmare?
Jonathan: It’s a weird one but when I was little I had this recurring dream/nightmare where I was becoming infinitely small and isolated in space and my orientation kept shifting as there were different, completely abstract and non-real shapes and forms around me. The only recognizable thing in the space around me was a tiny few blades of grass that were growing from the crack in a concrete gutter which kept getting bigger and bigger as I became smaller and smaller.
Natasha: Please share your favorite quote or statement with us.
Jonathan: Free Dumb.