1883 Magazine

Johny Dar is a man of many talents, from time travel to fashion and everything else in between, it’s not surprising that our half hour chat was nowhere near long enough to get to the bottom of his brain.

Immersed in Johny’s stories and overflowing ideas, it seemed we had missed closing time at the cafe and waiter was politely waiting for us to leave; either I need to stop rambling or to get a Johny Dar watch with it’s own concept of time.

It’s interesting that you describe your art as an escape from reality, is that an ethos of your work and how you apply yourself?

Since I was a kid I was always looking for another world. That’s how I found art as my vehicle into that other world.

So other people will say you haven’t had a childhood but I guess that is your childhood, you’re just still in it.

I’m just a kid that never grew up. Everything’s possible, just do it.

It is, if you just say it is its as simple as that. If you say something’s impossible then it just is.

People forget that we have that power and end up choosing the easier way out which is like “fuck it all,” accepting the doubt and living there. That’s the reason why I invented my own time. I’m making a watch with a new time.

How do you go about rewriting the concept of time? A lot of people would say that’s impossible.

I can’t tell you much about it because it’s still a work in progress and I’m finalising all the legal things but it’s the concept that if you get on a highway and the speed limit is 120km an hour it takes you 2 hours to travel 240km, but lets say you get on a highway where the speed limit is 160, or 180, then that time shrinks. You get there but you get there in an hour or an hour and a half. We’re so obsessed with increasing the speed of our cars or the processing of our computers that we forget about ourselves. It’s time to turn it around and focus on our own performance.

Give yourself that power, with a lot technology these days there are negative feelings towards instant access and everything moving so quickly but maybe it should be about maximising our potential instead?

Most of our potential is not applied.

So you can think about it in terms of science like potential energy and useful energy.

Why can’t we see our performance in our bodies and possibilities? Since I was a kid I was always criticised for wanting to reinvent the wheel, but why not focus our attention on growing to reach our full potential.

Moving away from the technology side, can you tell us a bit more about your Horse Whispers project?

I’m naturally drawn to the challenge, here I worked through the motion of the feminine and the human body and what it’s like to do the same with a horse and see if thats possible. Again people would say, “you’re out of your mind, you’re crazy, no horse is gonna sit there and let you paint it.”   But if I feel it, it’s gonna happen, I see the outcome. That’s how I go with my work. If i can get a clear vision of the final outcome then I’ve already done half the work.

You can only visualise something that’s within the realms of whats possible. In 2014 you introduced your body art project at the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Berlin - where did the inspiration come from for that?

It came from me being sick and tired of the fashion industry, and wanting to bring it back to the women we’re dressing instead of making fashion that is feeding the insecurity of society. So that show was about pushing the boundaries of insecurity and turning it around to be that reason to move beyond the norm. The thing is, my intention with fashion, my avant garde fashion, or Johny Dar label, is to bring back the innocence of the woman’s sexuality, where you are expressing your body and your sensuality but not because you wanna get laid or get more guys, but because you’re celebrating your body and your power. That’s a woman’s natural power: her sexuality.

That’s supposedly been the point of fashion, you put on your clothes and that’s your armour for the day, to make you feel the best you can but there are so many expectations, especially in society you’re judged for what you wear. It’s important to turn it back on it’s head.

Put the power back in the wearer’s hand. Most people don’t even know why they’re wearing the t shirt that they’re wearing with the art or the message that’s on it. When I’m painting the models and people ask what I’m gonna put on her, I want to find out from her, and work from within because being naked is the most powerful position she can be in: her own essence. That feels natural.

It expresses that to everyone else, it’s not just her being a chameleon to someone else’s ideas?

That’s what I do with fashion as well, what’s important is to bring on the model and work her curves and her body and how I can enhance her essence.

You’re putting the art on her so you have no control over how that appears when she moves, so in a way the art becomes her.

It becomes her decision which I think is really important.

It’s a key social issue as well as a fashion one.

It is, because when you’re creating a uniformed society out of economic force, there’s a corporate structure behind the idea or the product and you’ve just got to keep these numbers high and use that pressure for power.

Your work is really different and unusual in the context of the industry but when you think about it’s nature, they are part of everyday practices and parts of our lives. I mean tattoos are in a way a more permanent example of the painting project, and women literally paint themselves using make up everyday. It’s interesting that you said earlier before the interview that a lot of people would like your work tattooed on them, how do you feel about that?

Tattooing for me, should be individually designed for every person because each person carries themselves and their personality and their body in a different way to others. So for me if I’m gonna do tattooing, it would be a really intensive process based on my style because I’m not gonna sacrifice the individual expression in it, so it’s more just a matter of not having time than anything. But I’m planning on having it in my next exhibition.

Why Berlin?

I almost ask myself that question every week! Sometimes you just forget why you even started doing what you’re doing and it becomes mundane and routine. It’s a fertile ground for art and for individualised expression and it’s raw in a lot of ways but also established.

I find with Berlin that what sets it apart from other cities is that the artwork is very organic. I mean the Berlin wall obviously, it’s an iconic political landmark that’s become this living breathing work of art. And digital photography has kind of taken over, but there are photo booths on every street corner which was a dying art until it became cool again and it’s just everywhere, you can’t walk down a street without there being some kind of art form.

If you’re working in Paris or London, you’ve got to be well off… so Berlin attracts a lot of artists that don’t have a chance anywhere else because of economics.

You said that your art becomes your life and you don’t know any different, do you remember the moment in your life when you became aware of your love of art?

I believe that moment has been there since a child with my dad not necessarily being a fan of my artistic expression. He has a plan to make me the president of the US… I have a plan to live my life! I found a lot of my art getting destroyed with the intent of trying to get me to focus on studies, therefore I was forced to fight back. It had a reverse psychology effect on me.

Do you have any specific artists that you look up to or that inspire you? Or art forms?

What inspires me is artists that are able to merge lines between science, art, architecture and any form in that sense. Art for me has to be science, has to be chemistry, emotional, materialistic and spiritual. It needs to embody the various aspects and complexity of the human psyche.

What would you say is the most important thing that you’ve learnt about yourself or your art during your career? I can imagine that the two answers are one and the same!

Its a constant growth, that’s why I make sure I don’t repeat my work. I’m not a commission artist so you could not pay me enough to do what you want me to do! I keep that integrity in my work, like you don’t go to a tree and say “you’ve got to start growing this way”, it continues responding to the elements and to nature. My relationship with my art is just growth and inspiring others to do the same.

We already talked about the story behind the body painting, but what about the “Love Your Body” campaign?

It’s working beyond my imagination which is usually hard to say as I have a wild imagination. The more I do it the more I realise how essential it is because what is happening to these women and breaking out of old beliefs and limitations of their own bodies is so liberating. To see someone start the day going “I’m scared to do this and I don’t know if I can do that” and then by the end of the day they can. Like watching a child take it’s first step it’s so rewarding and important right now.

Your body is where you live, if you don’t love your body how are you supposed to go about your day to day

Other people’s judgement is their judgement, it’s their limitation, and you just have to take it and make it your empowerment.

Other than design and art, what keeps you ticking?


Who are you listening to at the moment?



For more info on Johny Dar and his latest projects head to www.johnydar.com 
or via www.twitter.com/johnydar
and www.instagram.com/johnydarcreations
(Interview conducted in November 2015)

Words by Bella Roach

Photography Yakub Merchant

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