So who is Donny and why is he Dirty?
Donny is dirty boy from Canada Ottawa who eats da snow bro.
Tell us about your old fanzine "Dirty" and How did you come up withthe name"Dirty"? Did you become Dirty Donny because people associated you withthe fanzine and the name just stuck?
Dirty was realy well receved, I dug doing it. I was sick of being in bands and wanted to tackle a project on my own. kinda cover everything i thought was cool at the time. I wanted to do something like Answer Me!, Motorbootie, Art
alternatives and Gearhead all in one with no set theme. The mag was doing real good, but art was getting way more attention and drawing and painting are my No.1. It was also getting too big for one person to handle. I know I already mentioned this but it's cool writeing for Gearhead now,It really fills that gap from not doing it anymore. The name, It was a nick name I had from work as a bus boy and my palsalso referd to themselves as the Dirtys, this is the early 90's, It just made sense to
call the mag Dirty. The nick name followed me into art. It's also easier to remeber Dirty Donny than Don Gillies.
You're from Ottawa originally; how did you end up in California?
I always wanted to live in California since I was a kid.
It's the land of pop culture and no winter.
What was the poster art scene like when you were growing up in
Ottawa? Was there much of a music/art scene going on that helped mold you into the artistextraordinaire you are today?
I used to draw alot with my pals Trev, Mike and Geoff.We used to sit around and bang out some pretty retarded shit.
This is Pre Juxtapoz, i would have to say a lot of my influences at thetime camefrom my friends as well as underground books and comics and all theshit i was into leading up to that,record covers,skateboard art,comics etc.This is also were the idea for Dirty magazine came up, kind of a way tofeature thisstuff we were drawing. I did alot of art for the Dominion tavern in Ottawa, That was the rock n roll tavern where Electric frankenstein first played Ottawa.I did some muralss, Sanwitch board,chalk boards, I did a lot of chalkboards back then,flyers etc.
How old were you when you first realized you had a talent for art?
I was drawing before I can remember, my mom always had a pen and paper in her
purse so when ever we would go somewhere she would give it to me, I guess to occupy my boredom.
What influenced your decision to move to California? Was it a big transition for you moving to California?
I had been visiting here for a while and had lots of friends here. After spending the winter working for Metallica and making screen prints at the Firehouse I couldn't go back, i just couldn't..I wen't home, sold my car, sold a lot of my stuff and got my ass back to SF.Of course when you move citys there is a transition point. You have tobe willing to make sacrifices but if you can deal it always works out in the longrun. I was set up nice in Montreal, had a musle car, had a pinball machine, hadthe cheapest rent ever and had piles of work, the grass is just greener overhere tho, it's a fact my friends!
What were your main influences as a child?
As a kid I used to love the Hilarious house of Frightenstein kids hour, horror movies, Saturday morning cartoons, movies.
As I got a little older I got more into Model kits and comics, I started skatingand that led to Punk rock. I always had tons of influences though. Record cover art,Comics, skateboards, pinball etc.
Like Roth you also do pin-stripping too, right? Which do you prefer, the pin-striping or the cartoons?
I pinstripe from time to time and switch around a lot.One week I'll be up to my eyeballs in Pinsrtriping, the next week i'll be inking illustrations.I usually have a bunch of paintings and projects on the go.
I build a lot of shit to. I'm painting a pinball machine right now.
You're pretty much the in-house artist for Gearhead records and magazine; how did that come about?
I had been in touch With Mike LaVella for years and in 2000 he asked me to paint the cover for #12. I had been visiting California and always hung out with Mike and when I moved to SFin '03 he was really helpful. He's definitely one of my best pals out here, we do Xmas together and shit.It is also great as an artist to have this kind of outlet, you know, illustrating the look of a record label.Not everyone gets this kind of chance.I'm still doing art when they need it and have also started writing for the mag which I'm really stoked about, ya know, something different from art all the time.
And this led on to you doing artwork for bands like the Wildhearts, Demonics etc.?
Actually, it is just a coincidence that the Demonics are from SF and friends with Gearhead.Court, the old drummer, saw the EF "Buzz of 1000 volts" album art and asked me to do their cover.Ginger from The Wildhearts and I had been e-mailing back and forth for years, he wanted some art as well so when they signed to GH it was perfect. Small world.
Do remember your first encounter with the band Electric Frankenstein?
Me and Luke from the Million Dollar marxists intervieud Jim Foster for Dirty. Luke used to help me with the mag and is one of my best buds. It was a great show, Dominion Tavern in Ottawa. I had "Conquers the world" and was playing it all the time and forcingit on my friends. I sent The Band the Magazine when it came out with some of my art.I got a letter back from Sal, this ispre e mail, I don't even think I hadbeenonline at this point. A letter asking if i would be interested in doing an album cover for them. I was doing lots of flyers, murals and sign painting then, also cassetteand 7" cover art but this was a turning point, after i did the art for "How I Rose From the Dead" Phone calls and letters started comming in from bands, lables and zines all asking for artwork.I think thats the way it worked back then, before the internet.
Does music play a big part in influencing or motivating your artwork?
Oh ya, I love music, I always have music on when I'm making shit.
Which bands inspire you the most?
Everything for me stems from Punk but I love all kinds of music.Old and new. Radio Birdman, the Saints, Rose tattoo, AC DC, The Demonics, Million Dollar Marxists, The Wildhearts, The Hellacopters, the Soundtrack of Out Lives, etc... are my favorite bands, I'm missing a lot so this is just the basics for me but you get where I'm coming from.
Do you tend to listen to a bands back catalogue before doing artwork for them to get a better 'feel' for the band?
Sometimes.I get asked to do alot of record covers and its very flattereing, but I really only like to do bands i'm totally into, you know.There is also the flake factor, bands are imfamousely flaky, they are always breaking up and changing bthere minds ect.
Thats also kinda why I stick to bands a little more astablished or ones I know personaly.I'm really just concentrating on more of my own stuff for now, art shows and official Dirty Donny merch and stuff. My wife Oriana is running the merchandise side of the game and that is doing better that we could have hoped for, we have car shows lined up pretty much ever month.We just did the mooneyes Xmas party and that is an honor to get asked to do, not everyone can get into that! But on the subject of record covers when I do them I ask mostly for the album I'm doing art for.Get the vibe of what your designing for.
Which has been you're favorite piece of artwork for a band and why?
The Demonics "Ritual on the beach" They are a great band and pals of mine and I was just really motivated to do
thisproject.I just like how it turned out I guess.
You've been commissioned to do 15 pieces of art for Metallica; how did that opportunity arise?
Metallica were like "Dirty donny's fucking such-a rad-dude, lets get him to make ussome shit for us!"So they asked me and I said OK but I live in Canada so I said "you'll have to send over your jet", so like the next day there's this black and silver Metallica jetwaiting for me and it had like free booze and striper chicks on it. But really, My pal Chip works for them and he showed them my art.When I was in SF Kirk call me and invited me over to there studio and hired me on the spot.
That turned into tons of work.People always ask if I made a lot of money.You know, I did but I didn't over charge them, in fact I gave them deals cause theybought so much work from me, they had me painting everything at there
studio!I was there for 6 months.Great bunch of guys, very respectful.
What's it like hanging out with Metallica?
Metallica are really nice guys.I have the high score on Kirk's pinball machine "Twilight zone" and I bloody challenge anyone to beat my score! haha.They are all bumbed about this cause it's so high beating it would belike winning a lottery!Bob Rock took me to his mechanic where his '55 Chevey's block was getting bleuprinted. They were also installing nitrus, that was realy cool.
Pretty big league stuff then?
Are any of the pieces for Cover art?
Double Nope Nope.Mostly my art. The only band thing I did was a T shirt and guitar picks, the rest was my shit.
20. Why do you think 'low brow' art has come back into fashion in such a big way?
I think it has slowly been coming into fashion since the 60's Roth, Berris, Von Dutch era and with the help along the way from magazines like Weirdo, Art alternatives and Juxtapoze and galleries like La Luz De Jesus it's still growing.
Do you think the term 'low brow' devalues the artwork in any way?
Not at this point, I personally think it helps it.All the people I deal with at least, this is the stuff they love but this is
alsoCalifornia I'm talking about.It's a harder sell in Canada.I think more people get it these days though.
I herd Juxtapoze is the second largest selling art magazine now.It's will probably start to be called Mid Brow soon.
Does it seem strange that artists such as yourself, Johnny Ace, Coop, Pigors,Forbes etc. have become as, if not more, famous than some of the bands their artworkhas been used by?
Hey, I guess it depends on what angle you look at it from or what your into, Ialways found that the bands were our biggest fans.
Which current artist impresses you most?
Franko, Pizz, Pusshead, Dave Burk, Coop, Old man Ace, Forbes, Pigors, these guys areall great.I get along with and respect all these guys out here busting there asses on a dailybasis to pay rent and bills. Rockn Jellybean is the shit in my books!
..And which artists no longer with us had the most effect on you?
Do you still collect Tiki stuff? Tell us about your personal collection...
My wife Oriana and i have a tiki bar in our house, i know, cliche cliche, but we boast a collection vintage and rare mugs. tThe bar also has a turntable and 8 track player and lights up to the music, we went above and beyond for this
ongoing project. I plan to install a fish tank in the wall as well. Oriana and I also collect psycho ceramics, and rare ceramics together.I have a pretty good painting collection on the go, my fave is XNO "Poolside Splendor". Oriana and I also collect vintage 50's and 60's funitiure together. I collect pretty much anything vintage-monster, Roth, Weirdos, Nuttie mads.
I also have a pretty big Circus punk collection on the go.I was fortunate enuff to be a part of that from the beginning. www.circuspunks.com I collect records, books, pinball machines and pinball backglass art, 8 tracks, laserdiscs and dvd's, taxidermy etc. etc..
Have you had a positive response to your sticker collection which Poster Pophas just released?
Yes, they are selling great and we've had a great response from them. It was a longtime in the works and I'm glad they are finally out there and people dig 'em!
Painting this Pinball machine, getting a new Mopar this month,Got a show at KidRobot SF in June, endless projects, lots of new merch, new toys etc..
How can people get in touch?
Always threw www.dirtydonny.com