When Melbourne graffiti artists Dabs and Myla were looking for a blank canvas, they found their calling in the City of Angels.
The Australian husband and wife team, who fused their names to become DabsMyla professionally, saw their careers soar to new heights when they swapped Melbourne for Los Angeles in 2009.
Having met while studying illustration back in Melbourne, it was each other’s artwork they initially fell in love with, before eventually falling for one another.
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After 13 years together, they’ve taken all the challenges that come with a move across the Pacific and turned them into international opportunities as accomplished artists, best known for pop-art paintings on buildings around the world.
Los Angeles is now very much home, and has seen them work across various mediums, from Hello Kitty installations to sets for the MTV Movie Awards, but do they miss the DIY-vibe of Melbourne’s art scene?
“We had visited LA a few times on vacation and just really liked the vibe of the city, the different neighbourhoods, and all the people were so creative,” Dabs said.
“We had never really thought about moving away from Melbourne, but after the trip we decided to move to LA for a change.
“Originally we thought we might stay for a year or two, but once we arrived we fell even more in love with the city. Now more than eight years later we are still here. It really feels like home to us.”
The couple’s somewhat spontaneous decision to spend some time in the States paid off so much they made the relocation permanent, but a move overseas for anyone requires an element of planning, especially figuring out your finances and career prospects.
Jonathan Lachowitz specialises in cross-border financial planning and said: “People don’t realise the complexity. Find a colleague who made a similar move recently.
“You can learn a lot from other people who have crossed the border before you, and they can tell you what didn’t go right on their move.”
For DabsMyla, they also credit their successful marriage with helping them settle in overseas, allowing them to well and truly make their mark on the international art scene.
“I think something that makes our artwork unique is not only that it’s a collaboration of two people, but also that it’s two people who have such a close relationship,” Dabs added.
“The fact that we spend all our time together and now basically function like one artist, makes for unique results in what we’re creating.”
When the chance came to paint a mural on Hollywood’s Beverly Boulevard, the duo jumped at the opportunity their new home had given them.
“We hadn’t painted a wall in LA for a while and had a few weeks available to take the time out from the studio to do one,” Dabs revealed.
“The Hollywood Beverly Boulevard mural is of a psychedelic Californian desert theme. There’s an energy in the desert here there that really inspires our work.
“There’s been a great response to the mural. Everyone was very excited to have it in the trendy Hollywood neighbourhood, which was cool.”
While LA provided the inspiration they were looking for professionally, the move also allowed Dabs and Myla to explore an entirely new country in their downtime too.
“In all honesty we don’t get as much time as we would like to get out and do things in LA,” Dabs confessed.
When the couple do get out of the studio, it’s usually to take their dog on hikes in the California mountains or seeing live bands.
“We’re lucky in LA to have so much great live music, and there are some really awesome venues here” Dabs added. “One of our favourites is The Wiltern– we love the Art Deco elegance of the theatre.”