We first mentioned him in a post about the artwork in Cup-A-Joe’s toilet (more specifically, the Nob Hill uniformed man pictured on the right), then again when we wrote about the mural that he put up on 606 Ellis with friends Eddie Colla and Hugh Leeman, and also when we brought you pictures of another very similar mural on Polk next to Space Gallery. So after coming across D Young V‘s name around the neighborhood so many times, we decided it was time to catch up with him for The Tender, to learn about the inspiration for his work, living in the Tenderloin and plans for the future.
D Young V (David), who’s originally from New Jersey, has been living in the Tenderloin for about 5 years (7 in San Francisco). He’s lived in a number of apartments, and is currently in a corner studio on Jones with views of lots of interesting happenings down the street (such as the wall where he put up a mural with friends a few months back or the ever-present line at Dottie’s). Some of his favorite places around the neighborhood are Cup-A-Joe (of course), Angel Cafe (especially the falafels) or the Hemlock Tavern.
Most of David’s works are black on white ink drawings. He says he discovered micron pens when he was 18 and has loved them ever since. His subject matter has changed over the years, but he’s still most comfortable with ink pens. He also says in one way or another he’s always been influenced by comic books, fantasy and sci-fi. A few years ago he started looking at street art and became interested in the revolutionary aesthetic, namely the Cuban revolution and guerrilla men in uniform posing proudly with guns.
In those days he was often hanging out in the Babylon Falling bookstore (now closed), and the owner showed him a lot of interesting revolutionary art that he became attracted to. In his head he started combining his old love for sci-fi with revolutionary imagery, and his imaginary characters and situations came out naturally. The inspiration for his current ongoing series, that he calls ‘Live Forever’, comes from the times and age of fear we live in, immersed in a poor economy and distant wars we don’t understand or feel involved with. The series presents an alternate version of the San Francisco after the socio-economic collapse of the world financial system and the deterioration of what we have known to be the American way of life. Civil unrest and widespread factionalism result in a prolonged and unsuccessful military occupation of the Bay Area.
Although most of D’s current work seems to feature weapons and military apparel, he says he doesn’t like guns per se. He’s merely attracted to the idea of survival and protection, the necessity of defending oneself and finding inner strength. He says he likes imagining ordinary people in extreme situations in hostile environments, with limited resources and struggling for survival. That’s where the idea for his Neighborhood Watch series comes from (pictured above), which is probably our favorite work of his. It represents of abandoned military and public service vehicles that have been re-purposed to fit the patrol needs of the surviving local population.
In a place with no operational government, people have to organize new forms of law and social structure amongst themselves. This results in the formation of district and neighborhood based militia groups and volunteer police forces with the intention of providing safety and security in their own territories. Some of them are in charge of delivering information between zones, such as the Nob Hill militaman mentioned a the beginning of this article. These characters can travel between neighborhoods without harm since they’re information carriers and therefore very valuable. Of course, we had to ask about the existence of Tenderloin carriers since we’ve seen mostly the Nob Hill guy around the city. Of course, there are TL carriers such as the one on the left, but he’s only displayed them in exhibits and not so much in the street.
David’s ultimate goal for this ‘Live Forever’ series is to provoke its viewers to rethink their freedoms, luxuries and identities both as Americans and ‘moral beings’, and take into question their social and ethical roles if placed into a once strong nation that has long since fallen apart. As you can see, he’s not lacking ideas and at some point should probably collect his works in a graphic novel format linking together all the different stories about this post-apocalyptic society.
You can currently see D Young V’s work in Oakland at the Old Crow Tattoo and Gallery until January 5th, and of course at 606 Ellis as well as other street locations around the city. He was also part of a group exhibit at the W Hotel in Miami last weekend during Art Basel Miami Beach which was curated by the owner of White Walls Gallery in on Larkin st (that’s also where he’ll be having a solo show in July next year, so stay tuned). Next door to White Walls, at the Shooting Gallery, he’ll be part of a group show that opens tomorrow that is part of the Broken Meter zine release party. It looks like we’ll be seeing his name a lot in the next few months…