Interview by Glenn Sakamoto
DJ Javier is a talented designer/illustrator/surfer based in Santa Barbara, California. His playful and handcrafted images easily reflect his philosophy of working hard and creating art that anyone can enjoy. We spoke with DJ to learn more.
What was your childhood like?
I grew up in Santa Barbara, California. Growing up I wasn't the best student. There were numerous times where I wouldn't turn in homework or rip pieces of it out if I had drawn something I enjoyed on it. I had phases of different things I was passionate about, but I think art has always been the consistent theme throughout growing up.
What inspired you to begin creating art?
I have always enjoyed drawing even from a young age. I think the defining moment for me was when I had taken an architecture class my freshman year of high school and realized that every line I drew was wobbly. I couldn't draw a straight line to save my life. I ended up spending most of my day doodling on the paper I was supposed to draw buildings on. I began to embrace the imperfections in my technical drawing abilities and that’s when I started to pursue art.
What do you hope to create in the mind of the person viewing your art?
I hope to create something engaging. Something that peeks different interests in different people. Art that literally anyone can enjoy.
Who/what inspires you?
My dad inspires me. He isn't an artist at all, but he has an incredible work ethic. He's taught me that there are no free handouts; if you want something you have to earn it.
On a creative level, people like Barry McGee, Grotesk, Steve Harrington, Thomas Campbell, Geoff McFetridge, Jason Revok, and others really inspire me. I try my best though to pull inspiration from things outside of just art whether it’s my surroundings, my memory, or other non-art resources. I think pulling from your own memories is powerful because that’s when real, authentic art and design get created. Work that carries an emotive connection, something that at times the viewer may not necessarily be able to define, but they know it’s there because they can feel it.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
I always thought that "Hard work pays off" was the most important thing. But I've began to learn that simply loving people above all is key. I feel like we're in some weird times and by simply having patience and going the extra mile to love “someone that’s hard to love” is a really important lesson.
What are you most proud of?
I'm never one to praise my own works, but from being a punk kid growing up, almost not graduating high school, to going to college and getting my BA in design, it still puts me in shock. If it wasn't for my loved ones who support my creative career, I definitely wouldn't be here. At the end of the day, I guess I'm just proud that I've been able to do the things I love and have people who push me daily to do so.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Surfing has become my method of unplugging. Sometimes I will go out even if it’s completely flat for the sake of being able to unplug and step away from any stress, even for a moment. Also I hate the gym, so it’s my only way to keep the ol' love handles trimmed down.
What brings you the most happiness in the world?
My wife makes me the happiest man in the world. But a close second would be surfing good waves with no one out or anything with peanut butter!
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
One of my best friends, Joe Yee, is an amazing shaper/glasser, on top of having one of the best styles on literally any kind of surfboard. He also shapes with Ryan Lovelace who is insanely talented.
What “Golden Rule” do you live by?
It would have to be either: 1) Never fart in an elevator or 2) Always help people even if they can't return the favor. I'll probably have to go with number 2.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out? And why?
I don't get to travel much, but when we can, my friends and I like to drive up to Big Sur. It’s not too far from where I am now, but it’s amazing to just see the difference in environment. Surfing out there is always fun too.
What is your favorite board? Your favorite surf spot?
My current favorite board is my 9'8" log by Joe Yee. My favorite spot would have to be Poles. That board at that spot is the best combination.
What's your favorite meal?
I could eat Rusty's Pizza from Santa Barbara everyday for the rest of my life and die a happy (but very chubby) man.
What are you currently listening to on your playlist?
Tribe Called Quest, Allah-Las, Johnny Cash, The Budos Band, The Sonics. Any of those five I'll probably be listening to at some point in the day.
What are you most grateful for?
For me, it comes down to my faith. Knowing how faithful God has been in my life is what always keeps me grateful and always keeps me going.
What’s next for DJ Javier?
Continue to focus on art and design and see where it all goes. It’s gone well so far and I'm excited to see what's next.