There’s paper coming out of one of the pockets of his backpack. Color pencils and a roll of blue tape live in between the sketchbooks that are filled with drawings, and drawings taped on top of other drawings. DJ Javier is definitely the most eccentric looking individual at seven in the morning at the French Press Cafe.
“My backpack is kind of like my current office right now. I carry so much freaking paper,” he chuckles. Having graduated in December from Azusa Pacific with a Bachelors degree in design, Javier now resides in Santa Barbara, freelance illustrating and screen-printing while working at a packaging design office for Frito Lay.
“I literally stare at chips all day.”
Javier grew up drawing, with early aspirations to be a tattoo artist, “I would redraw different tattoos and observe them and their different styles.”
His freelance illustrations are a plethora of ideas and notions, everything from hating on hippies and their signature Birkenstocks, to a Native American doing a Christ on his motorcycle, and pineapples skating down to the beach. DJ’s all over the place. He’s not one to just stick to one idea.
“I draw a lot of stuff that references trends and our current culture. Like the sandals; I freaking hate those shoes man, they are so weird,” says Javier. “I like finding things like that. I also have a couple of drawings poking fun at girls who do calligraphy. At the end of the day I’m stoked that you do what you do, but man I’ll go on instagram or something, and I feel like people are just regurgitating others people’s work.”
Javier’s work isn’t just little rips on the easily bashable mainstream, it has some grit to it. There’s not a range of colors being used, and no images within images based on a dream. The meaning and his attitude is right there, in the center, with no distractions.
“I would love to get into detail and crazy amounts of color, but I like seeing what I can get with only using three colors,” says Javier. I kind of draw like I am going to screen print it. I like the idea of keeping it simple, but still trying to make it complicated. Maybe using the color of the paper as my fourth color or the color of the shirt it’s going to be on.”
Though he may not be a mega charger on a skateboard, the lifestyle surrounding surf and skate is what interests him the most. “To be honest I suck at riding a skateboard, I hate getting hurt,” says Javier. “That’s why I enjoy surfing more but am more interested and embedded in the culture that they are both associated with. This “go get it yourself” type of attitude. There is no one telling you what to do and how to do it.”
The lifestyle surrounding surfing and skating may be what Javier finds most relatable, but it’s his ability to incorporate the style of both surf and skate into his design work, that makes his artwork stand out and accessible.
“I love looking at old surf photography. The old black and white photos that are really grainy,” says Javier. “You know, where the guys are kind of just standing on their board, not really doing anything. I feel like that’s the essence of style. I think that idea translates into illustration and design. If you can draw so naturally it looks like you’re not putting in real effort I think that shows a lot about your ability as an illustrator. Whenever I look at those pictures you can tell they really just enjoy what they are doing to the point where they don’t even have to move they just feel it. I try and carry that into my designs, where I can just feel it. ”
Javier will soon be releasing his own line of shirts featuring a handful of his illustrations.
“It kind of took me awhile to get the shirts out. I don’t care if anyone buys them, I just love putting different pieces of my work on shirts and bags and pins or whatever. I like the fact that I can make multiple of one thing and still have it be handmade. The fact that you can make thirty of one thing and still have it be limited, and still can sell it for cheap so more people can enjoy it.”
On the verge of getting married (going down in August) the future for Javier is a little mysterious, but doesn’t seem to be bothering him too much.
“I think I am just going to stick to what I’m doing,” says Javier. “I like where it has taken me and I want to see where it takes me rather than try and evolve with whatever design or illustration trends are happening. I am just going to keep doing what I do, even if it’s just a little drawing on a napkin.”
For more from DJ Javier head to his website here: http://www.danieljavierdesign.com/