The eponymous portmanteau DABSMYLA accurately describes a fully collaborative Los Angeles-based design practice founded by married couple and business partners, Dabs and Myla. The duo conspires on all facets of their many mural, gallery installation, and graphic identity projects from ideation to technical execution, often swapping tasks between one another halfway through for well-rounded execution. Their latest large-scale project Before & Further — an outfitted exhibition for the classic mid-centry furniture brand Modernica — had the designers reimagining 4,000 square feet of gallery space with their unique take on era-appropriate showroom interiors for now, inspired by then. Sparking ideas from “the comic and animation art — as well as the graphic design and advertising” of the 1950s and 60s, Dabs and Myla created environmental artwork with brushes and acrylic paints in primary colors.
Their lo-tech, hands-on style suits an exhibit inspired by that most iconic period of design preceding the computer age. Feeding off one another in moments of inspiration blockage, the pair always strives to reach the height of their combined creative forces. The dedicated couple has been fortunate to find each other and the many unique opportunities that continue to come their way, but nonetheless feel certain that “the harder you work, the luckier you get.” —Annie
Photography by DABSMYLA
What’s in your toolbox?
Not very much… we work with a small amount of things! We use acrylic paint and only use the three primary colors, plus white, to mix everything. We use Trekell paintbrushes and we each have a mechanical pencil!
Fill in the blank, “When I am in the studio, I feel ____________.”
lucky to be doing what I love the most next to the person I love the most!
What’s on the top shelves of your inspiration library right now?
In preparation for our upcoming show and installation, we read lots of books about the Case Study movement in LA. We take a lot of inspiration from mid-century modern design and architecture, and other elements from that time — like the comic and animation art — as well as the graphic design and advertising.
How do you keep yourself organized?
We think we keep each other organized… we remind each other of things we need to do and both try and keep our workspace fairly clean and free of clutter.
If you could have one superhero (or magical) power, what would it be and why?
Hmmm, not too sure! We are both pretty happy just as we are!
What is the best advice you have ever received, and what is the one piece of advice you would offer to a young artist, maker, or designer?
Our favorite quote is “the harder you work, the luckier you get.” We have been living by that quote for quite some time now! We work really long hours and feel like we are pretty lucky!
How do you combat creative blocks?
We are really fortunate to be two people working together. It definitely makes it easier to get past creative blocks because if one of us is stuck, there is a good chance the other isn’t and will keep pushing through. This then inspires ideas for the other and then… no blockage!
Where do you like to look or shop for inspiration?
We are super inspired by our friends and other artists whom we are close with. Friends like Greg Simkins, Jersey Joe Rime, Askem, and Kems are always an awesome source of inspiration for us!
If you could peek inside the studio or toolbox of any artist, maker, designer, or craftsperson, whose would it be and why?
As we were doing the research for our upcoming show and installation in LA, we read a lot about the design couple Charles and Ray Eames. They have such a beautiful aesthetic and it would be amazing to see them at work together and how they would plan out and execute their incredible ideas.
What’s on your inspirational playlist at the moment?
We make a lot of playlists to inspire us and keep us motivated while we work. While working on the recent installation for Before & Further we actually made a playlist which had 1,200 songs on it! It included a lot of our all-time favorite songs from bands like Propagandhi, The Bronx, Obits, Frank Zappa, T. Rex, King Tuff, Shannon and the Clams, Thee Oh Sees, and many, many more!