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PEOPLEText: Risa Nakazawa

Jonathan Zawada

Jonathan Zawada is a talented artist from Sydney, Australia. With his first name Zawada which sounds very familiar name to Japanese people, he creates a wide range of works, and it is hard to believe all of them is created by one artist.

At his recent exhibition held in Los Angeles, one of the notable art collector as well as celebrity, Elton John has purchased Zawada’s artwork. It is excited to check out on his future prospect not only in the design and fashion scenes but also realm of art.

Who is Jonathan Zawada?

Born in Perth, Australia in 1981, I work as a graphic designer in Sydney for many music, art and fashion clients such as Ksubi, Modular Records, The Presets, Surface to Air (France), Sixpack (France), RVCA, Nylon (USA), Lodown (Germany), 20,000,000 fragments / GASBOOK (Japan), Coca Cola and Fanta using a diverse range of mediums from website design to illustration.

Petit Mal! scarf

I am also one third of TRU$T FUN! makers of the backstage fashion comic, Petit Mal! and their self-titled accessory range which is sold worldwide in stores such as Liberty of London and Poepke in Sydney. TRU$T FUN!s list of clients include BMW, V Magazine (New York), The British Fashion Council and Topshop.

‘Glory Holes’ exhibition

Parallel to my professional design work, I am also a practicing visual artist. I have had solo shows at Monster Children Gallery in Sydney as well as exhibiting with collective TRU$T FUN! for the ‘Glory Holes’ exhibition in 2009. I have been a participant in many group exhibitions both within Australia and internationally and recently had my first solo show in the United States at the Prism gallery in Los Angeles.

What is your main focuses on your career at this moment?

Recently I’ve been focusing more and more on my art practice and I’ve been reducing the amount of commercial work I’ve been taking on. While I really enjoy working on commercial design projects it can be very difficult to do both art and design at the same time as they really do require very different approaches and working methods and at the moment I’ve been getting a lot of opportunities to pursue my art practice both in Australia and internationally.

Jonathan Zawada solo exhibition at Prism gallery

Please tell us about your latest activity?

I just presented my first solo exhibition in America at a gallery called Prism in Los Angeles. It was a show of pencil drawings and oil paintings and was my first really experience with oil painting. The paintings are quite large and are essentially landscape paintings however the landscapes I painted were initially built using 3d software and the colours and textures are quite unreal.

Jonathan Zawada, Light, 2010 Oil on linen, 59.06 x 37.8 inches (150 x 96 cm), shown at the exhibition at Prism gallery

The silhouettes of the mountain ranges in the paintings are actually derived from graph data which I collected and compiled and then used to generate the forms of the mountains. Some examples of the graph data I used are a comparison of CD and Vinyl record sales with marijuana usage amongst high school students and another graph which compared the price of land in Dubai with the price of land in the virtual world called Second Life.

I’ve just begun work on a new collection of graphic works for an exhibition at Vallery in Barcelona which will open on the 28th of April.

IF you can move to 3 different places in the world, where would that be?

These are three places I have been where I wish I could live;

1. Sapporo, Japan
2. Palm Springs, USA
3. Lake Wanaka, New Zealand

TRU$T FUN! – Petit Mal!

Could you tell us about the activity with TRU$T FUN!?

TRU$T FUN! is a collective consisting of my wife Annie, my friend Shane Sakkeus and myself. It formed a few years ago as a way for us to be able to explore the ideas we had relating to the fashion world that were too weird for any of our clients to want to use. During its existence we have had an exhibition of photographs, sculptures, prints and textiles, made hand dyed silk scarves and tshirts, pet rocks, necklaces, hand bags and even a comic book created using backstage photography from the runway shows in Paris and Milan.

TRU$T FUN! – Money Bag

At best, TRU$T FUN! is periodic, it comes and goes when we feel like it, we only do things we enjoy, we aim to make everything ourselves and put every effort into preventing it feeling like work – really TRU$T FUN! is a bridge for us between the worlds of art and design.

Do you like working with other people?

Generally I’m terrible at working with other people, I think I can be quite controlling and I quite enjoy figuring out new challenges on my own. There are a few people however, that I really enjoy working with, people who really push me into areas I’m not so comfortable in.
Normally though, I can’t even bare to share a workspace with others, let alone share a project!


What do you want reader to look from the GASBOOK pop magazine?

I have always had trouble figuring out how to describe my work, whether I’m an illustrator, a graphic designer, a programmer, an artist or a fashion creative so I hope that GASBOOK pop will summarize all that I do and hopefully highlight the thread of the way I approach my work that links all of the disparate projects.

What is the dream of your life?

My dream is really to be able to continue living the way I live at the moment – making art and working with interesting people on projects.
Ideally it would all be taking place in a house in the countryside but otherwise I really just feel so grateful to be able to do what I do that I don’t really want for much else!

Please tell us your favorite song of this season.

It is an old song, but it is one I have only recently discovered – It Man by John Cooper Clarke.

If you have any comments to Japanese audience.

Thank you so much for all of your support and for understanding me in ways I often feel I’m not understood at home in Australia!


GASBOOK pop 1 – Jonathan Zawada
Release: October 2010
Price: 1050 yen
Available at GAS ONLINE SHOP (Japan only)

Text: Risa Nakazawa

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