An Interview With: Johny Dar

Johny Dar is an American artist currently based in Germany, with a background of working in fashion and studying filmmaking it is now in Painting where Johny is able to fully express himself. As a man who is able to express his ability and love for more than one creative industry, he seemed like the perfect person for us to talk to!

He’s been kind enough to have a chat with us about ‘Tuuli by Dar’, working with Rankin and ‘DAR the BOOK’. Johny has also been kind enough to create a stunning piece of work exclusively for Kolekto, the link for that is above!

Hi Johny, it’s great to talk to you today. How are you doing?

Considering the weather, fantastic.

FSo for those who don’t know, who are you?

Who am I? I’m just a dude. I mean, yeah, I’m just a dude who’s doing his thing, that’s pretty much it.

Given your past as a fashion designer, how does this influence the work you create as an artist?

It makes me very mathematical in my approach to art, very construction driven. I find myself just shrinking the pattern further and further and further into art.

Recently you have created the calendar ‘Tuuli by Dar’ featuring Tuuli Shipster and all the images are shot by photographer Rankin. Where was the inspiration to create this piece and how did Tuuli and Rankin become involved?

The initial inspiration came from DAR the BOOK, and then a mutual friend with Rankin introduced me to Rankin’s work with Tuuli. I was quite inspired with the work that Tuuli and Rankin did together, and found it to be a very tasteful romantic alchemy. And then the idea sparked to paint one of the images from DAR the BOOK onto Tuuli, and for Rankin to shoot it. We talked to Tuuli about it and she was into the idea, and Rankin was very much into the idea as well. So we got together on the 7th and 14th February and got the first images done and then we decided to do a calendar together.

How have you found the reaction to the strikingly beautiful images created between yourself and Rankin?

I’m quite pleased and thankful for the positive response that the calendar has received in many different countries, and how it was received by the young and by the old with similar enthusiasm and excitement. People really appreciate the artistic expression and see the art in it – see that it is really not just another nude body, it is an artistically crafted new expression of the body, and that recognition was quite rewarding at the end. There were some really insightful articles written about it from Italian Vogue to Russian and German magazines, so it was great to have that appreciation from various sectors of the press in different areas of the world as well.

You painted the work directly onto Tuuli during the process, had you previously planned the works or did you improvise on the design?

We had a creative worked between us, where we clarified colour, the overall styling of the shoot and the pose. But for me it was all about letting go of my idea of what I was going to do, and just let my brush communicate with Tuuli’s feeling and emotion that she was going through, and capture her in her element. Because I really wanted it to be real, I didn’t want it to be a character that I was imposing on her, I wanted it to be an element of hers that I was capturing.

You are also in the process of creating the six piece book series ‘Dar the Book’. Can you tell us a little about this project?

It’s meant to be a journey through the unexpected, so therefore I wanted it to be free from any previously produced art or any other imagery or the way that imagery is usually put together.
It’s a six book series that takes a story from the micro to the macro, and in every book the microscope is zooming further out. So it’s meant to be as if you are watching the scene super zoomed in in at first, and then in every book we zoom out further, and more of the world gets revealed, and more of the story gets revealed. So I’m intending for it to be a new way of telling a story – a way everyone in the whole entire world can relate to because it’s not limited to a language or a tongue, it is universal because it is an image – a picture – showing you a new perspective and a new dimension of possibilities. So that is the seed of DAR the BOOK for me, which looks like it is right now on the store shelves out there.

Releasing a book each year must bring incredible pressure on your workload, how do you cope with such pressure?

I really don’t know because to be honest I’m quite stressed right now about DAR the BOOK 3 because it just grew about 2 or 3 times more than I had expected originally. So it’s a tough question to answer right now – but I assure you we will have DAR the BOOK 3 ready at the beginning of next year. I promise you its not going to be anything like you would expect because each book is very different from the last. The interesting thing about it is that it’s not just a trilogy that is telling the story constantly from the same point of perspective. It’s changing points of perspective telling the same story, while telling the story.

Any thoughts on what comes after the final release?

Well, I’m going for releasing the first part of the movie trilogy at the release of the fifth volume. So I’m not going to wait until I release the complete six volumes, I’m already going to start working on putting together the first movie, to be released with DAR the BOOK 5, and then continue the movie every year until a year after DAR the BOOK 6 is released. After that – the world will change forever (laughs).

With your history in both fashion and also studying filmmaking, do you think you will ever return to either of these skills?

I believe it would be really tough for me not to be continuously involved in the three because I feel like I can’t just get rid of my left arm to focus on my right arm in that sense. I feel that they are all a part of me and there isn’t really a possibility of not doing all three.

I imagine the wishlist of models and photographers is huge, but can you let us in on a few of the names you’d love to work with?

Naomi Campbell, Giselle, Kate Moss and Cara Delevigne. Along with David La Chapelle and Terry Richardson. I’d like to work with David because I love his artistic direction and I believe we can do fabulous things together! I’d love to do something really artistic and out there with him and I’d also like to do something really street and ghetto avant-garde with Terry. Of course, I would always love to work with Rankin again.

What can we expect to see from Johny Dar in the not too distant future?

The next DAR the BOOK, of course, and the next calendar, for 2015. I’m really looking forward to doing the next calendar. I wanted to make this one different from the first one, the first one was about transforming Tuuli into 12 different beings, images, expressions, and showing how one can embody all these various elements.
With this calendar it’s a different concept altogether, I live in Germany and I don’t do much artistically here, so I wanted to do something here. It’s more about merging into the environment of the background that we are shooting in. I’m going to be painting 12 models, and working with 12 photographers and shooting in 12 locations in Germany. It’s a project where image-makers and models get together and produce a sensational journey throughout 12 completely different shoots, and we will be making a documentary about the making of it as well. The proceeds are going to a charity that is supporting young artists. It’s very important for us artists to come together to create art beyond a paid job; to come together for the sake of the art and the sake of creating an iconic image, a historical moment – a moment that will be recorded in history. My intention is to inspire other artists to get up and get on with their idea and just get it done, so the concept is quite dear to me, in that sense. It’s going to be quite sensational. And apart from that there are a few other shows coming up soon as well, and I’ll be re-launching my ready to wear for fall winter 15.

You’ve selected these images- can you tell us why you chose these images as representing something that Kolekto stands for – which is that art, music, film and fashion are not black and white or segregated but interconnected and vital to each other.

If you look at the image of the lady from DAR the BOOK, and start looking closer at what is really happening inside her, you start realising that it’s a film – it’s moving images animated inside her body. And if you rotate it, then at every rotation, if you segment out a piece, you will see the shape is changing at each angle. It’s a constant moving story, and that’s how all the figures in DAR the BOOK are done. This character was put together to show the harmony between music and art – between sound and form. Here’s the harp in her throat and musical notes throughout her body. So the pattern is like a film and music – and that’s the style of DAR the BOOK altogether.

The Tuuli by Dar January image is like that fashion – that body suit – that second skin. It’s my inspiration to one day be able to create a second skin like this that you can wear and feel like a superhero – feel like all the possibilities are possible – feel the supernatural in everyday life.

If you want to know any more information about Johnny, or his work, head to

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