Internationally known for his street-style murals in some of the world’s most recognizable cities, D*Face (a.k.a. Dean Stockton) has come a long way from placing hand-drawn stickers on the streets of London. His witty critiques of popular culture and the art scene have made their way to Los Angeles as D*Face celebrates more than 15 years of work in “Scars and Stripes,”a collection of 30 large-scale works inside and outside the PMM Art Projects gallery space and two murals in the city. We caught up with the artist before the opening of the pop-up exhibition to find out more about his transition from street art to exhibition art and what he hopes viewers take away from his scenes.
WW: You’ve become a lot more public as an individual, as far as revealing your appearance. Do you think that makes a difference in how your work is perceived or how you approach it?
D*FACE: I don’t need to hide in the shadows—I’m not out painting trains or etching windows. There’s work I do that questions the legality of property or ownership, but it’s not outright criminal damage, so I felt like I could be more open about my work and speak more publicly about it. I don’t think who I am or what I look like is important to my work, but I do feel it’s important to discuss my work directly and personally. Hiding behind an identity is somewhat cowardly; it’s almost like not having to face the music. For me, it ensures that I have my thinking and ideas well-considered as it will be me discussing and explaining them.
WW: Where do you draw the line between celebrating products/celebrities and anti-capitalism?
D*FACE: That’s a good question. I’ve never wanted to appear to be anti-capitalist—it would be contradictory for me to do that since I sell art to make a living. I make products, and moreover, I enjoy buying and consuming, not mass-market Starbucks or McDonald’s, but more bespoke, individual craft. All I’ve ever tried to do is get the public to question what they surround themselves with, what is important to them, and if there is an alternative to consider it and try it. Support the local store and local coffee shop, but most importantly, don’t gauge your success or happiness against what you’re fed or what products you own.
WW: Can you discuss the way you see the American Dream and how you portrayed that within this exhibition? And how does the title “Scars and Stripes” reflect that?
D*FACE: Sitting here right now in my hotel room in L.A., overlooking the sprawling city with the Hollywood sign in the distance, it’s easy to see how the American Dream is built on the principles of “bigger is better,” “more,” “faster,” and “God Bless America.” It’s ingrained into American culture to the point that it’s not even questioned. I can see that with the sheer size of America it feels almost bulletproof from any outside attack. This show isn’t so much a critique of the American dream, but it’s more of an ongoing question of our attachment to celebrity, fame, and stardom, while reflecting on love and loss as physical and mental scars. I like titles that have contradictions and mixed meanings and can be read in more than one way—“Scars and Stripes” does this well.
WW: Is it true that you only recently started going to your own shows? What changed your mind and made you start going?
D*FACE: That is true. For many of my early shows, I didn’t attend them at all and for the few I did, it was very brief. I hate openings—being the center of attention is not what I’m about at all—so the openings of my own shows used to make me cringe. However, I realized that for the people that make the effort to come to my shows, it’s important to thank them for their support and answer any questions they have. I felt that not attending my own show could be perceived as arrogant, when really it was just me being shy and trying to avoid the limelight and not be seen as the “celebrity”—the very thing I question within my work.