Neil Doshi is an artist from Montreal, now based in Los Angeles attending the MFA program at Cal Arts. He just created a Poketo wallet design and we caught up with him quickly to talk about his work and recent roadtrip from north to south.
Hi Neil! Tell us a little about yourself, where you grew up, what you loved doing in high school, what you studied at university, what you did before getting into graphics and art.
I have lived in Montreal for most of my life. It’s a great city to grow up in, there’s a rich cultural and arts scene and it’s really easy to get around. I sort of got into graphics and art making later on in my life. I had always been interested in art and almost all my friends make things in one way or another. I joined an art gang/group/whatever called the YPF which was a big precursor to all the stuff I’m doing now. It gave me an avenue and forum to show work and make things without it being too serious. There was no real overlying intent, we put on shows and made things just because we loved doing it. It was awesome in its sloppiness and craziness – we once put on a performance where 15 of us made a new 7in*7in piece every 24 minutes for 24 hours.
Was there anything or anyone key that led you to doing what you do? Who are your inspirations and why?
The YPF, T.Rex, Bucky Fuller, Mike Mills, Wassily Kandinsky, John Candy… some of many.
When we first met, you had just done some work for Threadless select. What are your thoughts on the democratic nature of design in nearly everything nowadays?
UPSO (Dustin Hostetler) invited me to do something for their Select line. It was a great project to work on because it involved creative freedom and access to all sorts of different printing processes. This is what popped out.
I don’t think design can ever be totally “democratic”. These communities are one aspect of a different array of ways to get your stuff out there. Companies like Threadless are great because it gives people starting out an opportunity and forum to put stuff out. Also, they really care about treating their artists well and creating a great community and product. The flipside though is a lot of great and amazing stuff doesn’t get made because you are beholden to the tastes of people that are voting for you.
You just moved to LA for Calarts. Why did you decide to go back to school? What are you studying?
I’m doing my MFA in Graphic Design. It’s a great school and program.
Where do you see your career heading? Do you want to dive full on into commercial or fine art?
I want it all.
I know it may be too early to compare, but, Montreal versus Los Angeles.
Montreal Pour La Vie!!! But the 3 weeks I have been in LA have been pretty great too.
What neighborhood are you living in? Favorite places, restaurants, bars, bookstores, record shops in the hood? If your pals came to visit, where would you take them in LA?
I would take them in circles because I inherently get lost at least once a day. I went to pick a friend up from the airport the other day and we got lost for a couple of hours and then ended up by the ocean, which in the end was great. And this was with a GPS. I’m used to biking and walking everywhere so driving is still really weird for me.
We would probably go to Family and Ooga Booga, it was just take us 5 hours to get there.
I just moved to a little town 45 min away from L.A. It’s a little nook of a town surrounded by mountains. It’s eerily quiet and there are roosters living around the corner from my house. There was a rattlesnake across the street from my house the other day.
If you I came to visit you in Montreal, where would we go?
Where wouldn’t we go? Ummm … this is really tough:
-Wake up late.
-Have some Peirogies for lunch at Eurodeli on St-Viateur
-Bike down to Headquarters(we would have a 3 man bicycle) to check our their current show and their new items
-Pick up some records at Cheap Thrills and tickets for a show.
-Check out some galleries in the Belgo building
-Have a fake BLT sandwich at Au Vivres for dinner(it’s made out of coconut and tastes like bacon!)
-Take Spirit for a walk on Mont-Royal (there’s a small mountain in the middle of the city)
-Go see a show
-Meet up with some friends at Idee Fixe and listen to some def leopard on the free jukebox
-Eat some 3 a.m. poutine (a quebec delicacy, made up of cheese curds, gravy, and fries)
Tell me a little bit about your wallet design for Poketo. The shapes, colors, eyes, where is this beauty coming from?
I was interested making up a set of interchangeable symbols based on simple shapes. Can you crack the code? It’s based on a small run of prints I made for the YPF Yearbook (a book of limited edition prints by the YPF). The wallet is actually a reproduction of one of the original prints.
You just moved down to LA and you seem stoked to share your trip down here. We are going to see your pics in this interview, but, tell us about it, what happened? How were you feeling?
It was an amazing time, I drove down with 2 good friends and my dog Spirit. We went through New York to the South and through Memphis, New Orleans, the Grand Canyon, etc. We tried to recreate National Lampoon’s Family Vacation. Some of many highlights were the architecture in New Orleans and the signage along route 66.
Last but not least, what do you have coming up, what are you working on right now that you can tell us about.
I just finished up a collection of shirts for The Stills for their current tour. More stuff coming up, nothing I can really talk about right now. Keep your eyes peeled!