John Dicandia aka JinnDoW is an Australian visual artist of Italian heritage based in Melbourne, Australia.
JinnDoW is an acronym comprising the initials and names of the family.
JinnDoW’s output is prolific and has exhibited and showcased his work in numerous shows in Australia and abroad over the past 35 years. His work is primarily illustrative with a personal narrative on the human condition and its challenges. He is inspired by characters in literature, history and his turbulent journey through life and the lives of those he finds interesting and mysterious. He is especially drawn to the dark side of pop culture, the counterculture, aspects of the occult, eroticism, and religious iconography. JinnDoW sometimes explores film and music as an extension of his visual art. In recent years he has produced several music videos for independent bands and solo artists. He hopes to one day write and produce a feature film with elements of his art and cultural influences.
Hello John! What inspired you to pursue art?
John: The mystery of art and how it is a conduit to connect with people. Also, the idea that you can create an image that was non-existent before and suddenly you have something before you is a mystery.
I liken it to the birth of an island from a volcano.
Tell us about your artwork, style, subject matter etc.
John: I need to feel something about the subject matter, so it has to have a soul or a deep connection or else it is pointless.
Everyone says I have a style and that my style is instantly recognizable, but I feel it is constantly changing subject to my environment and influences. In my formative years, I was heavily into pen and ink and my inspirations were 19th century illustrators. Like Gustave Dore and John Tenniel but I developed my own style soon enough.
Could you walk us through your process? How much planning do you do before you jump into creating an artwork? If you do, what are you trying to solve at each stage of it?
John: It really depends on what I am setting out to do. Planning can be anywhere from a week or even a few months, to less than a few minutes before and sometimes no planning at all. I am open to accidents as they happen on the blank space and having faith in the material that I am using. This has been happening more so as I get older and less tight and tidy. On some pieces, I think they require problem-solving, perhaps basic geometry, and a tiny bit of maths. Such as implementing a Fibonacci sequence.
The irony of creating a work of art is the fact that you spend a great deal of time looking at your work and very little time in creating. Looking at your art is a very important process.
You say you are mainly inspired by characters in literature, history, and your turbulent journey through life and the lives of those you find interesting and mysterious. Tell me more about that. And could you share how your life experience influenced some of your artworks?
John: I read a lot of books, watch film after film, listen to all types of music. So it’s often that I am heavily inspired by certain characters and stories from both fiction and non-fiction. In music, it’s the song title or the intonation or the lyrical inflections that spark an idea or a mood. I have a propensity for the anti-hero, the underdog, and the villain rather than the wholesome hero, and I am drawn to the dark side of glamour and the beauty of tragedy and suspense. I do love Shakespeare and the Gothic fiction however I am equally at home with the socially conscious writers, like the beats and postmodern writers and filmmakers.
The darkest periods of my life have been my most inspirational and productive in the sense that it’s akin to a journey through the woods where you find your demons and spirits and emerge as a different and unique person at the end of it all. I often hide symbols of my experience in my artwork. Not many people would know this.
What is the work you’ve done that you’re the most excited about?
John: I don’t have a single art piece that I’m most excited about, however, I feel oddly satisfied when I fill up an art journal with raw drawings and random ideas. Journaling is my biggest love.
You also explore film and music as an extension of your visual art. What are some works that you’ve done in this field, and what can we expect in the future?
John: I experiment with short films which I often collaborate with other artists and writers. My main collaborator is LA-based artist Tima Christina. In the last few years, I have made a few music videos for a UK-based band San Pedro Collective. I also do the odd record cover for bands here and abroad.
In my 20s, I went through a strange phase where I would sample music and background noise and create a musical composition on an audio cassette. I guess you would call it sampling.
In the future, I think I will try and create musical compositions again and perhaps make a feature film.
What are you currently working on?
John: A front cover illustration for a French novel.
Who are a few artists/people that really inspire you?
John: That is a very tough question. I say everyday people other than artists. I have a few close friends who are artistic, and they are truly inspiring. In the greater art world, Jean Cocteau and Kenneth Anger though they are not artists in the traditional sense. Then there is Gustave Dore, Bosch, and Da Vinci, and countless others. Hard to put a finger on one or two.
What memorable responses have you had to your work?
John: I once had a drawing of a demon impaling a Christlike figure displayed in a local bank and the public response was mixed, to say the least. I was 16 at the time and I didn’t take it too well, but it didn’t stop me from producing disturbing offbeat art and it was a lesson in knowing my audience. It also taught me that it’s just as important to have detractors as well as admirers of your art. You hate for everyone to love your art. That can be boring.
What is the best way to reach people that are interested in your art?
John: The best way to reach me is via social media. I have Facebook and Instagram where I typically respond within minutes. However, if you want to be more formal, email is the best option.
What’s next on the horizon?
John: Whatever comes my way. A feature film?