The latest mural of 9 produced by GNV URBAN ART LLC this year we organized in Jacksonville, FL. Titled as “Horsepower” and located at engine sales business, the mural depicts a group of mustangs galloping over the land showing off their beauty and power.

DAAS is a Jacksonville born contemporary artist, widely known for his bold, colorful, geometric paintings and murals. His work is instantly recognizable for the combination of cubist and abstract elements which result in portraits of humans and animals. 

Gainesville residents are already familiar with the work of DAAS. He created two murals for The Standard property and Downtown Parking Garage in our town. Iryna Kanishcheva took the opportunity to speak with the artist and learn more about his experience.


Interview with DAAS


Tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from? 

I was born in Jacksonville, Florida, but have lived in a number of places since then.

In 2006, I moved to Japan to work for Universal Studios Japan as an artist.

You lived in Japan for a long time, how is the street art scene there comparing to the USA?  

The street art scene is still in its infancy in Japan. Mostly what you see is graffiti, throws, tags, characters…   It’s starting to catch on a bit more recently, especially in Tokyo and also with Pow! Wow! Japan, I think more people are becoming interested in street art and muralism.


“Horsepower” mural in Jacksonville, FL 2018


What is the inspiration behind your latest mural in Jacksonville?

This mural is titled “Horsepower”, it’s painted on the side of a Diesel engine service shop and also within close proximity to a major Interstate. (I-95).

I drew inspiration from the location and wanted to represent the power of motion, transportation and sheer horsepower of those huge diesel engines.

“A group of mustangs gallop over the land showing off their strength, beauty, and grace. Kicking up dust, the ground shake beneath them, as the wind is pulled along for the ride…” – DAAS

How do you feel returning to your hometown? 

Well, I still have some family there, so I occasionally do visit, mostly around the holidays. But it’s always just for a short period and I don’t really focus on my art while there, so this was a great opportunity to finally come full circle and put a mural in my hometown.

Would you consider you as a local artist? What do you think about supporting local artists?

I don’t consider myself a local artist, because I don’t actively live in Jacksonville, but being born and raised in the city certainly gives me a strong connection. As for supporting local artists, I think it’s very important for the community to build a support system around the arts locally, as well as bring national and international artists to the city. It’s important for any aspiring city to have a good mix of talents and styles to keep it vibrant and active.


“Ishmael III” mural in Gainesville, FL 2018


Tell about your murals (two of them) in Gainesville? 

There are two murals in Gainesville, one was curated by 352walls for The Standard. It’s four concrete panels within each one is a portrait of a monkey. The title is Yon Hiki No Saru and it’s inspired by the fun, playful and sometimes mischievous nature of college kids.  The other mural is located in the central parking garage and it was part of Urban Revitalization Project (URP), that one is titled “Ishmael III”, a portrait of a very large gorilla who is the main character in the book “Ishmael”, by Daniel Quinn, which everyone should read.

What are your closest plans? 

Next up is a short visit to China for a new year event based on the installation of my work and live painting. After that, I return to Florida to paint a water tower in West Palm Beach. As for exhibitions, I have a gallery in Kobe, Japan called Kitano Alley Gallery, that is constantly exhibiting my work in group shows and events.


“We Are Going to be Friends” mural in St. Petersburg, FL 2018


We met during SHINE St. Petersburg Mural Festival where GNV URBAN ART LLC partnered with the project on the media. How was your experience working in St. Petersburg?

The SHINE Festival in St. Petersburg, Florida was a different experience for me because I usually work solo and on specific projects as opposed to festivals.  I really enjoyed the opportunity to meet other artists, local, national and international. The organization of the event was top notch as well, they really did a great job of taking care of the artists, getting equipment, supplies, housing, etc.  A really wonderful experience.

Read GNV Urban Art’s recap post about the SHINE St. Petersburg Mural Festival and the mural by DAAS here. 

On the left: “It Should be Obvious, But it’s Not.122 x 122cm (48 x 48 in). Acrylic on canvas, 2018.
On the right: “Letgo”.122 x 122cm (48 x 48 in). Acrylic on canvas, 2018.

How does your studio work distinguish from murals? What was first a mural or a canvas in your career? 

My studio work tends to be much more detailed than the murals, I like to use that time to focus more on portraits and experiment with new directions in my style. It really serves as a stepping stone for ideas that I will incorporate into my future murals.

Originally, I started painting murals for businesses, such as Harley-Davidson dealerships, Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos, that sort of thing and everything was based on the requirements of each particular client. I was really able to start doing work in my specific style while in Japan and the first opportunity I had to do a mural internationally came in 2012 when I was invited to  Kathmandu, Nepal for the Kolor Kathmandu project. That was the real jumping point for my focus on muralism and introduction to the street art scene.


“Yon Hiki No Saru” mural in Gainesville, FL 2018


Art and technology. Would you reveal your recent interest in AR?

Yeah, so recently I have been looking into incorporating AR technology into my murals.  I am inspired by the ability to take the artwork into a digital space where it can be animated and show the ideas behind the work in a more storytelling style, that is accessible to anyone with a smartphone or tablet.

Thank you for sharing your experience and your amazing work with us! 

See more artworks by DAAS at his website artist-daas.com and Instagram @daas. 

The latest mural organized by GNV Urban Art LLC is located at Diesel Parts Sales Service Inc,1276 West Adams St., Jacksonville, Florida. Special thanks to the property owner Mr. Smith for sponsoring the event.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *