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Compound Butter

We sat down with illustrator AJ Dungo to talk about his work, skateboarding, and the best place in LA to grab a meal. 

Can you introduce yourself and tell us where you’re from?

I’m AJ and I’m from Southeast L.A. I was originally born in Fort Myers, Florida.

At what point in your life did you decide to start pursuing art more seriously?

I never really considered art as a viable option until I reached community college. I had a full schedule of classes and I hated them all except for one which was a printmaking class. I was taking it just to earn some electives. That class reminded me of what I enjoyed and made me realize what I didn’t want to do.

How has your work changed since Art Center and where do you see it evolving?

I feel like I didn’t have a lot of direction before Art Center, I was just trying to build my chops and visual vocabulary but now I’m trying to see how I can implement what I’ve learned into more interesting combinations. I always strive to create interesting atmospheres or capture feelings that viewers can relate to or have a reaction to.  As far as evolving goes I have no idea. But I just want to make a lot of stuff, make it more consistently, and I want to tell more stories.

Do you have a favorite medium?

I don’t really have a favorite medium but as far as tools go, I love pencils and brushes. I also want to explore comics more regularly, they’re a lot of work to make but they’re so satisfying once they’re finished. I love seeing people’s reactions to them. They seem limitless in their potential.

What or who are some of the biggest influences on your work?

I think personal experience is a huge influence for me. I tend to extract some of my most interesting images from funny or poignant moments in my own life. I’m a big believer of the saying; “reality is stranger than fiction.” That seems to drive a lot of my work. Popular culture is always fun to comment on. I’m a pretty nostalgic person and I think that can show in my practice.