Jonathan Zawada is the multi-talented Antipodean LEGEND responsible for the tropical cover of our winter magazine. A maker of things, painter of pictures and designer of rugs Jonathan’s work is hard to define specifically, but it’s characterised by its quality; you can guarantee if it’s come from his brain it’ll be real nice. In between flights from LA to Sydney we hounded him relentlessly until he answered some questions about his work and designing this cover in particular.
For anybody who doesn’t know your work explain a little bit about what you do…
For years and years I was one of those annoying pseudo graphic designers who also did things like building websites, doing illustrations and art directing photoshoots for clients like Warp Records, Nike, The New York Times, and lots of other mostly fashion and music clients in Australia. A couple of years ago I moved to Los Angeles and shifted focus a bit and now I say I just make stuff, primarily for exhibition but not always. In the last year I’ve made marble tables, oil paintings, digital prints, wool rugs, lamps, drawings, clothing, textiles, installations, videos and worked with people like Carl Burgess, Romance Was Born, DA Wallach, Mark Pritchard and Illangelo.
This isn’t a particularly wintery cover, what was the thinking behind it?
Well, since moving to LA I’ve discovered how horribly oppressive repetitive and Groundhog Day-like perfect weather can be, so much so that I’ve essentially forgotten what any sky other than blue looks like and what shape any tree other than a palm is. Working with people in London and Europe throughout the year via Skype I’ve found myself trying to match their complaints of sub-zero temperatures and torrential rain with comments like “Yeah it’s unbearable here, it’s been blue skies and perfect temperatures for nine months straight”. I think I even had a $350 bounty out on anyone who could provide LA with a one hour storm.
Talk us through your process for creating this kind of piece.
My illustration work process has always been quite straightforward and clear – unfortunately for glamorisation purposes that means I tend not to do much in the way of sketches or versions as the vision presents itself in my head in quite a resolved state. I normally get a brief, think about it a little while I’m working on another job, forget about it entirely as I get distracted by other things and then at some point while I’m washing dishes or changing a nappy a pretty much finished idea will pop into my head. Occasionally I’ll do a very crude and ugly sketch in a notebook but in this case I just went straight into the computer and started drawing the final piece.
Finally, I’ll shuffle around all of the colours I’ve been working with in an effort to find a combination that feels a little more interesting than the normally predictable one that I started with, as much to help me see the piece with fresh eyes and spot any flaws as anything else. Then I send it off and keep hitting refresh on my bank account until I see the extra zeros get added.
Was it ok to work with us on this or were we trouble right from the start?
You guys were great to deal with but the prostitutes you sent over to say thank you were really aggressive.
Give the people reading one piece of advice that’s going to help them get through this winter…
Just think of poor old me, who has now left the northern hemisphere winter for the next couple of months for summery Sydney by the beach – will I never get to see a cloud or feel raindrops on my head?