We had the good fortune of connecting with Dav Yendler and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dav, have you ever found yourself in a spot where you had to decide whether to give up or keep going? How did you make the choice?
I’m inherently lazy so I’ll go with whichever is easiest. For real, if it’s easier to keep going, like my attention is on the project or problem whether I want it to be or not, or I’m talking about it all the time, then it’s easier to keep going. My body is telling me that it’s interested and I have to listen. The same is true for giving up on something- if my instinct is to bail and the feeling persists after scrutiny, time, distance, and reflection- then yeah I gotta bail. That’s when it’s easy to make those choices, so maybe it’s a no-brainer. In the cases where I have no idea what to do, I have to rely on my experience. I’ve learned that I can really draw something into the ground if I let myself, like I’ll “finish” my illustration and then I have the instinct to add “just one more thing” until I’ve accidentally made a “fucking nightmare”. In those cases (and they happen a lot) I know now to “give up” on a drawing at exactly the right moment. So maybe the difference between “giving up” on something and “failing” it is just a matter of timing.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I make interactive digital flipbooks called clickbooks. A clickbook is a story or idea told through a series of illustrations that viewers click through at their own pace while listening to curated music. You can access clickbooks on your phones or computers, where a custom piece of code enables viewers to tap or click through an unfolding sequence of illustrations. A clickbook asks you to look at its art, move it forward (or backward) at your own pace, and listen. My most recent clickbook is OTHER RUSSIA, a minidoc on living and working in Russia today. I developed clickbooks while performing at Salonathon, a weekly variety show in Chicago. My community was gathering every Monday to play music, sing, dance, read poetry, and show films. As both a performer and illustrator I wanted a way to combine my halves for the Salonathon audience, so I started bringing clickbooks. I put a bunch of my narrative work into Facebook photo albums, projected the albums onto a screen, and narrated the stories with a microphone while clicking through the images. It was important to me to show that these pieces lived online- that you could continue interacting with this work at home and at your own pace. When I wasn’t at Salonathon I was working as a humor illustrator for Groupon and doing freelance illustration gigs. After Groupon laid me off I decided to move to Los Angeles, and here I am!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
You can see an amazing night-time view of DTLA at the corner of Minnesota and Prewitt in Lincoln Heights. Perfect for car hangs. There’s a really nice dirt trail walk on Seaview Drive in Mt. Washington. As far as cheap donuts go, I’m partial to the glazed old-fashioned served at any Donut Factory. Don’t sleep on the fresh tortilla chips and molcajete salsa sold at Superior Grocers. UnUrban cafe in Santa Monica makes me feel like I’m in a Los Angeles that time forgot. I crave El Porto beach 365 days a year; yes, you can see the El Segundo power plant but it only adds to the charm. It’s my favorite city beach for sure. Finally- Neptune’s Net way out on the 1 past Malibu has a great fried fish taco. Plus you’re on County Line state beach, the chillest state beach there ever was.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I wouldn’t have any of my voice without Salonathon, a weekly arts salon held 2010-2016 in Chicago. That community gathered every Monday at a bar to share highly personal poetry, music, film, dance, performance art- the works. I really wanted to impress those people (and the host, Chicago arts-regent Jane Beachy) while simultaneously trying to find a way to synthesize my drawing practice with my training as a performer. Creating work for and participating in the Salonathon community every week for over 5 years helped me think critically about my core values and responsibilities as an artist- it also led to the creation of clickbooks! I also would be literally nowhere without my accountability partner Camila Saldarriaga. A master director, photographer, and stylist in her own right, Cami approached me in 2017 to propose that we begin an accountability partnership. Every week for the past four years, Cami and I have called each other and shared goals with each other: personal, professional, spiritual, physical, the whole bag. I write her goals down, she writes mine, and then in the following week’s call we check in on the week prior: what did we accomplish, what do we want to improve on, how can we help each other, etc. As I write this we’ve just published our first accountability newsletter- lemme know if you’d like an issue of “AccoutaBuddies”!