Dominic Bodden on his moving illustrations that show the impact of gentrification in LA
With his recent New Talent victory at the World Illustration Awards, Dominic describes himself as a visual storyteller, inspired by stories of transformation and growth. Her work focuses on family and community while her imagery process is layered. âI work with chalk pastel and collage on paper and often incorporate found objects and printmaking techniques into my compositions,â he told Creative Boom.
His most recent project, Portraits of Westlake, focuses on the neighborhood he lived in in Los Angeles and examines how local families and businesses are adjusting to the many changes in the community as a result of gentrification. âI was able to do a lot of research for this project, including interviewing my former neighbors and local small business owners,â he says. The portrayal of The Market Butcher, for example, was inspired by an interview with the local butcher who struggled to compete with larger supermarkets. âI used to shop there frequently. I was inspired by the innovative changes he made to his market to attract new customers and by his efforts to preserve the traditional foods and culture that were so important to his family. “
Dominica grew up in New York City and graduated from high school in the summer of 2001. After the tragic events of September 11, he decided to settle on the West Coast. âI loved California right away. Everything seemed a bit brighter in Los Angeles and I loved the atmosphere of Silverlake, Echo Park and Hollywood. I was also lucky to have found one very early on. community of artists that has helped me feel supported and inspired. âhe says.
Thinking back to those days and looking back on two decades, Dominic says the landscape has changed, especially the architecture. âThe buildings started to rise so fast that the skyline of areas like Marina Del Rey, The Miracle Mile and Hollywood started to change and became much more metropolitan,â he says. âIn my neighborhood of Westlake, I’ve noticed that giant apartment complexes are replacing tiny bungalows and that family-owned thrift stores and antique stores have started to be replaced by Starbucks and yoga studios. Lots of people. in Westlake began to pay more attention to strategies on how to persevere in the culture of the neighborhood as the community changed.
After 20 years in Los Angeles, Dominic recently returned to New York. âIt wasn’t an easy decision to make but I’m happy to be back on the East Coast. After I went back to school to get my illustration degree I felt ready for a change. I am relearning the city and falling in love with it again. There is an energy in New York that is distinctly different from Los Angeles. It is an impulse that makes people want to move, to explore and engage in all the events and activities that take place in the city.
Interestingly, Dominic was not always an illustrator. His career began as an assistant to fashion stylists and costumers in Los Angeles in 2007. At first he was mentored by stylist Lenna Boord and worked with her on the Spice Girls World Tour. âIt was a fun, crazy roller coaster of an adventure that led to a ten-year career in the fashion industry,â he says. âAlong the way, I was able to incorporate my art and design skills in the form of fashion illustrations for various projects that rekindled the love of drawing and illustration. I started to realize this that there was more I could do in design and after visiting ArtCenter College of Design in Pasadena I made the decision that illustration was the way for me. “