Interview with Jo Di Bona


Jo Di Bona is a french street artist born in the suburbs of Paris. In the early 90’s, Jo made his debut into the art scene by painting on walls and trains alongside Nestor & Lek, with their crew VF.  After a while, Jo moved away from Graffiti to create what he will call later the "GRAFFITI POP". Mixing collages and various influences of Graffiti, but also pop culture which is one of his main inspiration.  In his artworks, Jo honors icons and great characters of history, as well as anonymous portraits and other artists that inspired him.  This freedom to create is above all what he loves and which gives him access to the "POP GRAFFITI".



Hello Jo, today Music On Walls has selected five of your works inspired by music.

Can you explain why you have created artworks inspired by music?

In fact, I like to paint characters that stood out at some point in my life and music has always been part of it. Music is for me a major Art, and I like to represent the great artists I admire, like the one I am presenting today.

Is there a specific music that has inspired these works?

 I do not necessarily listen to Madonna when I represent Madonna for instance. When I'm working I like to listen to peaceful music that keeps me focused. So I listen to a lot of Jazz, and then sometimes just the sound of my spray cans!



Do you have a favorite work among those presented today?

Yes ! Without hesitation it is "IGGY POP GRAFFITI". First because of its title! Secondly because it is a canvas I painted "live" during the Urban Art Fair at the Carreau du Temple, in Paris a couple of months ago.

That's actually how I like to paint; painting live and interact with the public.

Last but not least, the canvas was sold right away at the fair!


Is there something you would like to specify about these works?

Yes ! When I paint my girlfriend Amelia (my favorite subject!), a lot of people think it's Rihanna or Beyonce. And when I paint Rihanna people think it's Amélie! Quite flattering, isn't it?

What role does music play in your life? And in your art?

Music is very important in my life, I can not live without its vital and often regenerative energy. When I worked on an album (yes I am also a musician), I often spoke with my sound engineer in terms of color or image, which was an easier way to understand each other. Today I make a canvas exactly the same way I would make a pop song: it has to be balanced, with depth. That's why I call my painting Pop Graffiti! It requires to sound like Rock but with spray cans instead of my guitar!

Can you tell us about your creation techniques and how long does it take to create a work? 

I always work with aerosols and I paint exactly the same way on canvas or wall. I start with stylized urban lettering, with lots of codes from Graffiti, mixed with vintage lettering and posters of different faces that I paste on overlay. I then tear the posters apart to let the graffiti and the background reappear. And, like in Music, I sample around a lot to make my prod!

Regarding my previous works, I can’t really describe them as I used to work on several paintings simultaneously.


Celebrity Skin by Jo Di Bona 2015


Do you have plans for new works inspired by music? 

Not at the moment, but I have future projects of making album covers and music videos.

I had already been chosen by Tez Cadey who used a photo of one of my walls for the cover of his EP " WALLS " (see image below).

However, when a musician inspires me I do not think for long. The other day I was blasting HOLE in my car and right after I painted an artwork entitled "Celebrity Skin" (My favorite track !) with Courtney Love’s face (see image on the left).

Also sometimes, I like to give songs' name to my works, even if they do not represent musicians!

Do you listen to music when you create?

I like to listent to quiet music when I work, especially Jazz. But I recently made a series of large canvases, and to keep myself focused I listened to albums of The Doors and Radiohead. 

 What is your favorite song at the moment ?  

My favorite album of the moment is "Meliora" from the metal band Ghost, especially the title "Cirice". (listen to the track below)


I also like very much the magnificent "Red and Black Light" of Ibrahim Maalouf(listen to the track -> )

What was the last concert you attended? 

Ibrahim Maalouf is actually the last concert I attended, Ibrahim is amazing on stage! I am a total fan of the title "Run the World (Girls)" that I used one of my Graffiti videos.

As you can see, I am very eclectic in my taste, I can easily switch from Jazz to Metal!


You are a musician yourself?

Yes I am! I was songwriter/composer and singer/guitarist of the pop-rock band Hotel from 2007 to late 2012. We really lived crazy stuff together. I recently found full concert videos, studio sessions, trip memories, and it got me a little nostalgic. I have even recently been contacted by a Los Angeles radio station who wanted to play our songs!

The band’s brake up affected me enormously. It was a project in which I put all my heart and all my soul, and it was very hard for me! But I have new desires and ideas when I take my guitar, and I have a friend who's a sound engineer who recently asked me to return to the studio ... So despite the fact that painting takes most of my time, why not ?

Anyway if I ever do music again, I think I would make Pop Graffiti!