is that art?
fuck it, it's all relative
Written by: Hailey Levy
Photography by: Klarisse Tagorda
"I like messy... I can appreciate the clean lines, but it just... doesn't feel human to me."
"Your art is an extension of you," I interrupt.
"Exactly,” he responds.
Walking into his room, which also doubles as his studio, it's evident that Dillon Nusca appreciates a good mess - he says it applies to not only his art, but also his life. His room exudes that - complete with a collection of zines to make any magazine stand jealous, works from various artists posted up all over his walls, and boxes and boxes of sketchbooks. His bed is not five steps from his working desk, which is decorated with pens and pencils strewn across it, along with his computer that pumps out whatever music he's vibing to these days (Krautrock and The Lemon Twigs are just a few of his current musical interests).
"I'm a messy person... I've got a messy life," he says as he begins to spread out prints, posters and everything in between.
Dillon Nusca is 21, but based on the amount of artwork he throws across his coffee table, you'd think he's well beyond his years. I note that this is probably the biggest collection of sketchbooks I've ever seen, but he's quick to reassure me that there are plenty of artists he knows that have amassed double the amount. Although Dillon isn't one for self-adoration, his drive to always be better is apparent, and it especially shows in his constant progression as an artist. His talent is refined, but he's not one to acknowledge that.
"I'm a messy person... I've got a messy life"
Dillon is currently enrolled at OCADU for Graphic Design, doing his fourth year. He now knows he wants to be a Graphic Designer, but it wasn't always that clear for him."First and second year, I kind of discovered I was more into drawing, because I really wasn't enjoying my program. I felt like drawing gave me more of an outlet and a freedom to do things that Graphic Design wasn't letting me do." Now, in his fourth year, he realizes that graphic designers do in fact have the same freedom as illustrators, "it's just a matter of having the confidence to throw it out there into the world, which is nerve-racking, but if you do it right, it works."
But before Dillon was collaborating with names like LoveBot and starting up his own brand, All Relative, he was heading down a completely different path. He recalls of a time where he actually thought he was going to follow in his dad's footsteps of general contracting and become a landscape architect. It took a high-school wood-shop class, and a push from his mom, to dissuade him from a path that he wasn't passionate about and go into the arts. "I remember working on this project [building a mini house] and letting my friend do all the numbers. I remember being like, fuck that, I don't want to do this for the rest of my life." He credits his art teacher Mr. Bonder as one of the more personal inspirations in his life. "I was given a lot of freedom to create what I wanted, within the guidelines. What I hated [about some art classes] was that everyone's work looked the same, because of the curriculum, but he gave me lots of freedom. That was cool. He was dope."
He names little players like Mr. Bonder and his mother as his main inspirations. Basquiat, UNGA, and Broken Fingaz are among the bigger names that come to his mind. All of his inspirations are immensely singular and distinguishable, a quality Dillon aims to achieve in his own work.
"I get bored easily. I like to constantly change things up - do something different. I just like to keep busy, always. Just do something. It doesn't even have to be good."
He shows us some of his most recent work - his T-Shirt designs for his brand, All Relative. Each T-shirt is a hand-painted one-off, which people often mistaken for being done on Photoshop. "It's a compliment, I guess I'm doing it that spot on."
The name All Relative was a happy accident. "I figured it doesn't matter, it's all the same. Fuck it, it's all relative." He smiles, in a 'get it?' kind of way. "The more I think about it, it works with everything. Everything in a sense is relative to one another, everything is kind of connected in a sense." It’s clear the more he talks about it; All Relative is so much more than a passion project. Dillon is working to push his designs out for Toronto, and hopefully the world, to see, and won’t let the fear of rejection get in his way. His passion, hustle and creativity let him power through.
With all the different mediums that he experiments with, you'd think it would be hard to identify a 'Dnusc' original, but it isn't. He is distinguishable among the growing Toronto/OCAD art scene, whether he knows it or not. Through the countless sketchbooks we flipped through, through all the failed collaborations, the triumphant ones, the missteps and the progress, it's still obvious WHO Dillon Nusca is. Everything flows in a perfectly imperfect way, and like Dillon says, "Fuck it, it's all relative."