Graffiti Duo Dabs Myla Talk ‘Hello Kitty, Hello Art!’ Installation, Betsey Johnson Makes Appearance

Dabs Myla stand next to their Hello Kitty artwork.
Photo: Matteo Prandoni/

If you’re looking for a way to lift your spirits before all the holiday madness hits, we’ve got JUST the thing—an NYC art exhibition featuring Hello Kitty! The “Hello Kitty, Hello Art!” pop-up, which runs all weekend long at the Openhouse Gallery, features some of our favorite designers (like Betsey Johnson and Paul Frank) and artists (like Dabs Myla and Tokidoki’s Simone Legno) showcasing their take on the oh-so-lovable Sanrio characters. Last night we stopped by the launch party to peep all the goodness, and, boy, we were hit with some serious surprises. First off, Betsey Johnson herself made an appearance and took some killer pics next to her artwork (peep one after the jump!), and we also got to chat up the L.A.-via-Australia art duo Dabs Myla to get ALL the deets behind their collection. (You might remember their graffiti work from the Drew Barrymore-directed “Our Deal” supervideo featuring Chloe Moretz.) Check out what the twosome, who, yes, are actually named Dabs and Myla, had to say about their Hello Kitty collab below! (And please note how adorably they finish each others sentences.)

MTV STYLE: It’s Dabs Myla! And Hello Kitty! Tell me about your installations here tonight.

Myla: We’ve done a number of projects with Sanrio where artists have recreated the Sanrio characters in their own style, so we’ve done two of these shows in the past, and for this show they asked us to create an installation—a larger number of works.

Dabs: Usually we just make one piece, but for this one we made a big chunk.

Love that! What was your inspiration and process behind the pieces you are showing here today?

Dabs: It’s kind of hard because we made a whole bunch of different kinds. We made one large painting, which is about the Strawberry King, one of the Sanrio characters, and it’s based off the guy who started Sanrio. It’s about him just being the man. His head is there, like a planet, with everybody else circling around him. But we also made a set of these small ones, which are all the characters kind of morphed with a spray can.

Myla: There’s a newspaper called “The Strawberry King News…”

Dabs: It’s like a pre-Sanrio newspaper in Japan….

Myla: It comes out every month, so we got some print-outs of…

Dabs: Recreations of the pages of all the issues of “Strawberry News,” and we painted on them too.

Dabs Myla Hello Kitty artwork.
Photo: Matteo Prandoni/

That is SO cool, but, be honest, are you both super obsessed with Hello Kitty?

Dabs: I don’t think I’m obsessed with Hello Kitty, but I think Sanrio as a whole is a pretty rad company.

Myla: The characters that they have are super cute—they are funny. I love how they all have individual stories.

Dabs: I like having depth within each character. There’s a lot of back story.

Myla: Yeah, I really like that.

Dabs: I guess people that are super obsessed with Hello Kitty know all this information. Like how she weighs three apples, and she was born in London. There’s all this information about all them.

Myla: It’s crazy!

Dabs: I kind of like that back story. It creates that world, and in our paintings—what we do when we’re not doing Sanrio stuff—like this is similar-ish.

Myla: When we’re just creating work for exhibitions, we create our own characters in their own worlds with their own stories, so it’s fun to take something that already exists, that has it’s own story, and reinterpret that. It takes out about half the work for us. [laughs]

Betsey Johnson shows off her Hello Kitty artwork.
Photo: Matteo Prandoni/

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