The Legend of Bonethrower
Interview by Mark Brickley // Portrait by Matthew Reamer
David Cook, also known as Bonethrower, is a self-made artist who pursued his passion without any external validation or support. He didn’t receive a scholarship, come from a privileged background, or have connections in the art world. Cook simply made the decision to make his daydreams his day job. Despite the challenges he faced, he persevered, never looked back, and never stopped dreaming and drawing. This is the inspiring story of how my childhood friend from Louisville, Kentucky became Bonethrower, a talented illustrator and visual artist living in Los Angeles, California.
The Journey Begins: Skateboarding and Punk Rock
As we reminisce about our teenage years, I ask Cook whether skateboarding led him to punk rock or vice versa. He shares that he discovered both at the same timeâ€”receiving his first skateboard and a mixed tape from a neighbor in eighth grade. This pivotal moment changed everything for him. Cook explains how both skateboarding and punk rock challenged his perspective, instilled a sense of fearlessness, and fueled his desire to try new things. The DIY ethos of punk rock, coupled with the creativity he observed in bands creating their own album covers and merchandise, inspired him deeply.
From School Notebooks to Discovering His Style
I ask Cook about his early art and what he used to draw on his high school notebooks. He recalls sketching a variety of subjects, including skulls and elaborate battle scenes. Batman was also a notable theme during that time. Cook then reflects on the moment, a few years before moving to New York City, when he started focusing on drawing every day. Through this dedicated practice, he witnessed his artistic style gradually evolve and improve. Although not an avid user of sketchbooks, Cook filled numerous ones during this period and saw his unique style gradually emerge.
Birds, Wood Cut-Outs, and the Art of Being Bonethrower
During his time in Brooklyn, Cook went through a phase where he frequently illustrated birds. He explains that this was a crucial period for his artistic growth, as he started experimenting with wood cut-outs and exploring painting techniques. Due to his colorblindness, Cook had to find his own way to approach art, leading him to develop a unique style characterized by clean lines and innovative processes. It becomes evident that Cook’s focus was not solely on bird illustration but rather on masterfully cultivating an identity as Bonethrower.
Embracing a Punk Mentality and Emphasizing Fun
Throughout our conversation, it becomes clear that adopting a punk mentality has been essential to Cook’s artistic journey. He approached his craft with a DIY spirit, creating art for the pure joy of it and actively seeking opportunities to showcase it. Cook also emphasizes the importance of reaching out to artists he admired, seeking advice, and building connections within the creative community. When asked about his courage to pursue his dreams, Cook attributes it to his willingness to learn from others and ask questions, as well as the support he received from friends and collaborations.
From Brooklyn to Los Angeles: The Evolution of Bonethrower
After spending over a decade in Brooklyn, Cook and his partner, Tanya, felt the need for a change. They both longed for new opportunities and a different environment, so they decided to relocate to Los Angeles. Cook believed that the art scene in LA would provide fresh inspiration and further push his artistic boundaries. He found a sense of liberation in the creative space offered by his Silver Lake studio, enabling him to embark on larger projects, from small-scale artwork to life-size installations.
Unwavering Restlessness and Continuous Exploration
Cook’s restless nature and unyielding energy are evident in his continuous exploration of new subject matters and applications. He thrives on the ability to switch things up, learn new skills, and apply them to his artistic endeavors. Cook believes that pushing his boundaries and constantly improving his craft is essential to enjoying the process and ensuring his work showcases humor, technique, and the sense of fun that defines Bonethrower’s art.
The adidas Collaboration: Combining Style and Wearability
As our conversation unfolds, we delve into Cook’s experience designing shoes for adidas. He acknowledges the challenge of striking the perfect balance between his artistic style and creating a shoe that is both visually appealing and wearable. Cook expresses his satisfaction with the final product, highlighting the cool details that make the shoes unique while maintaining a subtle, understated aesthetic. The opportunity to design for adidas and see his work on people’s feet is a dream come true for Cook, a testament to his growth as an artist.
Reflecting on Past and Present
As our interview comes to a close, I pose a question that brings us back to our teenage days. We never imagined back then that we would both end up in California, pursuing successful careers as professional artists. Despite the challenges and uncertainty of those early years, we both experienced incredible personal growth. Finally, I playfully request that Cook never stops drawing Mickey Mouse, a beloved subject synonymous with his artistic journey.
The legend of Bonethrower is a testament to the power of determination, creative exploration, and unwavering passion. David Cook’s journey from a small town in Kentucky to becoming a renowned illustrator and visual artist in Los Angeles exemplifies the possibilities that arise when one follows their dreams with tenacity. Cook’s remarkable ability to constantly adapt, push boundaries, and find joy in his craft has shaped the evolution of Bonethrower. As he continues to make his mark in the art world, we can only anticipate the exciting new heights that Bonethrower’s art will reach.
1. What inspires Bonethrower’s unique artistic style?
Bonethrower’s style is influenced by a combination of punk rock, skateboarding, and his experiences within various art scenes. He draws inspiration from his childhood obsession with drawing on his high school notebooks, the DIY approach of punk bands, and the innovative techniques he discovered during his artistic journey.
2. How did Bonethrower’s collaboration with adidas come about?
The collaboration with adidas was a result of recognition and admiration for Bonethrower’s unique style. Mastadon, a band he was a fan of, approached him to design a T-shirt, sparking further interest from other brands. This recognition eventually led to the opportunity to collaborate with adidas and create his own shoe collection.
3. How does Bonethrower maintain his restless energy and constant motivation?
Bonethrower’s restlessness stems from his innate desire to learn, try new things, and push his artistic boundaries. He finds joy in the process of exploration and aims to constantly improve his skills. Moreover, his fascination with humor and fun in art drives his motivation, ensuring that his work resonates with audiences.
4. What challenges has Bonethrower faced as an artist?
Like any artist, Bonethrower has encountered challenges along his artistic journey. These include self-doubt, the need to constantly prove himself, and the pressure to strike a balance between personal style and commercial viability. However, he has thrived by embracing these challenges as opportunities for growth and refusing to give up on his dreams.
5. What advice does Bonethrower have for aspiring artists?
Bonethrower’s advice to aspiring artists is to embrace a punk mentality of self-expression and fearlessness. He emphasizes the importance of reaching out to fellow artists for guidance, continuously learning, and exhibiting their work whenever possible. Bonethrower encourages artists to pursue their passions relentlessly and have fun throughout their creative journeys.