David Jien: Who Riding with a Lizard Man
Somewhere in an underworld, the Who riders battle the Lizard overlords, and David Jien is the grand puppeteer pulling the strings. Articulating consciousness and ruminations through visual imagery is the foundation of his storytelling language. Asking an artist to describe their craft can be a difficult quest, as the message is rooted not in words but in their creations...
Somewhere in an underworld, the Who riders battle the Lizard overlords, and David Jien is the grand puppeteer pulling the strings. Articulating consciousness and ruminations through visual imagery is the foundation of his storytelling language. Asking an artist to describe their craft can be a difficult quest, as the message is rooted not in words but in their creations. Regardless, I held a dagger to David Jien’s throat and made him talk, threatening him with lizard attacks and snake chokeholds. This unstoppable lizard man from another dimension just hugged and kissed the reptiles, but managed to divulge a few secrets to avoid my wrath. —Kristin Farr
Portrait by David Broach
Kristin Farr: Why are you so comfortable with lizards? The one in your portrait left claw marks, which you refer to as love scratches.
David Jien: Yeah, he was just a big bundle of love. I had many pets growing up, including several pet lizards. My next door neighbor had a huge ball python, so handling reptiles was never really an issue for me. I am talking about domesticated reptiles, though. I am not so comfortable with the wild ones.
Are you telling one narrative or many different stories through your drawings?
The overarching narrative is singular, but within it there are subplots, which are usually the result of questions that arise along the way as I push the main narrative forward. I am a weaver of tales. Alas it is I, David, Elder Chronicler of Earf. Allow me to navigate you through the corridors of time.
What’s our first stop?
First stop, New Formosa, year DCCCXXXV. Home of the seraphs, safe haven for humans and creatures alike. A climatic paradise that needs no rain, watered by mist that comes from the ground, free from storms and disease. Pitch-perfect humidity; full of lush plants, and fruit trees and life, this is the resting place for our Who riders. Do you like coco water?
Yes, very much. Please tell me more about the Who riders and opposing forces.
They are born, gather memories, and form character. The Who are the protagonists of my story. They ride for truth, love and everything pure. However, although their intentions are good, they constantly fall into traps and temptations. Each character has a weakness or multiple weaknesses.The antagonists, the evil and conniving Lizard men, commanded by their beautiful prince Adin Shakran, will often use these weaknesses to their advantage.
Bring on the story.
The narrative takes place in an alternative world. A world in which deep corruption has befallen its lands. A world where inhabitants have forgotten their ways and have divided, father against son, mother against daughter. Shakran and his malign words have immersed deep within its people. The reptilian plague promises pleasure and power. Many have lost their kin to this deception, and now fill the ranks of Shakran’s saurian swarm. Those fortunate enough to elude the intoxicating clutch have found refuge under a different regime. A regime led by Yasha Moshia, commander and king of the Who riders.
In my latest show, EXODUS, the peaceful inhabitants of Earf are uprooted from their homes to flee from war. In this mass evacuation, these displaced travelers seek refuge within a hope that is the fabled Formosa, a legendary island unequaled in beauty. While the pilgrims search for their promised land, they are guided by select leaders of the Who. All the while, the reptilian lord Shakran amasses more power, and his malicious army spreads fear and entropy throughout the land.
Are you living this story?
Yes, I definitely think that I live vicariously through my art, and through these characters am able to express my deepest ambitions, desires, fantasies and fears. I believe that everyone at some point in their lives has to deal with an inner struggle, and that this universe is perfectly designed to offer human beings the optimal condition under which the choice between good and evil can be made. My drawings depict my struggles and joys manifested through these casts of characters. My characters are self portraits. I am a Who rider, I am a Lizard man.
Do your cold-blooded reptilian overlords represent anyone else?
Yeah, all those Bohemian Grove fools.
Read the full interview in our September, 2015 issue!