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David Choe

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David Choe
David Choe, 2010.jpg
David Choe in 2010
Born (1976-04-21) April 21, 1976 (age 45)
EducationCalifornia College of the Arts
Known forPainter, murals, graphic novels
AwardsXeric Grant Edit this at Wikidata

David Choe (born April 21, 1976) is an American artist, musician, and former journalist and podcast host from Los Angeles. Choe's work appears in a wide variety of urban culture and entertainment contexts. He has illustrated and written for magazines including Hustler, Ray Gun and Vice. He has an ongoing relationship with the Asian pop culture store-cum-magazine Giant Robot.[1] He once hung his work in a Double Rainbow ice cream shop located on Melrose Avenue.[2] His figurative paintings, which explore themes of desire, degradation, and exaltation, are characterized by a raw, frenetic method that he has termed "dirty style."[3]

Early life and education

Choe was born in Los Angeles, California. His parents are Korean immigrants and born-again Christians. He spent his childhood in Koreatown, Los Angeles.[4] He has been spray-painting on the streets since he was in his teens. He briefly attended the California College of the Arts.[5]


Cover of Slow Jams by David Choe, after Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec's At the Moulin Rouge

In 1996, Choe self-published a graphic novel titled Slow Jams; he claims to have made only 200 copies and given them away at Comic-Con in 1998, hoping to interest a publisher. In 1999, he submitted Slow Jams for the Xeric Grant and was awarded $5,000 to self-publish a second, expanded edition of 1,000 which came out in 1999 with a cover price of $4.[6]

In 2008, with Harry Kim, he made an autobiographical documentary, Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe.[7]

He accepted mural commissions from Hollywood madam Heidi Fleiss and from the founders of Facebook. After holding several solo shows in San Jose and San Francisco, he was offered a solo exhibit at the Santa Rosa Museum of Contemporary Art in 2005.[8] He held his first New York solo exhibit, "Gardeners of Eden," in 2007 at Jonathan LeVine Gallery in Chelsea,[9] and in 2008, he had his first UK solo exhibition, "Murderous Heart," in both the London and Newcastle locations of Lazarides Gallery, simultaneously.[10]


After being approached for his artwork by Gavin McInnes and Shane Smith, Choe was recruited to write and do artwork for Vice magazine.

For an online series called Thumbs Up! with Vice,[11] which has three seasons, Choe and Harry Kim were filmed hitchhiking and freight hopping from Los Angeles to Miami and Tijuana to Alaska, and then hitching across China from Beijing to Shenzhen and the gambling mecca of Macau.[12] A fourth season, in which Choe and Kim travel from San Francisco to New York, was 'released' on Snapchat and Instagram.[13]

Recent: 2013-present

In 2013, Choe began hosting an online lifestyle and entertainment podcast with adult film star Asa Akira entitled DVDASA. In a March 2014 podcast, Choe recounted an instance where he sexually assaulted a masseuse.[14] He later released a statement to clarify that the story he recounted was fiction and should be viewed as an extension of his art.

He has also become recognized for his watercolors, which exhibited in his solo show at the Museo Universario del Chopo, Mexico City in 2013.[15][16]

After receiving extensive therapy and treatment, he reemerged in 2017 with a new body of work and an exhibition in Los Angeles that presented heavy themes of trauma, self-reflection and hope for recovery.[17]

Facebook stock

In 2005, internet entrepreneur Sean Parker, a longtime fan,[18] asked him to paint graphic sexual murals in the interior of Facebook's first Silicon Valley office,[19] and in 2007, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg commissioned him to paint somewhat tamer murals for their next office.[20] Although he thought the Facebook business model was "ridiculous and pointless,"[21] Choe chose to receive company stock in lieu of cash payment for the original Facebook murals. His shares were valued at approximately $200 million on the eve of Facebook's 2012 IPO.[21]

Charitable works

Since 2008, Choe has dedicated many of his works to charity and has collaborated with foundations to support their local causes, including fundraising for Haiti with Yle Haiti, a foundation founded by Wyclef Jean;[22] painting with the children of The LIDÈ Haiti Foundationl; and painting with children of South Central LA at APCH.[23]


In the early 2000s, Choe was reportedly arrested in Japan, where he was taking part in an art show, after an altercation with a police officer. Various sources cite the year as 2003 or 2005 and state that Choe spent two or three months in prison.[24][25][26][27]

Choe commented in 2014 on his DVDASA podcast that he had engaged in "rapey behavior" with a masseuse. He defended his comment by explaining that the podcast itself is essentially a work of fiction. However, after he was commissioned to paint the Bowery Mural Wall in 2017, he was met with protest from other artists, including street artist Swoon, who issued a statement against his inclusion in the mural project. Another artist, Jasmine Wahi, co-organized a performance in front of the mural and stated "Our aim is to provoke widespread rejection of the continued normalization of rape culture by bringing visibility to the topic." Additionally, the mural was quickly defaced by graffiti artists. Choe responded by again publicly denying any history of sexual assault or rape, and by apologizing for his original podcast comments.[28][29][30][31]


  • Slow Jams, self-published, 1999
  • Bruised Fruit: The Art of David Choe, Drips Inc., 2002
  • Cursiv, Giant Robot, 2003
  • David Choe, Chronicle Books, 2010. ISBN 0-8118-6953-9


  • Thumbs Up! documentary web series, VBS.TV (2007–2010)
  • The Last Dinosaur of the Congo with David Choe, VBS.TV (2011)
  • We Are the Strange (voice of the character Rain), independent animated film by M dot Strange (2007)
  • Dirty Hands: The Art and Crimes of David Choe, documentary film (2008)
  • Vice, "50 Shades of Sasha Grey: How She Got into Porn & More" (appearance as Grey's friend) (2010)[32]
  • Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, "Koreatown, Los Angeles," season 1, episode 2 (2013)
  • DVDASA podcast web show, starring B-Trivia, David Choe and porn superstar Asa Akira (2013)
  • Vice, season 2, episodes 3, 6 and 11 (2014)
  • The Mandalorian, season 2, episode 1 " Chapter 9: The Marshal" as a ringside spectator (2020)


  1. ^ "Artists". GiantRobotStore. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  2. ^ Yoon, Joy; ContributorWriter; Researcher; Editor (2010-06-24). "The Return of David Choe". HuffPost. Retrieved 2019-08-13. {{cite web}}: |last2= has generic name (help)
  3. ^ Amanda Erlanson, Heroes & Villains, Zero+ Publishing, 2011. ISBN 0-9822461-6-1
  4. ^ Jaime Wright, "Choe Jams: The Purity of David Choe," Comfusion Magazine, Winter 2002.
  5. ^ Amanda Erlanson, "David Choe," Heroes & Villains, Zero+ Publishing, 2011. ISBN 0-9822461-6-1
  6. ^ "Xeric Foundation Comic Book Self-Publishing Grants for 1999". Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  7. ^ David Choe, David Choe, Chronicle Books, 2010. ISBN 0-8118-6953-9.
  8. ^ "Artnet: David Choe," Artnet database.
  9. ^ "David ChoeGardeners of Eden". Jonathan Levine Projects. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  10. ^ Terence Teh, "David Choe in the U.K.," Dazed Digital, 3/08.
  11. ^ "Thumbs Up!". Vice. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  12. ^ David Choe, "The David Choe Special Issue," Juxtapoz, 5/10.The David Choe Special Issue at the Wayback Machine (archived March 16, 2012)
  13. ^ Bernardo Loyola, "David Choe's Mexico City Gallery Show Features Naked Girls and Visions of Ayahuasca," VICE, 8/13.
  14. ^ Ali Vingiano and Tasneem Nashrulla, "Celebrity Graffiti Artist David Choe Doesn't Think He Actually Raped Anyone," "BuzzFeed", 04/18/2014
  15. ^ "David Choe "SNOWMAN MONKEY BBQ" @ Museo Universitario del Chopo, Mexico City".
  16. ^ "David Choe on His Mexico City Show and Life as a Global Street Artist - BLOUIN ARTINFO".
  17. ^ Calderón, Trina (1 August 2017). "David Choe's Secretive Koreatown Art Show Is Making People Feel a Lot of Things". L.A. Weekly.
  18. ^ Daniel Chen, "David Choe Archived 2017-06-22 at the Wayback Machine," The Citrus Report, 6/7/09.
  19. ^ Nick Denton, "Office decorator encouraged to draw 'cocks' Archived October 10, 2010, at the Wayback Machine," Gawker, 12/13/06.
  20. ^ Nick Denton, "Facebook cleans up the graffiti Archived October 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine," Gawker, 5/2/07.
  21. ^ a b Nick Bilton, "For Founders to Decorators, Facebook Riches," The New York Times, 1/1/12.
  22. ^ "Haitian Girl - David Choe". 28 January 2010.
  23. ^ Recinos, Eva (22 February 2013). "David Choe, Famed Artist of Facebook Headquarters, Helps Kids Paint a Mural in South L.A." L.A. Weekly.
  24. ^ "David Choe". RVCA Japan. Retrieved 2021-04-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  25. ^ Silvoy, Sandra (Feb 15, 2010). "David Choe: From Japanese Prison to the White House". KQED. Retrieved April 21, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  26. ^ Judkis, Maura (Feb 2, 2012). "Facebook IPO: 5 things you should know about David Choe, insta-millionaire artist". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 21, 2021.
  27. ^ Page, Samantha (2010-04-22). "Artist's trip from jail to Beverly Hills show". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2021-04-21.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ "David Choe's Bowery Mural Targeted in Protest Against Rape Culture". artnet News. 2017-06-16. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  29. ^ "Artist David Choe Apologizes for Statements About Rape and Says Story Was Fictional". Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  30. ^ "How the New Bowery Wall Commission Puts Rape Culture on Display". Hyperallergic. 2017-06-08. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  31. ^ "David Choe's Controversial Bowery Mural Tagged with Giant Letters [UPDATED]". Hyperallergic. 2017-06-12. Retrieved 2019-11-17.
  32. ^ "50 Shades of Sasha Grey: How She Got Into Porn & More," VICE, 4/25/11.

External links