Engaging Physically Through Community: Building A Multimedia Platform in DTLA
A Q&A with Tony Noceti of 720
With 720, Tony Noceti has created an ever-evolving multimedia arts platform that includes projects in print media, apparel, photography, design, street art and archiving. We caught up with him at his studio at Spring St and 5th St to talk about his influences, practice and plans for the future.:
GDT: How long have you been Downtown?
TN: I moved down here in 2007.
GDT: You’ve hit ten years! We should call this A Decade in Downtown: the Tony Noceti Story.
TN: It really snuck up on me! And I never originally thought I’d move down here let alone stay for ten years. I was in the apparel manufacturing industry up in the Bay Area where I grew up, but then I started getting work in LA, so I moved into Santee Court for about 3 years. Plus I was in the skate and surf world, and I found such a strong community of that here. Those years offered a beautiful introduction to the city. The vibe of the city struck a chord right off the bat.
GDT: How did 720 come about?
TN: 720 came about when I transitioned out of [working in] apparel. I always had this inner fire burning to make art, in different forums and mediums. But it was always just a hobby. I then hit a transitional period - I left fashion, was out of a long relationship, and decided I wanted to more fully pursue a relationship with the city and with art. I started doing a lot of 35mm photography around the city, utilizing what and who I knew in fashion, and starting using social media - which at that time was just really booming as a tool for artists to share work. But I wasn’t feeling fully fulfilled through the internet.
GDT: 720 plays on the Metro Rapid Bus line 720, and Metro buses’ design principles, which creates a very localized iconography. How did the 720 bus become an influence for you?
TN: I started taking the 720 bus every day in the morning to Lafayette Skate Park, where I was engaging myself with this very tight circle within the LA community. It took a long time for me to be accepted into that group of people who are very indigenous to the area, but through that I became more aware of our shared environment, like public transit. So one day I was taking the bus, and I looked up at the bus map, liking its design sensibility, the way its maps are printed and folded, and I wanted to play on that. 720 seemed like a perfect symbol for me to share my work and others who share in this urban experience.
GDT: How did 720 grow to become a shared printing platform?
TN: By engaging physically through the community. And not having any revenue generating initiative attached to it. That really messed with people. It was so much fun. It’s all part of this art inspiration I’ve gotten from Andy Warhol, from the New York art scene, which has shaped my life here in the studio, here at 5th and Spring St. All the work we’ve produced really attracted this whole city kid art aesthetic, which has become more and more the focus.
GDT: Speaking of these “city kids”, you’re amidst starting a practice aimed towards young artists here.
TN: Yes, Young City Arts. I want to bring young, talented artists through, help curate their works, and use it to reflect the culture that the project is rooted in. And not just here in Downtown LA, but this being a post-internet day, we’re very tied to other major cities. It’s an opportunity to take the creative output of 720, put it in the hands of young people, and spread it farther and make it relatable in other cities.
Through 720, we’ve been archiving work for a long time. We want to honor the place and time that this project exists in and what that experience of life looks like. They’re gonna look back at this work they created in this time and place, and what it was like taking initiative, being inspired by such beauty around.
GDT: Sounds like prepackaged nostalgia.
TN: It’s very romantic, yes. We have archives of work here in the studio, I upload their stuff online and on Youtube, we produce booklets and distribute special projects for other liaisons of work like Get Down Town. It’s been a very collective experience.
GDT: What is currently the most difficult part of actualizing your dream in Downtown?
TN: The financial aspects. It’s been really hard, I’ve had to mostly wait tables my whole time here in order to advance the goals of this projects. And there’s a lot of production equipment needs to maintain - my ability to print, screenprint, manufacture, archive. It all adds up. The other is my time. I wish I had the capital to do this full time and really explore the trajectories that exist if I could devote all my time to it.
GDT: Do you worry that 720 and this project will eventually get pushed out of Downtown?
TN: We have such a creative city here, and space here, and sometimes that can feel like we’re competing with each other for this place. I try within my practice to consciously not invest myself in exactly where I sit. But I don’t know if the concept will ever get pushed out. I hope it inspires others elsewhere to do things. And maybe someone will beat me to the punch of what I’m aiming to create here. But to me, the ideas behind the project are rooted in such love and infatuation, and when you come from that place, you’re just fluid.