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This art is really about YOU

December 8, 2009 |  9:40 am

Art can be personal, but a company called Yonder Biology is taking that theory to a new level.

Yonder creates an image using a person's DNA on canvas, glossy photo paper or some other custom material. The images are as individual as snowflakes or thumbprints.

Culture Monster talked to the company's founder Andy Bass, a former biotech worker, about this art form:

Robin---ME2 How did the idea for Yonder come up?

I have worked in the biotechnology industry for 10 years as a scientist and in sales for both start-ups and multibillion-dollar organizations. I enjoy science, but my creative genes are always pushing me to explore my artistic side. The concept for Yonder Biology began by wanting to find a way to connect the general public with the cutting-edge science that's happening at biotech companies. 

Go through the process of creating the art.

The process of creating DNA art begins by collecting a DNA sample from an individual using a sterile cotton swab to painlessly collect cheek cells. The DNA is then sent to our lab where we use standard molecular biology techniques to extract, amplify and take a digital image of the DNA. Next, we customize the DNA portrait according to the customer’s specifications such as customizing the color, size, including a custom photo or signature, and printing onto canvas or archival quality photo paper.

What's your art background?

My artistic experiences have been centered mainly in multimedia.  In 2005, I co-founded a streetwear brand called fit and U know It. Fit’s clothing line was carried in boutiques in L.A., New York and Japan.  Through this experience, I was exposed to one of my favorite passions to this day, photography.  Earlier this year, I was given the opportunity to step into the film arena to produce and edit videos for my friend Zach Horn at SINE Wakeboards.

Were there any art influences that guided your first step?

Justin-ME-2 I have always had a drive to be unique and express myself in one creative form or another ever since I can remember. What can I say?  It’s in my DNA.  Ha, ha!  And, through Yonder, I actually have the technology to prove it to you.

How are you getting the word out, and who are you targeting in terms of buyers?

We have donated a few DNA art pieces to several charity events and gotten really good exposure in return.  We created a DNA art piece for Tony Hawk’s Stand Up for Skateparks fundraiser in Beverly Hills.

Everyone is a potential candidate for a Yonder DNA portrait, since we all have what it takes ... DNA.  We have a large network of contacts in the biotech industry and have started targeting buyers there.  We hope to build momentum and visibility to reach more mainstream clientele with our DNA art portraits.

Annie-ME2

And how are sales? 

Well, I quit my well-paying day job selling equipment and reagents to scientists at major pharmaceutical companies who run experiments to find new cures and create new drugs. Since then, I have resurrected the bartering system by trading DNA art for services.  Just ask my hair stylist and medical benefits provider, they both have custom pieces. Ha, ha. Our friends and family have been a large part of our initial customer base. Now, we are finally seeing orders from people across the country who have heard about us or seen our DNA art.

How has the reaction been from the artistic community?

We have received mostly positive feedback from other artists in the community. In general, people are loving the Yonder Kids DNA portraits, especially with the options to blend photos with their child’s DNA or add inked baby footprints for newborns. 

Are there any particular personalities that you'd like to see hanging up?

I bet Scarlett Johansson has really sexy DNA. ...  That could be interesting.

-- Jevon Phillips

Photos: Clients with their DNA artwork. Credit: Andy Bass.

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