So You Want to Buy a Small Ski Resort?

Soldier 2

On Wednesday, Oct. 14th, Soldier Mountain Ski Area, Inc. in Fairfield, Idaho announced that it was selling Soldier Mountain for the cheap price of $149,000. Soon enough, the mountain received inquiries from all across the country from potential buyers and people couldn’t believe that a ski resort could be purchased for such a low price. In fact, the organization received over 2,000 e-mails in just three days regarding the sale, and has since stopped taking offers because of the vast response that they have received.

Before we dig into the details of the sale, let’s look at the events that led to this decision. For three years now, Soldier Mountain has been owned and operated by non-profit “Soldier Mountain Ski Area, Inc.” The mountain was previously owned by actor Bruce Willis in the 90s, and was donated to the non-profit in the spring of 2012. The non-profit continued to run the business until just last week, when the board of directors decided that it was time to sell. The mountain currently owes the bank $149,000, and is selling itself at this value in order to be completely paid off and ready to open. Another important thing to understand is that Soldier Mountain Ski Area, Inc. doesn’t actually own the land themself. They are instead permitted to use the land, and have been for over 50 years, by the U.S. Forest Service. The new owners of Soldier Mountain will also have to apply for this permit, which usually costs somewhere between 3% – 5% of total gross income for the year. Mainly, the current owners of Soldier Mountain are in debt $149,000, and are selling the mountain for this value to first clear their debts, and second, to allow it to open up for this upcoming season.

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Let’s get back to the details of the sale. It’s clear that this a big deal, mainly due to the huge response that their announcement has received. More than 2,000 people have reached out to buy the mountain, and it’ll take some time for the company to sift through all their responses. Running a ski resort is a ton of work too, and a huge investment besides the initial purchasing cost. Some people might think that once the $149,000 is paid off, everything will be good to go. But, this is not the case. We spoke a representative from Soldier Mountain and they filled us in on the whole deal. The $149,000 gains you ownership of the lodge, rental shop, kitchen, bar & liquor license, lift building, outdoor restrooms, storage buildings, ski patrol building, pump house and all other buildings. In addition to this, the new owner also gains access to the 10,000 gallon water system, 2 working lifts, 2 pickup trucks, multiple snowmobiles, a full computer system, their web page, a weather station and a few other smaller items. Although this initial pricing does cover most of mountain’s assets, there still are a few other costs that come into play. First, Soldier Mountain needs 2 more snowcats, and those will need to be rented. That can cost around $50,000 – $60,000 to do so. The same goes with the mountain’s magic carpet lift. That will also have to be purchased, and costs approximately $65,000. In addition to these two pieces of equipment, the previously mentioned U.S. Forest Permit is necessary, along with yearly insurance costs. In total, running the mountain for an entire winter season can cost up to $280,000, and daily costs can also range from $2,200 – $2,500, said a representative from the mountain. When combining all these costs together, it may take around $475,000 to fully purchase and open up the mountain, the representative added, rather than just the initial $150K.

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In recent years, a lot of old, smaller ski resorts have turned over to non-profits. These resorts are struggling, and big resorts are mainly running things nowadays. Mid-sized resorts can even spend $30,000 to $40,000 a day in the early season just making snow, and smaller mountains just can’t keep up with costs like that. Whaleback Mountain in New Hampshire is another smaller mountain that turned into a non-profit in recent years, and we spoke to them about what it takes to run a smaller-sized ski resort. Todd McIntire, the mountain’s business manager, had this to say about the challenges of running a small mountain:

“Well, a major difficulty is the age of the equipment that we’re working with. A lot of it is old and there’s a lot of maintenance, a lot of upkeep. The building is old, the lift is old and there a lot of repairs that need to be done. A good working groomer is a $100,000 investment. It’s ongoing. That would be the biggest challenge. The second would be financial and staffing, because it’s a seasonal business. It doesn’t offer any year round work other than one or two people, so you’re faced with that. Having to find people every year – that’s a challenge.”

We also talked to McIntire about other costs that mountains have to pay on a regular basis. Things like electricity, fuel and yearly insurance rates.

“I would estimate in the $50,000 range for liability and worker’s comp,” he said. “At the end of the day you’re running a business and the service you provide is skiing (or snowboarding). You still have to maintain your equipment, maintain the property, staff your business and, you know, keep everything in order. You have insurance, you have utilities to pay like any business, it’s just that the service you provide is different,” he also added.

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Perhaps the most important question we asked McIntire focused on what it takes to maintain a successful ski resort. His answer proved once again that there is always more than meets the eye when running a small mountain.

“Having the cash to operate it, or having some source of funding or idea to create revenue. For example, here we’re trying to make it a year-round recreational facility. We rent the building out for weddings, for functions, we’re trying different things. We had an antique car show a few weeks ago. You know, just to get people here. It has to be really focused on the community around it,” said McIntire. “Having a very set plan, or goal. Do things in phases.” he added.

So, there you have it. It’s not that easy to just purchase and run a small ski resort. There are lots of added costs and fees to pay, as well as land, equipment and machinery to maintain. Money has to come in consistently, even in the summer. Events, trail hiking and even mountain biking are great ways that small resorts can stay open in the warm months, and new ideas and fundraisers will have to be thought of on the daily. Regardless, we wish the best of luck to the next owner of Soldier Mountain Ski Area. It’s been a great small mountain on the west coast for a while now, and hopefully they can keep things running for years to come. It’ll take a lot of work and capital, but if one thing is certain in this industry, it is this: anything is possible when you’re up on the mountain.

For more information visit: http://soldiermountain.com

All Images Courtesy of Soldier Mountain Ski Area, Inc.

 

by Ben Pinette

Posted by: admin | October 22, 2015 | Categorized under: featured, Interview, Snowboard

An Interview With K.A.A.N.

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Nowadays, it seems like a new star in the hip hop world is discovered every week. The Internet has given rappers from all corners of the nation a platform to broadcast their music, and anyone has the chance to be discovered, at any time. Just look at guys like Kendrick Lamar, Joey Bada$$, Chance the Rapper, A$AP Rocky, Big K.R.I.T., Action Bronson or Danny Brown. Five years ago, no one really knew who any of those MCs were. Now, they’re all stars in the rap game and have been universally respected by newcomers and old heads alike. They grace the covers of magazines, have won multiple awards and even have their own cooking shows. In hip hop, you can never truly know where the next big thing will show up.

This brings us to K.A.A.N. Like most of the MCs I just mentioned, K.A.A.N. has gotten his start online. For the past year and a half, he’s been steady uploading tracks to his SoundCloud page, gaining more and more views as the weeks push on. But, K.A.A.N. isn’t like most rappers in the game. He’s not chainsmoking blunts on a stoop somewhere, waiting for his break. He’s not spamming blogs on Twitter, pleading for them to post his music. Instead, K.A.A.N. works masonry six days a week as a way of funding his dream of being a full-time rapper. For K.A.A.N, isn’t about the fame, glory, women or money. It’s just about the music.

You were born and raised in Maryland? What was that like?
Growing up in Maryland was kinda like everywhere else, I guess. I was born and raised here. When I was younger we all lived in this trailer park.

During your childhood, what were your first memories of hip hop?
Tupac. Lots and lots of Tupac. When I was ten or so I bought every Tupac CD. I bought all his music. My parents played him, Nas and Biggie in the car and stuff. I listened to other guys, like Eminem, Jay-Z, Big Pun, O.C., Big L, a lot when I was younger too.

Tell me about the first time you recorded.
First recording session I did was at this studio in Baltimore called Manaray Records. I paid for two hours and bought a beat off one of their engineers. He used a Wu-Tang sample in the beat. It took about an hour to record the song, and I didn’t have anything else prepared, so I just watched the engineer mix down the track. I actually ended up using that first beat I ever bought on my first mixtape. I rewrote the whole song, and called it “Monk from Xiaolin.”

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Where did your flow come from? Did you have to work at it for years to spit as this level? Were there any rappers’ flows that you studied?
I honestly don’t even know to tell you the truth. I guess it was just organic. I never really would practice rapping that much. I’d spit some of my favorite rapper’s verses and shit but it was never really the focal point. I always tended to focus more on the words, the stuff I was actually saying. I would kinda listen to Big L’s flow here and there but I wasn’t studying intricate guys like Bone Thugs or anything.

K.A.A.N. stands for “Knowledge Above All Non-sense.” What inspired the name?
Well, I just really wanted something that was natural and genuine. I wanted something that represented me. It came to me when I first started rapping and I’ve just had it ever since.

When did you start to put out complete tracks and upload them to the Internet?
I really started to put my songs online about a year, year and a half ago. So not that long ago at all. I’m learning a lot. I didn’t really start rapping until like three and a half, four years ago so I’m still pretty new at this.

When did you start to gain some traction online?
Right around the time I dropped my first video, “KAANCEPTS.” I think it was about a year ago. That’s when people started to give my stuff a listen.

How did you and your management link up?
I got in contact with my manager through a dope young producer I did a song with named Sgull. He’s from Connecticut, I did a song with him on my project Abstract Art, and we just stayed in contact with each other. Still to this day. I’m going to release a song I did to one of his beats in a week or two. He DM’d me on Twitter one day, and said he knew someone that wanted to help out. I told him yeah, that’s cool, and that I always am looking for people that want to work hard, and build. A few days after that I got in contact with my manager Fola. At the time I was working with someone else as my manager, but we were not seeing eye to eye on how things should go. Nothing was getting done except for music being put out on my end, but really nothing on her end honestly. She would go missing for long periods of time, and then hit me up like “hey what’s going on.” After a while I was just tired of the same bullshit over and over again, so I just started working with Fola solely, and we been just been working ever since trying to make things happen.

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Have you done any live shows yet? Do you plan on touring?
I’ve done some small stuff here and there but nothing major for live shows yet. I’d really love to tour but at the same time there’s honestly too much going on right now for me to be on the road for a while.

Have you reached out to anyone to collab? Anybody from the D.C./Maryland/Virginia area?

A couple people have reached out to me. Termanology and Archetype hit me up a while back. I just don’t really want to go around asking other rappers to work with me, you know? It’s mad corny to me. I want to make it on my own terms. I wouldn’t want to get big just because someone else dropped my name a bunch of times or put me on.

Your first mixtape Abstract Art has been well-received all across the Internet. Congrats on releasing a high-quality project. How pumped were you to finally put that out? How would you describe it to someone who hasn’t heard it?
When we put it out it was like the second draft of that project, the second take of the entire thing. And honestly, I was kind of just over it for real. Just wanted to throw it out, and start working on the next project. I would describe it as introspective, honest, realistic hip hop.

What’s your writing process like? How do you put a song together?
I honestly write all the time. I write everyday. I have a full time job, so any other time I have is dedicated to writing and putting together new songs. When I’m not working, I pretty much spend all of my free time writing and recording.

Do you really work for a contracting company?
Yeah, I actually really do work for a contracting and masonry company. Monday to Saturday, six days a week. My days are usually from 6 am to 3 pm, or even sometimes 4 pm. I’ll wake up at 5 am and get home at like 4 in the afternoon usually. And once I get home, it’s back to the music. After work, I always either record or write.

What motivates you to spit with so much intensity even after working a full-time job? What keeps you going?
The fact that I fuckin’ hate what I do every day (laughs). I stay motivated so I can get out of this job and become a rapper full-time. It’s not that hard to keep going either. Rapping is honestly what I love to do the most. It’s not really a struggle to do something you love, you know? Hip hop is always fun to me, so it doesn’t feel like a job at all.

You spit over everything from Craig Mack to Fetty Wap to Adele. What do you look for when selecting beats? Are there any dream producers that you’d want to work with?
Whatever I can rap over to be honest. When I was younger I use to spit over lots of 90s instrumentals, even stuff like old Rakim instrumentals. When you focus so much on the words you can kind of spit on anything. For dream producers, I think it would be great to work with guys like 9th Wonder or Just Blaze. I’ve always liked the stuff they put out.

This year has seen a slew of spectacular hip hop releases. What projects have you been steady playing, if any?
Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly is something I play a lot. That’s one of the best albums to come out in a long time. Earl Sweatshirt’s I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside too. I’ve been steady playing Logic’s debut album from last year. I don’t always listen to a lot of modern stuff. I still play lots of Eazy-E and N.W.A., and Illmatic by Nas quite a bit.

You mentioned before that you listen to everyone from EPMD to Earth, Wind and Fire. Are there any other artists that people might be surprised that you listen to?
I mean I just like music. Period. I’ll listen to anything. I am a huge fan of everything Kurt Cobain did. Ever since I read his book a few years back, I’ve been big into him. HBO put out a great documentary about him called Montage of Heck earlier this year and that was really dope too.

Are you working on a new project or are you taking a break after Abstract Art?
I don’t take any breaks. I’m always trying to put out new songs and material, even with my job now. I’m going to keep dropping new tracks and EPs as the year goes on and I plan on dropping a completely new mixtape next year as well.

Rappers often are role models to their young fans. Do you think there’s a moral obligation to be a positive representation to them? This can often be a major quandary in the hip hop world; what are your thoughts on it?
I think it is definitely important to be cognizant of how you portray yourself through your music. You have to be true to your self, and your character, but you have to be aware that there are people who follow you, and want to be like you whether you want them to or not. You just gotta be careful of what you put out cause it can affect people, positively, or negatively.

Hip hop has power not only in America but globally as well. It can bring focus to important issues. Right now in our country, tensions between blacks and the justice system/police are at dangerously high levels. Guys like ?uestlove and Talib Kweli have been out in the streets fighting for black equality and are trying to spread awareness. Do you think more rappers should be doing this? What is your opinion on the subject?
I definitely think more rappers should take on that responsibility. It’s like these are the people that support you, and your career. These are the people that pay for your music, shows, and anything else you sell to them. You owe them more than just a few lines in a song. You have to be out there with them to make them understand that you get their struggle. The same kids out here getting shot are the same one who buy your CDs.

Do you think you deserve more exposure? You have a lot of talent but haven’t been mentioned on a lot major sites and blogs. Why do you think that? Why not sell out to get big?
I think the exposure, and all that, will come when its time. It’s all about patience, consistency, and timing. This Internet stuff is all smoke, and mirrors. You’ll have guys with investors, and be signed to labels low key, and will have the machine behind them, but not say anything to make they’re come up look organic when its was strategic. The funny thing is people really believe the shit they see. They really think these guys can get millions of views, and start popping up out of nowhere, and do shows all over the place just off the strength of throwing out songs online, and the reality of it is it doesn’t work that way. It’s called the music business for a reason. These labels want to make money, and the best way into fooling people into thinking something average, or just new in general is great is by using perception. Give it the bells, and whistles, shove it down peoples’ throats until it becomes relevant, and watch it blow. Me personally I have far too much pride for all that. I’ll do masonry work for the rest of my life before I become apart of some fake ass shit. To me, that shit is just plain embarrassing.

How important is it to you to put out genuine content and stay original to the core foundations of hip hop?
In my opinion it’s everything. I personally liked artists that had real stories to tell, the ones that kept their artistic integrity. You have to be one hundred percent honest in your music, because today’s average listener doesn’t think for themselves. They believe what ever they are told, or shown. The flip side to that is the culture vultures that only see dollar signs with the art, and prey on the ignorance of listener knowing they can say literally anything on a song. Long as its got a catchy hook, and melody, it’s a hit. To me, content is forever and will always be the most important thing. Not that other shit.

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Hip hop right now highly emphasizes production, and often songs are carried by the beat. That Drake and Future mixtape is a good example of this. Why do you think fans and the overall game in general focus so much on “how” songs sound these days rather than “what” they’re saying?
I think guys adapted to the landscape. They cater to what the people want, and they want that dumb, watered down shit. They don’t want to think. They want to zone out to a beat, and feel like they relate to what the niggas saying when he’s not saying anything that you should want to relate to. To each his own, but me personally I’m not bout to play a niggas record, and be like damn that was deep. I felt that, and it was just some misogynistic, materialistic bullshit. It’s funny as fuck – people will hear a song where a nigga will be talking about the most shallow shit, and be like “yo I really relate to that.” Really? You relate to this nigga talking about the thirty strippers he fucked, or how he grinded, and is getting his money, and all the other cliché bullshit you hear in rap music? The reality is you don’t relate, and odds are you’ll never live that life. People just want to be entertained, and sex, drugs, and ignorance is usually a main form of entertainment for a lot of people. But there is real shit out here getting love. Mick Jenkins, Logic, Los, Khelani, Michael Christmas, Chance, Childish Gambino, Earl Sweatshirt, Vince Staples, etc. There is real relatable hip hop and artists out here. You just gotta find them.

Hip hop started off as a way to progress and celebrate black culture in America, and escape oppression/racism. It aimed to break down stereotypes and show to everyone that black culture was so much more creative, influential and powerful than the country had made it out to be. Now, it seems like rappers are instead glamourizing negative stereotypes of black culture just to gain publicity. How does that make you feel as an artist?
It’s crazy when you think about the whole spectrum of the situation. So you have Melle Mel put out the song “White Lines” in 1983, and it’s about the negative effects of cocaine, and other drugs have had on the black community. Specifically the inner city black families. Fast forward to now, and you have guys making records where they boast about selling drugs, and are cool with that image. It started becoming more popular in the 90s, and just grew as the genre grew. I think it has to do with the low quality of life a lot of minorities have with in this country, and have had for years and years. In my opinion, if that’s the life you lived then you have to speak on it. That was apart of your life. What I can’t vouch for is a lot of these guys that claim all this stuff that they didn’t even ever do. “I killed somebody, I caught a body, I moved bricks”- but they never actually touched drugs in they’re life, or killed any body. A lot of it is fake or for a look. It’s like people will see a bunch of tattoos, and hear a bunch of curse words, and think “wow he’s really about that life”, when in reality that artist they thought was real, or authentic, isn’t.

Where is K.A.A.N. going to be a year from now?
In a perfect world a year from now I’ll be waking up everyday, and doing music for a living with the people that work hard with me. My cameraman Faiz, my manager Fola, and my engineer Orbt. My goal isn’t to get rich off making music. I just want to wake up and focus on my craft. If I can get to a point where I’m paying my bills, and employing my team of people around me then I’m straight. I don’t need recognition, fame or none of that stuff. It’s just all about the music.

 

Interview by Ben Pinette

Posted by: admin | October 19, 2015 | Categorized under: featured, Interview, Music

Sunday River Opening Day

SUNDAY RIVER TO OPEN MONDAY, OCTOBER 19TH

Newry, ME — As of today (October 14, 2015), Sunday River Ski Resort in Maine intends to open for the 2015/16 winter season this coming Monday October 19th, at 9:00AM EST. The resort expects to open on the upper T2 trail, accessible via the Locke Mountain Triple lift in Barker Basin. All plans depend on weather and snow conditions; keep an eye on sundayriver.com and check the resort’s social media channels for the most up-to-date information.

The current forecast for western Maine shows temperatures dipping into the 20s and even the teens heading into the weekend, allowing for an extended snowmaking window on Sunday River’s Locke Mountain peak. Lift tickets are expected to be $29 for all ages and available to purchase at the Barker Lodge. All 2015/16 New England Passes will be available to purchase or pick up at the South Ridge Lodge.

“We can’t make any promises, but this forecast looks very favorable,” Dana Bullen, resort president and general manager, says. “Our snowmakers are dedicated to opening as early as possible and this year is no different. But, we wanted to let our passholders and guests know so they can make their plans.”

Sunday River is known for its snowmaking, typically opening on or around Halloween. The resort expects to open for Monday then begin its early season schedule, open weekends only until mid-November. In keeping with tradition, skiing and snowboarding will be free on Halloween, which falls on a Saturday this year, for anyone in costume.

Last season, the resort opened on November 3rd and, in 2013, lifts started spinning on October 26. Other than opening on October 14th in 2009, this is the earliest Sunday River will have opened in almost 20 years. For more information, please visit the Sunday River’s Mountain Report. For media inquiries, contact Sarah Devlin at sdevlin@sundayriver.com or call 207-824-5243.

About Sunday River Resort — A four-season destination, Sunday River Resort is home to eight interconnected mountain peaks of world-class skiing and snowboarding. The resort includes 135 trails and 6 terrain parks on 870 skiable acres. Sunday River is a member of the Boyne Resorts family of resorts and attractions and is located in Newry, Maine, amidst the scenic Mahoosuc Range.

For more information visit: http://www.sundayriver.com.

 

By Ben Pinette

Posted by: admin | October 14, 2015 | Categorized under: featured, Interview, Snowboard

Iain McKell Interview

Iain McKell has photographed subcultures across the world, telling the stories and sharing the faces of characters that depict individuality and uniqueness. McKell has followed and lived among the new age gypsies in England, taken bus trips from New York to LA with people from all over America, and captured the personalities of underground communities, such as skinheads and carnies. Iain explains how he found himself using the fine art of photography to shoot the spirits of the non-conformists of the world.

 

How did photographing the Seaside Resort launch you into what you have done and what you are doing?

Well I suppose the Seaside work was the point where photography came into my life, kind of. I was at art college doing graphics, and it was a very strong fine art college as well, at the time. I sort of went into art courses at 17 and it really impacted me. So the photography to me was a sort of realization that as I was doing this graphics course, you kind of dabbled in photography as part of the course, but I could see it as a way of kind of doing something very personal that was my fine art, really.

I could explore fine art through photography and the notion of my life, my world, my diary. I think I originally called it Private Reality. That’s what my original title was when I was 19, when I did it that summer. I was at that sort of point where my brain was just rewiring. And I think at 19 you kind of … I don’t know. You become adult, I think. I liked the way that photography had this sort of belief that people believe in a photograph. I was looking at American photographers, actually, like Diane Arbus and Bruce Davidson and that kind of just really opened up sort of a Pandora’s Box, really, about what photography was. I think looking at Diane Arbus’ work at that age, at 19, and just the impact of it on me, it was clear to me that she was an artist. It just spoke so clearly rather than abstract art, which you need to understand the background to the work.

Photography still has that realm of rock and roll, really. Like music, when you hear it, you don’t need to know anything about music. You just listen to it. You either get it or you don’t. It’s either good or it isn’t and it moves you. And I think photography has that kind of directness like rock and roll, actually. I think Diane Arbus is very rock and roll. And I think that with the Weymouth people, I kind of realized, I thought, “Well it’s not New York and all glamorous and all that. It’s this backwater town in England nobody’s heard of.” But it’s kind of like my world and it’s just as mad, you know?

 

 

A lot of your photography, like you said, focuses on the culture and the people. So what was your favorite one that you came across?

Well I suppose … I don’t know. I think that obviously the gypsies were a long-term project, so that kind of had that behind it. It’s been a sort of a lifetime’s work, really. Originally I started photographing them in the mid-80’s and then returned 15 years later and found that some of them had sort of renegaded off and evolved to back to the future with horse and wagons, you know? So they’re kind of like that sort of blend of 18th century meets 21st century. Pure, truly underground.

So because they’re constantly moving and kind of living in that authentic style of traveler, after all it’s in the title, isn’t it? The new age travelers that come from the hippie culture, and the 60’s really are also quite ghetto. Very restricted by the law of movement really. Whereas the horse drawn manage to subvert all that with the romanticism of the horse and the image it portrays. And they are constantly on the move so it’s totally organic and kind of free.

I was originally a skinhead when I was in my teens and now I was in my early 20’s. But when I was 16 I was a skinhead so I was kind of like revisiting it as a skinhead, if you understand me, but with absolute detachment with the camera. And I mean I’ve been on the road with the travelers and they’re trying to get up a steep hill, and it’s a new tarmac road. And the horse is slipping, his feet can’t get a grip and the wagon’s going backwards. And I’m sort of there, kind of photographing it or filming it or whatever, and they’re going, “Iain, put your fucking camera down. Come and push”, you know? It’s like the closest you can be, you know?

 

When you shot Kate Moss with the gypsies, you actually did live and sleep with them. That’s getting pretty close.

The point was to do the experience, really. It was a fashion shoot. It kind of makes a lot of sense, actually, to bring those two together, you know?

There was talk behind the scenes. The producer was kind of getting worried and spoke to her agent so that we could get her a hotel, you know. But of course she’s, “No, no. I’m going to camp with Iain. We’re going to party.” So yeah, it was good. And it was good for everybody involved, really. I mean the travelers enjoyed it as well. Throwing a party for Kate Moss.

 

 

Your blog, Look At Me Look At You, is invested more in the street photography which kind of goes with your style already of cultures and street photography. But what inspires your blog now?

Tumblr and all these sort of blogs, it’s like, where’s the curation of what you’re doing? It’s like people put things into the space onto social network or Instagram or whatever, so fast. So it kind of means something else, you know? And that’s fine. Maybe that’s more what it should be. I was just using it as a tool initially. I was like, “OK. Shoot this street.” And that’s all fine but in the end I thought, “No, I just want to slow down again.”

I’ve then since decided actually I wanted to get back to the kind of roots of my work again, really. Back to the work I was doing in Weymouth and I was thinking about British seaside towns again. It’s getting back to sort of like a personal project rather than subjects, you know?

I’ve got musician friends in New York, and I kind of ended up on the other side of Brooklyn where no one goes, even the taxi driver is getting really nervous. It’s sort of a location that’s like dimly lit with an alleyway. When you push the door open there’s barbed wire everywhere and it looks like a kind of squat or something. I could hear this music at the other end of the alley way and it was like someone’s loft apartment in the other side of Brooklyn. This band was playing in the front room, you know? It’s kind of like Sex Pistols or something, you know? Like sort of brilliant. It was quite, quite interesting. Eventually I got on the Greyhound and I did a straight across, but due to stuff that was going on in New York, it all kind of sucked me in. So I kind of just did this sort of zigzag across America, going across in a straight line from New York to LA.

I just slept on the bus for three days and for three nights. And just photographed 24/7 really. I just photographed this sort of bus journey across to LA. And I called it An American Prayer. Well that’s my working title anyway, which is The Doors last album.

That really brought it home in a kind of darker side in a way, excessively poor people on the bus. But, the characters in there were the best characters. But they have a story. There was a black lady, had been blind since she was 19 and some surgeon had messed up her operation. She had some minor operation and it blinded her. I got off the bus in LA, followed these gangster types down to the airport, stayed in this really gaudy motel and got some really interesting pictures from it.

 

 

Sounds like a really good experience.

It was. It was like … It’s all kind of underground. The point is it’s like I know that Greyhound’s not a subject that hasn’t been touched on before. Nothing new in that. But at the same time I haven’t seen anyone that’s actually gone on the bus and just sort of lived on the bus. I don’t know, I might be wrong.

You don’t really know how you end up in these places and taking pictures of these people, it’s just kind of something you do and something that happens.

 

Yeah, the digital age can help with capturing anything at any time. Everyone can take pictures now on their phone, and they have digital cameras, and their computer. Has it affected you in any way?

Yeah. Oh God. I think it’s great that people are visually becoming more aware. I kind of always knew that photography, even when I was really young, because I came from a creative background, and I had that aspiration to be an artist, there’s always been different aspects to photography. It’s a big subject, yeah? At the end of the day I knew instinctively that there was this secret world of photography that was understood by a few and I found that very cool and interesting.

It’s like the people that do things first are innovators, and then it gets commercialized. It happens all the time. Everyone’s artsy now. Everyone’s got pink hair and mobile phones and phone cameras and selfies and … I don’t know. It’s all … I don’t know. I think it’s fine. I think it’s like, the point being, I think there is still this special place of photography as a fine art, you know?

You’d say, “Everybody thinks they’re a photographer.” Actually, no they don’t.

 

 

 

by Caytlinn Strickland

Posted by: admin | September 14, 2015 | Categorized under: Art, featured, Interview

Burning Man Interview

When I went to Burning Man for the first time I thought I had a clear understanding of what to expect and what it is. I was prepared for it. When I got to Black Rock City and spent some time there I realized that people who have never been there before would have little understanding of what Burning Man really is. So I asked the question to people who make Black Rock City what it is.  

 
Shrine
7th Burn | California

“Burning Man is a free form jazz odyssey.”

 

Anastasia
3rd Burn | Lviv, Ukraine

“Burning Man is home. It’s an expression of freedom and love.”

 

Lin Laurin
2nd Burn | Brooklyn
“Burning Man is a place where people go to create their version of an ideal society. It’s a place where art, party, family and work become one. It is a place that is created for you to be yourself.”

Iris Bergcrantz
1st Burn | Malmo, Sweden
“Burning Man is a planet on this earth different from everything else. Those who visit Black Rock City will experience humankind in the best way possible where money and religion don’t get in the way. Everyone could benefit from a Burning Man experience.”

 


Ryan Doyle
18th Burn | Detroit

“Burning Man is a place to unleash your monster and be the superhuman that you are.”  

 

Patricia Ryan
4th Burn | San Francisco

“Burning Man is a test of a human spirit and taking that spirit into a greater conquest in the outer world.”

 
 
 

Words & Photos: Sasha Maslov

Posted by: admin | September 8, 2015 | Categorized under: Art, featured, Interview, Music

Dytch66 Interview

Artopia L.A. Weeekly

Dytch66 is a street artist from California. Born in LA, raised in Venice and started drawing at an early age. Growing up in the 80’s Dytch was heavily influenced by the art scene around him. Graffiti was a way for him to share his art with the city that he fell in love with. Dytch has been travelling the world attending in graffiti and fine art events since 2006 and he still lives in LA as a full time artist.

So where were you born and raised and when did you first get into street art?
I was born in Culver City my family lived in Venice since the 50s. I spent a lot of time in Venice visiting family and I lived there for a little bit but was always moving up and down the coast, I ended up living in Redondo Beach through high school.
I think I got into GRAFFITI in the early 80s when breakdancing hit the West Coast, I had always been an artist but didn’t really have any direction until this, I think what sparked my attention was when I was younger in Venice my dad and I would go to the beach and swim and hang out and people watch. I noticed all the special people would come there to express their rare and sometimes strange talents. At that time I was already coming from a skateboarding heavy-metal, punk rock background, I fell into place with it being such an organic environment, but yet anarchist type of art form that was all about free expression, I was consumed by this new Hip hop movement.

How did you initially meet all of the guys in the CBS crew?
I met the guys from the cbs crew through a couple friends that I did graffiti with my buddy Snoe was already from cbs he started bringing me around to meet everybody. This is right around the early 90s At this time I was really into doing illegal graffiti, writing on freeways and trains and any landmarks I could get around the city. It’s all about getting my name up letting everybody know who I am but at the same time coming from an Art background I wanted more I wanted to do something more creative than just tag my name on the wall I wanted to paint murals, that’s how I ended up in Cbs I was looking for a crew that was at the highest caliber of that artform, I got in Cbs crew in 92 I was about 17yrs old.

How were you able to better your art work? Did you have a mentor of some sort or did you go through any schooling for it?
my early mentors were “Snoe” and TJ who goes by the name of “Tiki Jay” now. They were both a couple years older than me but Helped guide my talent and showed me the ropes through graffiti, remember GRAFFITI was in its very beginning stages for the West Coast everything was still experimental at the same time the gang banging era was happening which was also hard on us because the city was ours and we had not one neighborhood, we wrote in all neighborhoods so we also had beef with all the neighborhood gangs because they didn’t like taggers. and you couldn’t really let people know that your a graffiti artist because there was no place for that at the time, people didn’t understand if we were artists or gangsters.
But unfortunately we had to be a bit of both to get by, this was the time of “StreetSmarts” not “StreetArt” you couldn’t go to the mall and buy this image at Hot Topic. By the end of this I was looking for a new direction and new mentors one of my buddies from Cbs crew that left and started studying fine art and soon after became a master oil painting his name is “Sergio Sanchez” A close friend I grew up with, he’s been a huge impact on my art career through his teachings he’s brought a consciousness to this art form that gave me the ability to continue to grow.

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I saw that you do some pretty big named commissioned pieces such as the Ariana Grande wall painting you did, how did that come about?
I’ve been working in the Art field for quite some time now, from working production in the film world, working for playboy magazine or doing custom illustrations,canvases,Tattoo, Airbrushing,commercial advertisements & Fine art Murals
I do a little bit of everything. I’ve acquired an extensive client base from this experience

Are there any big projects you’re currently working on?
Some future plans coming up for this year are to do another European graffiti tour, with “Meeting of styles” paint a high-rise building in downtown LA and lots more gallery shows

What are some challenges you face when you’re about to paint one of your huge wall murals?
Some of the problems we face when we’re painting one of these huge Murals our weather conditions, when you’re using aerosol sometimes the weather being too hot or cold can affect the way the spray paint works also another part of this where problems can occur are the planning stages if you don’t plan your production out right you could run into problems throughout the whole project. And always have a team of trustworthy people get each others back.

Before you were you doing commissioned work how did you get your art noticed?
In the beginning it’s hard to get your Art known just because you’re always paying dues like doing a lot of illegal GRAFFITI to get noticed or just getting paid minimum wage to work for someone else, but one thing I learned is having a really good work ethic and working hard will get you noticed as you continue to grow as an artist eventually grow into a place where you’re selling your work to clients is when you’re on the path to becoming famous.

Besides street art are there any other art forms you practice?
In the beginning when I was trying to learn how to paint and figure out the formula to making this all work I tried a little bit of everything but now I’ve just grown into using one medium being spray paint and being able to get good enough to use that for everything from Canvas to full-scale Murals.

Your piece “Leap of faith” is an incredible piece, how did you come up for the inspiration behind it all?
My idea for the “leap of faith” mural was too create and impact something that was beautiful but yet colorful and designed well. I saw these images of tigers hunting in the water and I thought for a tiger to hunt in the water must be an extreme circumstance of survival, and that’s where the title of “leap of faith” comes from, meaning that sometimes in life you just got to jump in and hope for the best. So I changed the hunt to a graphic design cannonball of color and concentrated on trying to paint a beautiful tiger for people to admire?

L.O.F Tiger

Any advice you could give to those who are trying to come up in the street art world?
My advice to anyone coming up in this art world, would be to work hard and never take shortcuts. Be masterful of one thing not average at everything. Become who you’re meant to be.

Posted by: admin | August 28, 2015 | Categorized under: Art, featured, Interview

Trevor KARMA Gendron Interview

ODB_LP_ALL PARTS_PACK SHOT

I met KARMA against a barbershop wall a few months ago at the release of our 32nd Issue featuring Esoteric. He is the type of dude that emits a palpable vibe of respect and accomplishment without saying a thing. After getting to know KARMA, and his story, I started to realize how incredibly different the music and creative industries have become in a relatively short time. I think that as a community, we tend to get enraptured and distracted by the most current “forward thinking” trends, without ever questioning the origin or integrity of what we consume. KARMA’s work ethic and aesthetic spell out a clear message–know your history.

“…we get to be the gatekeepers of it, all these authentic pieces of genuine history.”

“When you don’t know the provenance of what you’re working with, that’s reckless.”

“I left my job at the design firm and my mother was like, ‘Are you crazy…’”

So let’s start by going back to when you were younger, growing up with 7L. How did you guys get into Hip Hop? When did you end up crossing paths with Esoteric?

It’s 1985, I’m ten years old, that’s when everything really started. We were listening to tapes that 7L’s older brother and a couple other older guys we knew had, like Slick Rick, Run D.M.C, Public Enemy. We really got into it. A lot of the kids that we went to grade school with were into rock like Def Leppard or Van Halen and stuff…we weren’t into that so we used to bring our boomboxes on the bus and get in trouble for blasting NWA.

We would come home from school and record Yo! MTV Raps on cassette recorders and make tapes. We were young, we weren’t going into New York or anything yet. It was just about whatever we could get our hands on. Then we were actually renting 4-tracks and stuff from Daddy’s Junky Music and from used record stores, using them to make terrible beats and stuff. You know just figuring it out– then we kind of graduated into buying older records like jazz records, funk records. We would be like, ‘Oh, this is the sample that Premier used on this song.’ Oh my God! You know, it got to the point where we felt like we could make beats. 7L was always the real talent but I tried to dig for loops and help.

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Seems like you had a very driven DIY mentality straight off the bat. If you wanted to get it done, you had to do it yourself.

Yeah, you know, it wasn’t easy. We used to ride our bikes to the Record Exchange in Salem; it’s still there. Anything that was rap record or looked like a rap record, we bought. If somebody was on somebody’s song, and you saw it, you bought it. We would go to Strawberries or like, Tape World in the mall where you had to ask the clerk to go behind the desk, and as a kid they never wanted to sell to us because of the parental advisory sticker. Just to be a jerk they would be like “Yeah I can’t sell this to you.” It was a totally different world then.

Then 7L and I went to Salem State. They had student radio and we would listen to these two rap shows. There was one that played all stuff we liked; Gangstarr, Organized Konfusion, Wu, Nas and Biggie was just barely coming out, and we would be like, man who is this DJ? He would rap at the end of his shows, you know, we were like we need to meet this kid. We finally went to go meet him at the radio station, and long story short it ends up being Esoteric. We ended up being totally like minded, he grew up on the same stuff we did, Hip Hop, Star Wars and comic books, basketball. We just really hit it off. Once we got our licenses and stuff we started driving into Boston to go record shopping. I remember taking the train in and going to Nubian Notion or Funky Fresh Records.

So what were you studying at Salem State at the time?

Originally, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted, but it was definitely going to be something to do with art. My junior year I realized that graphic design was the way to go. Salem State actually had a really great art department. My mother was a professor there and I could go for free so I took advantage of that. When I got into graphic design, 7L started making mix tapes and stuff so we needed somebody to do the art. It was like all right, I’m going to learn how to do graphic design so I can make tape covers for his mixes or flyers for gigs.

Were you guys an official group at the time?

We were like a loose conglomerate of a bunch of kids. We didn’t know what we were actually going to do. Some kids were more serious than others and some were better than others. Eventually we really just got down to the three of us, 7L, Esoteric and myself. We started out under the name, God Complex.

Then we met this dude from Boston, Madsol, at a music conference and for some reason he really took a liking to us. He was from the same projects that Edo. G was from and for some reason he saw something and took us under his wing. He knew a lot about the industry. He had a show on WZBC which was Boston College radio. Basically he was like, “I can produce your record. Your beats are good, but I’ll bring you into the studio.” We ended up producing a bunch of demos with him between like 1993 and 1996.

BEAT BOP

Did you guys have to pay him?

No, there was no money. If we went to a studio, we paid the studio time. There was no money; it was just like people trying to get on. Then we met another guy Adam Defalco (Papa D!), and another kid from Salem State, Josh Gagne, he went by Truth Elemental, he had a group too. He was like, “You guys are dope, my group’s dope, let’s press up a record. We’ll just figure it out.” He did some crazy scam and got some sort of student loan from Salem and we just got the money up.

We pressed the initial EP and one side was his group, Architects of Intellect and the other side was us as God Complex. Then we just started sending it to every rap magazine we could find, or we’d go and give the record to whoever was spinning out in New York or Boston.

We’d go to New York and just hand out records to whoever would take them. On the back of the record was our phone number, and I remember first time we got a call, it was a crazy 800 number. That number is originally how we met Vinnie Paz from Jedi Mind Tricks and Celph Titled. One time Prince Paul actually called and was like, “Yo, this is Prince Paul. Somebody gave me your record at the Rock Steady Crew Anniversary. I just wanted to call and tell you guys keep doing your thing. You’re really dope. This record’s hot. We’re like, Oh man, Prince Paul. Then it was like…all right we can do this. It really gave us some confidence.

After the EP came out, I got all these local kids, and everyone was dope and complemented each other. So yeah, we went and started what would be Brick Records, basically not knowing anything at the time. Somebody needed to do the art work, I was the most art inclined person and had access to stuff at Salem State. I was taking graphic design classes and teaching myself all this other stuff on the side. I was printing stuff at two in the morning for free. It was just total guerilla style.

Brian Coleman was writing for CMJ, which was a big college music journal at the time, wrote up our God Complex record and called it “the best indie hip hop record of the summer,” or something like that. Then all of a sudden, we’re getting calls from all over the country from record stores. Like, “Yo, I need these records.”

When it started to get serious there was this plan for a couple European tours with The Artifacts and Hieroglyphics, but I was like, ‘Dude, I can’t go to Europe for three weeks. I’m dead broke, they’re not really going to pay us. I’m in school.’ So it just basically came to a point where I had to make a decision. So I think I’m not as musically strong as the other two, if I stay in school and forgo on all this cool stuff that’s happening, then I can finish school, which was something I wanted to do. Then I can help run the label and do the art…

Was that a hard decision for you to make?

Yeah, it was and looking back on it… I mean I’m glad in the long run, but I definitely missed out on some great experiences. We had just basically started when I finished school and got a design job at a firm in Boston. I was still doing all this stuff on the side again, using all their resources at night and stuff.

FAT BOYS PIZZA BOX

Did you see yourself falling into a managerial type of role for the group?

Yeah, I didn’t really realize it, but definitely. I was letting them be the artists and I was falling back to make sure the stuff was as tight as possible. We still didn’t know what we were doing. I was just doing everything I could. It was kind of that role. Then we just started signing other acts to Brick Records and had the opportunity to do a record with MF Doom.

What record was that?

The Doom and Grimm split EP record. This was before Doom had the mask. I have a roll of a hundred photos of him with no mask on, he’s got like a stocking mask on his head or his hat is real low on his face.

Then my partner Adam got a job with Landspeed Distribution when they opened up out of Boston, and I ended up getting a job as the Art Director there without knowing basically anything about being an art director, I had this portfolio of all DIY stuff that I printed at Salem State.

I left my job at the design firm and my mother was like, “Are you crazy, you’re going to work for some start up record label?,” but I ended up staying with them, and then as Traffic and with Get On Down for almost 12 years. I got to do a lot of big records – Cormega, Freddie Foxxx, 5o Cent, Mobb Deep – all the Cold Chillin’ and B-Boy and Warlock re-issues, the big Wu-Tang box sets – worked with Sony and Universal etc. So by now I have a bunch of experience, I’ve worked with every rapper you can think of and have this amazing portfolio. Meanwhile, I’m doing freelance work with Stones Throw, Greensleeves, Now- Again, Jedi Mind, Kenny Dope, Jazzy Jeff.

Then about four years ago I was really burnt out and just got into a bad place.
I had come out of a really long relationship. My grandmother had severe Alzheimer’s and she was living with my parents… there was a lot of personal stuff going on. I was really burned out of the music industry and was starting to get sick of it. The industry was starting to get really selfish and petty, everybody was out for self and out for money.

All the technology changed, the digital age came in and everything got easy . Now you can record an entire album in your mother’s bathroom on your phone.
It just got really bad for me. I thought it was getting really whack. Like I said, there was a lot of personal stuff going on, stuff that I was dealing with in my family, personal stuff in my own head. My brother had been building his company JG Autographs and we had been loosely talking about me coming in for years. He was always like, “Yeah, I could really use your help,” but it was never to the point where I could justify it or I wanted to walk away from the music stuff. Then he started getting bigger and he got a couple of other employees and he was like, “I think we can do this. I want to take this in a different direction. I want to really rev this up.”
So I said let’s do it.

I was really depressed and very anxious, I wasn’t having fun anymore. I was extending myself and not getting much back in return. It didn’t even have anything to do with money. I was still doing stuff for kids for free because I believed in them.
It just got to a point when it wasn’t fun anymore. The shows started getting terrible, the scene was falling apart and I was like, I’ve got to get out of this. I felt old, I felt out of touch with it.

The other thing was that I sacrificed a lot of personal work. I had to start taking time for myself because I kind of lost that. Around that time I started doing more freelance work for companies outside of the music industry and I liked that.

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How are you able to approach each assignment that comes across your desk with a fresh outlook? What were some of the struggles as an art director?

Yeah, it’s hard. It was getting to the point where I was trying to make innovative packaging designs but the budget was gone; the physical stuff just wasn’t selling like it used to. When something ten years ago would have sold ten thousand copies and now its only going to sell a thousand, you can’t justify putting tons of money into packaging or large campaigns.

So from there you moved on to JG Autographs where you work now with your brother?

Yeah I had this opportunity with my brother, Jared, and his company. The initial project was to re-imagine, re-tool and re-build the website from scratch. Everything is custom because every piece we handle is a one of a kind. Say you have 100 photos of Clint Eastwood and they are all singed. You don’t just put one up and sell it, if there are 100 you have to put every single one up because it’s the individual autograph you are selling not the generic item. It’s murder from a retail platform – it’s crazy on the backend.

So Jared and I, with the help of a great team of developers in NH, built this cutting edge website; it was responsive before we even knew what that meant. We were just designing to fit multi-platforms. I know nothing about web design, I’m all print, so I was applying an album campaign to it – where you need the same content to display correctly on a CD, LP Cover, cassette, post card, poster and billboard.

The dream was to come in and build up JG, which we’ve been doing, getting more into historic and cultural antiquities and items, and then launching a 2nd division that would cater to more fine art, graphic design, photography projects, hopefully some publishing.

So that is House of Roulx – the new brand that we are launching this Spring. I’m serving as Creative Director, and Jared and I are both curating the projects. We are working with our in-house team and other artists and creatives, both renowned and up and coming. I just want to create a brand you can trust and believe in, and follow and collect. You may not be into every single thing we do, but hopefully you can at least appreciate where it’s coming from and the final quality of it.

GZA CHESS SET_2

KARMA, your work ethic and mentality really resonates with this genuine do-it-yourself quality. Do you think that after leaving the music industry the work you found yourself doing with JG, and handling all this incredibly unique and collectible historical memorabilia kind of satiated what you were missing in music?

Yeah I think so. The best part is, I’m learning every day and I like that. I like to teach myself things – I like to help grow things toward a greater goal. I’m a big reader, I’m very much into art, film, photography and books. I’m that jerk who buys the $200, deluxe version of a package when you could buy the Walmart edition for $9.99. I really appreciate that stuff, I appreciate collectibility, so I understand it. I’m trying to cater to myself.

It just takes me back to the grassroots of learning something new. Like I really didn’t know much about the Civil War and now I know a whole lot; I can read these vintage documents or handle original photography, and I really enjoy that.

Working with photos from say Carl Van Vechten with the Harlem Renaissance and learning how he changed the scene for the black and gay community in the ‘20s and ‘30s, basically by being a really cool off the cuff photographer who documented it all. That stuff is super important culturally and we get to be the gatekeepers of it, all these authentic pieces of genuine history. Not like the mass market crap you see today that will be gone tomorrow.

When you don’t know the provenance of what you’re working with, that’s reckless. It’s like coming up with a rap song and you sample Puff Daddy who sampled Grandmaster Flash but you don’t know who Grandmaster Flash is, or you love MIA but you don’t know that she sampled The Clash but you don’t care either. Or these designers that jack a logo or a theme from someone who jacked a logo or theme from someone else. Like you love Supreme but you have no idea who Barbara Kruger is. I just think if you’re into something you should see it through – be way into it – study it. When I get into something I need to know everything about it.

Coming up in the Hip Hop scene you had to know everything because you could get called out constantly. I had to know, wanted to know, every lyric to every Rakim song and every Lord Finesse song. I needed to know who Futura, Dondi and Fab 5 Freddy are, and the roles they played.

If you wave a flag, you sure better know what that flag stands for.

Interviewed by Michael Connolly
Photos: provided

Posted by: admin | July 9, 2015 | Categorized under: Art, featured, Interview

Jen Uman Interview

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Jen Uman is like the super cool, super mysterious aunt you never had. You see her a couple times a year and she comforts you with her maternal nature and sage-like wisdom but is the first one to tell your friends a filthy joke or turn the other way when she catches you smoking a cigarette. She effortlessly marries styles and themes that would never normally even look at each other. Imagine rustic American folk art figures in carnal Kama Sutra positions and you are standing on the edge of her waters.

You started out your art career a little later than most. Was that a conscious decision or something that just organically happened based on where you were in life?

I did. I always painted and drew and made movies on a camcorder and anything I could try my hand at I would. Growing up in Southern California the natural evolution was to attend Cal Arts or move away to study whatever medium; but for me it never felt like something I needed structure or tools to learn. Instead I made up new ways that were a comfortable fit for me to practice. Timing played a strong part too. When the time came I was able to focus on my own ideas with hearty life experiences/influences and was able to sit down and get them all out.

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You are completely self taught as well, correct? That must give you a great deal of freedom and flexibility, but you also must be extremely confident in your output.

I’ve had those moments when the more confident I feel the more I doubt it. But now I trust that thing inside that I can’t argue with anymore. The more I trust it the better the work becomes. The freedom is awesome but it doesn’t come natural for me to stay with one specific concept. My mind bounces around a lot and that pairs well with the flexibility part of the deal.

What is your preferred medium and why?

Gouache paint and this random generic brand ink pen I was gifted from a friend in India. It’s gooey and imperfect to work with which I like. The ink has a succinct smell and the pens last forever. I’ve always worked with gouache. Initially because it was cheap but after working with other forms I always came back to gouache. It manipulates well and it’s what I know. I have a heavy hand though and go through a lot of paint. Gouache is not easy to find in individual large quantity sizes.

Ethnicity and sexuality are two dominant motifs reoccurring in your work. Can you elaborate on why these things are so important to you and why they appear so often in your painting.

There are so many things to peel back when it comes to both subjects. They are unending topics of legends and history and the more I look into each the more it helps me work out my own understanding of both these and all topics in a visual way. I grew up with strong Jewish culture and eastern philosophies which comes with their own art, music, books, and those too kept leading me to new places.

JU 3

You lived in New York City for so long then a few years ago uprooted and landed in Nashville. How is the energy different? They are both regarded as creative hubs in the US. Does the scene and local flavor inspire?



I had been coming to Nashville for a long time before moving. It became a second home where my friends and their kids started nesting. When NY first began seeing massive gentrification changes it ripped our neighborhood apart, my job was washed away by the economy, and everyone had moved away. My New York was changing at the same time I was growing up as an adult. Being at an impasse I was ready to take a leap of faith and get out. It took about a year to get the NY day to day rhythm off my shoulders. The energy in Nashville is great and although I am not much in any social scene where art is concerned, this town has been incredibly generous to me welcoming what I do with a strong arm of support to the arts. I get a lot of good air and nature here but the buzz in NY is like nowhere else. In one day here I saw a family of turkey, an owl, deer running, rabbits, and I have a cardinal couple that lives in my backyard. It’s a different pace.

Have you been exhibiting at all since you’ve been in Nashville?

Yes. I just signed to a new gallery in town and have had a handful of shows here. The support is astounding and for me who leans on the social reclusive side I am always blown away to see the support for the work that I do.

You also do commercial work, for example, The New York Times. How much of a juggle is your commercial work with your personal work. When working a commercial job do you feel the need to “soften” or “tame” your initial ideas?

Phew, that’s a really good question. There are always hoops to jump through if you are working an editorial job. There will be a series of preliminary sketches and whichever Art Director is at the helm it is their job to pick which work will go to print. It might not even be a concept you believe in but trusting the Art Director and their vision is key. They might see something you don’t and it’s your job to trust them and be prepared to do what they need done no questions asked. I don’t do much commercial work but I like it. Although it can feel confining at times it’s a nice change from having to discipline myself and shift my ideas in a different way.

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You’ve published a feature booklet with Nieves. Can you speak to that process and releasing a work with a very niche but very highly regarded publishing house like them.

Working with Nieves has been my favorite project. Everything they do is thoughtful and beautiful and to be a part of that catalog is incomparable. The freedom and being solicited to do exactly what you do is a rare advantage.

You’ve also published a book “Jemmy Button” with Italian artist Valerio Vidali. Could you offer some insight into that process. I know you didn’t speak much Italian and Valerio not much English but the art and book came together. The story is pretty unique as well and, I believe, historically factual. Please expound on the experience and publishing the book in multiple countries.

Valerio and I met over the internet. We didn’t speak each others language but we were persistent and found ways to make it work. We had ideas and stories and with every email our strategy for making a project together became clearer. It was decided Valerio would spend time in the states, we would meet, and see this project through. We knew there was something different from anything else we had done before as artists. We just made it happen. Before we even started the book, publishers had been in touch with us based only on word we had started working together. We hadn’t even created anything but they wanted the book. Because it is a true story that Valerio and I both related to for our own reasons it was important to us for it to have the potential to go outside of the traditional children’s book standard, and representing a true historical time. We made no decisions until the book was finished. We chose the best agent out there (Debbie Bibo) and she worked tirelessly with us to get Jemmy to readers around the world.

You also work with musicians and bands like Clem Snide and Jeff the Brotherhood. How is working in the music world? You also have done some video directing as well correct?

I’ve come up with concepts and there are specific people or music that fit the idea. I just ask to see if the people I have in mind are up to collaborating. So far it’s worked out well. If I have an idea for a video concept I will absolutely try to see it through but I need to have a balance in my focus on completing other works also; keeping video projects more as a hyper special design to pull out of the treasure box and play around with now and again. I met Eef Barzelay/Clem Snide in the 90’s in NYC and we have been collaborating for a long time. We have been able to pare our ideas down so simply and mostly let what he has written lay the groundwork. Jeff the Brotherhood is a band I fell in love with when I first heard them and they triggered new ideas for me. When I solicited them to make a video together they were so open and understood my concept with no explanations; which is nuts because more often than not I have an innate ability to make myself very unclear.

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Is there any music or art that is influencing you currently?

My newest obsession is art deco in Bombay, India from the 40’s and 50’s. The architecture is not common for old colonial Bombay but once I discovered it I dug deep to find as much as I could from this time. I am listening to a lot of old gold Indian film songs and nothing too new but those melodies always inspire.

Where else do you draw inspiration from? What or who is your muse?

I ask a lot and I read a lot. The more I learn the more subjects come up and I want to keep going. Inspiration comes from so many things that sweep me away. It could be wind or romance or a bike or a blob. It is not consistent. My muse– I’ll never tell!

What is next for Jen Uman?

I just wrapped our second Jeff the Brotherhood video and I am about to start working on my first show at the new gallery space. I have a book coming out from a publisher in Germany which will be 100 line drawings of my own. I also work on a sub culture website called ZINDAGi, I want to focus more on the site this year and bring more attention to some solved historical mysteries from Bombay and beyond. I have my work cut out for me.

Interview by: Trevor “Karma” Gendron
Photos: Provided by Artist

Posted by: admin | | Categorized under: Art, featured, Interview

Dave Eggers Interview

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When I think of professional writers, I think of people who live in a hut out in the woods somewhere for five years at a time like Thoreau, scribbling jargon on countless pads of lined paper. Emerging from the forest finally to bring their notes to some furious editors who work countless hours trying to compile a coherent story from the mess that’s been handed off- Only for their inscribing hero to head back to the woods for another five years of silent, genius writing hibernation. I know that sounds pretty stupid, but this is not Dave Eggers. Dave Eggers is a writer, artist, publisher, editor, non-profit founder and philanthropist… the list goes on. He’s been known to stage hecklers in the audience during his own public speaking events and hire exotic dancers for books signings, so we know he’s a real human being as well. Despite losing both of his parents to cancer at a young age, Dave persevered, raising a younger brother on his own and finding a way to finish college. From there he’s dabbled in just about everything, and been pretty successful with it all nonetheless. He’s a Pulitzer Prize finalist, Heinz Award winner, TED prize recipient, and an all around pretty good guy as far as I’m concerned.

You’re at a party, social event etc. Someone you’ve never met approaches you and introduces himself or herself. They have no idea who you are so they ask, “What do you do for a living?” What do you say?

I just say I write books. It’s not a very interesting answer. It’s always tempting to fib, and say I’m a stuntman, but I never have the sack to lie.

Can you give me the process of writing a novel from start to finish? I know it’s not as easy as having an idea, sitting down and writing 50K words over the course of a month and then having it edited and published. What’s the whole process and timeline if you don’t mind? Maybe we can use one of your past works as an example?

In the past, every time I’ve written a book it’s been radically different. What Is the What and Zeitoun were very protracted processes involving a lot of interviews, travel, research, fact-checking, on and on. The Circle, because it was the most recent, was a relatively quicker process. I’d been taking notes for years, thinking I might someday write something involving technology and privacy and democracy, but it wasn’t really coming together until 2012, when I wrote a scene involving a woman being scolded for spending a weekend without documenting it on social media. It was just a satirical scene, but it made me laugh, and out of that the novel grew. Usually a book starts with a passage, a scene, that clicks. Once something clicks, the rest comes in a rush. Once I had the tone and the protagonist for The Circle, that book was written in a shorter span of time than anything else I’ve done. Still, there are multiple steps: revising repeatedly, then showing the book to 10 or 12 other trusted readers, sending it to Knopf, revising various parts up to a dozen times, copy-editing, proofing, then finally publishing. In this case I think the whole process was one year, which is about as fast as it can happen for me.

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In The Circle, the main character becomes over-consumed in a near future world of technology, consumption and overbearing social media. How closely do you believe this mimics our future society? Why did you choose to make the book take place in in the next decade as opposed to 40 years from now and did you base The Circle off of any specific company, like Google or Apple?

The Circle is a fictional company that’s subsumed all the existing companies and combined all their services into one unified operating system. To some extent it’s what every existing company would want most — to have most or all of a person’s life channeled through their portal. It would make them insanely powerful and incredibly dangerous. So I just imagined what would happen if a company like that existed, and if the company was run by dangerous people without much regard for freedom, privacy or human rights. I think much of the book’s predictions have already happened to some extent or another. We do live in a world where increasingly everything is measured, and data drives an incredible amount of decision-making, rightly or wrongly. And in general we’re blind to the terrifying amount of data that’s accumulated about us, and how it’s commodified. But then again, it has gotten as dark as The Circle depicts.

I want to talk about your artwork. I came across it at Art Basel and was surprised to see so much work. I know you studied illustration in college and used to draw and paint. Writing is obviously an art form but what made you get back into drawing and painting recently?

In college I studied painting for a few years, and once took an illustration course, at a different school. Growing up, I more or less assumed art would be the way I made a living later on. In high school and later at the University of Illinois, I worked at the school newspaper, and that got me more interested in journalism. I was really drawn in by the immediacy of the form, and the impact you could have. I also had a strange experience as a summer intern at a Chicago gallery. There was this incredible apparatus set up to show and sell contemporary work, but only about ten people a month would visit the gallery. It seemed really sterile and elitist and sad. So that turned me off painting for a long while. But recently, I got involved with Electric Works, a great gallery in San Francisco, they do a lot of very street-level and hands-on events and outreach. And best of all, when we sell a painting, all the proceeds go to ScholarMatch, our college access nonprofit. It gives me an excuse to do these paintings, which are usually ridiculous.

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Most of your artwork consists of animals, sometimes people, paired with a proverb or biblical quote that you choose after the character is finished. How do you choose the text for your piece and why use biblical references?

Sometimes the text is from the Bible—which is full of incredible poetry—and more often it’s some rejoinder that occurs to me. I just painted a dachsund with the words, “Probably Not a Factor in 2016” around it. It made me laugh, but I do sometimes wonder about what my kids are seeing: a 45-year-old man painting dachsunds on the dining room table, chuckling to himself.

I noticed you don’t feature a lot of your artwork in your own books, either on the cover or as editorial illustration. Why is that? Humility?

I was considering putting some drawings in a new book, oddly enough. But usually there’s an artist more suited to the subject than I am. I recently wrote an all-ages picture book about the Golden Gate Bridge, and I wanted Tucker Nichols, one of my favorite artists, to illustrate it. His work was just better for the subject matter. I’ve been an art director and designer for so long at McSweeney’s that I usually can admit when there’s someone more suited for certain material than I am.

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What’s next for your art career? Do you plan to devote more time to drawing than writing or will the two compliment each other for future projects?

Painting gives me a level of in-the-moment joy that I can’t quite describe. And I can do it side by side with my kids, and that’s such a trip. So I think it’ll always be a part of my life now. And when Noah at Electric Works says there’s a show coming up, and can I paint some more mammals, I have an excuse.

Working with Maurice Sendak and Spike Jonze on “The Wild Things” must have been a dream come true for a writer/illustrator. How did that project come to fruition and were there any memorable stories that came out if it?

Maurice was everything you’d want him to be, and a lot more. He was brilliant, and bold, and opinionated, and he swore a lot, and laughed a big sinister laugh, and at the same time he was very gentle and very vulnerable. I loved him and will always be grateful to Spike Jonze for bringing me into that project.

Are you still in touch with Valentino from What is The What?

He’s the godfather to my son! And he runs the Valentino Achak Deng Foundation, which the book helped get going. The Foundation operates a secondary school in South Sudan — Valentino is the visionary behind it — so we have to be in touch about that periodically, too. Given the success of his school — it’s rated one of the very best in the whole country — he was recently named minister of education for his whole region.

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What are some upcoming projects at McSweeney’s that you’re excited about?

There are always great books in the works. We just published the Voice of Witness Reader, a collection of oral histories from that series, and that book I’m really proud of. McSweeney’s went nonprofit recently, and is finishing a really nice Kickstarter campaign, so we’ll have more freedom to do the stuff we always have wanted to do.

A lot of students are scared to get into journalism or writing currently. They fear that there’s no career in the writing fields as everything online is published for free. How do you combat that through 826 National and your own personal advocacy?

I taught a high school class for 11 years called the Best American Nonrequired Reading. I stay in touch with a lot of the students, and after college, a bunch have found writing gigs after college. There aren’t as many print journalism jobs as twenty years ago, but there are some opportunities. One former student writes for an education-related website. Another writes for the Baltimore Sun; another for San Francisco Magazine. A bunch have gone into the nonprofit world. One works at a bookstore. But that’s all to say that there are a lot of ways to make a living as a full- or part-time writer. I didn’t make a living writing until I was about 28 or so. Before that, I temped, and illustrated, and did graphic design… a dozen jobs, and I didn’t mind it. I knew I was learning. Young writers have to know that their twenties are a period of soaking things in, traveling, learning, seeing things, getting out of your personal bubble, having your presumptions upended. If you get right out of college and expect (or want) to get a job as a writer, you might be making a mistake. You might be better off working on a merchant ship or a cannery or a hospital – something new, something where you might learn a thing or two.

Lastly, how often do you get tired of writing?

I don’t. I might dread a deadline or get stuck for an hour or a day, but I never get tired of it.

Interview by: AB
Photos: Provided by Electric Work, SF

Posted by: admin | July 7, 2015 | Categorized under: Art, featured, Interview

Killer Bootlegs Interview

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It’s funny and depressing to recall the few vivid memories we cherish, some far less sentimental than others. The majority of mine seem to have something to do with unboxing transformers or shooting pizza disks out of a Ninja Turtles abdomen. I close my eyes and almost see my greasy little fingers caressing the foil of a new pack of trading cards…or digging in the dirt to find the remains of a knock off GI Joe that couldn’t handle the heat of battle…
I am now 24 and would legitimately sell you my girlfriend for a trip to Toys R Us. No cheap grandma shit though. I’m talking all access, no shelves barred, and definitely no mom hands guarding the cart. That said, it may not surprise you to know that when Peter Goral, founder of Killer Bootlegs explained how he and his kids got down for play time I almost ditched everything and bought a plane ticket to Illinois.
What Pete creates blows my mind and satiates every corner of my being. His insane attention to detail, dedication to the process, and ability to bridge the gap between more traditional styles of art with toy bootlegging, make him one of the most sought after artists in his industry, not to mention lands him a top spot in the list of people I wish were my neighbor.
“I dump a big bucket of action figures out, that’s how we get down man.”

“I’m casting four hundred fifty little parts and then sanding them all perfectly smooth.”
“It becomes art in the form of repetition.”

First off, where are you currently operating out of?

Rockford, Illinois. It’s about forty five minutes outside of Chicago, closer to the Wisconsin border.

Is that where you’ve pretty much lived your whole life?

Yep. I grew up in a town called Cherry Valley which is a little township right outside of Rockford where I currently reside with my family and kids.

How old are you?

I’m thirty years old as of Valentine’s Day this year.

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And you have two little guys?

Yep, a boy and a girl.

As a dad and as a toy bootlegger how do you think play has changed? Can you compare how you played when you were younger with how you see your kids playing now? Is it directly relatable to rapid changes in technology?

It all depends on the parent in my eyes. I play with my kids with figures and action figures just like I did when I was a kid. Even though they tend to pick up little things, like my son is more interested in the weapons, more so than the actual toys. He’s always turning something into a knife or some kind of weapon to chase his sister around with. Technology too, a lot of parents, just sit their kids in front of the television with iPads. I have thousands and thousands of toys. I dump a big bucket of action figures out, that’s how we get down man.

Dude! I am flying out and coming over, I am all about that. When I was younger the most ultimate thing was that trip to the toy store. Do you think that extreme craving for toys still exists? Or is it all about big ticket electronics now? What were some of your favorite toys growing up?

Oh… Star Wars, GI Joe’s, mainly Boba Fett and Storm Shadow. I really had a thing for the bad guys, always. My main focal point was collecting Boba Fett up until about 2009 when I decided I wanted to make my own toys as opposed to buying them.. But, I don’t know if it is the same anymore. I was trying to go over memories and stuff that I wanted to bring up in this interview. One that really sticks out was when I was younger, I wanted a 1988 version of Storm Shadow, I was born in ‘85. I couldn’t find one on the shelves in stores and I remember crying when I got it, out of joy and happiness. One of the best memories of my life. Getting that one figure at a garage sale with my nana. It was unobtainable at the time. Now with eBay and stuff you can just type it in and find something. Back then it was the pursuit, the hunt; ‘96, ‘97 I was looking for Princess Leia. That man face Princess Leia that came out in Power of the Force 2.

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Would you consider yourself a collector?

Yeah, I still do go after some things. Currently I’ve been going after a lot of Polish bootlegs. It’s like real production toys that were manufactured without the license or license approval. I have a Polish heritage, so it’s cool for me to go and track these toys down that are basically from where my family hails.

What are some of your most prized pieces in your collection?

Well, we had a tornado here in the midwest last week. The few things that I was grabbing were my ASA 80’s Return of the Jedi Boba Fett, and a blue Snaggletooth. A few things like that which are irreplaceable in my mind. I got a Boba Fett, probably five or six years ago, mint, perfectly mint and it has this one little hangar tear from where you would hang it on the rack at the toy store. A little kid must have pulled it down and made that little tiny tear. I got a hell of a deal on it. That’s my one white whale pretty much. That Boba Fett, I love it.

Do you normally pull inspiration from toys that are currently being manufactured? Are you hitting toy stores and local shops for inspiration?

Not necessarily. It actually seems like the big companies are doing that with my scene. Watching some of the bigger players and watching what they are doing. Whether it be somebody making toys for movies that never had toy lines, or mismatching parts. They are doing these match em’s, where it’s like you can get a turtle and you can take them all apart limb by limb and mash them together. They are borrowing from us. Which is neat. It means they are paying attention.

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What is it that you’re looking for specifically in a toy? What is perfect mint versus tainted, and how does that compare to when you are personally designing a piece?

Attention to detail. I’m not just turning them out and pushing them out as fast as I can. I sit there and literally sand them and sand them for hours. It’s really blood, sweat, and tears when it comes to my work. I’m trying to push it to that next level. Some guys are doing that and some guys are just comfortable with where they are at. I’ll never be comfortable, I always need to push it to that next level. To get it better than factory quality. That’s where I feel I’m getting really close to obtaining that. Where my work is better than you could get from the store. Whether it be the paint lines, that there’s no seams, any of that.
For my collection, it’s not always about quality. A lot of times it’s about concept and if it catches my eye. It could be the cheapest little piece of resin that some guy made on his first pour. But, when it comes to my work, it’s about the quality.
So what are some of the toy genres? I know there are knock off’s, bootlegs, and art toys…what else? Are there specific names for figure styles and characteristics?
Here is Sofubi and Japanese vinyl, which is soft vinyl that is produced in Japan. Reminiscent of the old Mazinger Z toys and Kamen Riders in the 70’s. They are soft vinyl produced from steel molds in Japan. That’s really big now. I have a figure in development, a couple of figures actually, that we are working on getting produced over in Japan right now. There’s that and there’s like Keshi which are Muscle Men. If you remember them from the 80’s. The little one inch, one and a half inch men.

Are these all in the bootleg realm or is there a specific term for that?

People like the term art toy, I guess. It all falls under the art collectible. Some of them are toys, some aren’t. I feel like mine, even though they may look like toys, aren’t really meant to be played with. They are meant to be put up and displayed. Some are meant to be played with and have more articulation. Something I’m envious of and I strive for is to eventually have a toy that is made in vinyl with full articulation. Something that you can throw in a backpack and head to Comic Con with, as opposed to having to pack and ship them, all fragile like. A knock off would be, I guess, like a straight rip off of something. If you didn’t change or alter it one bit. You were to say take a Boba Fett figure and just re-mold it. It’s like a rip, just a complete copy.

Ok so what exactly is a bootleg toy then?

I guess a bootleg toy would be a toy that is made without the licensing approval from whoever the concept belongs too. The difference is if it was mass produced, like I was saying with the Polish bootlegs, the ones that were manufactured as opposed to the DIY vibe, which is what I do. I do more of an art bootleg. It’s kind of confusing. A bootleg toy, you would buy at a Dollar General. Like a Spider-man, it looks like Spider-man…but it says Man-Spider on it. You know what I mean?
When did you officially start bootlegging toys?
2006, 2007.

What were some of the first figures or projects you were working on?

I did an R2D2 spray paint can. I did a Boba Fett without his helmet unmasked. I had them signed by the actor that played Boba Fett. Those are maybe more around 2008, 2009.
Were you working out of your garage at that time? What was your studio space like?
Yeah. Working out of the kitchen, the garage, and my grandma’s basement. I had set up shop and worked there for a while.

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What was your setup like?

Pretty much like a workbench and a stool. Now it’s gotten a little more involved with all the pressure pots and vacuum chambers.
Was there a point where you felt like things were going to take off? When did you start the Killer Bootleg brand?
Killer Bootleg started in 2008, I think. Before that I was called Wheatstraw Wars after the old Rudy Ray Moore Film, Petey Wheatstraw, The Devil’s Son in law. A lot of the people I would run into would call me Petey Wheatstraw after I introduced myself so I was like, all right, I’ll just start calling myself that. So instead of Star Wars it was Wheatstraw Wars. I rolled with that for a couple of years and then after looking at the Kenner logo, Killer was just switching the letters around. I made the logo in MS Paint, I had no idea how to use illustrator at that point or anything so I blew it up and started moving the pixels around till I got it where I liked it. Then I gave that to my brother, he vectored it and made the Killer logo. That’s history I guess.

The figure that really made me go, ‘wow, this is something’ was a figure I did called Franken Fett. Which was Boba Fett with a Frankenstein head basically. That one sold out. That’s when I was like, it’s not me just farting around, it was a hobby. After that is was like, ‘okay dude, this is something I should pursue.’ At the time, I was working at a factory making a little over minimum wage. It was hindering me a lot more, I was having to turn down jobs and opportunities. Two years ago it got to where Killer Bootleg became my primary focus and my full time job.
Can you explain your process a bit? What goes down after the inspiration hits? Are you sketching, what kinds of tools and material are you working with, and how long does the whole process take?
A lot of times it depends on the figure. The Czarface figure, which I’m working on right now, for Esoteric, 7L, and Inspectah Deck has taken me two years of figuring out. Before they even asked me, I knew what parts I would use. It was almost destined. When Esoteric e-mailed me I was like, I already know what I’m doing. To tell you quite frankly, this figure is my best work. I’m about at the end. It looks great. The process is a lot of times me focusing in on the artwork. Then I’ll make the figure. If I collaborate with somebody I will say ‘hey, I’m using this part, I really want to use this part, I want to use this leg.’ I’ll draw something up. I’ve given artist the parts I’m going to use and they draw something. Then we go. Sometimes I just need to look at the parts and I start piecing them together, whether it’s lower half of this arm or this torso or this head. Sometimes it really often just sparks from one piece of one toy that I want to flip.
I’ll take figures and I’ll cut them all apart. Some of them come apart more easily than others. Throw it into a little bit of boiling water and a lot of toys will just pop right apart. Over the years I have parted tons of toys. I have bins of three hundred arms, a bin of one hundred fifty torsos, five hundred heads. I just set all that stuff out and start going. As I glue here, cut pieces off, I’ll fill in with sculptee, boil it, take it out, sand it. A lot of times I will take my sculpt of a bunch of toys, whether it be like, five, six, seven parts to make one chest. I will make a mold of that and then take my casting and work on my casting. I sand it too so it’s perfectly smooth. A lot of times it’s easier to work on the resin as opposed to something that’s like a Frankenstein, seven toys in clay, holding it together with super glue. Once I have a stable enough piece I will mold it and then work off that, recycle the mold and mold it again; to where it is perfectly perfect.

Then you end up with a finished molded piece. What is the post process like?

Sanding them. All my figures are unique, like how they made old action figures. Whether it moves or not, the arms don’t move, the legs don’t move, the head doesn’t move. I want them to look like they do, that’s just my personal preference. Some guys do fill in all the spots and then mold it so it’s one solid piece. If I’m doing a run of figures that’s nine pieces, and I’ve got to make fifty figures, I’m casting four hundred and fifty little parts and then sanding them all perfectly smooth.
Then there’s assembling them, cleaning them, painting them. A lot of my paint applications are forty steps. I’ll do a wash on it to get all the nooks and crannies and crevices. I want them to be like flesh tones. I take hot pink and I will do a hot pink wash on the figures so that in the ears and the nose, the eyelids and the creases of all, that’s all hot pink and real deep. Then I’ll take that part, mask it all off and airbrush it with flesh tone, and dust it lightly so that it actually does look like human flesh as opposed to being a flat flesh tone. I really do go the extra mile. My work speaks for itself in my opinion.

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Can you talk a bit about bridging the gap between toy and art? I know some of your work is more abstract and really seems to exist as both.

Yeah, definitely. I definitely strive more for the art. I know they are in essence supposed to be toys despite the amount of craftsmanship and talent that goes into each and every one of them. A lot of people paint one picture, they draw one picture, or take one photo, or paint one wall. I do that but then I have to do that over and over and over and over and over and over. It becomes art in the form of repetition. There is a big process that goes along with it. I see it becoming more and more accepted in the art world as time goes on. Where people are holding gallery shows that are solely devoted to art toys, whether it be the genre I work in or others.

How do you feel the medium of toy making transcends two dimensional illustrative art or painting?

You can pick it up and hold it. It is tangible. Not that a painting isn’t tangible, it harkens back to those childhood memories in my opinion. It’s that, for me, it was that want, that need, that desire to get that figure, to have that one. I started off doing two dimensional art and was very comfortable with the paint and a brush, pen and paper.
It just wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to make something that you can hold in your hand and you get that feeling of, ‘wow, look at this, I made this thing.’ It’s the same when you paint something but it’s like to hold it in my hand and set it on a shelf and compare it against what I’m interested in. I live and breathe action figures. I wake up, morning, noon, and night, it’s everything I think about. Besides my kids and stuff. For me to move into this medium, it was really a natural progression. In my mind, what I’m here to do is to fulfill this mission that I started with Killer Bootlegs.

Interview: Michael Connolly
Photos: Provided by artist

Posted by: admin | July 1, 2015 | Categorized under: Art, featured, Interview

Go Skate Day NYC Recap

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Go Skate Day this year in NYC was one of the most anticipated days of the year. The threat of rain was very real until literally the day before, it turned out to be a beautiful day to skate. Nike SB was holding contest at two parks throughout the day and the first being in the Bronx at 157st then at LES and finally the Nike teams puts on a demo in Brooklyn at the new Nike pop up skate park that will be there for the next few months. It was pretty much madness in LES skatepark when the contest officially started however, Nike was very generous with the prizes, giving away tons of boards and $500 to the winner of an ollie over the most boards. Dylan Nieves took the $500 with and ollie over 21 boards! Then after a decently long skate across the bridge over to Brooklyn with some of the Nike Pros that were there like Stefan Janoski, Daryl Angel, Bobby Worrest, Ishod Wair and Alex Olsen everyone ends up at the new pop up skatepark for a Nike SB demo. The day ended with a crazy downpour and the everyone running under tents for shelter. The day was an overall rad day, met awesome people and saw some amazing skating. Looking forward to next years events already!

| Photos: Ricky Aponte |

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Tony Baldelli - Noseblunt

Tony Baldelli – Noseblunt

Dylan Nieves- $500 winner of longest ollie contest

Dylan Nieves- $500 winner of longest ollie contest

Waiting to see the winner of the longest ollie contest

Waiting to see the winner of the longest ollie contest

Stefan Janoski and Reda with Tony Baldelli and Daver

Stefan Janoski and Reda with Tony Baldelli and Daver

Nike SB Team waiting to leave to pop up park in Brooklyn

Nike SB Team waiting to leave to pop up park in Brooklyn

Stefan Janoski and Daryl Angel pushing to the new park

Stefan Janoski and Daryl Angel pushing to the new park

Brooklyn - Nike SB Pop up park

Brooklyn – Nike SB Pop up park

Ishod with a huge Nosebone during the Nike SB demo

Ishod with a huge Nosebone during the Nike SB demo

Alex Olsen - FS ollie during the Nike SB demo

Alex Olsen – FS ollie during the Nike SB demo

Justin Strubing - gap up to front rock during the demo

Justin Strubing – gap up to front rock during the demo

End of the day rained out!

End of the day rained out!

Posted by: admin | June 23, 2015 | Categorized under: Events, featured, Skateboarding

Read Issue 35 Online Now

35th-700Issue 35 is online now for your reading pleasure. Featuring interviews with Jen Uman, DJ Jazzy Jeff, Dave Eggers, George DuBose. Mr. Werewolf, Killer Bootlegs, Alison Mosshart and much more. Grab a limited edition copy too if the online read isn’t your thing.

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Posted by: admin | June 19, 2015 | Categorized under: Art, featured, Interview, Music

Issue 35 Limited Edition On Sale

Issue-35-cover-headerLimited Editons copies of Issue 35 are here and they’re join quick. Get your copy for just $25 in our e-store. Comes with a special gold gilded copy of issue 35, a denim sleeve wrap, signed and numbered by our guest editor, Trevor KARMA Gendron, and tons of extras in the back pocket. Check the store for more details.

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Posted by: admin | June 8, 2015 | Categorized under: featured, Interview

Steez 35th Release Recap

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Last Saturday night we released the limited editions of our highly anticipated Issue number 35, curated by Trevor KARMA Gendron. To celebrate we transformed Good Life Bar in Boston into an industrial era denim factory and invited some of our favorite DJ’s to rock the night, including DJ7L and Braun Draper of The BladeRunners. Deep Eddy Vodka and Narragansett kept the drinks flowing and helped us maintain suave denim influenced dance moves all night long. We had tons of giveaways from Bohnam, Soxxy, Never Summer, Polar and G-Shock to name a few. We saw tons of faces old and new and had guests from all over the Northeast so you couldn’t ask for much more. This was by far our most involved issue to date and we were honored to work and collaborate with some many great people to bring this amazing piece of art to light. You can purchase a copy here for just $25. Only 250 signed and numbered copies were made and each issue comes with tons of extras.

We’d like to thank Good Life, KARMA, Ben Meadows and Eliot Francese for the videos and all of our sponsors: UGHH.COM, NEHip-Hop.com, Polar Seltzer, Attitash Ski Resort, Bern Unlimited, Crotched Mountain, Narragansett Beer, Never Summer Industries, The Mission Belt, Carrabassett Valley Academy, JG Autographs, Inc., Arbor Skateboards, Rome Snowboards, Soxxy, Deep Eddy Vodka, Outdoor Tech, Capography, The House of Marley, G-SHOCK, Landyachtz Longboards, House of Roulx, Zumiez, RAMP, Pukka, Inc., Waterville Valley Resort, AVALON7, Official Genius, Bohnam, Northwave Drake and Coal Headwear.
Photos: Marco DelGuidice

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Posted by: admin | June 3, 2015 | Categorized under: Art, featured, Interview, Music, Skateboarding

Steez 35th Release Party Recap

Steez 35th Release Party Recap from Steez Magazine on Vimeo.

Posted by: admin | | Categorized under: Art, featured, Interview, Music, Skateboarding, Snowboard