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Home FEATURES The Glen Friedman Interview

The Glen Friedman Interview
Written by Andreas Trolf   
Tuesday, 16 November 2010 15:00
/// Andreas has finished Part Two of the interview. To skip to Part Two, click here.

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Glen Friedman is showing works from two of his books, Fuck You Heroes and Fuck You Too, at the 941 Geary Gallery in San Francisco starting tomorrow night, Nov 6th. These photos have been touring the world for the better part of a decade and half, and so they’ll be familiar to many of you already. The point of the show, then, may not be to see these photos for the first time, but to see them again and be reminded of why they’re so firmly a part of this culture (skateboarding, punk rock, hip hop) that we love so much. Additionally, we’ll get to see some of Friedman’s collaborations with Shepard Fairey.

Interview by Andreas Trolf

In advance of the opening, this Saturday, November 6th, I spoke with Friedman over the phone (after an elaborate ritual by which I contacted his publicist, who then e-mailed Glen my contact information, who then called me from his blocked number—a level of secrecy and intense concern for privacy I’d never experienced before [maybe I’ve been interviewing the wrong people so far?]). What I took away from our talk was part awe at an inarguably legendary photographer (one whose work I personally admire and find greatly inspiring), and part confoundment due to Friedman’s lack of humility and his bitter disdain for art he dislikes and for any criticism of those he holds in high esteem.

In short, during our brief chat, Friedman lived up to every expectation I’d held; every anecdote of pompousness seemed to me truer after having spoken to him, but likewise, my appreciation of his doggedness and artistry was also more actual and, in a way, deserved. At the end of it, the idea was only reinforced that there’s no true answer to the question of art vs. artist. Whether or not art can be separate from its creator, we live in a world of copyrighted images and brand names, and our discussion of a work of art takes place within a framework of context and intent. Regarding something and being able to appreciate it based purely on aesthetic grounds is noble and maybe the only true measure of its value as art, but our valuations remain colored by our own biases. But still, but still, Glen Friedman has made some of the most beautiful and important and inspiring images of the past 30 years. They’re even in the Smithsonian.

Anyhow, here’s the first part of the interview. Take from it what you will.

To begin, and in a garbled and uninformed way, I asked Glen if there would be any new photos in the show, or what, if anything would be different from past exhibits of his Fuck You… works.

GF: There will be two new photos added at the last moment, that I literally took this month, or in October, two photos that I took that I thought were pretty cool, to show people that I’m still doing it sometimes.

AT: Are these skate and music photos as well?

GF: They’re just music photos. I have been shooting skating stuff as well, but I didn’t put one of those in the show. I just liked the music stuff. One of the music shots [was] this really young band that I don’t even know what to make of them at this point, but I had a really good time at the show so I shot some photos and I got a picture that I think is my favorite photo of the year, or one of them anyway, so I figured I should put it in the show because it’s so bad ass.

AT: Rad. What band is that, Glen? (Either he didn’t hear me, or he ignored me)

GF: And then I also got a picture of Keith Morris in his new band, OFF! I just went down to see Keith, I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years, and he’s just a good old friend, one of my heroes, one of the original Fuck You Heroes, really. And he’s playing in a new band, and they were playing in a record store just a couple of blocks from my house, so I went and saw them and brought my camera and took a couple of photos. I thought it’d be cool to have photos of Keith, singing in a band in a record store, you know, with vinyl on the walls behind him, and sure enough it was great. He had the same energy as always, even though he’s over 50 years old it was great; they were totally good. We’re gonna throw those two new photos in the show—20 years in between those photos and the other photos in the show. When the inspiration’s there, the photos come.

AT: That’s awesome that you were able to shoot Keith in a setting like that, which echoes your earlier photos of dudes like Keith or Henry Rollins, playing in spaces like that. Do you see any type of progression in your work in the time that’s elapsed since then?

GF: Well, the goal has always been the same to me. I don’t think really think it’s progressed that much, to be honest, but I don’t think it’s needed to. I think it is what it is, and maybe I’ve perfected my mode a bit more, but by about 1991 or 1992 I stopped using a flash altogether for my music stuff, so that’s probably one of the reasons I don’t shoot it as much. Also, I just wanted more of a natural light. The flash would bring so much attention and really distort the whole show. I don’t want to be part of the whole show, I’m just a person there, and when a flash goes off it’s bringing attention to that exact moment I’m capturing, which I’m happy to capture, but I don’t need to be awkward and have a flash and getting it in the way of everyone else. It kind of makes me think, even when I did shoot the last couple of weeks, how awkward it was and disgusting it was that there were so many fucking photographers there, sticking their cameras up in the air, not even looking through the lens trying to get a photo. It was kind of an unfortunate circumstance. I’m sure none of them got anything, maybe some of them got some good pictures, you’re bound to get a good one eventually if you’ve shot a thousand of them on digital disks. It was just kind of weird, just too many people shooting photos for no good reason.

AT: So taking that into account, this choice to kind of efface yourself from your photos, how does that effect how you classify your work? Do you consider your photographs documentary photos or fine art?

GF: Well, I see it more as fine art. I mean, I am documenting the moment, but there are many other people doing it at the same time. Or several others, and sometimes now it’s many, now it’s insane, but I think the difference is that I’m trying to tell the story of the whole night within 1/60th of a second or 1/500th of a second, and capture some energy, some intensity, some integrity, some character, composition like no one else. I think that’s what separates me; I’m not just there fucking shooting like an idiot, trying to document the moment, not at all, and I never have been. What I shoot has always been a big part of my life—I’m not a voyeur. I’m shooting things that mean something to me, that mean a lot to me. I’m not doing it on assignment, I’m doing it because it’s what I do, it’s what inspires me, that’s why I do it.

AT: So in that regard it seems like you could be telling your own story here, with your photos, how you’re experiencing these things…

GF: Well, I wouldn’t say it’s my story, but I would say what you said after that. It’s how I’m experiencing it, and how I’m, for lack of a better term, idealizing the moment I’m in, in a way that I see it and in a way that I can also tell that story to other people so they can appreciate it, whether they’re a part of the hardcore element that I might be a part of, or not. I always strove to be able to excite the hardcore enthusiast, myself included, number one, but also…you really go to the next level when you make it beautiful or interesting or capture character in a way that anyone, even if they’re not associated with what you’re shooting in any way, can grasp it and feel it and, all of a sudden, are drawn into it because they see that character, that emotion, or intensity, or beauty in it. That’s what I strive to do, because I am trying to inspire other people and not just preach to the converted.

AT: All of this sounds really idealistic, which comes across in your work, so how does that lead into the political slant in your photos? Has that always been something you were consciously doing?

GF: Well, absolutely. I’ve always been very politically motivated. It got more so during the punk rock era, at the end of high school and beginning to go to college, I was becoming more and more educated, not only from school but from the punks around me, people like Jello Biafra and that ilk. I’ve always been politically aware, since I was a little kid, growing up when Vietnam was going on, and remembering the presidential election when it was McGovern vs. Nixon; I would have McGovern written on my clothes and a peace sign out the back window of the parents’ car. I’ve always had a political conscience, but it was certainly brought to another level once punk rock came into my psyche. At the same time, it’s something that always motivated me to take the pictures that I did. Why else would I want to share these moments and inspire people to become rebels? It’s because of my political aspirations, or inspiration, that I want to change things and I want things to be better for everybody.

AT: Do you feel that it’s this political bent to the music that also drew you to hip hop?

GF: Absolutely, in the beginning. But it was also so dynamic. The politics of hip hop and the dynamic of the music were totally exciting. I didn’t like punk rock just for the words; punk rock, the music itself, was incredible to me. There were [also] many bands that I’d probably prefer that they not make music, that they just write books. I could think of some right now, I’d rather not say their names, who had great politically motivated lyrics but their fucking music sucks. The thing about hip hop was, at the time when I started getting into it heavy, it was around the same time that punk rock was becoming very generic. There were a dime-a-dozen bands trying to be Minor Threat or Suicidal, although no one could really mimic Black Flag too well—no one could really mimic any of those bands too well, but they just seemed to be becoming kind of generic. But then came hip hop with this totally unique, dynamic sound; people scratching records and stuff like that. I just thought it was kind of incredible. It was just the right music at the right time; it was black kids’ version of punk rock, in a way. And it was political in the beginning, it wasn’t so much later on, but I was always attracted to the more political aspects of it. That’s why I was immediately drawn to Public Enemy and I knew way before the first album was ready that I would be the one to shoot that cover and any one afterwards.

AT: Speaking of timing, you seem to have been at the right place at the right time across all these various subcultures—skating, punk rock, and hip hop—so how much do you credit being at the right place at the right time, growing up when you did, with how your work turned out?

GF: Well, I’d have to say I was definitely born at the right time, but there were millions of other people that were born at the same time as I was. But I made it my business to be there. But I did happen to grow up in West Los Angeles when skateboarding was about to blow up for the second time in the 70s, and yeah, I was in the right place at the right time, but I was motivated by much more. There were other people there who didn’t get those shots that I got, and that goes for punk rock and for hip hop as well.

Being in Los Angeles and having my father living in the New York area, I traveled back and forth a lot between my parents, so I was able to experience these different scenes and feel at home in both of them. I made friends in Washington, DC as well and drove down there. Plenty of people were in these same places at the same times. And in hip hop not too many people were shooting photographs, but those who did tried to make it something it wasn’t; people took hip hop into the studio. Just from my punk rock roots, it was pretty obvious that I would just want to keep it right in the neighborhood where it was going on. It had such a vibrant culture of its own, why would you want to make it bland and put it in a white studio? So, right place at the right time? I made myself be in some particularly interesting places at particular times because that’s what was going on and that’s what was inspiring me.

AT: So, do you see that as the primary job as a photographer? Or maybe as your own personal job as photographer or documentarian. You’re not out there doing it for the moment or for an editorial, you’re doing it because it needs to be done, because it needs to be documented…

GF: You keep using that word “document” over and over again…I’m inspired by these people, and I want more people to be inspired by them. I want to take the pictures that are going to kick them in the face and wake them up and inspire them. And I’m gonna do it in a way that I think will do it even more than what anyone else has shown them. You can see something, but if you take it and look at it in a particular way it might inspire people even further, [but] if you’re just some shit- ass photographer taking a snapshot at a show and you get a photo that happens to document the moment, that’s not necessarily going to inspire someone. But I’m being inspired by these people, so I am taking it upon myself to make it so great that it’ll hopefully inspire other people as well; not just those that are there, or not just me, but it really is all about that—it is about spreading inspiration and taking it seriously, and trying to pay back those that are giving so much to me.

(An aside: Friedman calls his work fine art, bristling at the mention of documentary; he says his work is meant to inspire others the way he was inspired by his subjects, and that is perhaps the most noble goal of the artist, but these images are as firmly documents of specific times and places and people as anything can possibly be. To insist otherwise is ridiculous, but can’t they be both? Can’t documentary be art and vice versa? But I suppose I get it. I get Glen’s photography; I am inspired by it and I appreciate it and I value it, both as document and art. And so primarily, I think he’s right—it’s mostly art. But it’s also both more and less than that: there’s a shot of Jay Adams skating a pool taken in 1976 by a tween-ish Friedman where his (Glen’s) foot is clearly and probably inadvertently visible at the bottom of the frame; this is not a kid making fine art, it’s a kid getting stoked on his pals and wanting to take a photo. Which is not to say the photo isn’t good or important, it is. And then there are those era-defining photographs, those that are more polished and show a fine portrait-artist at work, photos of Ian MacKaye screaming into a microphone and gazing like a hawk into a dark crowd, of LL Cool J simply sitting on a park bench next to his ghetto blaster, of the Beastie Boys while showing enormously influential persons and shot with a keen eye for composition, nevertheless often say much more about a time, a zeitgeist, than about aesthetics. Then, finally, there are photos like the one of Ian Svenonius and the Make Up, posed in their fancy clothes up against a graffiti-covered wall, photos that fall squarely in the realm of glossy publicity shots. Still, they’re composed nicely. There, I’ve said my peace. —Andreas)

AT: So what is it that you feel differentiates your work visually from documentary work? Are there, like, specific visual cues that you aim for that might inspire someone in a way that a documentary photograph wouldn’t?

GF: Well, I think I’ve explained that already but I’ll tell you again: it’s that I have an eye for it. Not only do I have the timing to get that precise moment that many people don’t always seem to get, but I care about composition, I care about lighting, I care about character, I care about intensity. That’s what I think tells people and speaks to other people, and so people even outside of what we’re dealing with can appreciate it. If you have a photograph that has character in it, or has intensity in it and is composed well, I think almost anyone can appreciate it. I don’t think you need to know who’s in the picture at that exact moment that you look at it to appreciate it, if all those other elements are in there. Anyone who has any interest in even looking at a photo can appreciate that. Does that make sense to you?

AT: Sure, thanks for elucidating.

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There’s a lot more. Seriously, like another 25 minutes, during which we talked about Glen’s other work unrelated to his current show. At times Glen got up on a soap box, which he is, I think, more or less entitled to, and I think largely that it’s worth having it up on the site. I’ll get around to transcribing it sometime this week, but for now let’s leave it at this.

For what it’s worth, I’d encourage you guys to go see the show. See the work because, fuck it, it is important. Maybe Glen’s an idealist from a bygone era, but don’t we need more idealists right now? Maybe other photographers aren’t as talented, lucky, insightful, and well-intentioned as he is (I tend to think he sounds pretty crotchety when he gets going on one of those rants), but Glen Friedman’s photos should speak for themselves by now. Who cares if he’s bitter or angry? Well, actually scratch that. It’s good that he’s angry. I, for one, would like to see some more anger. Bitterness, though, not so much.

But still, come on, people, let’s make with the anger and the inspiration and the doing of things.

In Part 2 Glen talks about photographing clouds and berates the fuck out of anyone who’s shit-talked Shepard Fairey.

Words and interview by Andreas Trolf

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Glen Friedman Interview—part 2

Interview by Andreas Trolf

I feel compelled to offer a brief comment regarding the first part of this interview/article, which appeared last week prior to the opening of Glen Friedman’s show at 941 Geary, seeing as how both Glen himself as well as some readers seemed so offended by my opinions.

To begin, I have no interest at all in presenting a fluff piece or a press release for anyone, whether that person is a famous and talented photographer or not. If you care to read a glowing piece of fluff devoid of backbone or opinion, I’d suggest reading the SF Weekly’s recent article on Friedman. What I’ve done, I hope to the best of my ability, is present, in conjunction with Friedman’s answers and opinions, my own opinions of his work and philosophy. Is it impartial? Of course not, but as I wrote previously we are all biased in our perspectives. This is opinion, and if it should offend you or differ from your own opinion, you will, I’m afraid, have to learn to live with it. A difference of opinion is one thing, and it is, I believe, inextricable from any conversation, but if it offends you that I have an opinion at all (and that I’m unabashed about sharing it), then I’ll simply quote to you the title of one of Friedman’s (excellent) books: Fuck You Too.

Anyhow, moving on, insulting twitters aside, here is the conclusion to the interview, peppered with my opinions and observations:

AT: Do you want to talk at all about Recognize (Glen’s book of photographs of clouds) and how that falls into your larger body of work?

GF: Yeah, it has nothing to do with the show that we’re dealing with at the moment, but I’m happy to talk about it.

AT: Well, I just find those photos very interesting.

GF: That’s cool. To talk about Recognize, the beginning of that really starts with The Idealist. In The Idealist book I tried showing people what my aesthetic was, just so they’d understand. And also, for me to just release it, ‘cause I had what I thought were beautiful photos; and after having these two successful books, Fuck You Heroes and Fuck You Too, out there, I thought that it would be really cool to just show the other side of my work that really is all inspired in similar ways, [by] politics and aesthetic, beauty and integrity. But I also wanted people to see that it isn’t just a documentarian, it’s an artist doing this work. And as an artist, it’s nice to be able to share your work and inspire people. I also wanted people to realize that you don’t just take pictures of one thing. A good photographer who’s really an artist can take good pictures of almost anything. I wanted to explain to people, particularly to younger people, that

it’s not just all about punk rock, it’s not just about skateboarding, it’s not just about hip hop, it’s really, you know, it’s about life.

You understand? And although those are parts of my life, although those things run through my veins, it’s not all that’s in my blood. For people to be able to see that and relate to that, it might bring them in further into what I’m trying to express in my work. And also to show people how to take good photographs; what it is that this person who they’ve looked up to or they’ve seen these photographs [by] that have inspired them, of someone getting a frontside air for the first time, or screaming with a microphone right in my face, or giving me the hardest look on the street corner, also could shoot a picture of anything else and make it look interesting and exciting, or creative in a way that pleases the eye, to say the least.

And I thought that doing The Idealist book would really teach people to take better photographs. And it did in some degree. All of a sudden I did see more kids, in their portfolios, showing more different kinds of work. And I thought that was cool, not to be so specialized in one specific area, but just to have a vision that you could share, I thought was really important, to get your unique stamp on that. But it kind of fell short in some ways, people just said, “Oh, that’s just Glen’s art book…” and they didn’t really get that part of the message. So, come the new millennium, I was so fucking frustrated with the shitty photography that’s out there and so inspired by the beauty I always noticed when I’d been flying, crisscrossing around the globe, either for my shows or just to visit family or whatever, by the clouds that I would see out the windows of the planes. And so I started taking pictures of them; it was too magnificent to not start shooting, I just had to do it, and all of a sudden I get into shooting pictures of clouds and I’m realizing that this is more exciting and challenging than almost anything I’ve ever shot—in some way, not in all ways. And when you consider that I’m in an airplane, in the back of the plane, in coach, looking out a window with a 35mm camera, I have no control in any way over what’s going on. I can’t tell the pilot to circle around, I can’t tell him to slow down. All I know is that I’m going to end up somewhere else, but in between I can’t tell the clouds to stand still, I can’t tell them to do it again, I can’t control it in any way whatsoever. Not only that, it’s gone within a fraction of a second. And so I wanted to show people that this is kind of like a photography 1 class. “This is it, you’re going to learn to compose pictures with something that you have no control over.” I just thought it was an amazing concept.

Besides being absolutely beautiful and recognizing the beautiful nature that’s around us at all times, I want people to recognize what it is to take a good photograph. Let’s start at the base: an absolutely universal subject, clouds. Every single human has seen a cloud; not every human has seen the ocean, not every human has seen a mountaintop, not every human has seen a tall building, except for maybe in a movie, every single human has seen a cloud. Absolutely universal, can we agree on that?

GF: So, let me take this absolutely universal thing and make it into art, as I see it. Not only will I be doing that, but I’ll be doing it with a subject that, as I said before, I have no control over whatsoever. I wait for it to happen, I’m looking through my eyes, looking through the lens, and waiting for that exact moment and composing pictures on the fly. No pun intended, quite literally composing a perfect image within the camera frame and make art out of it and make it beautiful and make it so someone can appreciate it who’s not there with me.

AT: In a way, does that make it similar to going out to shoot at a show? You can’t very well set up a shot and tell people where to stand...

GF: Andreas, it’s even less predictable, it’s even less predictable. Because you kind of know the songs and kind of know when they’re going to have their peak energy, I know nothing with the clouds. And not only that, with the timing and with them going by and having to compose them on the fly like that, much like I got credit for, all of my career, as being part of skateboarding, being part of the music communities that I was in, being in there and getting shots like no one else can because I have relationships with the artists, friendships, and I have respect for them, they have respect for me... I’m not gonna shoot like Stieglitz, one of the only other collections of cloud photographs that I could find in history—I wanted to see if it was done before—it was Alfred Stieglitz, the famous photographer, and all of his photos were taken from the ground looking up.

And what have I always done? I’ve always been in the scene; I’ve always been a part of it. I’ve always had a perspective that most people couldn’t get, so my goal was to only shoot pictures from within the clouds themselves.

I wanted to be in the clouds, I wanted to show people what it looked like up in there, and that’s why 90% of the photographs in the book are all taken from airplanes. So I could be in there like a bird, well, most birds don’t even fly that high, actually, but like I’m one of the clouds myself. Like I’m getting a unique vision, like even the photo on the cover, I felt like it was almost like you’re sitting in heaven. Not that I believe in any religious heaven, just what people think of as heavenly. That’s what I see on the cover; it’s like a lounge chair or something. Just a place to sit down and relax. You’re in there, you’re in the moment. You’re a part of the clouds, you’re within the clouds, and you don’t see anything else other than the clouds. You don’t see the earth at all in any of my photos, you do see some ocean water in, I think, two or three shots in the whole collection, but otherwise you don’t see any remnants of humans at all in the book. No traces of mankind in the images.

So again, it’s about bringing it back to the base, and trying to show people with such a simple subject, you know, I was hoping that people would be able to see it and take from it how to compose a beautiful image, how to really take photographs and think about them. Too many people take photographs, even well paid, for lack of a better term professionals, I mean, they just fucking just snap shoot. They don’t fucking think, they just shoot pictures and that’s it, it’s done, and they get paid. All these magazines, the most these art directors want is to fill space in between advertising; they’re not inspired by shit. They’re just filling space to fucking make money or to sell a product, and I’m just fucking sick of that. And I might not be so sick of it if they did it with some quality, but they don’t even fucking care, they have no respect for the art form at all. They just fucking shoot pictures, these fucking snap shooters, and there’s a place for that, but don’t fucking call it art and don’t put it in magazines. You know? Shoot that for your fucking home and put it in your own shitty ass photo album, don’t make me look at your crap. That’s what I feel about most of the photography I see out there—it’s pathetic, man. Do something. There’s so many pretenders…there’s people out there with assistants, shooting pictures, and they don’t know what the fuck they’re doing as an artist, they’re just fucking shooting. It’s The Emperor’s New Clothes, man, some fucking art director said, “Oh, you got it... we like your look, it’s raw, it’s dirty, it’s sexy...”

It’s fucking bullshit, man, call it what it is, you motherfuckers, you’re just really tired, you don’t know anything, you’re just trying to make up the emperor’s new clothes over here
.

You’re just trying to tell people it’s something that it’s not because you’re lazy or you don’t want to pay someone what it really costs to get a good photographer, or you can’t even find someone…whose pictures will tell the story, not your graphic design on the page [that’s] taking away from the image. You understand what I’m saying? Did you appreciate the little mini-rant?

AT: Yeah, I did. I’m sure there are a lot of people out there who are presenting things that aren’t great examples of the art, so I appreciate getting your perspective on that, Glen. I appreciate you being so candid about it.

GF: If I was a little more candid, I’d mention names. All you have to do is read a couple of my old interviews and you’ll find the names, I’m just sick of fucking giving them free publicity when they’re fucking worthless pieces of shit. Then again, I take that back, they might not be worthless pieces of shit, they might be nice to their families, and they provide for people, that doesn’t make you worthless but it is worthless as far as an artist is concerned. Because you really water down the field, you know? There are people out there who are really creating, and there are some great people out there doing work, and great work is being done, but with all the shit getting the attention, it just waters it all down, man, and you see this shit at galleries and, you know, respected places, and they’re not respected anymore after I see that shit in there.

When I was a kid, I grew up on Sports Illustrated and National Geographic and Surfer Magazine, man, and there was a fuckin’ lot of integrity in those magazines. They had some beautiful images. And I learned from that. Back when I got my first picture published, it wasn’t just anyone who got in a magazine, it was a real fuckin’ big deal. And for a 14-year old, I fucking lost my mind I was so excited. I was so stoked, I couldn’t even believe it. It was a big deal and there weren’t that many magazines back then, and then I got a check on top of it?! God damn, it was great!

AT: Yeah, that’s the dream, right?

GF: Yeah, it was pretty funny. It was pretty awesome. But, you know, the Recognize book is kind of like, “Recognize good photography, recognize art, recognize the beauty that’s always around you, but recognize that, this is the way, at least I’m thinking, that this is the way you should be looking at photographs.” This is a way to look at the world, but it’s really... it’s totally influenced by renaissance artists, it’s made to make you look at stuff and to remember that it’s art. You know, you could reinvent it, you could be a pop artist or do all this other crap, but, come on, man.

Even Shepard Fairey has a great respect for composition and design and a message. Even if it’s based off of others’ work, you’ve got to respect... he’s always called me before he’s used my stuff
.

And, that said, bringing it to the next level for this particular show, and our collaborations, the guy is articulate—he’s a craftsman, he is a real artist—fuck all those haters.

I don’t give a shit what they say. I’ve seen a lot more than most of them, and you know what? Fucking Shepard is good at what he does, and just because he got fucking caught out there with this Obama shit, hey man, that was his political belief. He fucking did a lot more than any other motherfucker we know in this world with his art, whether you agree with what he did or not, he did it and fuck that photo! That photo was worthless! It was a dime a dozen, bullshit press photo and even the photographer who took it knows it. There was no fucking art involved; Shepard Fairey made that image something very important with his talent—not just fucking Photoshop—he did something, and he deserves credit for that, for better or for worse, depending on your political beliefs. But either way, it was inspiring. I thought it was incredible, and Shepard has a way of doing that with images, and me and him have worked together on several images that were inspiring to him that were already iconic images but he wanted to do his graphic representation of them. Or I thought it would be nice to see his graphic representation of my work, and expose it to more people and inspire more people, and it’s been great. It’s been totally great, man.

And again, I wouldn’t do it with any fucking idiot, I’m doing it with him (Shepard Fairey) because he’s fucking smart and he knows what he’s talking about, and Shepard has a great understanding of my work. He’s grown up with my work, he’s been inspired by my work, and that’s great. Who else would you want to work with, other than someone who has been inspired by and understands what the fuck you do? Know what I’m saying?

Think of the fucking haters; I’m sick of the fucking haters. But, you know, it’s all good, fuck it. The good will rise to the top,

and so what if he’s not super radical in everyday life? I don’t need to defend him, the guy does well. He does a lot better than I do, business-wise, but that’s his decision. Okay, at least he’s trying to do something. Too many people just fucking don’t do shit; they just talk. He’s really doing something, and he’s done something, he doesn’t need to prove another motherfucking thing to anybody, as far as I’m concerned, you know what I’m saying, after that fucking poster. He doesn’t need to prove a thing. But he’s an artist, he’ll continue to do what he wants to do, and he’ll continue making his political statements, and I respect what he does.

AT: Of course, I think you have to respect him on an artistic level regardless of what your political views are.

GF: Well, some people won’t because they say it’s derivative. Because he’s just stealing bits and pieces of other people’s stuff, but that’s not quite fair either.

AT: Is there anything else you’d like to say about the show?

GF: Well, the show is a best of from a bunch of my books. It’s photos that have inspired people for three decades, and hopefully will continue to. And I think that they do... they just continually inspire people, and that’s what’s exciting about it to me. If people have all my books and they know my work, then there really isn’t much of a need to come see the show. But it is fun sometimes to see the prints up on the walls and go through them with your friends and look at them, but the books tell the story damn well, too, and they look really good in the books.

But, as far as the show is concerned, I think it’s more important to talk about our ideals, and why we do it, and why we continue to do it. I don’t do it as much as I used to, but I’m not inspired as much as I used to [be], you know? But I shot some stuff last month! I shot a bunch of music stuff. And since it’s San Francisco, I added a couple pictures of Jello Biafra for good measure, and a shot of Rick Blackhart that’s never been published anywhere. A similar shot was published, since you’re a skater, in Skateboarder in 1978 at the very first pool series, the Hester Series contest they had. That was in Newark, California, which isn’t far from San Francisco, and they were using a hand-poured prototype for Independent [trucks]. So, the first Independent trucks ever ridden in a pool were being used by Rick Blackhart that day. He got second place, but he won the contest as far as everyone else was concerned, or as far as he was concerned. And I got a photo of him on those first Indys just fucking tearing the shit out of that coping with some good style.

---------------------------------

So there it is, folks. I’ve heard it said that nostalgia is history with a sigh, but I’m pretty sure that nostalgia can also include resentment. And I know for damn sure, based on personal experience, that resentment and bitterness wouldn’t be nearly as painful were it not for the wistful nostalgia that drives them. For better or worse. But I still prefer to take a page from Glen’s book, and that is for us all to try, with the best parts of ourselves, to remain idealists.

Ferris Plock - Online Show, April 25th

FFDG is pleased to announce an exclusive online show with San Francisco based Ferris Plock opening on Friday, April 25th (12pm Pacific Time) featuring 5 new medium sized acrylic paintings on wood.


GOLD BLOOD, MAGIC WEIRDOS

Backwoods Gallery in Melbourne played host to a huge group exhibition a couple of weeks back, with "Gold Blood, Magic Weirdos" Curated by Melbourne artist Sean Morris. Gold Blood brought together 25 talented painters, illustrators and comic artists from Australia, the US, Singapore, England, France and Spain - and marked the end of the Magic Weirdos trilogy, following shows in Perth in 2012 and London in 2013.


Jeremy Fish at LA's Mark Moore Gallery

San Francisco based Fecal Pal Jeremy Fish opened his latest solo show Hunting Trophies at LA's Mark Moore Gallery last week to massive crowds and cabin walls lined with imagery pertaining to modern conquest and obsession.


John Felix Arnold III on the Road to NYC

Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.


FRENCH in Melbourne

London based illustrator FRENCH recently held a show of new works at the Melbourne based Mild Manners


Henry Gunderson at Ever Gold, SF

Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.


Mario Wagner @Hashimoto

Mario Wagner (Berkeley) opened his new solo show A Glow that Transfers Creativity last Saturday night at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco.


Serge Gay Jr. @Spoke Art

The paintings in the show are each influenced by a musician, ranging from Freddy Mercury, to Madonna, to A Tribe Called Quest and they are so stylistically consistent with each musician's persona that they read as a cohesive body of work with incredible variation. If you told me they were each painted by a different person, I would not hesitate to believe you and it's really great to see a solo show with so much variety. The show is fun, poppy, very well done, and absolutely worth a look and maybe even a listen.


NYCHOS Mural on Ashbury and Haight

NYCHOS completed this great new mural on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco on Tuesday. Looks Amazing.


Sun Milk in Vienna

With rising rent in SF and knowing mostly other young artists without capitol, I desired a way to live rent free, have a space to do my craft, and get to see more of the world. Inspired by the many historical artists who have longed similar longings I discovered the beauty of artist residencies. Lilo runs Adhoc Collective in Vienna which not only has a fully equipped artists creative studio, but an indoor halfpipe, and private artist quarters. It was like a modern day castle or skate cathedral. It exists in almost a utopic state, totally free to those that apply and come with a real passion for both art and skateboarding


"How To Lose Yourself Completely" by Bryan Schnelle

I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle


Tyler Bewley ~ Recent Works

Some great work from San Francisco based Tyler Bewley.


Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

While walking our way across San Francisco on Saturday we swung through the opening receptions for Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in the Mission.


Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

Jeremy Fish opens Hunting Trophies tonight, Saturday April 5th, at the Los Angeles based Mark Moore Gallery. The show features new work from Fish inside the "hunting lodge" where viewers climb inside the head of the hunter and explore the history of all the animals he's killed.


The Albatross and the Shipping Container

Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.


The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


Flavio Samelo's Downtown Sao Paulo Murals

Our buddy Flavio Samelo down there in Brazil does all kinds of great work including this recent mural project in downtown Sao Paulo in front of one of the most important modern buildings of Oscar Niemeyer from the 60's, THE COPAN.


John Trippe, FFDG and Fecalface.com Founder, Stepping Down From Daily Operations

John Trippe, founder, owner and curator of FecalFace.com and the Mission District art gallery FFDG, announced today that he will stepping down from daily operations of the two ventures to seek new career opportunities.


High 5s - Get Your Feet Wet

I purchased one of the first digital cameras when Fecal Face went online in 2000. It was a massive Kodak with 2 mega pixels


"Touching Base" by Schuyler Beecroft

San Francisco based Schuyler Beecroft emailed over the great new series of paintings he's completed entitled "Touching Base", 16x20in on mounted wood panel. Like them.


Flume - Space Cadet (ft. Ghostface Killah & Autre Ne Veut)

Buddies Jay Howell & Jim Dirschberger did this great video produced by Forest City Rockers.


Fire Shelter for Papay Gyro Nights 2014

Last year we posted photos from another one of Simon Hjermind Jensen's Fire Shelters he's made in Copenhagen. This time around the Copenhagen based artist/ designer created one for the Papay Gyro Nights 2014 way up in on the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland.


"Portrait of a Slugger 19" by Hiro Kurata

Beautiful painting by NYC based Hiro Kurata now on display at SF's FFDG through April 19th as part of the group show "Salt the Skies".


"Veins of Octulen" by Curiot at FFDG

"Salt the Skies" opened on the 21st at FFDG and features this great piece by Mexico City based Curiot (Favio Martinez) whose sold out 2013 show Age of Omuktlans ran at FFDG. His forthcoming solo show is slated for March 2015.


Rome's Alice Pasquini ~Mural+

Rome based multimedia artist Alice Pasquini emailed over a recent mural completed in the historic working class neighborhood of Rome called Tufello.


Project M/3 in Berlin curated by NUART

BERLIN --- Project M is a temporary art project with the objective to improve the neighborhood, to push creativity and to connect people. At regular intervals Urban Nation with director Yasha Young invites a group of internationally reclaimed contemporary urban artists to re-design the facade and shop windows of a prominent residential building in Berlin, while it is being reconstructed.





contact FF

"Arrangement" by Michelle Fleck
Friday, 18 April 2014 10:23

This morning we take a closer look at this beautiful painting by San Francisco based Michelle Fleck now showing at FFDG.

Arrangement measures 24"x30", acrylic and aerosol on panel - inquires: info(at)ffdg.net

Michelle Fleck is a painter living in San Francisco. Her work focuses on the relationship between man and the landscape, and the marks we leave on it. Influenced by everyday life in the city, her paintings serve as snapshots of an ongoing intersection of the natural and man-made world. She strives to make work that has a sense of relevancy in a culture driven by a need for change and newness.

 

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Wednesday, 16 June 2010 16:39


Nychos Friday @Fifty24SF
Thursday, 17 April 2014 10:46

SAN FRANCISCO --- You've seen the murals pop up around town the last week from this Austrian street artist as he prepares for his solo show at Fifty24SF opening this Friday, 4/18.

GET THE SHOW DETAILS --- a bunch of NYCHOS

 

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Wednesday, 25 April 2012 10:56

 

Banksy's Mobile Lovers
Wednesday, 16 April 2014 10:47

Speaking of Banksy (wait, were we speaking of Banksy?)... In any case, love his newest creation "Mobile Lovers" located in Bristol, England.

I love you, dear.... Huh? Wut?

 

Jeremy Fish Opening a Solo Show in August at FFDG
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 09:33

Met up with Jeremy Fish last night to catch up and discuss his upcoming solo show opening this August at San Francisco's FFDG. Don't want to give too much away, but the guy is very busy these days. You know the giant pink bronze statue will be built and installed at the corner of Haight and Laguna welcoming those to the Haight (check) in 2015? Going to be incredible.

Check photos from his last San Francisco solo show in 2012, and mark your calendar for August as his next solo show opens at FFDG.

Beering with Fish at his favorite watering hole, Zeitgeist

 

Statue Of A Homeless Jesus Startles A Wealthy Community
Monday, 14 April 2014 10:20

Sculpture of Jesus as homeless and sleeping on a park bench is "freaking out" the neighbors of this wealthy NC suburb. The sculptor, who has an affinity for street art, created it to remind us that "We believe that that's the kind of life Jesus had," Buck says. "He was, in essence, a homeless person." ~READ ON

 

Art or Vandalism? See the World’s First Graffiti Drone
Saturday, 12 April 2014 10:30

I attached a cradle with a spray paint can and other hardware to the drone. I created a series of paintings that are larger, about maybe 3 feet by 3 feet all the way up to 25 feet by 15 feet … And basically, I achieved the perfect air pressure, the perfect weight of the paint and the perfect materials so that the drone didn’t freak out when I attached these mechanisms to it, Katsu said. --continue reading

Think how high those throw ups can be now.

 

OB Shirt by Tucker Nichols
Thursday, 10 April 2014 11:01

Tucker Nichols emailed over this new OB shirt he did for our friends at Park Life which can purchased here for $28.

Speaking of Ocean Beach, if you know, you know, but if you don't... it's not what the average american thinks of when thinking of a California Beach (missing 14 yr. old yesterday). Can't believe we used to drunk naked swim at 3am in the dead if winter... being surfers probably helped us not dying.

 

Open House Sunday - Headland Center for the Arts
Friday, 11 April 2014 16:12

Have you been to the Headland Center for the Arts in the Marin Headlands?

Located in the beautiful ocean-side Golden Gate National Recreation Area, the Headlands artists programs support artists of all disciplines—from visual artists to performers, musicians, writers, and videographers—and provide opportunities for independent and collaborative creative work.

This Sunday's Open House runs 12-5pm - FREE & DETAILS

 

Is It Curtains For San Francisco's Art Scene?
Tuesday, 08 April 2014 09:35

We all know that San Francisco is going through aches and (growing?)/ shrinking artist pains these days as San Francisco property values sky rocket due to the tech infestation going on around the entire Bay Area. Maybe you work in tech and love it, but since this is an art website, we're interested to how this is affecting artists trying to make ends meet.

Some galleries have been forced to close due to 300% rent hikes. Many artists have fled to Oakland, LA and NYC in search of affordable housing and a more vibrant art scene... But we wanna know what you think of how it's going here in San Francisco. How are you making it work? What's your take on the art scene or lack there of? Do you think things are on the up and up or down and out here in San Francisco? Are artists a bunch of complainers and every thing looks great or is it curtains for San Francisco's artistic community? Thoughts

The Rena Bransten Gallery is packing up their 77 Geary space to make way for tech company MuleSoft

 

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Wednesday, 25 August 2010 11:50


+SF

+NYC

+LA

FULL CALENDARS: BAY AREA | NYC | LA

 


 

 

 

Ferris Plock - Online Show, April 25th

FFDG is pleased to announce an exclusive online show with San Francisco based Ferris Plock opening on Friday, April 25th (12pm Pacific Time) featuring 5 new medium sized acrylic paintings on wood.


GOLD BLOOD, MAGIC WEIRDOS

Backwoods Gallery in Melbourne played host to a huge group exhibition a couple of weeks back, with "Gold Blood, Magic Weirdos" Curated by Melbourne artist Sean Morris. Gold Blood brought together 25 talented painters, illustrators and comic artists from Australia, the US, Singapore, England, France and Spain - and marked the end of the Magic Weirdos trilogy, following shows in Perth in 2012 and London in 2013.


Jeremy Fish at LA's Mark Moore Gallery

San Francisco based Fecal Pal Jeremy Fish opened his latest solo show Hunting Trophies at LA's Mark Moore Gallery last week to massive crowds and cabin walls lined with imagery pertaining to modern conquest and obsession.


John Felix Arnold III on the Road to NYC

Well, John Felix Arnold III is at it again. This time, he and Carolyn LeBourgios packed an entire show into the back of a Prius and drove across the country to install it at Superchief Gallery in NYC. I met with him last week as he told me about the trip over delicious burritos at Taqueria Cancun (which is right across the street from FFDG and serves what I think is the best burrito in the city) as the self proclaimed "Only overweight artist in the game" spilled all the details.


FRENCH in Melbourne

London based illustrator FRENCH recently held a show of new works at the Melbourne based Mild Manners


Henry Gunderson at Ever Gold, SF

Ever Gold opened a new solo show by NYC based Henry Gunderson a couple Saturday nights ago and it was literally packed. So packed I couldn't actually see most of the art - but a big crowd doesn't seem like a problem. I got a good laugh at what I would call the 'cock climbing wall' as it was one of the few pieces I could see over the crowd. I haven't gotten a chance to go back and check it all out again, but I'm definitely going to as the paintings that I could get a peek at were really high quality and intruiguing. You should do the same.


Mario Wagner @Hashimoto

Mario Wagner (Berkeley) opened his new solo show A Glow that Transfers Creativity last Saturday night at Hashimoto Contemporary in San Francisco.


Serge Gay Jr. @Spoke Art

The paintings in the show are each influenced by a musician, ranging from Freddy Mercury, to Madonna, to A Tribe Called Quest and they are so stylistically consistent with each musician's persona that they read as a cohesive body of work with incredible variation. If you told me they were each painted by a different person, I would not hesitate to believe you and it's really great to see a solo show with so much variety. The show is fun, poppy, very well done, and absolutely worth a look and maybe even a listen.


NYCHOS Mural on Ashbury and Haight

NYCHOS completed this great new mural on the corner of Haight and Ashbury in San Francisco on Tuesday. Looks Amazing.


Sun Milk in Vienna

With rising rent in SF and knowing mostly other young artists without capitol, I desired a way to live rent free, have a space to do my craft, and get to see more of the world. Inspired by the many historical artists who have longed similar longings I discovered the beauty of artist residencies. Lilo runs Adhoc Collective in Vienna which not only has a fully equipped artists creative studio, but an indoor halfpipe, and private artist quarters. It was like a modern day castle or skate cathedral. It exists in almost a utopic state, totally free to those that apply and come with a real passion for both art and skateboarding


"How To Lose Yourself Completely" by Bryan Schnelle

I just wanted to share with you a piece I recently finished which took me 4 years to complete. Titled "How To Lose Yourself Completely (The September Issue)", it consists of a copy of the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine (the issue they made the documentary about) with all faces masked with a sharpie, and everything else entirely whited out. 840 pages of fun. -Bryan Schnelle


Tyler Bewley ~ Recent Works

Some great work from San Francisco based Tyler Bewley.


Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery

While walking our way across San Francisco on Saturday we swung through the opening receptions for Kirk Maxson and Alexis Mackenzie at Eleanor Harwood Gallery in the Mission.


Jeremy Fish Solo Show in Los Angeles

Jeremy Fish opens Hunting Trophies tonight, Saturday April 5th, at the Los Angeles based Mark Moore Gallery. The show features new work from Fish inside the "hunting lodge" where viewers climb inside the head of the hunter and explore the history of all the animals he's killed.


The Albatross and the Shipping Container

Beautiful piece entitled "The Albatross and the Shipping Container", Ink on Paper, Mounted to Panel, 47" Diameter, by San Francisco based Martin Machado now on display at FFDG. Stop in Saturday (1-6pm) to view the group show "Salt the Skies" now running through April 19th. 2277 Mission St. at 19th.


The Marsh Barge - Traveling the Mississippi River from Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico

For some reason I thought it would be a good idea to quit my job, move out of my house, leave everything and travel again. So on August 21, 2013 I pushed a canoe packed full of gear into the headwaters of the Mississippi River in Lake Itasca, Minnesota, along with four of my best friends. Exactly 100 days later, I arrived at a marina near the Gulf of Mexico in a sailboat.


Flavio Samelo's Downtown Sao Paulo Murals

Our buddy Flavio Samelo down there in Brazil does all kinds of great work including this recent mural project in downtown Sao Paulo in front of one of the most important modern buildings of Oscar Niemeyer from the 60's, THE COPAN.


John Trippe, FFDG and Fecalface.com Founder, Stepping Down From Daily Operations

John Trippe, founder, owner and curator of FecalFace.com and the Mission District art gallery FFDG, announced today that he will stepping down from daily operations of the two ventures to seek new career opportunities.


High 5s - Get Your Feet Wet

I purchased one of the first digital cameras when Fecal Face went online in 2000. It was a massive Kodak with 2 mega pixels


"Touching Base" by Schuyler Beecroft

San Francisco based Schuyler Beecroft emailed over the great new series of paintings he's completed entitled "Touching Base", 16x20in on mounted wood panel. Like them.


Flume - Space Cadet (ft. Ghostface Killah & Autre Ne Veut)

Buddies Jay Howell & Jim Dirschberger did this great video produced by Forest City Rockers.


Fire Shelter for Papay Gyro Nights 2014

Last year we posted photos from another one of Simon Hjermind Jensen's Fire Shelters he's made in Copenhagen. This time around the Copenhagen based artist/ designer created one for the Papay Gyro Nights 2014 way up in on the Orkney Islands in Northern Scotland.


"Portrait of a Slugger 19" by Hiro Kurata

Beautiful painting by NYC based Hiro Kurata now on display at SF's FFDG through April 19th as part of the group show "Salt the Skies".


"Veins of Octulen" by Curiot at FFDG

"Salt the Skies" opened on the 21st at FFDG and features this great piece by Mexico City based Curiot (Favio Martinez) whose sold out 2013 show Age of Omuktlans ran at FFDG. His forthcoming solo show is slated for March 2015.


Rome's Alice Pasquini ~Mural+

Rome based multimedia artist Alice Pasquini emailed over a recent mural completed in the historic working class neighborhood of Rome called Tufello.


Project M/3 in Berlin curated by NUART

BERLIN --- Project M is a temporary art project with the objective to improve the neighborhood, to push creativity and to connect people. At regular intervals Urban Nation with director Yasha Young invites a group of internationally reclaimed contemporary urban artists to re-design the facade and shop windows of a prominent residential building in Berlin, while it is being reconstructed.


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