We had the good fortune of connecting with Poster Journal and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Poster, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Well it was sort of on accident. And it really wasn’t intentional. It just sort of happened. I guess I can say I’ve always been making things, and looking back I can see how everything from preschool has lead to what I’m doing now. But it’s not that obvious. It’s not like I was doing graphic design as a 5 year old, in the way that there are professional pianists who started playing piano at 5 years old, or professional photographers who got their first camera at 5 years old. I’ve been exposed to so many disciplines (music, print, photography, art history, writing, marketing, architecture, philosophy, etc.) that they’ve all sort of blended and informed each other. What I’m doing is not really “graphic design”, even though that’s the medium I’m using right now. I’d say it’s more performance art, as pretentious as that is. It’s more writing than anything. The words are the point. I try to do as little designing as possible. The design is just the vehicle for the words. That’s why I love patterns so much, not changing things that don’t need to be changed (colors, texture, font). I like what happens when I constrain those to varying degrees. Okay I’m getting off topic. I don’t know why I pursued this, and sometimes I wish I hadn’t. Creativity can be a curse. It’s a dangerous path to take. But I think it’s the most human path, the most generous path. I know now that, because it scares me so much, I must go down this path. Or else I’ll wither and die.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I feel all types of ways about the business of art. I was excited to monetize my work because it was a chance for me to make real physical things that could exist in the world. The added pressure of it having to be good enough for people to pay for it was the biggest challenge, the biggest constraint, but it forces it to be better. It also forces it turn into a product, which can be very damaging to the creative process. It’s a very tricky balance that I’m still learning. I’m vertically integrated, meaning I own (almost) every step of the process. I make all my prints myself. That allows me to be experimental with what I sell, because I don’t have to carry inventory. There’s no risk. If I sell one print of a design, or 50 prints, it’s okay. It also allows me to make extremely high quality prints at a great price. If I were to use the same paper, ink, and process at a professional print shop, I’d have to sell for at least double what I sell for now. The downside though is I have to be my own print shop. Each drop takes days, sometimes over a week, to print and package. The business is constantly changing. I think the business is part of the art project. Business is another medium to express the way you would like things to be, the world to be. And no, building this business is not easy, it’s actually the hardest thing I’ve ever done and continues to be the hardest thing I do. How do I overcome challenges? Slowly and painfully, because learning is slow and painful, change is slow and painful, but I’m so grateful for all the learning and growth and change despite the challenge. I’ve learned that the only important goal is to make things that people love, and everything else will follow. It’s the hardest goal and it’s always changing and impossible to define but it’s what you must aim at. The brand is still in its infancy and we’ll see what happens to it as it is the hardest art project of all (building some thing that is recognizable, a symbol of something) but in many ways I consider it an anti-brand some thing that is contrary to how business should be done. I think there’s so many opportunities to redefine how art is consumed, how business talks about art, how they don’t have to be separate.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Well, I’m from Orange County, California and I’m biased but I happen to think it’s the most beautiful place in the world. It’s better than LA because it’s not so polluted and crowded and has way more nature. I would take them all around Laguna Beach, the Cleveland National Forest, the Santa Ana mountains. Hiking, beach days, long drives. We’d definitely go to Joshua Tree too, which is only like two hours away. I love the desert so much.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Wow, well, I think I need to thank (and apologize) to everyone. What’s coming to mind is my first grade teacher, Mrs. Kalmonson, who said that one day she’d see my work in a book, a museum, or both. Kind of spooky that I ended up being a writer/artist. Did she manifest that? Could she see into the future? Did she say that to everyone?
Shoutout to my piano teacher, Donna. She recognized me as an artist. As someone who uses the medium to express something. As a performer. She taught me artistic discipline, and working within the constraints of creativity.
Shoutout to my family of course. I can only be a whacky artist freak on the internet because they take care of me. If I was in New York struggling to pay rent, I would’ve abandoned this a long time ago probably. Or maybe the opposite. I don’t know. But the freedom they’ve given me has made this possible. Freedom and patience.
Shoutout to my friends. Some of them love it, some of them hate it. I think it’s because I’m annoying about it?
Shoutout to the audience. I can’t believe anyone wants to look at this shit. I can’t believe anyone wants to BUY this shit. The “audience” is a rather abstract concept, because I treat it as a singular thing, even though it’s made up of individual people. I am so fascinated by it, terrified by it, confused by it. I love the audience, I love making things for the audience specifically. But I’m also scared of the audience, because I have stage fright.
Shoutout to Steve Jobs and Tim Cook. Apple represents the “best” to me. I try to emulate the way Apple works. I am so influenced by Apple, their design, their marketing, the way their business is built, the experiences they create, the part of the market they occupy.
Shoutout to Gaga. She is the model for performance art, for respecting the audience, for giving up the most private and honest parts of herself to others. That is generosity, that is human. I model after her.
All belong to and have been shot by me, Poster Journal.