We had the good fortune of connecting with Scott Froschauer and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Scott, is there a life experience you can think of that you feel has had a profound impact on your life or career?
I was actively engaged in making art when I was young. Photography, collage, writing… I loved making models and creating little cities out of construction paper. But I was never really that strong at drawing or painting. When I went to college to study art, I was really discouraged because I saw so many people who had such a better grasp of their drawing and painting skills. I felt like I wasn’t a “real” artist because I didn’t have certain skills and didn’t have a relationship with those skills that I saw in those around me. I dropped out and went on to get my degree in linguistics. The movie industry called to me and I found a great career in Los Angeles working on set. The breakthrough experience that brought me back to art was attending Burning Man in 2004. It was there that I saw people engaging in expression of all kinds. It was through that experience that I started viewing a wider variety of activities as “art.” I re-discovered the feeling of making things that I just came up with and wanted to make. It was a chance to re-engage with creativity and craft. I’ve been going back to Burning Man ever since that first time (until this year, when we will be exploring the event virtually) and it has strengthened my creative muscles and given me the permission to explore.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I like exploring with my art, I like it when different concepts collide and interact, and I love the process. My best known works are my street signs. There are so many levels to how they operate and the skills that I’ve honed to make that body of work what it is today. My degree in linguistics wasn’t just about words, it was also about systems of communication… symbols. That has had a huge impact on my process of deconstructing the symbols of street signs and rebuilding them with positive affirmations in the place of the previously negative and coercive language. But that’s just the design process. Fabrication of the signs themselves has gone through so many phases and sourcing vendors and playing with techniques so that I can match the guidelines for the Department of Transportaion. But designing and making the signs is one small element of the process. Writing the proposals and standing in front of City Councils while people vote on my presentations… working with park commissioners and waiting for the gas company (and the electric company, and all the cellular companies) to meet me at a location to confirm that I won’t be digging into one of their lines, all the paperwork. It’s an art and a skill set to navigate that process and develop a body of work that engages with that process. Something I had no idea about when I started. But once I knew I could make a leap from putting up my artwork illegally as street art to having it in public spaces legally, I knew I had to try!
Any great local spots you’d like to shoutout?
I grew up on the East Coast, so I often have friends visiting from there, and the thing that Los Angeles has that no where else does is the topography. The ocean, the forest, the desert, the mountains… I love giving tours that show off the natural wonders of the area. A favorite tour of mine starts with lunch in Hollywood. There are a ton of choices, but Fat Sal’s triggers an East Coast vibe for me. We do a little drive along Hollywood Blvd, Sunset Blvd and swing by Beechwood for a view of the Hollywood sign then head up the 101 to Rte 23, Westlake Blvd and head south. You’ll see that road in all kinds of car commercials. It is beautiful and fun to drive and at the end it gives the most magnificent reveal of the Pacific Ocean as you dive down to the PCH in Malibu. Cruise along the beach to the Palisades and Santa Monica and, if you time it right, get to the pier just in time for a margarita at sunset. It’s super tourist-y, but it gives an idea of how broad the LA experience is. The next few days would ideally involve the epic museums of LA, the Getty, MOCA, the Geffin, a little tour of downtown… The best would then be a trip out to Joshua Tree to visit friends and discover the desert with a stop in Crestline on the way back to see the mountains and spend some time in our little A-Frame cabin. I feel like the landscape in Los Angeles has more to offer than any place.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The biggest shoutout I can give is to Burning Man. From the outside, many view Burning Man as an event that happens in the Nevada desert every year where people party for a week. And, of course, that is one part of it… the part that gets the most eyeballs for online articles. My experience with Burning Man has been to see what happens when people are given the permission to express themselves. Some people call Burning Man a “Permission Engine.” For me it was seeing creativity that didn’t have guidelines, and seeing what happens when someone finds a pure vision… how other people come to support that vision. Burning Man is an immense undertaking that is comprised of an uncountable number of undertakings, and it’s driven by vision and inspiration. The vast majority of artwork at Burning Man is done for free, by volunteers, just because they are inspired to do it. Witnessing that inspiration changed my perspective on creating art and creating community. Those thoughts are now central to my practice of making work that engages and inspires my community.
All images credited to me.