Interview with Jeff Hamada of Booooooom
Vancouver-based artist Jeff Hamada started his website Booooooom as a simple way to encourage creative-types (encompassing art, design, film and music) by sharing their work with others. Since it was founded in 2008, Booooooom has grown in leaps and bounds and is something of an on-line phenomenon: it now has over 3 million page views a month and an international readership. There’s something about Jeff’s positivity in celebrating work that interests him, hoping to spark inspiration in others, that is both generous in spirit and refreshingly unpretentious. We asked Jeff a few questions about Booooooom and he very kindly indulged us:
Here and Elsewhere: What inspired you to start Boooooom?
Jeff Hamada: I wanted to create a place to encourage people who are making work. Just a simple way to say hey I noticed your work and I like it. I also wanted to encourage those not making work to go and make something. So that’s the thinking behind the daily posts and the monthly collaborative art projects.
H&E: Are there some loose criteria for the content you include in Booooooom? What work interests you right now?
JH: I get asked this a lot and I still don’t have a very good answer. I’m not sure what is common to all the things I post on the site. I like imperfect things, things that reveal the human hand. I like loose drawings and paintings the best.
H&E: As an artist, do you think of Booooooom as part of your artistic practice – a curatorial project of sorts?
JH: That’s a great question, I’ve never really considered it part of my art practice but I guess it is. Looking for new work every day has become a sort of ritual for me. I enjoy the curatorial aspect but the most exciting part for me is the interaction with the readers. I get a rush seeing a whole bunch of submissions get sent in after launching a new project. So in a way the site just sort of happens to be about art, it could be about anything as long as it allowed me to connect and communicate with people.
H&E: It seems like you’re not particularly concerned with where an artist went to school or their exhibition history when you’re including them on your website so you’re a bit anti-establishment in that sense. Would you say you’re trying to do something against the mainstream with Booooooom?
JH: I would say I am trying to make the site as accessible as possible. So in that sense I’m trying to do something really mainstream. So maybe it’s sort of more against the art world than it is against the mainstream.
H&E: The Internet has afforded us the opportunity to see and connect with so many artists and so much artwork that we might not otherwise have access to, which is great, but do you find looking at work on the web sometimes does it a disservice since we lose the size, scale, materiality and any specific installation setting when we experience work this way? Do you find it desensitizing at all to view work online?
JH: Yeah I think that the web is the second best way to view work unless of course the work was designed specifically for the web. Google is archiving artwork online now so you can view hi res images of work you might never get to see in person. People who can afford to go to the Louvre should still go but it’s an amazing resource for people who can’t.
I think the web is taking away a lot of experiences that we don’t realise we are losing. I heard a comedian once talk about how he woke up one morning and wondered where Tom Petty was born, and he thought about it for a few seconds and then Googled it and then he knew the answer. But then he thought about how when he was younger he would have had to ask his friends and if they didn’t know he simply wouldn’t have known the answer until he met someone who did. He would walk around wondering and it would bother him and eventually he would forget about it. Then one day he would see a beautiful girl wearing a Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers t-shirt and he would run over to her and her ask if she knew where Tom Petty was born, and she would tell him. And because he had gone so long without knowing the answer it would be a significant event and he would marry her. The internet has destroyed this moment.
H&E: One great thing about your website is how visual it is – its jam packed with images of artwork and not a lot of editorializing! Are you of the school of thought that the work should speak for itself, that the visual aspect of the work should be paramount?
JH: I don’t really post conceptual work that would require me to write a whole lot for someone to understand what was going on. I don’t think the visual aspect of an artwork is always paramount to the concept but I realise that with Booooooom I am posting images on the internet so it lends itself to this sort of curation.
H&E: Thanks, Jeff, for those thoughts!