Some highlight's from Roger's career include creating Swindle magazine with Shepard Fairey, producing the graffiti doc Infamy, co-curating MoCA's Art in the Streets exhibit, among countless other projects. You might also remember him trying to save the day in Exit Through the Gift Shop. See his full bio here: www.rogergastman.com/about
and if you haven't already, check out the book Roger did with Caleb Neelon: The History of American Graffiti available on Amazon
and Wall Writers, the companion book for the documentary available here
feel free to start submitting questions. The interview will be posted to coincide with the film release in June
Post by sɐǝpı ɟo uoıʇɐɹǝpǝɟ on Jun 8, 2016 16:04:45 GMT
NBF Q&A with Roger Gastman
Was it difficult to track down all these old writers? Did you find them generally happy to talk about their past, or were some not interested in digging it up?
It took several years to dig them all up. A few people were easy to find, most were very hard. It’s the general story of you find one guy who has the name of another guy, someone ran into someone at a funeral, their cousin still talks to the guy from the old neighborhood that might know…
When I actually contacted them most were very surprised that I wanted to talk about what I did. Overall all the people interviewed were very giving and happy.
Why do you think many artists (like Taki) gave up writing after turning 18 whereas others (such as Futura) are still painting today?
Most of these guys started so early there was no future in it – they also were not doing it to be artists – just to write their names and be known. When they graduated or got a real job their time was up. Of course a few kept with it. It’s sort of like sports – people graduate high school and they were a good baseball player but they need to go have a real life – they are not getting drafted.
Do you have an all time favourite piece and why is it your favourite?
I can’t answer that. It’s like asking me my favorite flavor of ice cream – or what my favorite of my two dogs are. Some things I need to keep to myself. I will say I love when I see big illegal works and new spots.
Do you have an all time favourite artist and why is he/she your favourite?
As unoriginal of an answer this is - I love love Warhol and Haring. I can’t get enough of either of them.
Do you feel that some of the impact has been taken out of graffitti by companies using it to promote products.
Sure I do. But we can say that about all most all youth cultures that get this big. Some companies use it really well and help make things possiable for the artists that would not be other wise. Anyone that says this is subculture is kidding themselves at this point. Graffiti is its own large culture with many subcultures that have sprung up off of it.
Who's the most charismatic writer you've come across?
GO GO TONYA F while I was working on THE LEGEND OF COOL “DISCO” DAN. She by far wins the award. She was active in Washington DC 1983-6 give or take a year. She got up a lot with her sister JUMPIN JANET and their friend LISA OF THE WORLD. You wont really find anything about her if you look. I have only found two photos that her name written in it. But I know it was everywhere. She took me about six years to find. TONYA needs her own reality show – her entire family does. Check out my doc: THE LEGEND OF COOL “DISCO” DAN on itunes and you will see what I mean.
Whose work do you have adorning the walls of your home?
I have a lot of great pieces from all sorts of people. A few include: Richard Colman, Stephen Powers, Jim Houser, Shepard Fairey, Cleon Peterson, Anthony Lister, Mike Giant, Banksy, John Wayne Gacy, GG Allin, Revs and so many – way to many to mention. I am super proud of what I have collected over the years.
Would you rather have feathers in your armpits or finger nails instead of teeth?
Would you punch an alien?
What did the writers you spoke to think of the movie?
Most all of the writers in the film have seen it and love it. Of course we always could have talked about something else and pushed something further but in the end we only have so much time. I am very happy that no one thinks we ruined their story.
How do you stand on the frase : "never meeting your hero's" And did some writers disappoint you when you spoke to them face to face?
So MANY people have disappointed me. So so so so many. It’s part of the job in a way – if I want to dig stuff up and tell the story I need to be ready for it. In other parts of my life I have often chosen to not meet people when I have had had the chance for this exact reason.
Did you consciously start keeping all the pens and cans because you knew people would be interested later on, or did you just forget to clean out your closet?
I have always been a collector. I started collecting graffiti stuff very early on. I was 14. I never stopped! We would trade it back and forth and the dig and hunt has never ended. I am glad I always held on to it.
What do you think about street art being shown in musea and sold in (high end) galleries? And why do you think so?
I love it. Look at the work I do!
Have you ever bought street art?
No. I buy art. If its not on the street it is no longer graffiti or street art.
Do you know any Dutch writers who started the 'scene' here in the Netherlands after visiting NYC.
I’m sure there are many but I don’t personally know them.
If you can name just one writer who worked with you on your project who would it be and why?
This question makes no sense.
Street art is taking from the streets on to the books, movies and digital online fora! Do you know how street artist feel about that turn of events?
It’s a movement that has grown worldwide and invaded everything. You can’t watch a tv show or go to K-Mart without seeing its influence. Just so the history is respected and people start to learn the difference between graffiti, street art and murals I will be happy.
And any wise words you would like to share with us?
Always use 2ply. Don’t be cheap and buy the generic stuff. Step up your game.
If you had to go backpacking around the world for 12 months and you could only choose one companion, who out of taki 183, cornbread & joe 182 would you choose and why?
Fuck. This is such an amazing question. Reminds me of questions we would ask people in While You Were Sleeping years back. First off I hate camping and the outdoors so so so much. So this would be my worst nightmare off the bat. I would go with TAKI – he can tie the nest knots.
Tried to get one but they only ship to the US grrrrrrrr
I can piggy back if anyone wants one... heavy book though so it might get pricey
Thanks - very kind of you I already have a copy and you're right they are bloody heavy so I'll probably just have to let it go and keep mine It was $20 just for US shipping so could be a lot to send over to the UK Oh well