A few weeks ago I had a chance to sit down for a cup of coffee with Instagram's Wolfofthebeach to talk about short films, art schools, and his creative process. Below is just a small sample of our talk. The majority was not recorded out of good taste.
SSA: What do you do?
Wotb: I make films and sound tracks for films.
SSA: In 3 words, how would you describe the films that you make?
Wotb: Northern, clostrophobic, psychodelia
SSA: What makes them Northern?
Wotb: The films all have southern stuff, but I think that stems from being stuck up North in the Northern claustophobia.
SSA: Does that make you some kind of carpetbagger?
Wotb: Possibly, I’ve bagged some carpets in my day.
SSA: What types of films do you make?
Wotb: It depends on what I’m doing it for. If I’m making music videos for people I try to draw from whatever it is. There are common themes throughout everything, but I try to make everything for whatever the purpose. I very rarely sit down and make something for the sake of making it. It’s typically someone saying “he will you do this,” but then I try to use common elements throughout all of it because it’s animation and a lot easier to use the same things.
SSA: Who have you made films for?
Wotb: Friend’s bands like C.h.o.d.e. (compassionate humans occupy dumpster earth), Scott Churchman, comercials for Ozone Pizza in Florida, Fountain Porter in South Philly, Slapstik, and a band called Hallowbaou in Florida. I primarily work with stop motion animation only.
SSA: How did you get into stop motion?
Wotb: It something that I’d always wanted to do. Once I got an Iphone and realized that some of the first cheap camera apps allowed you to take pictures quickly, it was an easy way to do it. A retarded kid that I used to work with had given me a dry-erase board, and one day I just stared making UFO films.
SSA: Wait, you and the kid, or just you?
Wotb: Just me.
SSA: That’s an interesting way to get into it.
Wotb: Yeah, a retarded way to get into it.
SSA: Are you working on anything right now?
Wotb: I’ve started a few things, but I’ve got some technical aspects to work through. I’ve got a huge dry erase board and green chalkboard with chalk makers. I can animate on that and green screen out the green, then lay that over real footage. But not really knowing what I’m doing and learning the software as I go, makes it tough sometimes to have ideas, but not be satisfied with the results. So things sit for a while until I’m technically proficient to be able to wrap them up.
SSA: Did you go to school for any of this?
Wotb: Umm, no. I’m completely self-taught.
SSA: Would you call yourself an outside artist?
Wotb: No, I’m pretty inside.
SSA: What’s your take on the label “outsider art”?
SSA: Have you thought about it?
Wotb: I have thought about it. I think it’s kind of stupid. I think people should make things, and that’s really about it. I don’t try to make things that actually mean anything. I just make things for the sake of making them. I think if you do that, in your own way you’re an artist. Being inside and outside kind of dumb. I mean sometimes being inside is a good thing. It’s always better to be on the inside than the outside.
For more videos and stills by Wolf, visit his Instagram page at http://instagram.com/wolfofthebeach.
add domestic purchased made thru www.slapstikskateboardart.bigcartel.com will come with free shipping. that means decks are $13 off, and shirts and ties are $3 off. enjoy it while it last because it ends November 1st, 2014.
Skate fags, art fags, jocks, and nerds. These are just a few labels that most people hear at some point in their lives that are meant to do harm. Sometimes the label created to hurt you can somehow help you if you take it as your own.
Obamacare. Art Fag shirts are available at the webstore and Exit Skateshop. Thanks to Ryan Gensemer for the animation. @wolfofthebeach.
Most of you have seen Marc Johnson’s interview on theskateboardmag drawing attention to his observations of recycled trends and the identities within the subculture. While skateboarding appears to have had it’s own face, that image has always been the product of cultural movements influencing it. Originally serving as a substitute for surfing, the act of skateboarding evolved to create an identity of it’s own. As time moved on the activity spawned a uniform, resulting in the influx of punk rock, deadheads, and a cast of other social outsiders, and the uniforms became trends. Spandex and neon colors of 80’s pop bands. Big pants and white t’s of the underground rave culture in the early 90's. Preppy athletic wear in the mid 90’s. And currently the three music sections of punk, classic, and rap. They’re all uniforms that have never implied the conveyed the originality of the skateboarders wearing them, and the industry recognizes this. In order for skateshops to remain in business, the majority of their profit comes from the sale of soft goods like shoes, jeans, woven tops, and accessories. The amount of product is significantly larger than the small selection of t-shirts and fanny packs sold in the 80's because rebellion is no longer an identity, but a costume. There is a gap between the act of skateboarding and the appearance of skateboarding, and 90% of the time those people spending more time selecting the right pair of "plant" socks to match their tie dyed 666 shirt than finding the right concave and wheelbase of their deck aren't engaged in the activity of skateboarding for the same reasons as you.
Dressing up like something doesn't make you something no matter how many times people "like" the thing you're impersonating.
After years of underground sales, promotions, road trips, demos, and contest sponsorships, Slapstik has finally placed an ad in a zine. I have no idea if this was worth the money spent, but I'm sure I'll find out once I start contacting shops. Thanks to Skatejawn for the support and Philadelphia for inspiring me to keep this up.
Slapstik Skateboard Art introduces formal wear for skateboarders, making the assimilation into corporate life less painful. Ties are available in black with grey ink, and navy blue with burgundy ink. A special thanks goes to Jason Jones at www.thrashstudio.com for all his help with production.
I've known Tyler for over 15 years, and have never ceased to be amazed by his creative spontaneity, and raw emotions on a skateboard. This was an email from Tyler written off the cuff about his observations of people and their technological blinders. More of Tyler's visual work can be seen at here.
Everything was made easy enough and human comfort was the battle cry of the day. Somehow we all agreed to turn everything we touched into a rectangle or square, and then place these bits into further subdivided rectilinear compartments. We embraced the world as 0n/Off, through the prism of the glowing tombstones we all carried around in our pockets.
Still the sun rose in the east, salmon and corral shot through with zigzag platinum illumination like when the tide rolls back on a flat shore.
Gravity is weak, but strong enough to make us wonder and dream. A father and child roll down the hills of an abandon medical complex. They are forbidden to be there by law. The concrete pavement is cracked and vegetation sprouts forth from the foundations like Cthulhu Rising. They pass honeysuckles and wild juniper, through towers of Kudzu and mourning glories. Behold, something stops them in their tracks, something feral and biblical, soothsayer and rhyme master.
The serpent is lackadaisical, sunning itself in the shade. Father knows best, or this is the facade he tries to project at this particular junction. Ever try to catch a snake? It was easier when I was younger, most things were, those that required reflexes anyway.
The hand is so steady, lurks so close behind the snakes, where the arrow head meets the body. Steady, Steady, Steady...
Like God's forlorn gaze, skater shot and lightning bound the thin sliver shade finds sanctuary in the tall brambles. The father steps back, relieved, the son looks perplexed and amused. They skate back to civilization, and on the way home, everyone they pass on the street is staring at their phones.
I had a chance to catch up with Jakob Heid at Exit Skateshop following the opening of a group photo show “TIMEFRAME” featuring the work of 8 photographers with ties to Philadelphia. Jakob and I spoke about his history with photography, and how his exposure to skateboarding influenced his creative process of deconstructing images and putting them back together with different sets tools. Below is a portion of that interview.
How did you get into photography?
I took darkroom classes in my junior and senior year of high school and loved it.
During my portfolio review for Tyler I was pretty undecided and followed the advice of the reviewer that said she could see me as a designer. After the foundation year I spent the next two in the design program where I really struggled coming to terms with that kind of work. I had lots of problems in design because I forced myself into something that I actually didn’t belong in. Maybe I had skills for it, or an eye for design, but it wasn’t the kind of stuff I wanted to do everyday. I took a step back and realized there was something missing. It was something that I stopped doing when I graduated high school and that was photography. I decided if I was going to go to school and finish out, I should be productive, making work that represents me. I wanted to enjoy the stuff that I was doing, learn new things, and get back to my roots as an image maker. As a photographer you’re still designing, so I feel that some of the things I learned in the [design] program have really improved my photography. The best part is that I am having so much more fun doing this new type of work. I’ve got a lot more peace with myself creatively, which is really important if you’re in art school.
What about your portfolio do you think lead the reviewer to believe you would be a good fit for the design program?
For Tyler you needed certain requirements – most of which had to be drawn from what you saw in front of you – landscapes, portraiture, still life, etc. and I didn’t draw very well. I went about making these drawings systematically, so they seemed more procedure based rather than instinctual, so she saw the way that I digested what was in front of me. I guess she attributed these skills to that of a graphic designer.
Was it almost like you were doing layouts?
Yeah, exactly. Visual layouts - shapes and forms on a flat surface that when combined would create certain illusions of life. But I had a lot of different things, more than the required amount. Making the portfolio was my first time attempting a lot of projects at once because I didn’t take my first art class until I was a junior in high school, around the same time I starting taking photos. I was still growing up and recognizing things that I had seen outside of school, particularly in skateboarding. One time I even took a blank deck and cut out a stencil of the Chocolate logo then spray-painted it red onto the bottom so I could have a cool board for cheap. It was one of my earlier memories of a DIY attitude. I guess this is an example of that process of using and reusing that my portfolio reviewer must have seen in my works.
How has your structured approach to creating work affected your photography?
I’ve always been interested in breaking down the barrier between what you see and how you see it. A lot of people see photography as an indolent art form, not knowing the difference between “taking” and “making” a photo. What I try to do is highlight that difference. Photography essentially uses a tool to burn an image of something onto a plane – whether it’s a 4x5 film negative or fabric coated chemicals. These are some methods that people are familiar with; however, I try to bring in many methods and ideas into my work. I’d say that I’m more of an image-maker, or an image-collector rather than simply a photographer.
While moving around your images I noticed that they change, depending on where you put it in a room, with reflections off the glass and the gray in the floor adapting to whatever environment its in, almost like a chameleon. Was that something you had thought about in your work?
I didn’t really anticipate that sort of reaction, but I’m always interested in the ways people view photography – not just my own work. I’ve played with illusions in my work, specifically with 3D photography, where you combine multiple perspectives into one to create depth. It started for me with two large 3.5’ x 4’ photos in school. I loved how people started moving around and noticed that the visual aspects of the work began to move from left to right. At that point it was no longer a flat thing on the wall, and realized that the image was alive, this is why I’m really into creating these stereoscopic photos.
Yeah. What I like about the photogram is that things change even though traditionally photograms are used to capture something still. I’ve noticed that in my Terminal series the composition changes when you move around, the shadows change, and that’s representing life in general. It’s interactive with the world. You’re not just sitting there digesting it, but allowing the work to simultaneously reflect things that are going on outside of the frames.
TIMEFRAME is up at Exit, located at 825 N. 2nd St. Philadelphia, PA 19123, until 9/12/14.