Jessica and John Trippe
Ten years in the art game is no small feat…. For Fecal Face, the past decade has been one of a somewhat meteoric rise, from their modest beginnings as a part time hobby to their current status as a central hub of Bay Area arts as well as one of San Francisco’s more forward thinking galleries. For the last couple weeks, founder John Trippe has been preparing for FF’s ten year celebrations with a series of short artist interviews on his site, Hi-Fructose swung by the Luggage Store to check out the show’s install and to score an interview with the interviewer…
John Trippe at the Luggage Store
First off, thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to talk. Can you tell our readers a little bit about the origins of Fecal Face? How did it get started, where did the name come from?
Howdy, Hi Fructose… Well, back in like 1998 I was living in a dirty skate house here in SF while working at Thrasher Magazine. Love working on a magazine and love skating but also wanted to create my own zine to feature my photography and writing as well as my friend’s art. Many skaters create zines and the names given to them don’t really mean a whole lot. I brainstormed for like 10 seconds and Fecal Face sounded good to me… In 2000 I taught myself html and moved the zine online. Over the years I’ve thought of changing the name as the site got more popular… Every time I thought of changing it my friends would tell me not to. Then after 5 years, it was just too late… I made my Fecal bed and have to live with it… Kinda sick of people coming into the gallery asking about it though. What are you going to do? Can’t blame them at all… A lot of people get a chuckle out of it. Maybe we should take ourselves more seriously and rename it The Most Serious Art Website on the Planet Earth. Maybe T.M.S.A.W.O.T.P.E…. Has a nice ring to it :)
Do you remember the artist you posted on the site? Who was it and where are they now?
The first artist?… I think that might be Paul Urich or maybe Pat O’Dell. Not sure. Simon Evans was in there too around that time. They were all roommates… Paul Urich still creates beautiful work and tattoos here in SF. O’Dell works for Vice in NYC doing the web show Epicly Later’d… and Simon Evans did really well with his art career. He lives in Berlin and makes art full time. All good dudes.
At what point did you decide to make the transition to Fecal Face as a full time job?
I was working in skateboarding doing a lot of web work on a part time basis… The companies kept closing their SF office and asking me to move to LA. I’m not much of a LA kind of person. When the last company closed their SF office, I figured it was time to try this full time… I think that was 2 or more years ago. Not sure. It’s all a blur of living good art show to good art show.
In addition to the site, there’s also FFDG, can you tell us about the transition from website to brick and mortar space? Who was the first show in the space?
It’s a tiny little space. It works both as a place to do Fecal Face out of and a space to showcase work we’ve been enjoying over the years… I love looking at art online, but it’s such a better experience in real life. It’s funny how some work looks great online and so-so in real life. Obviously the opposite happens too. And most of the time the work looks great online and even better in real life… Like work from Mel Kadel is best viewed in person to truly appreciate her intense line work… To live with this amazing art everyday is a real privilege… Our first show was a group show called “Welcome Home”. Just a handful of artists we enjoy.
You’ve shown many of the best new contemporary artists over the years, is there one show in particular that stands out the most for you? Why?
Not to sound too goofy, but they all have something unique that’s enjoyable for me… I love the clean shows that focus on the framed work and love when an artist uses the entire space. Jeremy Fish and Mike Shine went all out with large installation murals… Really looking forward to Josh Keyes show opening April 2011 and Henry Gunderson’s second solo show here. He continues to amaze me with his humble attitude and ability to always move towards something so uniquely his own. I like to be surprised by every new piece I see from Henry.
When you first told your parents about Fecal Face, what did they think about it?
They’re great people, but dropping out of engineering school to move to San Francisco for skateboarding kinda confused them. Then my email address is from fecalface.com… They weren’t really fazed by anything though… My mom died some years back. I wish she was here to see how far it’s come since then. My dad just wants me to get health insurance and enjoys looking at pictures from my wife and my life out here on the other coast. He lives in Maryland. They’re both hyper visual people. My mom used to paint and my dad’s a photographer.
How has Fecal Face changed in the last ten years?
Everything has changed in the last 10 years. Back in 2000 there was hardly anything online for our contemporary arts scene. Now there’s so much information online. I mean, we were online before friendster/ myspace/ youtube/ facebook and just about Google… One thing I know there’s less of now then from the start would be fewer photos of me and my friends getting drunk… The art’s a lot better as well.
What did you think 2010 would be like back then?
Hahaha, that’s what I’ve been asking all the 10 year artists… I guess like a lot of the artists in the show, I’d say I didn’t think all that far ahead. I remember getting freaked out by the whole Y2K thing (kids, ask anyone 30 years or older).Plans for the next ten years?Man, I keep thinking I’d like to direct films. Video and film were my first passions. Would be nice to have a bit more time for that, but I stopped Fecal Face back in 2003 to concentrate on film making. I ended up spending more time working on my blog about the film progress than I was working on the actual film… I think I like visual art and the internet too much to stop. It scratches the right itches inside… I bet I’ll be running a gallery and covering the art scene. I’m a control freak, but it would be rad to find someone to pass it onto at some point. Who knows, but Fecal Face should be around for awhile.