If you have been involved in the art scene in Boston in the last several years then you might already know the answers to the following questions. Created by a man who had already contributed greatly to the art community in Boston, Cash For Your Warhol has stomped across the city and isn’t slowing down. Keeping safe and dry for a while he jumped into the tempting waters of the street art world and came out with Extremely clever, stupid easy and perfectly cynical project that we all wish we had thought of first. He’s already gone global and you new jack’s haven’t even left slummerville, so get with the program .
AS: We have known each other for a few years now, tell everyone else about your self.
CFYW: I’m an old geezer who just happens to be interested in street art. I’ve lived in the Boston area for nearly 40 years, and the past dozen years in Somerville.
AS: I know you have been involved in art for a while but to my knowledge mostly in photography. How did a project like CFYW come about?
CFYW: Photography is definitely a strong interest of mine, which blends well with my interest in street art because I feel there is a void there. Lots of people are shooting street art and blasting it out on Flickr, Facebook, etc. But most of it is rushed, and much of it ignores context. There’s an opportunity to create images from scenes that are being overlooked. CFYW came about like some other ideas of mine: it just popped into my head, and it felt good. If I have an idea that I think is worth exploring, I’ll do just that. I want to put ideas out there for people to see, without consideration of the outcome.
AS: Is CFYW business or pleasure?
CFYW: It’s turned out to be both. I have been offered an number of Warhols, which has been an unexpected outcome. No purchases yet, but we’re working on it. The problem is this: people who own Warhols think they are worth millions, and most aren’t. Andy was unbelievably prolific, and there are plenty of counterfeits out there. The fact is you can buy a legit Warhol for $10K…as well as for tens of millions of dollars. The rest is pleasure.
AS: Were you involved in advertising, street art or graffiti before taking on CFYW?
CFYW: Not really. I’m asked if I am a street artist, and I don’t really consider myself to be one. it’s true I put stuff up on the street, but that act doesn’t really describe me as a street artist per se, at least not in the way I understand it. Further, I find the label too restrictive in relation to the things I am interested in.
AS: I have seen a couple billboards pop up, what’s the story behind these?
CFYW: We are about to do our 4th billboard in Miami. It will be fairly topical – more on that later, I don’t want to spoil it. I contract with Clear Channel to do them. My hat is off to the likes of Ron English, Skullphone, Shepard, and others who take over billboards on their own. That’s not what I’m trying to do, nor do I think doing it my way minimizes the impact of the work.
AS: Did you expect the project to grow to the size that it has?
CFYW: Not at all. I embarked on it without spending too much time on how big or meaningless it would become. Worrying about the outcome can be a distraction.
AS: Well, you have mastered advertising as a medium, tastefully in my opinion. This is a source of conflict for a lot of artists. What is your take on art vs commercialism/advertising?
CFYW: Thanks for saying that. All I can say on this is I try to be as observant as possible: trends, styles, text, design. With CFYW I’m leaning on what already exists by trying to create something that is nearly identical to what’s already out there, but with a twist that creates some ambiguity. A lot of people don’t know if CFYW is real or not, which to me is a compliment.
AS: CFYW could be interpreted many ways. I love the play on art as a commodity and art vs. commercialism, but that is just my view. Is there a message or grand scheme behind the project?
CFYW: It is exactly that: art as a commodity and currency rather than art itself. The project is hard to describe any further – it sorta is what it is. If people see it and don’t get it, I don’t worry about it because there is no explaining it to them. But most people seem to have a positive, visceral experience with it.
AS: On a similar note, since your work is both legally and illegally installed in plain view of the public, what are you feelings on public space vs private?
CFYW: That is true – not all of the work has been done through legit channels. The public vs private space argument is a very interesting one. For example, about graffiti, I don’t think you can say people can tag wherever they want to, nor can you saw people can’t tag at all. The rules are grey and ever-shifting, and further complicated by the fact that every artist has his/her own set of rules. Personally I think there should be no rules at all, but I know I’m in the minority about that.
AS: I have seen your material free for the taking, how would someone get a sign/sticker with out jacking it from the street?
CFYW: I have a giant pile of stickers, available by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. In the early days I used to give the signs away, but I know have three galleries representing me (Boston, LA, Amsterdam). They like the project and are placing them with good collectors. Things have changed. I don’t take art from the street, but I know some people do. I can’t control that, nor do I want to.
AS: Name 5 artists working in any medium that you are excited about.
CFYW: Photographers Alec Soth and William Eggleston; street artists Vhils and Faile; and Andy Warhol.
AS: What’s your top 5 for Boston?
CFYW: Miracle of Science. MIT List Visual Arts Center. Fenway Park. Somerville. Comm Ave mall.
AS: Any shout outs?
CFYW: Gary Strack! Raul Gonzalez! Drew Katz! Stephanie and Ashley! Arlette Kayafas! PLV! And Daisy!
AS: Words for the haters?
CFYW: Wait, I have haters? That would make me legit!