Jeff Hamada is a Japanese Canadian artist living in Vancouver who is the brains behind the ultra-cool creative foundation BOOOOOOOM! Japan Cinema LOVES film, but if we recognize film as art, then we must pay respect to all art. What better way then, to talk with Mr. Hamada, about his real-world creative hub, favorite Asian films, and personal advice for aspiring artists. After working with some big league brands and having success in Hong Kong, people like Jeff are we reason we get up in the morning. Read below as I had an opportunity to share some words and dive headfirst into the BOOOOOOOMosphere!
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning?
Jeff: Probably eat lunch? I work on the site from midnight until about 4 or 5am so I wake up late.
Tell us about BOOOOOOOM!?
Jeff: I started (BOOOOOOOM) about 3 years ago as a way to collect all the things I was inspired by in one place. I never intended for it to be anything, it was (and still is) a hobby. It has somehow become my full-time job, and I pretty much spend all my time brainstorming fun projects and connecting with artists. I feel pretty lucky.
We love that the website features film submissions as well as general art & design. What is the criteria for being spotlighted on the website?
Jeff: I’m not sure there is a criteria. I think I have a special place in my heart for hand-made analog work, but mainly I just post what resonates with me. I am way behind on going through email submissions, I have literally 3,500 emails sitting in my inbox (huge apologies to anyone waiting on a response).
Since the site is built on a user community, what kind of opportunities have been presented to you from helming such a huge creative community?
Jeff: Lots of companies have expressed interest in working together now so it’s a nice position to be in getting to choose who to work with and how. I am being pretty selective about partnerships and all the projects slated for the next year are with people I really want to work with. There is one with the NFB (National Film Board of Canada) is one that I am particularly excited about.
You’ve worked with such big name clients as Converse, Oakley, and Electronic Arts. Any advice to any aspiring artists out there?
Jeff: You can always bank on “future abilities”, and say yes to jobs that require skills you don’t have yet! I had an interview at EA and told them I knew how to use Photoshop even though I didn’t actually know. To me it seemed slightly different than lying because I planned to know it by the time I started work. When I started work there I was in way over my head but I’ve found that’s the best position to be in. In my first month there an art director was angry that I wasn’t delivering what he wanted, and I explained to him I had no idea how to do what he wanted. I told him that if he could show me once, I’d do it correctly every time. Over the course of the next six months we developed a great working relationship because I did things exactly the way he wanted them to be done. I could have easily lost that job but I would have only been back where I started so I wasn’t really risking anything. Also, failure is important, it’s a gauge – if you’re never failing it means you’re never trying something new.
How important is it to remain true to yourself and your individual vision as an artist?
Jeff: I’m not sure about the “individual vision” especially when you’re working with others there will be compromises all the time, but remaining true to yourself is really the most important thing. I won’t do anything that compromises my values.
Do you enjoy Asian cinema? Have any favorites?
Jeff: I was in Japan a few months ago and visited the Miyazaki museum and they have a couple amazing zoetrope display there – essentially a series of statues of characters that are like successive frames of animation, on a rotating carousel. As the carousel spins a strobe light flickers and suddenly these inanimate objects come alive, like 3D animation but in real life, with statues! It is one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen. You have to go there and see it for yourself. So I’ve been watching Miyazaki films again lately.
Thank you for your time, and Japan Cinema wishes you continued success in all your many endeavors.
Jeff: Cheers, I really appreciate the support!