Words by: Chelsea Green
Photos courtesy of: Fecal Face
Fecal Face is one of the most influential online art magazines on the West Coast – hell, all over the world for that matter. It’s the site that people go to get their news about upcoming and current art openings, artist interviews, studio visits, and so much more. It really gives you a chance at an insider’s look at what the art world has been up to (you know, while you’re stuck picking your nose and staring at your computer screen, wishing you could draw…).
We had the pleasure of asking founder and editor, John Trippe, about the creation of Fecal Face and the art monster it has come to be over the years. Having started off as a zine, then turned into a website, and now expanding to a gallery space, Fecal Face has built themselves from the ground up to be where they are today – one of San Francisco’s biggest taste makers!
What’s the story of how Fecal Face came to be?
I moved to San Francisco when I was 18 to be involved with the massive skate scene the city had going on at the time. I worked at Thrasher Magazine doing layout and also filmed a lot for skate videos and shot some photos. While working at Thrasher, I created a ‘zine and named it Fecal Face. It was my own “magazine” where I could put in my random photos and my friends fine art. In 2000 I taught myself HTML and needed to buy a domain name. “Why not the name of my zine,” I thought, and I just began filling the site up with the content of the zine.
The name Fecal Face just kind of rolled off the tongue and seemed funny at the time. If I would have known that 14 years later I would be making a living off it… well, I may have named it something else, but I’m glad I didn’t.
How did you come up with the name?
It started out as a skate/ art zine, like I mentioned, and skate zines have all kinds of random names that don’t really make any sense. The name Fecal Face just kind of rolled off the tongue and seemed funny at the time. If I would have known that 14 years later I would be making a living off it… well, I may have named it something else, but I’m glad I didn’t.
How would you describe Fecal Face to someone that may be unfamiliar?
Well, it went online in 2000, and back then there wasn’t much in the way of art/skate centric websites online. We were online before EBay/ Youtube… Google had just got going a few years before. There were no such terms as “blog,” etc. So at the time, it was a pretty radical thing… Now, I tell people it’s an online art magazine/ blog that’s mainly curated by me and its contributors from San Francisco, Los Angeles, NYC, and wherever really. Been doing it for so long and the web has gone through so many changes… Guess I would call it a forum for art, culture and visual information and stimulation curated through the eyes and ears of a man in his thirties that grew up highly influenced by skateboarding culture, music, art, and life.
Do you both come from an art background? I know that your wife Jessica creates and shows her work around the city.
I studied civil engineering and finished with studying film. I’ve always been drawn to people who flock to the edges of society’s norms and work in art, music, film. Open minded intelligent creative sincere people excite me. As for Jessica, she studied fine art here in SF at CCA and loves to work in graphite. Right now she does a lot of packaging and wine label design.
San Francisco is changing fast with all the people moving here to work for companies like Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, etc. With the new tech boom, SF is right in the center of it, and the city is only 7 x 7 miles. Room is limited and now rent prices are exploding. It’s getting very difficult for working artists/ those less established to live here anymore. A lot of people seem to be moving to Oakland and LA to find cheaper rents… SF is always changing, so who knows what’s in the future.
It is a wonderful city to live, though. We love that you can walk or ride your bike anywhere. We love spending time on the San Francisco Bay too. You can be in the dense city and then in the middle of the Bay or in the middle of some woods in just 15 minutes. Nature and city life right on top of each other. It’s wonderful.
We were online before EBay/ Youtube… Google had just got going a few years before. There were no such terms as “blog,” etc. So at the time, it was a pretty radical thing…
Who are some artists to look out for?
I love my job because I get to look at new art all day and everyday. A lot of artists who I’ve never heard of email samples of their work. I love the discovery of never knowing what I will get to see in the morning. I find something new to get excited about every day… Guess off the top of my head I’m excited about Dave Kinsey’s show at our gallery FFDG this month. I was a fan of his work before I even started Fecal Face.
Do you have a favorite section of your website?
I love reading people’s comments. Some are completely silly and ignorant and some are so insightful, well written and sharp. I love the dialogue and love to hear what our viewers have to say.
When did you decide to branch out and open a gallery?
Always wanted to open a space and when one fell into my lap, I was so excited to give it a shot. It’s great to see work you love in person. Sometimes it’s better than what I’d imagine after only seeing it online and sometimes it can look much less impressive.
Do you have correspondents all over the world? How can art lovers and journalists get involved?
We’ve had people contribute since the beginning of the site. Normally people email with an idea of something they’d like to cover or of an artist they’d like to interview. We’ve had like-minded people contribute from all over.
What did you intend Fecal Face to be originally? What did it turn into?
Never had a plan with it from the start. As a zine it was a place for me to do some writing and share some photos I’ve taken. By the third issue, I wanted to include some my friends art to fill the pages. When I started learning HTML, I just kept doing the same thing. Sharing my photos, words and the art that excited me. It just took on a life of its own.
Do you look for a certain aesthetic when curating shows at the Fecal Face gallery?
I like to show people who are extremely talented (obviously, who doesn’t?) and take what they do seriously. I like to see an artist who’s working very hard improving their skill level and their message. I want to work with people who are going to keep growing like we are… As far as mediums, we tend to show somewhat illustrative works. I’m interested in showing more abstract artists though. The internet lends itself to illustrative work which is what we see so much of these days. I’m excited to see some more free flowing messy paintings.
Normally people email with an idea of something they’d like to cover or of an artist they’d like to interview. We’ve had like-minded people contribute from all over.
What do you like to do when you’re not at the gallery or at a computer?
Jessica and I enjoy working a lot, but when we’re not, we like to go sailing. It’s an awesome way to escape and let your mind wander off. You get excitement and you get to explore the massive San Francisco Bay… I also need to start skating more before my bones get too old. Jessica and I are going to start surfing again. Start doing some pre-work dawn patrols.
Any big plans this year? In the future?
This last year was filled with craziness. We moved apartments. The building the gallery was in caught on fire and destroyed the gallery. We moved to a temporary space and now are in our permanent space on Mission St. While all of this was going on Jessica had to have an intense scary surgery and go through 6 weeks of radiation (tumor was not cancerous by the way)… It’s just been a nutty year and we’re just excited at the idea of settling. We wanna relax with some summer time activities like sailing and camping trips. Lots of bike rides.