I was very nervous last night when I was thought about interviewing Jensen Karp today. I mean, it isn’t every day you get to sit down and talk with a king. (Jensen is definitely the “King of the Nerds” in my book…well… I guess there are several Kings and Queens in the “nerd realm” : Stan Lee, Kevin Smith, Felicia Day, Chris Hardwick, etc. But, yeah, Jensen definitely sits on a throne along side the others when they have monthly royal-nerd roundtable meetings).
Ex-rapper, now-art curator, Jensen is everything I want to be when I grow up… and just to name a few reasons why: he has a podcast with Kevin Smith, he is a celebrity at Comic-Con, he is friends with like every cool person in Hollywood, and he has an awesome girlfriend! So yeah, you could probably tell why I was uber nervous when even thinking about interviewing him.
1/2B: So, Jensen, who are you?
(As you can see, I’m nervous!)
Jensen: Yep. My name is Jensen Karp, I am the co-owner and co-curator of Gallery 1988.
1/2B: Uhm… How’s New York treating you so far?
Jensen: Good! I mean, it’s definitely a different feeling putting together an art show in New York. I mean, number one, we have a much larger space… we’re used to a small little area in LA on the corner of Melrose and La Brea…we’ve been there 8 years, and we’ve been doing this show for six years, called Crazy 4 Cult. It has 200 artists all doing pieces based on their favorite classic cult movies. So whether it’s Big Lebowski or Repo Man or Princess Bride, or Shaun of the Dead, it’s all these different pieces …and what the artists have taken is inspiration to make new art work from it, whether it’s painting, sculpture, or print… or even one of a kind plush… all this crazy stuff. It’s a super popular show for us. We’ve had it anually and we even had a book come out with Titan Publishing, chronicling the first four years of the show. This is sort of the new evolution of the show, which is doing it in a brand new city. We’re happy to have it in New York.
1/2B: Is this the first Gallery 1988 show outside of California?
Jensen: Yeah! This is the first time we’ve ventured outside of California. We’ve had shows in San Francisco. We have three spaces now. Two on Melrose and one in Venice Beach. This is the first time we’ve ever traveled with the show, and it’s purely based on these phone calls and e-mails we’ve been getting from our east-coast buyers. They were hoping to experience the opening reception madness or come see the artwork in person. It’s definitely a lot different than seeing a small JPEG on a website.
1/2B: I remember hearing about the show being in New York City a long time ago, but how long have you been planning the show to be in New York?
Jensen: We’ve been plannning this show for a year. It’s pretty hard to get a pop-up space here you really like. You kind of have to go a whole month. So, we’ve been looking at this space for a few months and just made a last minute push to get it.
1/2B: What can people who don’t usually go to art galleries look forward to at Crazy 4 Cult?
Jensen: Well, around when Katie and I opened the gallery, we used to go to these art galleries ten years ago and even though we had money and wanted stuff on our walls, we felt like they were going out of their way not to cater to us. I mean people tried to sell you a white canvas with three yellow dots for fifty-thousand dollars. It just didn’t speak to us. Every show at Gallery 1988, when the people come, we want it to speak to them. It’s not necessarily what Picasso and Rembrandt were doing, but that’s also not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for something that speaks to me and deals with my interests. This especially, as a film student, myself, in college…this is the kind of show that I would be excited for. I mean, every piece is a good investment, but that’s not why I’m buying them. I’m buying them because I love Shaun of the Dead, and I love what this artist has done with it. I love The Goonies and look what this artist has done with it. That’s the kind of stuff I want in my house. That’s the kind of stuff my friend’s are into. This speaks to kind of a fun pop-culture-nerd audience. That’s where I’ve always been in and that’s sort of where I’ll always be.
1/2B: I always call you the King of the Nerds to all my friends when I try to describe what you do. Could you describe what you do outside the gallery?
Jensen: Yeah, I uhh… I mostly deal in nerd culture, I guess. I did the final season marketing for the TV show LOST and –
(My “Call Me Maybe” Ringtone Goes Off)
1/2B: Shit, sorry.
Jensen: That’s alright. Oh, man. Listen to your song. Oh my god, you.
1/2B: Sorry Sorry Sorry, please continue. (EPIC FAIL)
Jensen: So I did the final season marketing for LOST and I’m currently working on the show Breaking Bad for all their sort of underground viral marketing. I’ve worked on movie marketing for all sorts of movies like: The Fighter, I did Paramount’s 100th anniversary poster, we just did the Bourne Legacy poster-
1/2B: -You do the podcast, right?
Jensen: I do the podcast on SModcast network called Get Up On This with Kevin Smith. Just a bunch of stuff. I mean, when I was a kid, I’d watch Smurfs and Muppet Babies with the same excitement and vigor that I have when I work on all of these sorts of things. I think that was why I sort of surrounded myself with pop-culture and things that I’m nerdy about and have geeked over because that’s what excites me. I don’t really want to do something I’m not interested in. I think that’s why this speaks so easily to me, and why is seems to speaks so easily to our buyers.
I forgot to say “Thank you for the interview” or get a closing statement. EPIC FAIL #2.
Just to reiterate, this Thursday’s show is going to be amazing. Whether your that kid spending every waking moment on Expresso Beans or if your into anything remotely pop-culturey, Crazy 4 Cult New York is going to be a highlight to your 2012. It’s an orgasmic explosion of every cool movie I love and obsess over. If your luckier than me and have a girlfriend, I would suggest making a date out of it since The High Line is right across the street. See you at the show!