I met Glen E Friedman in ’97 while working on ‘The Omega Sessions‘ record. The fact that I was designing a Bad Brains record was pretty much a dream come true all by itself, but I knew the only option for a cover photo was something that Glen shot. His book Fuck You Heroes had come out a few years earlier and I’d been blown away to learn that all these photos that had inspired me so much growing up were all taken by the same person.
I talked Victory into it, and set out to find a contact for him the best way I could think of – I called Dischord. I expected them to take a message and maybe pass it on, instead they gave me his home phone number. I called and left a very timid message. Days later, at around 4 in the morning Glen called me back and I answered. “What are you doing awake at this time of day?” He asked. “Working” which is a pretty accurate reply anytime I’m asked that question. “Really? Well I was calling to tell you I wasn’t interested in working with that label because I asked around and people didn’t have good things to say, but if you are awake and working at this time of day I must have gotten bad info -let’s talk” And we did, repeatedly. Almost 12 years later I’ve worked with him countless times since then (including the opening exhibitions of both the Chicago and Los Angeles versions of sixspace) and I’m very proud and happy to call him one of my closest friends. Some people don’t like Glen because they say he’s too honest, this is one of my favorite things about him. I always know exactly where I stand and know that no matter what I ask him the answer will be exactly what he’s thinking. It’s a rare quality, but something I admire and aspire to.
I met Shepard Fairey around the same time – I fancied myself a hotshot designer with my fingers on the pulse of the cool art world and so naturally I had a subscription to Juxtapoz. While flipping through those early issues I found ads that Shepard was running for prints he was screening and selling. $15 for a print in a run of 100 seemed kind of expensive to me, but I always thought the Andre The Giant Has A Posse thing was amusing and as the Creative Director at Victory I was pulling in a cool $22K a year so I could afford to splurge on a few things I thought were worth supporting. I ordered a few prints every other month or so and would include a note and eventually Shepard and I started writing back and forth without the pretext of an order. When sixspace opened, Shepard mentioned he’d never been to Chicago which seemed like the perfect excuse to invite him out for an exhibition.
Shepard’s show “The Medium Is The Message” opened on the heals of Glen’s and we spent a lot of time talking about how, both of us being skaters who liked punk AND hip hop, Glen’s work was like the perfect storm of awesome. The week before his show opened he came to Chicago and slept on my couch and was attacked by my cat. We spent the nights driving around in borrowed cars listening to NWA and Bad Brains while putting up posters and flyers for the show. Many years later when I was laid off from Playboy.com he hired me at BLK/MRKT to do the web end of several campaigns and helped me get back on my feet here in LA. Like Glen, over the years Shepard has become one of my dear friends and someone I know I can always turn to for anything. Also like Glen, Shepard has his critics but having known him for all this time and seen him work I can say without any hesitation that he’s the most driven and hard working artist I’ve ever met in my life. And I think I know a lot of driven and hardworking artists. The guy has a work ethic unmatched by anyone I’ve ever met, and like Glen I’m inspired by what he does and try to pull little lessons from his approach into my own life all time.
Hopefully I don’t even need to explain how important Bad Brains are, if you are reading this you should be well aware already. Of course both Glen and Shepard know this and that’s why this collaboration between those two is about as close to perfect as it gets for me. Shepard and Glen worked together and picked out several of Glen’s photos that Shepard then based illustrations on creating the Bad Brains image to end all Bad Brains images. And then, through some kind of miracle or witchcraft got the entire original band to sign each and every one of them. Having worked with the band back on that record, I can’t even begin to describe to you how big of a feat that must have been. I actually can’t imagine a single piece of art hitting more magic spots for me than this – friends who I have unlimited respect for and a band that would easily be my trapped on a desert island soundtrack. I’m so happy to see this materialize.
The print goes on sale this Thursday, March 26th – if you want one I highly suggest grabbing it as soon as it’s released. It might be your only chance, and it will definitely be worth it. And always keep the PMA.