Submitted by Terence Teh on Thu, 01 Apr 2010 at 15:50
It all started with a zine. 14 years ago John Trippe made a photocopied, cut and paste mini magazine inspired by his friend’s art, glued together around his own photography and random writings. A skateboarder and punk rock enthusiast from Toledo, Ohio, Trippe’s humble experiments into lo-fi culture gave birth to Fecal Face. A name that just ‘rolled off the tongue’, apparently.
The end of the 90s saw Trippe head west to San Francisco where he started working for the skateboard illuminati like Thrasher Magazine. Growing up with a love of computers and engulfed in the Dot Com boom - this was San Francisco, remember - he decided to teach himself HTML coding (“It looked like fun and appealed to my nerdy nature.”), bought up the domain name and in 2000 started populating the site with the same content drawn from his DIY days. An honest, simple mantra that revolved around the love of art, photography and writing, and showcasing young and gifted like-minded artists. “I’ve just kept it moving with all that interests me and all that interests our many radical correspondents,” says Trippe, slightly understating the feat and decade-long legacy of the Fecal trail.
“Throughout the years I just kept working on it while I should have been working on my employers’ websites. And with my nerdy HTML brain the site began to grow. There weren’t blogs or YouTube, and Google hardly existed when I started. There for sure wasn’t much in the way of art online and we’ve now been online for 10 years. Time flies when you’re having fun.”
The tight knit community that has built up around Fecal Face is an integral part of the site’s success. San Francisco’s Mission School family of artists that exploded in the nineties, the punk, folk art, skateboarding and graffiti-inspired set that mirrored New York’s Alleged Gallery crew of creative retrobates first fostered that very feeling. Barry McGee, Margaret Kilgallen and Chris Johanson could be seen as the trinity of artists that initially set the way for Trippe and Fecal Face. Now with over 13,000 visitors a day and 390,000 uniques a month, Fecal Face is leading the charge, boasting not only a history, heritage and absolute love for San Francisco (and beyond) but a multi-layered and content-rich site, transcending the usual art zine and art blog dynamics.
Artists like the brilliant So Cal psychedelia surfer and painter Kelsey Brookes contributes his success to the mighty Fecal
family and the power of its interviews, high profile art star contributors, photography, hourly-updated news, forum, creative jobs database, obscure events calendar and the passionate, personable tone of the editorial. Welcome to the sun-shining, glorious world of Fecal Face. Check out John’s own High5s blog for him and his wife Jessica’s adventures in art culture.
“I hate talking about myself, but hey, I was flown to Sydney for Semi-Permanent last month to speak to a couple thousand people about Fecal Face and myself. That’s an ego boost to say the least,” smiles Trippe. “Another high point was hosting our seven-and-a-half year anniversary and blowing out a massive club space in San Francisco spilling out in the street. It’s weird doing a website in a small gallery and forgetting how broad your reach is and how many people look at what you do every day from around the world.”
In February 2008 Fecal Face Dot Gallery was launched. 22 shows later (the list of exhibiting artists is vast: Maya Hayuk, Kill Pixie, Tara Foley, Cody Hudson, Anthony Lister…) and 66 Gough Street continues to be the premiere bricks and mortar home to San Francisco’s outsider artist community. “Enjoying work online is one thing but experiencing our favorite artists’ work in person is something completely different. How great is it to have your work space lined with some of the greatest, most exciting work being made today? Not only that, but every month the work comes down and then another great show is hung… I have the greatest job in the world,” beams Trippe.
As Fecal Face gears up to their 10th anniversary celebrations, going down this autumn with landmark events planned for San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York, Trippe still concedes that the online and worldwide community of artists continues to inspire him to do what it is that he does. “It’s about the amazing work I get to look at each day. There’s always something new and fresh. The internet gives someone like me amazing constant visual stimulation,” he explains, and Fecal Face’s constant evolution to push boundaries both on and offline shows no sigh of slowing with age. “There is going to be a lot of change for our 10 year anniversary! But it’s all a secret at this point. Sssshhh.”