June 30, 2006

Interviews With Bloggers, Part 6: Cojo of "Artsucks.com"

The Bella Rossa Interview With Cojo of "Artsucks.com."

Cojo_art_sucksCojo is a self-described "art juggernaut" who, at only 28, has amassed an impressive portfolio of street pop art that makes use of his widely imitated line art style and is hugely popular in the world of hip-hop as well as mainstream magazines by the dozens. He is also a fine artist, cartoonist, portraitist, and writer whose blog details the ins and outs of his fascinating life in the art world. His sketch365 is an online daily fine art experiment which makes most people's blogs look like a total waste of bandwidth.Bella: How would you describe your blog?

Artsucks.com tracks the f*cked-up visual life and mind of Cojo, Art Juggernaut (Maxim, Rolling Stone, Vibe), a 28-year-old artistic zeitgeist trudging the streets of Manhattan (Philly, Vegas, Brooklyn, etc...), gnawing on the big rotten apple for all it's worth, and getting drunk on the cider. . .Celebrity encounters, industry parties, the ins and outs of the art world, paparazzi, models, and deranged homeless people bathing in their own urine. No topic is safe, and the unusual is commonplace...Grab your sketchbook, skirt the velvet rope and take a walk with the beautiful people!

Why do you blog?

Cojo: Because I don't have a physical journal, or a book deal, and I like to get my thoughts and experiences down before they slip away into the ether or are clouded by memory taking creative liberties. I also like to keep my fans, friends, and clients up on what new stuff I'm doing.

Bella: What was your original goal or intention when you started, and has that changed with time?

I had probably planned to do it more as a magazine in the beginning, but now it's become more about my career and observations. I didn't think I'd be interesting enough, but now I'm only able to blog about about a tenth of the whacked out f*cked up sh*t that happens in my life.

Bella: Is your blog a means to an end (finding work, developing creative ideas, making money, meeting people), or does it exist for its own sake?

My blog is an extension of my career. I'm able to write about the art projects I'm working on, as well as the inspiration behind them, the parties and opportunities afforded to me by my art career, and how my mind works when I am left to my own devices and am handed a keyboard over a pencil. My sketch experiment (www.Sketch365.com) is also in blog form, more of a visual blog in that it's updated daily (I'm a little behind schedule). It's fun to watch the experiment progress, and for art lovers to be able to buy my work as it is created and uploaded in real time.

What are some of your favorite, "must-read" blogs? What keeps you going back again and again? Have you ever totally lost interest in a blog that you once really enjoyed, and if so, why?

Cojo: I will go on little blog reading jags where I will check back every day for a few weeks and then not look at blogs again for six months. I like some of the celebrity gossip blogs A Socialite's Life, cityrag, and all the others. They have the pull no punches celebrity paparazzi shots and commentary that the gossip rags won't publish for fear of being sued. I read a lot of comedians' blogs, some of my artist friends have blogs that I enjoy. I check most of the art blogs on the regular to see who they are spotlighting and if they are writing about me.

Bella: What kind of person is the likeliest reader of your blog? What would you hope they get out of reading you?

Maxim Magazine fans, art fans, people who like reading about city life after dark. People who like gossip, and art experiments. People who enjoy New York and Philly based blogs.

Cojo_portraitsBella: Are there people in your life who don't "get the whole blog thing?" How do you explain it to them without feeling as nerdy and defensive as I usually do?

Hah, yeah. My girlfriend can't understand why I spend so much time writing when I could be drawing. I consider blogging as part of my job though. It's filling out the picture of myself as an Art Juggernaut. The words behind the images.

What's your relationship with your readers? How much interaction do you encourage? How much do you self-censor, knowing that your friends and family might be reading?

I love getting mail from my fans. I try to answer most of the e-mails I get when I have time. I love finding out celebrities, or other artists I admire have read my blog. I try not to write anything too personal, or things said to me in confidence in my blog.

Turkey_drumstick_4Bella: Have you ever heard yourself say something like "If you really cared about me/were really interested in me, you'd look at my blog"? Is this a fair thing to throw at, say, your sister, during an argument over who gets the nicest drumstick at Thanksgiving?

No, I'd prefer it if my family didn't look at my blog so I would have things to talk about at Thanksgiving. My family members all know exactly what I've been doing year round so I have to actually think about the things I haven't written about to talk about at family gatherings. They usually start conversations based on things they have read on my blog.

Sometimes a friend will ask me about something I haven't written about yet and I will just say. "I'm gonna write a whole update about that, just wait till next weekend and read about it." It's easier than telling the whole story a dozen times to just write it in blog form so my friends can all read it.Cojo_yours_or_mineI've noticed when I've told people a story I will word things a certain way and maybe in the third time telling it to different people I will realize what lines I may have said that are funnier (funnier comedic delivery) and I will be sure to write the lines that way in my update. Once I have written it down, I can release these lines from my memory, so when I get behind in my blogging I have an uneasy feeling of having to keep exact phrases in my mind, almost like if I were an actor remembering a script, or if I had just crammed for a final and have facts memorized in order. I want to just get them down in type so I can release the memory.Bella: Do you video blog? Would or will you? Are there any video blogs that you look at? What would you video blog about, if you did?

I have some Sony handycam video footage I have shot that one day when I free up some memory on my computer and some time I would like to digitize.

I just shot a pilot with some friends recently that's loosely based on my life that I have uploaded to a myspace page.Delete_keyBella: Have you ever blogged something that later you regretted and/or deleted from your blog? What lesson did you draw from that experience?

Yeah, I think I blogged about someone's birthday party and the girl who's party it was was starting to get stalked by some internet pervert who was linking to all the pics of her from her party on my blog, so I disabled the posting.

What are your thoughts on the phenomenon of "doocing," wherein someone loses their job because of things they posted on a relatively anonymous, discreetly written personal blog? Are you careful to maintain a clear line between your online self and your real world self? Are you conscious of creating an online persona? How is that persona different from the real world you?

Cojo_reservoir_dogsCojo: I am my own boss so this "doocing" thing doesn't come into play. But I am always conscious of the persona I am presenting to the world. My name and my persona is all part of the product that is Cojo®. All public personalities in the entertainment world are logos unto themselves, and I am no different in that sense. Andy Warhol is a product, Damien Hirst is a product, Batman is a product, Ashlee Simpson is a product. If you screw up how the public perceives the product, it could taint the work. I'm lucky that in my writing I basically pull no punches and am really critical and witty. People are used to that, and my dark f_cked up sense of humor, so they don't really get offended. They come back for it and enjoy it. If they get offended, they just don't read the blog, simple as that. I'm an artist first, writing isn't my primary source of income, I blog for my love of journaling and chronicling my life. I would love to be able to read a detailed chronicle of how my favorite artist's career's progressed. I'm offering that to the generations of artists and creative thinkers to come.

Mac_mouseBella: What is the history of your relationship
with computers and the internet? How long have you been online, and
what kinds of things have you done online (e-mail, chat rooms, message
boards, real-time multi-player games, aimless surfing, etc.)? How has
this changed your life, for the better or worse?

Cojo: My mother is a graphic designer and got her first Mac back in the mid 80's. I've been on Mac's ever since. I first got online in 1995. I began coloring comic books with the computer in 1996 and began inking and coloring my own illustrations with the computer in the same year. I put my first online portfolio website up (www.Cojoart.com) in '98 or '99. I have been sending out newsletters about my career since about 1999. I finally turned my newsletter into a blog a little over a year ago, backlogging my newsletters dating back to 2000.Dell_laptop_4Bella: How long do you think you will continue to blog? What are the circumstances under which you can imagine yourself quitting?Cojo: I will probably always continue to post updates. Months may go by when I get really busy. I might end up hiring assistants to crop photos, program the HTML, scan printed pages, and physically upload and update the site and RSS feed with myself just taking pictures and writing the updates in word or something. The programming part of it is what kills me. I'm not a programmer and the site isn't an automatic blog like most of the blogs out there. I have to do all the updating stuff manually and it's time consuming.

What's the coolest thing that's come out of your blogging experience?

Cojo: All the fans that have been able to contact me, all the people from around the world who are able to read what I write moments after I write it, all the art lovers who are able to buy my work seconds after it's uploaded, all the friends I've made with fellow bloggers and artists who I share interest with, and all the fun interviews I get to do about my projects and experiments. Thank you Bella!

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