T-Files 014: Jeff Hamada

Jeff Hamada is another talented creative individual who needs little by way of introduction. We met several years ago, when he was supplying the graphic heat for clothing label 3sixteen. In the meantime, I’ve grown older and poorer, and he’s done all sorts of cool stuff like designing for snowboard companies, releasing sneakers for charity, blogging for Hypebeast, and generally being successful in everything he does. Take his website Booooooom for example. What started out as a smallish project has quickly become a massively popular site, broadcasting a steadily updating stream of features on creative individuals, focusing on art, design, music, and photography. We went back and forth via email over the last day or so, and Jeff took the time to answer some of my questions about his site, and what else he’s up to these days. Some of these images were snatched from his portfolio.

Booooooom seems to have developed into an exceedingly popular website in a very short time frame. Is there anything in particular that you’d attribute that success to? Yeah it has been kind of crazy. It gets well over a million pageviews per month now and it’s still been less than a year since I started it. I can’t tell you any one specific thing that made it catch on but I think it has to do with the site being about the celebration of creativity and enjoying artwork versus it being product driven and looking for stuff to buy. Not dissing sites that showcase that stuff, I just don’t think there’s a need to start another one of those. I wanted to make a site I would want to read every morning, you know, to kinda fuel myself up! I wanted a positive vibe and for readers to feel like the person running the site was genuinely excited about it – I’m trying to inject all that into it.

Right. I couldn’t agree more about the world not necessarily needing any more “product showcase” type websites, as there are plenty of great ones as it is. Was there a niche you identified from the outset to sort of fill, or did it develop more organically than that? It’s definitely developing organically. I’m not putting it in a box and trying to label what it is, but I am consciously trying to have it not be a couple things. I don’t want it to be a “streetwear” blog (so please stop sending me line sheets), or an “art snob” blog where you had to have gone to artschool to understand it. I like the idea that you’d feel part of a club if you read it everyday but I don’t want it to seem exclusive – I just want it to be as inclusive as possible. Everyone is allowed! 

At this point how much time do you spend managing/maintaining/updating the site? I probably spend 40 hours/week on it now so it’s like a second full-time job.

As far as content goes, are you sifting the internet looking for exciting new creatives, or have people started submitting lots of work to you now? And what sort of criteria are you looking for in a post-worthy subject/content? Or is it a “I like this, I’ll post it” sort of situation? My inbox is flooded these days with submissions from people everyday, but I probably only post 10% of what I’m sent – maybe less. It’s not that the other 90% isn’t good, I’m just pretty selective and only want to post what I really like. I spend a lot of time on the internet and reading magazines and books and I keep running lists of people I want to feature. I don’t really have any criteria but I don’t like anything that looks too slick. At the end of the day I’d like the content to be more comparable to the crackle of a dusty record than some shiny mp3 ya know what I mean?

Definitely. I’d also like to talk about the projects you’ve launched, because I think that’s a very interesting aspect of your site – the fact that anybody who wants to can participate in your creative projects seems to have real mass appeal. What inspired the idea to launch these open projects? And what would you consider some of the highlights from the projects so far to be? I am really excited about the projects, we just finished up a huge one – a collaboration with DesignForMankind.com – During the first part of the project people submitted anonymous encouraging messages and they were all typed up and displayed on the site. Readers went through all the submissions (there were more than 400), picked one and designed an image to go with the message. Then we picked the 10 we liked the most and made them into postcards! We are currently selling the last of these limited edition postcards. I love having anyone get involved – artists who make things for a living, and the closet creatives and casual readers all getting involved in the same projects. I really want to grow this aspect of the site, it’s the most exciting.

Aside from running Booooooom, what do you have going on at the moment? I’m working on a bunch more graphics for Endeavor Snowboards and showing in an art show here in Whistler. I have a couple other projects on the go that I’m excited about but I am not allowed to say publically what they are at this point.

I saw you were invited to be a guest blogger for Hypebeast again, which is pretty amazing, how is that experience so far? The Hypebeast thing is fun, I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to put stuff over there yet but I will. I really like working with Kevin and Eugene. That was where I first started blogging and only decided to finally launch my own site after the blogs on Hypebeast were removed for awhile.

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