’89 domande a Ed Templeton – Artist, Photographer and Skateboarder

Name? Ed Templeton (@ed.templeton, www.ed-templeton.com).

What’s your job? I am a working artist/photographer and I run Toy Machine Bloodsucking Skateboard Company. I do all of the artwork and advertising.

What did you study? I dropped out of high school with only 3 months left to go skate in contests in Europe and never looked back.

As a photographer, if you had the chance to document an historical event, which one would it be? The American Civil War. There’s so many crazy things that have happened that would be incredible to have shot, It’s hard to choose one! 

Can you give us a definition of art? You know it when you see it.

Your favorite style icons? David Hockney.

If you could speak in world vision for 15 minutes what would you say? I would try to tell the truth about religion and science, but we have these people and nobody listens.

Do you think exist an objective aesthetic value or you think aesthetic value is just subjective? It is mostly subjective. 

How social media changed the world of art in your opinion? It’s a double edged sword. It’s great for getting the word out about your projects and to share your work, but it also helps homogenize the world, and since everyone is a photographer now, nobody cares about photography, well not everyone, but the vast majority.

If a person made a stunning work of art would you consider him an artist or just someone who made a nice/beautiful thing? An artist.

When, in your opinion, can you define a person as an artist? An artist is someone who purposefully makes things to be considered as art, or is driven by some hidden force to make art regardless of who sees it.

Do you think that a person that doesn’t stand out in the art market is just because he is not worthy? No. The art market is a fucked up place, and there’s nothing fair or equitable about it. Standing out in the art market is usually due to good fortune, or it was manufactured by interested parties.

Do you think that the relationship between art and drugs is just a cliché? No.

Do you think that only the art market define what can be considered art and what cannot? No.

What do you think about Banksy’s experiment to sell his works on the streets for cheap? I’m not aware of it.

Do you think that the value of a work, in the eye of an observer, is given from the context in which it was seen?Value is placed by the artist and the gallery or seller, and that value can go up or down depending on cultural forces. What makes a Van Gogh more expensive than an Ed Templeton? His fame, the rarity (he’s dead, there are no more), his cultural importance built up over the years. These things might be bullshit, but they are the cultural forces that determine value in an art market context.

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Do you have any political orientation? Yes, I’m a progressive Democrat.  A “liberal.”

Who is in your opinion the best skateboarder in history? Mark Gonzales.

And right now? The best current skateboarder? Axel Cruysberghs (@axelcrusher).

How did you choose the name Toy Machine? It was going to be Toy, or Machine, and a friend said: “why not both?”. (@toymachine, www.toymachine.com)

What was the first art work for a deck you designed? My “Cat” board on New Deal, 1990.

What are the ones you are most proud of? The recent years of Toy Machine decks are the best to me.

Which is the hardest trick to do with skateboard in your opinion? Front foot impossibles.

In 2000, your book of photography, Teenage Smokers, won the Italian Search For Art competition, what do you like most of Italy? I love everything about Italy! We visited Puglia in 2019 for Deanna’s birthday.

And what you don’t like? Heat in the summer.

What’s the city you like the most here? Rome, Naples, Lecce, Milano.

What is the night you spent the most money to have fun? I never spend that much money! Maybe a fancy hotel and an expensive dinner? About 400 dollars.

The best photographer in history in your opinion? Henri Cartier Bresson.

What’s your favorite artist? Otto Dix.

What’s your favorite show business character? Charlie Chaplin.

If you could live in one historical era, which one would you choose? 1869 – 1969.

If you could spend a day with an historical figure who would you choose? Egon Schiele.

Who are the people that inspired you the most? My Grandparents, Constance and William.

If you were not married and if you can choose a famous person for a night, who would it be? Dead: Bette Davis, living: Deanna Templeton (@deannatempleton, Ed’s wife).

Deanna and Ed

And for a relationship? Already set!

What do you do for fun? Travel, eat, watch movies, hang out with friends. Make art.

How much do you earn now? Less than you imagine, and much less than the internet says.

What makes a photographer better than another?Better” is subjective, but for me it’s someone who is saying something bigger than the individual photos.

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What’s your best shot? No Idea.

And the one you are most proud of? I’m not sure if I’m proud of any certain image. Images I love now are embarrassing in two years.

The most appreciated one? People seem to like easily digestible images. So something as simple as my Teenage Smokers series seem to be the most appreciated of my work.

Where have you been on vacation when you were young? My grandparents took me to America’s National Parks, and to Washington DC.

Where are you going on vacation now? Japan, Italy, all of Europe.

What’s the topic you are most expert in? I am an expert at nothing!

Have you ever been in love? Yes once and still.

Have you ever had a homosexual experience? Slightly.

Where do you live? Orange County, California.

Which neighbourhood? I live in suburbia, Huntington Beach.

Where are you from? Garden Grove, California, also in Orange County.

Other cities where you’ve been living and how long?I have only lived in Southern California my whole life.

Which languages do you speak? I’m American, so none, sadly. I can fumble around with German, French, Spanish and Italian.

Which are your favorite places in your city? My Backyard. The pier and the beach.

Favorite movies? The Thin Man (1934), Stage Door (1937), Pulp Fiction (1994), Ghost World (2001).

Favorite songs? All of Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.

Favorite bands? Fugazi, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr.

Favorite books? The Painted Bird by Jerzy Kosinski and Letters From The Earth by Mark Twain.

Favorite authors? Sam Harris, Twain, Vonnegut.

“Limonov is a mix of D’Annunzio and Pasolini.”
Gennaro Sangiuliano
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Favorite artworks? Boris Mikhailov, Hockney, Otto Dix, Egon Schiele.

If you can choose 5 celebrities to have a party with who they would be? Crispin Glover, Quentin Tarantino, Bill Murray,  Helena Bonham Carter, Jane Fonda.

Do you consider yourself an influencer? No.

What do you think about influencers? Throughout history there have always been influential people, but I bet none of them went around calling themselves influencers. They just did their work. As a result of their work they became influential, but becoming influential wasn’t their goal. It’s ludicrous to me that gaining a high follower count on social media and trying to become an “influencer” without the foundation of work is a goal people try to achieve. It’s all smoke and mirrors and will be fleeting.

How has the advent of smartphones and social media affected the job of professional photographers? Like any mechanical advancement in our culture there will be pros and cons. But there’s no turning back. Literally everyone has a camera in their pocket at all times now, and culture will never be the same. One of the good sides is that people can share their work and find audiences, and one of the bad sides is that fewer people find the idea of buying a photograph as artwork worthwhile. But we have to adapt with the times or get left behind.

Has it ever happened to you that someone was on drugs during your photo shoot? Yes.

What’s your favorite historical character? Abe Lincoln.

Can you define yourself with an adjective? Busy.

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What’s the best photographer right now in your opinion? Jim Goldberg (@goldbergjim).

The most overrated? That’s mean.

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The most underestimated? John Humble.

One you don’t like? Rather not say.

Favorite TV series? MASH, Veep, The Office.

If you were an animal which one would you like to be? Tortoise.

Have you ever had sex with more than one person? No.

Have you ever cheated on your fiancée? No.

Have you ever cheated on a friend? No.

What time do you usually go to sleep? 3am.

What time do you usually wake up? 10am.

What’s your favorite city in the world? Tokyo, London, Paris.

Do you believe in some religions? None.

Do you have many friends? A few.

What’s the first thing you would do if you win the lottery? Save the money, buy some houses. 

The richest person you know? Judd Apatow (@juddapatow).

Your favorite dish? Ramen.

Do you have some phobias? Not really.

What car do you own? Toyota Prius.

Favorite fashion brand? RVCA.

The smartest person you know? Miki Vuckovich (@mikivuckovich).

Do you consider yourself smart? All I do know is that I know nothing. Learning is a lifelong experience. The more you dip into human culture the more clues you find that open doors to new paths. Every movie or book has a piece of dialogue or a saying that I have never heard and so I research the origin of the phrase and discover a new world of understanding that was closed to me before. A new actor or artist opens up new bodies of work and new collaborators to discover and on and on.

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The most precious material thing you own? My photo archive.

What do you usually drink at the bar? I don’t drink or end up in bars very often.

An advice you can give to someone that want to do your job? Start early, the younger the better, and jump in with both feet and participate in your community. If you don’t send a ship out, yours will never come.

Best party you’ve been to? We crashed a party at Timothy Leary’s house in Los Angeles once. Perry Farrel was there, and Adam Sandler was smoking pot in the backyard. There was an amazing Keith Haring painting on the wall. I took a poop in Timothy Leary’s toilet and made a photograph of it.

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What do you think about the existence of royal rulers for birthright? It seems very backward and outmoded in this day and age. Ideally people are governed by elected officials in a democratic way.

What drugs have you done? Advil, Caffeine, Morphine while in the hospital. I decided at a young age I wasn’t going to partake in recreational drugs. I drink some wine occasionally. I’m open to the idea of psychedelics but have yet to try any.

If so which one is your favorite? Caffeine, in the form of Green or Black Tea usually.

And which one you use more often? Caffeine every day.

What’s your best talent? Procrastination.

What are the clothes you can’t stand to see on a man and on a woman? I dislike bucket hats on men and women. Tank tops are kinda gross.

What’s the item of clothing you spent the most money on? Probably a suit. I don’t have any fancy clothes, I get clothes mostly free from RVCA!

Your ideal holiday? Puglia Italy with some friends, or Tokyo.

If you could have a super power what would you choose? To force people, especially politicians to tell the truth.

If you could choose a person you know to read this interview, who would it be? Juliette Lewis (@juliettelewis).