AjiSignal is taking a look at the people who are taking part in helping to make the music in cities. This week AjiSignal is talking with artist network POKETO who recently had a First Editions show at their studio in Los Angeles.
AjiSignal: Hi Poketo! Thanks for taking some time out to talk with AjiSignal. Lets start at the top. Who are you, where are you from, and what do you do, and why Los Angeles?
POKETO: We’re Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung and we have a company called Poketo. We collaborate with artists to make limited edition artist-designed lifestyle goods. We promote the work of emerging and established artists through beautiful, accessible art objects: wallets, apparel, stationery, housewares, design objects, prints, and more. We essentially take art off of gallery walls and makes them part of everyday life. Why Los Angeles? Why not? I grew up in the suburb of LA and I really hated it but being back after 11 years, I’m totally smitten with it. It’s a little treasure hunt. LA is hard to get to know at first but once you get the hang of it, there are so many cool places and things going on all the time. We’ve only been here for 3 years, so I guess we are in our honey mooon phase with LA but I can see us living here for a long long time.
I know Poketo first began by creating artist wallets, which led to creating special wallets for bands like Arcade Fire and Weezer? How did the band wallets come about?
Postal Service reached out to us in 2005 and from then and it just kind of happened. Since then we’ve worked with Weezer, the Shins, Autolux, Minus the Bear, Matisyahu, and Arcade Fire. We’ve also worked with fine art institutions such as De Young and SFMOMA. This spring, we’re collaborating with 862LA, the non-profit tutoring center founded by Dave Eggers of McSweeney’s and Believer Magazine. We’re inviting some of the best artists to illustrate the stories that the students of 826LA write. All the proceeds from the show and the sales of the wallets will go directly to the foundation. We love working with people and institutions that we love and respect.
You have a show coming up next month in Glasgow that incorporates some great visual artists and bands from that city. Do you see bands and musical artists as a big part of the Poketo World?
We’ve been invited by the Glasgow International Festival, Scotland’s equivalent of the Whitney Biennial. In collaboration with a Glasgow-based gallery called Hitherto, we’ll be launching the Glasgow Series artist wallets. 7 of the best Glasgow based artists participted in the series creating exclusive designs. In celebration of the launch of the series, we’re having Stevie Jackson of Belle & Sebastian, Gummy Stumps, and 1990s. I think music and art just go hand in hand. A lot of musician friends are artists and a lot of artist friends are musicians. They just go together so well. Visual interpretations of sounds and lyrics are so interesting. Sometimes we buy records and CDs just for the covers. It’s like you can’t have one without the other. So yah, I see musical artists as a big part of the Poketo world.
Is the Glasgow show a step toward more city based art curating? It looks like you are doing regional curating at Poketo.jp too. Could we see a series of Glasgow, Tokyo, and Los Angeles band wallets that mix the music and visual artists in each city?
We’ve actually done a lot of city-based series with the help of curators based in the particular cities. It’s funny to think that we called our first series, San Francisco Artist Series, even though we didn’t really know or think that there was going to be a second series and by the third series, we had already moved down to LA so we called it the Los Angeles Artist Series. Since then, we’ve had a Paris Series, two Tokyo Series, and a Barcelona Series, which we went to launch and to have an art show last a year at a small gallery in Barcelona called Dudua. And this fall, we’re launching a huge Australian series with 13 artists in Melbourne. We love travelling so much and have done a lot of it for our whole lives so this is just a great excuse for us to go and visit all these awesome cities. We’re talking to a gallerist in Mexico City about doing a series also.
GIve us some insight into the future of Poketo. Are you focused on keeping this art affordable and accessible or do you envision doing a show of more exclusive one off pieces.
I think we’ll always focused on having art accessible but we may branch out into offering one off pieces also. We will see. I think anything is possible.
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about new music in cities.