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Q&A with Someguy from 1000 Journals Project {printed in Art Bureau 15}

Your website is very thorough in explaining the 1000J Project, but could you give a very brief synopsis about it?

The 1000 Journals Project is a worldwide collaborative art experiment. One thousand journals were sent out into the world and those who find them add something—writing, artwork, photographs, whatever they feel like as there are no rules. Once they’re done, they pass the journal along to a friend, or a stranger.

What was your original strategy (back in August 2000) on the journal release? (budgeting, timeline, distribution, etc.)?

My original idea was to release the journals in 10 major cities around the world. One hundred in San Francisco, 100 in London, 100 in Sydney, etc. That plan changed once I got the first 100 out, and realized there was no way I could travel the world distributing journals. Through the website, I found people around the world who wanted to help distribute them, so the next batch of 100 I sent in groups of 10 each, to 10 cities. Once those were out, I decided to send them to whomever emailed me. That proved to be difficult since too many folks were asking for them. For the last 300 journals I had a sign-up system on the site. While a good idea in theory, this just caused more problems, as 17,000 people tried to sign up for 300 journals, frustrating many.

How long did it take to release all of them?

It took about two years to get them all out. This was due to cost (me buying 1,000 journals), and getting the covers done (artists and designers from around the world contributed covers, and it took a while to coordinate with them).

When you started, how many did you think would return?

I really had no idea. One reason there are 1,000 of them is because I assumed most would get lost. I think a 1 percent return would be great.

How many have returned?

Officially, only two have made the trip out into the world, and been returned full. I saw many of them when producing the book, and for the documentary, that were half to three quarters filled. I don’t count these though.

How many contributors have uploaded “journal entries” to the site?

I actually have no idea. There are something like 250 journals that are uploaded—about several thousand pages of scanned content.

Some covers are designed by some big names in the industry—Mark Arminski, Gary Baseman, Moderndog, Thomas Schostock, to name a few. How were the artists chosen to do the different covers?

At the beginning, I just asked a few friends to help design covers. Once the project gained some momentum, I began asking artists and designers that I liked (some said yes, some said no). Many folks contacted me too. I also held two cover design contests. Several cover designs were chosen from that as well.

What was the process of the artists contributing their covers? Email/PDF attachments or mailing them a journal to doodle on/in?

Mostly it was emails of digital files. Different people did different things. Gary Taxali (one of my favorite covers) sent me original artwork to scan. John Hersey sent me his artwork printed on vinyl material. I glued his work on the journal itself.

Filmmaker Andrea Kreuzhage has made a documentary about the 1000J Project. How did this come about?

Andrea contacted me several years ago, expressing interest in doing a documentary. We met and chatted about her ideas (I was skeptical, thinking it wouldn't be interesting in movie form). Then over the next two years or so, she tracked down journals, spoke with participants and uncovered some amazing stories. It was really her belief in the project and commitment to the documentary that made it happen.

What was your involvement in the making of the film?

My involvement was to help out with providing information, and the back story of how the project was started—how journals were created and mailed out, my many visits to the post office, etc.). But that's about it. Andrea did all the legwork on tracking down the stories and interviewing people.

1001 Journals? Is this your new project / website?

Several people emailed me, asking to participate in the original 1000J Project. The truth is, it’s almost impossible to get a hold of one of the original journals. After fighting it for a few years, I decided to launch 1001 Journals. Creating a new project was the only solution in having more people involved.

The 1001J site allows anyone to launch their own personal journal. They can control sign-up lists, post images, etc. It allows anyone and everyone to participate, something which the original project lacked. The site has been growing steadily, and now has over 1,100 journals posted—450 of which have scans.

Now with an official release of a 1000J book, and a documentary about the project, any other plans with the project?

I’d love to have an exhibition of the journals. One where people could not only show up and see the contributions, but make their own as well.

UPDATE: Check out the journals @ San Francisco / SFMOMA - November 2008 - April 2009.

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Comment by Roberto Holanda on October 17, 2008 at 2:55pm
marvelous project!!!!
Comment by Kris M. on October 17, 2008 at 12:21pm
Wow! Great project! This is one thing I hope to see more of on this site: excerpts from zines, because sometimes reviews just don´t capture that special something that might make a reader go ahead & order a zine. (I should know, I´ve written plenty of lackluster zine reviews...)

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