Jeff Hamada of Booooooom


“I never planned for it to be my job,” says Jeff Hamada. This particular accidental entrepreneur is the founder of Booooooom, a digital platform for all things art. Based out of Vancouver but reaching all corners of the earth thanks to the internet, Hamada has developed a keen eye for art that clicks. The site features photographers, painters, illustrators, and video-based artists, all presented with very little textual context—and the only requirement is that Hamada is drawn to the work. He has also built Booooooom into a brand, lending his curatorial capabilities to companies such as Herschel, Red Bull, Levi’s, and The Juice Truck.

In many ways, the site has remained unchanged since its inception in 2008. “I was just treating it as a personal journal, the same way that we use Instagram now,” he says on a wet day in Mt. Pleasant. “Then I started sharing it with my close friends, and I think it was really early on that I thought it was a lot more fun [showcasing artists] than just writing about what I was doing.” A graduate of Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Hamada is skeptical about the legitimizing powers of a white cube gallery or of adding curatorial text to a work. “The thing that I found tough about art school is that it is really subjective,” he explains. “I liked design classes because I could feel like there was some sort of principle, and then I could prove I understood it and then I could get some recognition for it.” Certainly, if there is any guiding code to Booooooom, it is Hamada’s penchant for the graphic. The site finds its home in bold, representational work, but easily moves into the more abstract and conceptual as well.

Booooooom offers a platform where all art, no matter the medium, is stripped of environmental pretense to encourage comments, dialogue, and participation from those who wouldn’t normally be apt to chime in. “I think I sort of look at the site as a solution to a problem: how can I get people to interact with one another? It’s a challenge that I really enjoy,” Hamada says. “Looking at it every day and seeing if it is actually accomplishing the task—and if it’s not, looking how I can make it fresh again.” Currently, Hamada and his business partner Levi Unrau are in the process of redesigning the site, focusing on developing ways to foster interaction. “There are a lot of things we want to change, but there’s also a lot we want to keep,” Hamada explains. “We want it to feel well curated, that there’s a human behind the content that is being delivered.”

Although Booooooom boasts over 100,000 followers on Instagram, Hamada doesn’t necessarily see the app as an extension of the site’s mandate. “Early on it was really easy for me to find new work and find new things, but then all of those things become clichés on Instagram,” he says. “It’s hard to see new and interesting things on there. You can see a lot of stuff that you can sort of involuntarily like—it appeals to some base aesthetic.” Still, Hamada is certainly not uninterested in Instagram. In fact, his side project, @ChillWildlife, harnesses the power of the most likeable, meme-able subject available on the internet: cute animals. It has over 127,000 followers.

In the end, Hamada hopes that interaction with Booooooom goes beyond a like, a comment, a share. “It’s meant to be an appetizer as opposed to a full meal,” he says. “If you like it then there’s just enough information, a link to their website, to find out more. But I don’t want people just to spend time on the site every day. It would be nice if the site excites people to make their own work, or find another artist.” It starts with a click that leads to a bang.

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Post Date:

December 11, 2016