Q: What is The 1000 Journals Project?
Someguy: The 1000 Journals Project is a global human experiment in which 1000 journals are traveling from hand to hand, collecting slices of people's life.
Q: On the About page of the 1000Journals site, I see that only 750 of them are in circulation. Where are the rest?
Someguy: There are just about 850 out now... but the rest haven't been completed yet. (the designers haven't finished their covers yet) All of the journals should be out before the end of the year.
Q: How did you find artist to create the covers of the Journals?
Someguy: At first, I did most of the cover designs, but as other designers and artists discovered the project, it seemed appropriate to have them contribute covers as well. I've invited artists to contribute, and also had many people approach me and ask. There was a contest over a year ago, for cover designs, and that yielded several covers. I'm planning on having one more contest for the final covers.
Q: How can the folks reading this article get involved with the project?
Someguy: Right now, the best thing to do it try to get a journal. Unfortunately, they're in pretty high demand, and it's tough to find an available one. I'd recommend watching the site for new journals being released.
Q: I see that you are giving free stickers away if folks will send you a SASE. Can you tell us about that and what you hope people will do once they get the stickers?
Someguy: I hope that they use them. Since a lot of people don't surf the web, and very few will ever find a journal randomly, I wanted a way to spread the word about the project. Stickers are perfect, since they're often placed in bathrooms, at bus stops, and other visible places. Plus, it gives people who want to participate, but haven't gotten to yet, a chance to do something.
Q: You mention that 1000Journals evolved from other ideas you had. Can you say a little about those other ideas or projects that led you to this one?
Someguy: Well, the project primarily came from an interest in what people write on bathroom walls, when no one is looking. I'm fascinated with the conversations that take place in these public places. I began taking pictures of bathrooms several years ago, and wanted to create a book out of them... From there, it seemed appropriate that people who bought the book would add their own writing to it... and from there, The 1000 Journals Project evolved..
Q: You are an artist yourself then, yes? Do you find 1000Journals taking on a life of its own while you pursue other artistic endeavors now? Or are you still actively running 1000Journals while making time for other projects?
Someguy: I studied art in college, but haven't practiced in a long time. I still work on collages, but it all comes down to free time. 1000 Journals is actually eating much of my free time. (all of it). Simply answering emails, updating sightings, and continuing to release journals has made it tough to work on other projects... (though, they're coming along slowly)..
Q: What is involved in passing the Journals from one person to another? For you? For the Journal contributors?
Someguy: There are currently two ways that journals pass from person to person. The first (this happened with the first 700 or so journals) is for someone to have a journal, and give it to a friend or stranger. People left them in phone booths, hidden in caves, and gave them to travelers that they met. The second way (the remaining journals) is to sign up on the web site. This is a bit more controlled, but is allowing more people to participate in the project. (it's nearly impossible to get a journal randomly). By registering on the site, and then signing up for an available journal, you have to mail the journal to whomever signs up after you... which could be someone down the street, or someone across the globe..
Q: Do you have plans for exhibiting the Journals when they are all done?
Someguy: I've got ideas, but until they start coming back, they're just ideas. I'd like have the contents published online, for everyone to see... and try to do a traveling exhibition, so people could see them in person. A compilation book would be nice as well, but that's wishful thinking. .
Q: I see that the Journals are all over the world. How did you find people initially who were interested in this? Did you just happen to know people all over the world?
Someguy: It all started in San Francisco, which is where the first 100 journals were distributed. After that, word got out, and interested folks started emailing me, so I started sending them to whomever wanted them. People also love to travel with them, and leave them with other travelers. This gets them to places all over, which is nice, since part of the experiment is the journey of the journals. (I didn't know people all over the world when this all began, but I've made quite a few friends...).
Q: Has anything happened with this project that has truly surprised you?
Someguy: There were a few surprises along the way (and more to come I'm sure). At first, I was surprised about the positive response to the project... I had no idea. And then, when things got moving, I was really surprised by how slow the journals actually move... (really slow).
Q: There is a place on your site for "Sightings" of the Journals. Have there been any communications there that got lost -- any Journals you've lost track of at this point?
Someguy: Oh, there's a ton of them. It turns out that even though many people come to the site, a good number of people don't. There are journals that I haven't heard a peep from since the project started... And there are journals that after 6 months of silence, show up at a bus stop somewhere. Even though many seem stalled, or lost, I honestly believe that they're out there, moving, being added to, and will eventually make it home.
Q: Have there been "Sightings" that were odd or unique or somehow made more of an impression on you than others?
Someguy: Every sighting that comes in for a journal that's been missing for awhile... makes an impression on me, because it renews my faith that this project is going to work... it also peaks my interest on how the journal got from California to Wyoming, and what's been added in the months of silence...
On a more specific level, some of the interesting sightings include:
Q: There seem to be several other players in this Project who have helped and supported you a great deal. Can you tell us a little about Vicksburgh Collective, Nervousness, and Miles Keep Photography? Where all these folks friends before the Project started? Or did you all start working together just for The 1000 Journals Project?
Someguy: Nate, at Vicksburg Collective helped me build the first web site... without him, the project wouldn't be what it is today... And when I wanted to add a database, and new functionality, Erik, from Nervousness stepped up and offered to help. Nervousness is a similar project where people can add their own items (journals, audio tapes, cameras, etc) and have them sent around to a list of interested participates around the globe. Miles Keep helped out by photographing some of the journals. Because this project is self funded, it's tough to get professional help, but Nate, Erik and Miles all donated their time to make the project happen. (and I'm currently working with a new person who's helping to streamline the site, and speed it up).
Q: I know that you have downplayed your part in this Projects and go only by "Someguy." But would you tell us a little about you? Where are you in your own artistic career? How did you learn the business of your art? What do you hope to accomplish in your involvement with 1000Journals? That kind of thing?
Someguy: By profession, I'm a graphic designer. I studied art in college, and went to work as soon as I graduated. I've had the honor of working with some very talented folks in my career, and have learned a great deal from them. Currently, I freelance in San Francisco as it affords me the time to work on other projects. My personal art has always taken a back seat to a more "professional" (money making) pursuit of design. The journal project has allowed me to pour myself into something I can believe in. Something that's not based on profit margins. And something that's for actual people, not corporate clients. (after designing enough annual reports, brochures, and web sites, it's tough to believe in anything...).
Q: Did you or do you intend to make an entry into one of the Journals?
Someguy: I intended to make an entry into each and every journal... but that never happened. I've added tidbits here and there, stories, things I found on the street, photographs... I just didn't sign them.
Q: Did you realize when you started The 1000 Journals Project that it would take several years or more to complete it?
Someguy: I thought it would take a year for a journal to fill up. Now I'm thinking it's more like 2 years, or more. When the project began, I never really considered that it might end, or be complete. I have a sneaking suspicion that some of the journals will continue circulating for years and years. 20 years from now, there's bound to be some lying around somewhere, on a bookshelf, or on a coffee table.
Q: You have different features on the site that showcase various Journals. How did you capture those images? Did contributors scan and send to you? Or do you get the Journals back at various time?
Someguy: Almost every image on the site is sent in from people who have the journals. I plan to get some journals back in mid travel, to do high quality scanning as well...
Q: In several places on the site, the Project is referred to as an experiment. Would you tell us a little about why you think this is an experiment or what you are "testing" thru this experiment, etc.?
Someguy: I'm not sure I'm testing anything... in the true sense of the word. (or in the spirit of scientific experiments). But I've got a curiosity about what will happen... will the journals continue to travel? or will they just end up on someone's bookshelf, half filled... to what extent will people go to participate? (the whole idea of scarcity) will the entries be as uninhibited as what you'd find on a bathroom wall? or will there be self censorship? and above all... how long will it take for a journal to return?
Q: What do you see for The 1000 Journals Project in 5 years, 10, 20? For your own artistic career?
Someguy: In 5 years, I hope to have several of the journals back... maybe 50. (positive thinking). After that, I'd like to explore exhibiting them and perhaps publishing a compilation book. I don't ever see the project ending... in fact, perhaps the returned journals will venture out again... to collect more and more entries.
As for my career, I think this is just the start. I've got a lot of ideas... some of them quite monumental. And I think this project has provided me with great experience and knowledge to refine my ideas, and make them happen.