Ask Jeff Hamada what the secret to having a successful website is, and he’ll tell you––face to face, over a cup of coffee, because that’s the kind of guy he is. And, as it turns out, that’s the secret, too.
“The more that I find ways to connect with people in a real way is the best possible thing I could do for my website,” he says.
He is soft spoken but well spoken; he loves to talk about Booooooom, and gets excited about concepts like innate taste, and whether or not it exists (he thinks it doesn’t). He is partial to analogies, and uses them often to illustrate what he’s trying to say. For instance, he uses the analogy of a garden to explain to me what fostering an online community is to him. You grow the community like you grow a garden––with attention and care.
Jeff started his blog Booooooom four years ago, when he was living in his parents house in Richmond, B.C. He says the freedom of time he had to devote to the website was critical to his success. “It requires so much time, it’s not a viable business for so long, that most people don’t ever get there,” he explains. From there, what started as a simple personal blog gradually evolved into what it is today; a widely popular resource for all that is cool in the art world, with tens of thousands of people checking Booooooom out every day.
“There’s actually no secret to it,” Jeff says, “it’s literally whether or not you want to spend the same amount of time you’d spend making a relationship in real life, with people online.”
For the first three years, Jeff spent every night diligently reaching out via email to the people whose art he’d posted on his blog. “If you’re able to send three emails a night for a year … if you’re willing to write 3,000 emails, not looking for anything, that’s how you grow the readership of your site,” he says. “When most people hear that, they’re like yeah, what other option do I have? They’re not happy with that answer. They want to know a quicker way of doing it, and there isn’t one.”
“A friend of mine, he runs a shop called Livestock here, him and his brother. Early on, when I would meet with them, they told me, it always comes back to hard work … because you can easily get to the thing that you want––it’s just a question of how much work it takes to get there. And I totally believe that, and I think a lot of people, when they’re faced with realizing that this is their goal, and it’s going to take thousands and thousands of emails to do it, they won’t do it. Whereas for me, I’m excited about that, ‘cause to me it’s like, oh, it’s easily attainable, it’s actually not even hard work, it’s just a lot of work.”
As it’s been for countless others, Booooooom was a springboard for Janice Wu’s blossoming art career. Jeff appreciated the whimsy in Janice’s work. “Her work, something about it, I really identified with. I really like humourous work. When I was at art school, I found it really hard to talk about work and feel confident that I knew what the artist was saying, unless it was a joke or unless it had humour to it.” The two are also friends after several years of crossing paths in Vancouver.
What every day object do you relate to Janice?
For some reason, when I picture Janice, I just always picture her smiling; I have never seen her not happy or excited about something. It’s not really an every day object, but you know, those things at used car lots, things that get pumped full of air and they dance around, that’s what I picture Janice being, one of those filled-with-air dancing guys. She’s very filled with positive energy. I’ve honestly never seen her when she hasn’t been smiling or laughing about something.
What was it about Janice’s art that caught your attention?
Hers falls into the category of art that I really like. I like art that’s well crafted, well made, and if there’s some little quirk to it, some little twist. So her work, I’m thinking specifically ones she did recently that I really liked, where she did these really kind of photo real drawings of these chopstick wrappers, and they’re a lot of the restaurants that I’ve been to, so I really liked it, and I actually want to try to get her to do one like that, of all these restaurants that I like, like of Japanese restaurants. It’s well drawn; not anyone could use gouache to do these amazing illustrations, you know, technically even do it. On top of that, I identified with it because it was funny. I think the work was really Janice’s personality, it was really honest, and it’s consistent, too.
Jeff sees art as language. “Some people have a mishmash of languages,” he says, “I’m more hesitant to post something where I feel like they haven’t found their voice, but her work, she doesn’t have tons of work, but her work is all a consistent tone. She’s speaking in her voice.”
He wants his website to be less a gallery and more a community; again using an analogy to describe Booooooom as a bridge connecting people with a common interest in creativity.
“I want to make the site something people want to be invested in,” he says. “The site is about art, but it’s secondary to being a vehicle for me to connect with people and get to communicate with people, share ideas, and get excited about the same stuff.”