It was Instagram that first intro-duced us to our friend Justin Schaffer. The platform can often be a vehicle for connecting you with people who share a similar vision. We fell in love with Justin’s passion for supporting local art alongside his many creative endeavors. We wanted to sit down with him to discuss his process and most recent project, Public Displays of Affection.
Tell us about Here For The Story and your journey as an artist.
Growing up in rural Penn-sylvania as an Asian-American who was into art, emo music, and skateboarding, I never felt like I fit in. But I also never really felt the pressure to conform and instead embraced my interests as part of my identity. I believe skateboarding is such a pure form of self-expression, creativity, ambition, and emotion that encourages individuality. While I don’t skate much anymore, it has profoundly shaped me into who I am today and continues to influence how I approach both art and life.
We have always been drawn to your work, as we share an interest in finding beauty in minimalism, emptiness and isolation. Where do you find your inspiration?
Having lived in Colorado for 12 years, I’ve been surrounded by its stunning nature and the many people who adore it. However, the abundance of the outdoors has helped me realize that I’m more driven by people and the built world. I’m interested in design and how people inform spaces, and how spaces, in turn, inform people. This interest leads me to observe people in their daily routines and to admire the details in mundane moments that often go unnoticed.
Additionally, I find inspiration from the local creative community, attending events such as Creative Mornings and the Made Shop’s Make and Tell, exploring the many museums and galleries, and making friends through show openings. I feel fortunate to have access to the many artistic individuals and places in town.
What can you tell us about your process as an artist?
My process focuses more on concept than craft. I usually start with a vision, message, or experience I want to convey and then choose a medium based on my current interests. As a generalist with a knack for turning hobbies into hustles, I have explored various mediums, including photography, music videos, zines, iOS apps, poetry, and board games. Ultimately, in all my creative projects, my goal is to use storytelling as a means of connecting with others.
We’re excited to learn more about your most recent creative piece, Public Displays of Affection.
This project resulted from the lockdown in 2020. Unable to go out and take photos as I normally would, I started collecting old 35mm film slides from secondhand stores. Since physical contact was a prominent topic of conversation during that time, I became interested in exploring how people expressed touch in the past, particularly outside the privacy of their own homes. From nearly 1,000 slides, I distilled a select few for the photo book titled “Public Displays of Affection.” Through this project, I aim to present a visual narrative that encourages viewers to explore the power of physical touch in their own relationships with friends, family, and lovers.
Where can we find your work?
“Public Displays of Affection” is available for order from my publisher, Benschop Books, and the local shop, Earnest Paper, will be hosting a release party on February 17th from 3 pm to 5 pm. Otherwise, I generally use Instagram (@hereforthestory) to share updates.
More info about Benschop Books can be found at benschopbooks.com and Earnest Paper is located at 4315 W 44th Ave.
As a lover of music, what do you currently have spinning?
All-time favorites always on rotation include Middle Kids, Local Natives, and Wilder Woods. Some recent new-to-me finds include Stephen Sanchez, Lizzy McAlpine, and The Red Clay Strays. And if any of the guys in Gestalt are reading this, please play a show soon.
What can we expect from you in the future?
After the photo book is released, I’ll be collaborating with local visual artist Jenna Annunziato to curate a show of her work. Its tentative theme relates commonly discarded objects to contemporary social context through narrative-driven installations. We’re aiming to finalize a space to host the show within the year.
Additionally, I recently launched a weekly newsletter, “Currentss,” where I share my thoughts on all things film and media. I’ll also be featured in the upcoming zine, “Facsimile,” published by Borderline Press.
We have no doubt that this is just the beginning of many new art explorations for you, Justin. And we are along for the ride. If you’d like to learn more about Justin and his projects, visit hereforthestory.com.