What follows are excerpts from a conversation with artists Tom Sachs and Van Neistat at Sachs’s
New York City studio.
“Everything is an art supply. For instance, you once found a blind person’s cane on eBay. Now, we use a lot of those as extendable poles.” — TOM
“You like when someone is taking his time, doing his absolute best, and the quality of the end result is still just crappy enough.” — VAN
“All I really care about is getting it done — not about people who are nice, only about people who are good. That’s the most important thing.” — TOM
“I worked as a fabricator here from 2001 until around 2005. I’ve since moved into another studio, but I’m never really getting out — even after death. Our movies started with NUTSY’S, followed by TEN BULLETS, COLOR, LOVE LETTER TO PLYWOOD, SPACE CAMP, and most recently, A SPACE PROGRAM.” — VAN
“We go crazy making them. My studio is small for all that I attempt to do here, but I try to hold onto all the materials I think are worth keeping.” — TOM
“Esoteric hardware is like special purpose hardware.
We don’t use it as much, but keep it just in case.” — TOM
“There’s also Esotapica, or weird tapes that have a distinct use.” — TOM
“Everything is so organized because it has to be.
We don’t have a lot of extra space.” — TOM
“Sometimes we use the empty liquor bottles in sculptures. They’re empty because we drank them.” — TOM
“In COLOR, we say purple is forbidden and that there’s no excuse for it.” — VAN
“It’s a gratuitous color that gets used too liberally. Really, that’s the issue.” — TOM
“We constantly restock, but also work to throw out materials that don’t apply to the projects we’re doing.” — TOM
“We’re always trying to make 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY or THE SHINING; our movies look casual but they’re as carefully done as any KUBRICK film, just with fewer resources.” — TOM
“I hope what comes across [in our films] is that it’s not the action,
but the result of the action, that matters.” — TOM
“We’re always changing what the materials [we use] are.” — TOM
“One lesson to be learned from [keeping (Live) Pistol Ammo] is always be respectful of people with badges. That’s something certain people need to learn over and over again.” — TOM
“I’m kind of a cobbler. We collaborated with NIKE for A SPACE PROGRAM.
The Shoe Parts are all from that time.” — TOM
“The tea bowl [the astronauts] drink out of in A SPACE PROGRAM was bought online, and then I engraved the NASA logo on it. When ceramics master JJ PEET, whom I’ve known for more than a decade, saw it, he said, ‘Shame on you for not making it yourself.’
I realized he was right, and began to study with him. I’ve since tried to make the bowl that was in the movie by hand — so far, there have been 400 attempts.” — TOM
“Of course the best hotel sewing kits are from the PARK HYATT TOKYO.
And the best toothbrushes, but they’re made for baby teeth. Or for brushing one tooth at a time.” — TOM
Photography byBramble Trionfo
As told to Anthony Rotunno