Jake Dobkin Winding Things Down, A New Chapter for Street Art Photography?


Jake Dobkin is a legend in the New York street art scene. A dedicated street art photographer, he has recently been reevaluating his work in the field and posted the following text on November 4, 2009, as a caption to the image above, which has the distinction of being his 10,000th upload to Flickr.

I’ve reproduced his text in its entirety (no edits) because of its historical interest:

I got interested in streetart back in 1997, when I spent a couple of weeks in Paris and saw what was going on there with stencils and posterwork. I’d done some graf in high school, and when I got back to the states, I did a year or two of streetart work myself uptown. You can still see some of those stencils today, 12 years later. But it wasn’t until 2003, when I got my first digital camera, that I started seriously documenting streetart.

These 10,000 images are what came out of that work— six years of walking, skating, or riding my bike around the city, looking for new pieces, and tracking stuff down online. For the first four years, it was pretty solitary work— I didn’t know that many people who were interested in it (not even my friends!) but I still enjoyed it. The last couple of years were more interesting, as I got to know other streetart documentarians working online (particularly Katherine, Becki, Ray, Steve, and Mike) , and started getting to know some of the artists in person. That added a new dimension to the work— sometimes a little painful (remember that time I started beef with Cake by telling her to make bigger pieces, or when I accused everyone of holding out Revs locations on me, or when those herbs at Bombin’ Mag were on my jock every day for three months talking about how wack streetart is?) but mostly entertaining and interesting, and the competition to get the best picture or the first picture really elevated the work.

Most of you know that me and my wife are having our first kid this month, and between that and running Gothamist, my free time is starting to get a little thin. So I’ll be stepping back from this streetart work starting today. Not stopping— I’m still going to be shooting for artists that I’ve become friends with and respect (don’t forget to email me!), and I’ll try to get out on the old bike every couple of weeks for a few hours. But I’m not going to be getting up first with shots any more. Maybe focusing on a small number of quality shots will make the pictures better. I’d also like to do some more behind-the-scenes shots, so if you’d like me to shoot your studio, or go out with you on an installation, let me know.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do with Streetsy.com— it seems a shame to shut it down, since I’ll still be doing some posting, but if I’m going to keep it up, it makes sense to change how it works. If you’ve got any ideas about that, let me know.

And thanks for clicking on these shots all these years. I hope you’ve enjoyed them as much as I enjoyed taking them. And I’d like to thank Marc and Sara at Wooster Collective for introducing me to so many new artists, sending me thousands of visitors, and letting me play a small behind-the-scenes role supporting their work at the site.


Links mentioned in the text but not hyperlinked:

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