January 26, 2011
The Best Kind of Vagabond
Justin Apperly is a photographer, image blogger and print-maker whose art is a byproduct of his nomadic lifestyle. His projects include ALASKAN EYES, a popular image blog, print-making and drawing, and photographing road trips and the people he meets along the way.
You keep involved in a lot of different formats that don’t directly relate with one another, how do you feel they cross over?
Well it’s all about finding inspiration from everything. The road-trips are my big project right now, but that along with my blog, my graphic design, printmaking and my analog crappy photography… It’s all one big project to me in a way.
It all ends up on your computer eventually.
Well… I like everything to be as hands-on as possible–even when I studied graphic design I wanted to stay away from the computer. I’m just completely fed up with computers as much as I use them. I keep everything totally analog until it gets to the internet. That’s my display box, it makes communicating with my audience possible. I guess the point is to put it out there and get feedback.
And you make really involved updates every day, it seems.
I try to. The other day I went out ice-skating with my friends so I didn’t update. When I went up north to the Yukon I was totally off the grid for three or four months and couldn’t update. The internet isn’t strictly an addiction, its more about the inspirational material I find. Like, some days I’ll wake up interested in the Inuit cultures of western Canada and I’ll just image search it and let it take me to other things. Some days it’s girls. I just like to share it all.
What are some of your photography road-trip projects?
My first photography project was tree-planting, which is a really weird Canadian job. It’s a bunch of kids that need to make so much money so quickly and hate themselves and work hard in Canada. They get paid to go into the forest with a big bag of trees and get bit by bugs and plant trees all day. It may be the worst job ever, but it’s so great… I don’t think I could ever do it again. It’s a very Canadian job–you get super dirty and party way too hard. After that I went up to the Yukon and over to Alaska for a bit. It’s so surreal to be up north where there’s an endless midnight sky where the sun never rises. There’s these super small towns with gravel roads and all the kids sit around and play banjo all day. It felt like the wild west or something. I spent a lot of time out there. Eventually, I headed to the east coast to Nova Scotia and I went over to the Island Newfoundland and decided to hitchhike all the way back over to the west coast. And I’d never gone hitchhiking on that scale before, it was really exciting, I took photographs the whole way. 43 different people picked me up and they really took good care of me even though I was a total stranger.
What were some of the people like?
The average person was a 38-year-old ex-oil rig driver from Alberta, recently divorced and formerly hooked on some heavy drugs and “now they’re clean.” They’re just weird lonely guys who are just looking for anyone to talk to. The best ride was these four guys in a hippie bus who were so awesome. We met on a ferry and they were all about taking their time and they drove me around in their shaggin’ wagon bus. Lots of truck drivers were always around–one guy was half Native-American and half African-American, he was this super short guy named Big Mike. He had all these scars on his knuckles from fights with his friends, he showed me and said “See this scar, I got that from my buddy’s tooth.” He told me about when he traveled across country… Oh man! And he rolled up his sleeve and said, “See this tattoo? S.C.T. I used to roll with the Crips. South Central Thugs.” So I was riding around in a 32-wheeler with an ex-Crip. But nothing ever went wrong, luckily.
When you started ALASKAN EYES did you have all this in mind?
At first I was making it all for myself–doing whatever came across my head. As people became more interested in what I came across it became about showing people about the crazy things I was doing or other people were doing and sharing it. I’m just so repulsed with hipster negative people and culture and I’m just trying to be nice to people and not have a purpose in mind and not try to be stuck-up and just roll with it all. Life should be about branching out. I’m just trying to show people that they can branch out too.