An interview with Jimmy Kaufman, Editor of “The Freedom Book”

How did the idea come about?
Basically I wanted to make a difference in the world not by telling people what to think, but rather to ask people what they thought… to create a forum for an inquiry into “what is freedom.” The book is a conversation about freedom that seeks to inspire the reader to think for themselves about what freedom means to them. I also wanted the book to benefit a youth arts organization. I chose the Upward Bound Visual and Performing Arts Program in San Francisco. As far as creating the book, I was living in San Francisco and it was during the months preceding the US bombing of Iraq. There was so much talk of “freedom” on the part of politicians and protesters as a way of reflecting and motivating people to take action. There were millions of people gathering in the streets all over the US (and the world) in the name of “peace.” Standing up and gathering in the name of “freedom.” Coming together and communicating that “the people have an opinion about whether or not the administration should bomb another country in the name of freedom and democracy.” All of this was quite inspiring.
As an artist I saw that freedom is the essence of artistic expression. I thought “lets ask the artists what they think about freedom.” I began inviting artists to participate in the book. I set a production date for getting the book off to the printer which called me into action to collect art for the book. It took three months to collect and curate the art, and three months for production, printing and shipping.
I wanted to get the finished book in the hands of people all over the world and chose a book release date six months in the future and then went for it. We had an amazing book release event in San Francisco on June 27th 2003. Artists from San francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong participated. It was an awesome feeling. We raised money for the youth arts program which was great. Soon after the release event I secured a global distribution deal with Last Gasp publishing in San Francisco. Thankfully the book is now found all over the world.

Freedom?

Ursula Xanthe Young

San Francisco, California

Do you feel the topic has a special significance now?
Freedom touches everyone. It is an election year and the US is at war so people are hyper-aware that there are choices being made “in the name of freedom.” National security is the hot topic and propaganda and fear messages are the norm in mainstream culture. The “Freedom” book seeks to have people think for themselves in a time when media savvy politicians dictate what freedom is and how it is best preserved.

Illusion

Nick Silberman

San Francisco, California

What surprised you about the submissions?
It was a wonderful surprise to see how deeply people feel… to get in touch with how much great human energy and art can be ignited by an inquiry.

Eat It All

Matt Dong

San Francisco, California

Will there be any future “Freedom” books? How will they differ?
The next book will bring together artists from more countries. It will have a wonderful international flavor. I just got back from Tokyo and it was super inspiring. There is such an abundance of wonderful art to curate. Also, the next freedom book will allow the reader to discover more about the personalities of the participating artists.

I Need Opportunities

Lin “Quik” Felton

New York, New York

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