Jordan “Watts” Watson, Founder + Curator of @love.watts
When it comes to making art approachable, Jordan “Watts” Watson is your guy. With his digital gallery @love.watts and his new physical gallery 0-0LA, Watts is all about creating multi-dimensional platforms for emerging artists.
We Love Watts As Much As You Do
BY: ZARNA SURTI
We sat down with Watts to talk about everything from his first show at 0-0LA to what it’s like to be able to give back to the art world and emerging artists.
You recently launched the first exhibition at your gallery 0-0LA in Los Angeles’ Chinatown called “Domestic Tranquility.” Where did the idea for the show come from?
The exhibition consists of 22 artists, all emerging and newly established who are doing their thing. We got a bunch of kids to come out. It was a partnership I had with Charlie Roberts, another great artist, and Chris Rexroad, both of whom I met on Instagram years ago. We also have a series of shows we’ve been putting on, kind of like an art fair, called “Got it For Cheap” or “GIFC.” The pieces are from global artists and we sell them for $30 per piece. It’s a way to make art a little bit more accessible to young collectors and people who don’t have the money to spend hundreds and thousands of dollars on art, but want to get their hands on something that’s current and a part of the art culture. We’ve done them in New York, Paris, and Copenhagen.
People walk into galleries and often times don’t even know how to go about buying art. What made you choose the $30 price point?
You can’t even go to an art fair and get in for $30. We never charge an entry fee to any of our shows. You pay $30 and walk out with an original piece of art from an artist we believe in.
Something that you’ve done really well is making art accessible to younger people.
What @love.watts does is it kind of just educates people that have no idea what art even is. The kids today and even the adults (my mother included), have this impression that art is for the extremely wealthy and highly educated. They feel stupid walking into a gallery because they don’t know anything about it and think everyone is a snob. They don’t know if they’re supposed to know about this, or if they are supposed to pretend like they know. But @love.watts really broke down those barriers and is just about everybody—to comment, to share with their friends, to be apart of this world they’ve traditionally been shunned from or haven’t been made welcomed to. I’m really just trying to break that down and let everyone know, it’s really not that serious. It comes down to: “Do you like these colors, do you like those shapes? Yes? Ok.”
I'm really just trying to break that down and let everyone know, it's really not that serious. It comes down to: 'Do you like these colors, do you like those shapes? Yes? Ok.'
Have you always been into art? When did you start really connecting with it?
You know what? Just like my followers, I knew that art existed, but I didn’t really understand what art really was. My earliest memories were being a skateboarder as a kid and just seeing all these different skateboard decks and thinking, “Ok, I like this one. Why do I like this one, over this one? ‘Oh!’ It’s the art on this one that I like. I don’t like this one, it looks cheap; but I like this.’” That was the first time I saved up to purchase art. It was functional art, but it was still art that was the pushing factor of my purchase. I would save those skateboards, even when I was done with them and they were old and broken in half; I would save them because I loved the art.
You’ve created an artist platform with a really cool discovery factor. Have you been able to create personal relationships with these artists as well?
Yes, hundreds of personal relationships. That’s really the core of where it started. In the beginning, I really didn’t know what I was doing. But then when I saw the artists, it made me feel good that I was giving. That’s really what the platform is all about, “Giving, giving, giving.” I was able to give back because of my appreciation, now the artists are able to get exposure that they were unable to get; that’s kind of the basis of it right now. So it has become its own beast where it’s a platform that is globally recognized for breaking artists.
You’re essentially getting a million people into a digital gallery.
It’s my own gallery that’s open 24 hours a day and is constantly updated. I always say it’s like a free online art fair that’s open every day.
That's really what the platform is all about, “Giving, giving, giving.” I was able to give back because of my appreciation, now the artists are able to get exposure that they were unable to get.
Have you always wanted to work for yourself and be an entrepreneur?
Yes, from thirteen I got my working papers and I have always been a worker. I worked for people for many years—from bagging groceries, to selling shoes, to selling extended warranties, to selling jewelry, to selling stocks—I’m a salesman. I was a stockbroker and it has always just been that mindset. Once I became older, I just realized after putting in all of this energy towards everyone else, I needed to put all of that energy towards myself. Also, a large percentage of it was good timing and luck—I’m sure that’s where a lot of stories start and that’s where it is.
Do you have a team or do you just do this all by yourself?
I do it all by myself. I wake up in the morning, look through the internet, my blogs, Tumblr, or just stay on Instagram and look at cool things I like. I post in real time. If I like something, I post it. There’s no monthly mood board or anything where I try to match pictures—I just post.
There is something nice about being responsive to the art you’re posting in that moment.
It’s just how I feel, When I’m looking through, sometimes I’ll be attracted to something that looks like rainbows, then subconsciously I’ll see my posts have some of the same colors. I don’t care if it’s just a little kid doodling—it really doesn’t make a difference what it is. If it is visually pleasing to me, I’ll post it.
I post in real time. If I like something, I post it. There's no monthly mood board or anything where try to match pictures—I just post.
What is the most popular thing you’ve posted? Is there one thing that’s gotten the best response?
I don’t know, there are some that do better than others, it’s so weird. I know people will respond well to certain pieces, like if I post a cat with a rainbow across its face, I know it’s guaranteed to perform well, and if you put some glitter in it, it’s going to break the internet. On the other side, there can be a really great art piece, like a museum piece that cost millions of dollars—I’ll post that and the kids won’t even respond to it. So, it’s a different game that I am playing on the internet
It’s interesting because the things that are being responded to may not be seen in a gallery, which is really the beauty of having something like this.
I think that’s what separates it, they can’t perform how I perform and they can’t give people what they want in a way. They kind of have to give them what they give them, whereas I can find stuff on a whim and give people a taste of something they would never, ever remotely see.
You’ve done a number of brand collaborations—how do you see yourself expanding? What do you want to do next?
It’s all super organic, whatever project comes my way, if I’m into it, I just think it up, and bust it out. On a larger scale, I don’t really know. I’m taking things day by day right now. I have a bunch of potential projects that are really exciting, I don’t want to go into them too much before anything happens. But for right now, I’m good just knowing that I have a platform that gives these artists really good exposure where they wouldn’t get it otherwise. That’s really what’s most important to me right now.