Coombs to sell one-off collection of his new book in package deal along with his soul
The ad appeared on eBay late Monday evening. Posted with a starting price of $100, it promised that the winning bidder would receive a human soul. The owner of the soul, apparently, was hoping to make some quick cash “so he can buy all of the tacos to support his fine art addiction.”
The seller of the soul similarly promised a certificate of authentication that includes right-handed fingerprint signature of the seller – the ultimate signature in the high court of public perception.
Also, the seller has a 100% feedback rating, which is sort of important when it comes to these eBay transactions.
But this eBay ad seems to go beyond a bizarre ethereal transaction. The seller also posted the following cryptic message:
They say that one must sell ones soul in order to make it in the art world these days. So that is what I am here to do
As it turns out, he’s not exactly selling his soul. Chad Coombs, a Saskatoon-born, Toronto-based photographer and artist, is also selling a one-off book that collects his Oneliner drawings, a series of sketches that he regularly posts on his Instagram. The book and the soul are a package deal, he explains. Apparently eBay won’t let you sell something that may or may not exist.
While this particular transaction may be a tad unorthodox, Coombs is no stranger to selling his pieces online. This isn’t his first book either. Over the past few months Coombs has published several limited collections of his work – Polaroids, Motel Hoetel, and Bodies are all currently for sale via Amazon – which typically features striking photography that is captivating and, at times, hilariously shocking.
Ominocity recently caught up with Coombs for a chat on the logistics of selling a soul, self-publishing your own artwork, and why artists tend to be more happy when they don’t work solely to make money.
Ominocity: Are you really selling your soul? Simpsons reference or commentary on making it in the art world these days?
Chad Coombs: My soul is officially for sale on eBay. Well, a paper with “Chad Coombs’ soul” written on it along with my fingerprints from my right hand and a hint of desperation in its corner from age anyway. I don’t believe in souls, religion, reincarnation or anything, so to me my so-called soul is worthless, much like a lot of art I see in the art world. So I figure some one out there who does in fact believe in souls, may be interested in mine. After all, everything in life is half based on what you believe.
The Church of Springfield along the top of my certificate of authentication is a Simpsons reference for sure, and its also a commentary on not only the art world but just in pop culture and how the only people who seem to make profits in most creative forms always must give up on originality and resort to cookie-cutterness and the conveyor belt of money. But mostly I really want someone to buy this and frame for their wall, cause after all, artists apparently put their heart and soul into all their art, so why not just sell it as art.
OM: Enough about that silly soul thing. Tell me about the book that comes with the art. It seems to be based off of your Oneliner drawings that are posted on Instagram.
CC: I made myself a one-off self-published book of my Oneliners to date. It has over a hundred Oneliners in it, and was mainly for me to keep and be easier to look through than the three sketchbooks I used to draw them all in. But when I was looking around my room for something to sell along with my soul (I think eBay has a no soul selling rule unless its a package deal) I didn’t really have anything that good, until I saw the book. I figured someone might want the book as people seem to dig the Oneliners. It was either that or my Mötley Crüe tour t-shirt from the ‘80’s. And I’d rather part with the book than the shirt.
OM: The Oneliner drawings book is the latest in a series of books you’ve published – do you have plans for another soon?
CC: Yeah, the Oneliner book is the fifth book I’ve made, except I’m not making it available like the other ones. I don’t know what I’m going to do with the Oneliners yet still, I’m really debating using them for a t shirt line but I’m still on the fence.
Making t-shirts would be a lot of fun, after I find the perfect t-shirt to use that is, but it would also be a lot of time energy and money invested to make it legit enough to be worth my while and I don’t know if I can do that anytime soon. I also refuse to do Kickstarters. I don’t believe in them, but no one wants or needs my opinion on that matter ha.
As per more books, I have some projects I’m going to be starting this winter here in Sask, and two of them should end up in book format but that wont happen for a year or two. Plus I have to get the ones I’ve got published this year out there, so can’t do to much too soon.
OM: Some of your work seems to have a lot of elements of humour (Motel Hoetel) whereas other photo series seem to stray into more abstract (Polaroids) and others into more of a serious portraiture – random bursts of creativity or is this working across multiple platforms and genres just how you roll?
CC: Both really. I’ve been working on the Polaroids off and on for a decade, as the Motel Hoetel was a three-year period, so as the years go by I’ve evolved as an artist and my perceptions, mindsets and experiences all change and grow, so my art changes along with it.
The Motel Hoetel was a period where I was really focusing on myself and discovering who I was, so everything was pretty ridiculous, over the top and impulsive. I hate a lot of that work now, but that’s because I am not that person anymore. But it’s a good chunk of my work that I still respect that I just never show, but the book format completes it and it’s officially done now, so that I enjoy. The Polaroids have the most diverse range to them, because I have been working on that series for a really long time – ten years on a project will do that though. It is, in my eyes, still my most original and best work. I don’t think most people understand it though, how it’s all created. But I know a lot of people view it and think it’s Photoshopped and stuff, but it’s all done by hand minus a few.
As per my portraits, I used to try and shoot people the way I thought I could make money, but once I moved to Toronto and saw how the world works in the fashion/commercial industry I realized I wasn’t going to like shooting what I thought people liked/wanted etc. Basically I didn’t want to do what gets people paid. I knew it wouldn’t make me happy and I made a decision one night that I was just going to shoot how and who I wanted, and not care about making money anymore with my camera.
I think weird and odd people are way more interesting then models and celebrities. Not all models or celebrities just the concept. I like to photograph people in the way of a conversation – they have to have something interesting about them I can capture. Even a person’s shyness can be super interesting visually, or arrogance too. I love photographing what the media says is not beautiful and showing that it actually is way more interesting than what the magazines are selling. So my portraiture has certainly changed over the years due to my progression towards shooting what I want instead of what I felt others wanted.