In the new documentary Beautiful Losers, designer and artist Geoff McFetridge looks into the camera and says, "This is the game. Are you going to decide you're playing the game or not playing the game?"Given you're flipping through the pages of this magazine, chances are your days are spent playing the game he's talking about—that of bridging the divide between art and commerce.
That, or you might just make funny pictures to sell stuff. Either way, the defining line between artistic endeavor and commercialism is a common contemporary debate, mulled over by everyone from that kid in a Minor Threat t-shirt to the filmmaker directing his first sugary soda spot. It's also a key issue addressed in the documentary, directed by Aaron Rose and Joshua Leonard and produced by Sidetrack Films.The film gets its name from a traveling art exhibition that began in 2004 and brought together a loose-knit group of contemporary artists influenced by skateboarding, punk, graffiti, hip hop and an overall DIY approach.
The film focuses on a core group — Harmony Korine, Mike Mills, Stephen Powers, Thomas Campbell, Margaret Kilgallen, Shepard Fairey, Jo Jackson, Ed Templeton, Geoff McFetridge, Chris Johanson and Barry McGee — representing a cross section of the many personalities and styles within this particular movement. Chronicling the artists' journey from loose collection of art world nobodies to making feature films and showing in major galleries around the world, the film is very much a coming-of-age story, of the individual artists, their careers and the art, itself.