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Culture Crush: Brad Troemel

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You’ve reblogged his images, bidded on his eBay products, and ROFL’d at his memes, but what do you actually know about the artist, and internet sensation Brad Troemel?

We invited Brad into The Charles HQ for a chat on art in the digital landscape and we discovered more of the humorous mind behind the ‘Locked Taco’ which why we nominated Brad Troemel for our Culture Crush of the month.

Image by The Charles
Image by The Charles
Image by The Charles

Troemel knew at an early age that though risky, he could become an artist and give back to the same creative community that nourished him. After high school he would soon find the embark to be be equally fulfilling as it was nonlinear.

Troemel understood the power of the World Wide Web when he was a kid. As a middle-schooler he would buy cheap replica coins online, and ‘flip’ them, sometimes getting a ROI of nearly 200%. It was this type of creative thinking that enticed Brad to tap into the arts and make a career out of it.

Studying at SAIC in Chicago, IL (shout out to The Charles CHI), Troemel first opened a gallery space that showcased the work of his friends and classmates. Chicago’s art scene at the time was very commercial, and Troemel knew there was a golden opportunity before him to capture large audiences through presentation and preparation of the gallery. “It’s all in the installation,” Troemel told me as we discussed his time in Chicago.

As time passed and technology advanced, Troemel realized he could captivate a wider audience using a digital platform with the archetypes of a traditional gallery. Troemel soon developed his concept of a digital gallery. The world’s quick acceptance of Troemel and his digital gallery concept escalated in ways he never predicted. Using his best tools, his imagination, and Photoshop, Troemel honed in on his craft and started creating surreal compositions that resonated with the viewers, reblog after reblog.

Image by The Charles
Image by The Charles
Image by The Charles

His passion for original content and image curation led him to create a blog called The Jogging. The Jogging is a cult blog, and a place for young artists to place submissions, in exchange for monetary reward. In other words, based on the number of notes each image got (notes as in likes or reblogs) it coordinated with a dollar amount. This ‘business model’ was and is still extremely unique today. In a culture of “Save Image As” showing respect for the artist is key in Troemel’s success with The Jogging. At the time blog hits its peak, “internet etiquette was still being figured out,” said Troemel, and “this was why the pay for content model was so highly respected”.

With the growing popularity of The Jogging, Brad switched from content creator, to editor of his very own cult online publication. This free time enabled him to start creating his own work again, such as the “Locked Taco”, something now synonymous with Troemel. With numerous solo shows and features in some of the most credible publications, Troemel continues to evolve his practice and art form.

Our conversation turned from background and insights to a passionate discussion on the nature of the GIF. Turning  30 years-old as of last week, Troemel’s take on the shareable file was quite interesting: “A GIF has the worst aspects of both an image and a video file. The low quality and compression has become valued as aesthetic. “It’s a shortcut to authority without the greatest information possible” he explained.

Image by The Charles
Image by The Charles
Image by The Charles

Brad Troemel is contributing to culture — in a big way. His work is recognizable, witty and smart. He sets out with one mission, is it funny? It’s that sense of humor that resonated with us at The Charles.

We’re obsessed with Brad Troemelhis work, and his Etsy page, and you should be too.

*All photos courtesy of Brad Troemel and/ or The Jogging.