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Interview with Dave Potes of Hamburger Eyes

06 SEP 2011 | Posted By: Marisa

Interview with Dave Potes of Hamburger Eyes

Photo by Andrea Sonnenberg
Photo by Andrea Sonnenberg
Photo by Barry McGee
Photo by Brian Henderson
Photo by Dave Potes
Photo by Ed Templeton
Photo by Josh Lazcano
Photo by Lisa Weiss
Photo by Luis Mendoza
Photo by Nolan Hall
Detail image by Jennilee Marigomen

When Dave Potes explained the meaning of the term ‘hamburger eyes’, which is also the name of the San Francisco-based photo zine he co-founded with his brother, it all finally made sense. It’s a not-so-delicate nod to the good ol’ cartoon age of your childhood, and in particular the scene where a gent would lust over a lady. Hamburgers would pop up in place of his eyes, pulsing back and forth, and with the wonderful insight that we now have as adults we can presume that this symbolizes that she was ‘good enough to eat’. Hamburger eyes happen to people as well as animated characters, and thus is the loop that brings us back to the inspiration behind Hamburger Eyes photo zine's name.

Since Ray and Dave birthed this operation in 2001, Hamburger Eyes (HE) has become known for its very distinct aesthetic that centers around making inconsequential scenes seem overwhelmingly poignant, or significant at the very least. This ability to be almost unassumingly remarkable is perhaps what’s kept HE going for some odd ten years. They’ve also expanded into their darkroom facility in San Francisco, known as Photo Epicenter, and this year managed two international shows in Berlin and Paris.

As with most things like this, HE is run for the love/swag and not the money - according to Potes’ own admission - of which there is hardly any. Thus something practical must be done to keep everything alive, which is currently happening by way of the Hamburger Eyes annual auction fundraiser. From the Sunday just gone to September 13, HE will be auctioning off works from its contributing photographers and artists by way of eBay. As of right now there’s 36 items to be had from people including Andrea Sonnenberg, Jesse Hlebo and even the Brothers Potes themselves, but more will go up in waves over the ten-day online flog.

Lifelounge met with Dave inside the internet and talked about living the good life, the HE annual auction fundraiser and convinced him to share some secrets about his brother.

Marisa Aveling: What up, Totes Potes? We hear that 2K11 has been pretty good to you and that you've been seriously exploring the notion of 'permanent vaycay'. Confirm/deny?
Dave Potes: Hahah! Yes! Actually, this year started all bad but somehow I managed to take advantage of the situation to make it a positive experience. My perma vacay status came about accidently. I started traveling a lot and then realized I haven’t been in any city longer than three weeks. The past three months I’ve been in 25 cities.

MA: HE is currently having its annual auction fundraiser. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
DP: We started doing fundraisers not too long ago. Last year we experimented with the notion of having online auctions on eBay. It was a success. I like the idea of having a global online auction rather than having one night of art, music, etc at one place in one city. This format allows people all over the world to auction and win artwork and photos from amazing artists and photographers.

MA: Tell us about your favorite three photographers/artists who have contributed works to the auction.
DP: Man there are so many contributors that I am such fans of... Well, Barry McGee donated a couple pieces, a painting and a photo. I’ve always been a fan of his work. This photographer Brian Henderson donated some pieces of this project he worked on about zombies. It’s so sick. T moss prints at our lab here and there, he gave us some art that’s so awesome. I’ve always loved his shit ever since.

MA: Sounds like you're hoping to raise a bit of ca$h. What are you REALLY going to do with it?
DP: I hope we do! You know we have so many different projects we have been working on. The money we raise will help us continue what we've been doing: making zines and running the dark room. The dark room doesn’t really make any profit and the zines just allow us to eat burritos. The fundraisers help us cover costs for all the production. All we really want is to keep producing photo zines and keep making photos. We don’t make a living off HE at all, I mean, it allows us to do cool shit and cool stuff happens to us. It’s so awesome that people are into us and love what we do...

MA: Word around town is that Ray Potes is a pretty rad guy. Tell us some secrets about him. Feel free to use creative license.
DP: Ha! He’s my big brother! He’s always been awesome and I’ve always loved what he does. Ever since I was little I thought he was so cool! Haha. I am fortunate I can get along with him and work on HE with him. We definitely have our roles in HE and we both have strengths in different areas, so it works out in the end. He has a rad sense of humor and you can see it in his photos and in HE.

I can’t really think of any secrets, haha. I have lot of memories when we were kids: he had a flat top, he spit the biggest loogie in my face, he turned me onto Metallica and Bob Marley in the same month, one time I shit my pants as a kid and I pulled down my pants and he kicked my ass and shit was all over his foot... That was funny.

MA: Complete the following: Hamburger Eyes is to photography as [blank] is to [blank].
DP: Hamburger Eyes is to photography as volume is to music.

MA: If HE had a theme song, it would be:
DP: The soundtrack to Dune or Lord of the Rings.

MA: I'm a photographer, and I'd like to contribute to your site. What's the best and least annoying way for me to get in touch with you about that?
DP: The best way really is to go to our website and follow the directions on how to contribute. Or hook up with my brother.

MA: And finally... you've met a lot of people through your travels. What's your legit opinion of Australians? Harsh but fair opinion is acceptable.
DP: Hahah Ozzies are everywhere! I like them, they talk funny and it’s awesome when they mimic an American accent! Ha, no really, the Ozzies I meet are super rad and do rad shit, there are sweet and I find them interesting. I am big on slang and I love Australian slang. I want to be fluent in Ozzie slang.

More at hamburgereyes.com.
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