For the past few months, you've been posing with every publicly accessible blue mailbox in Seattle and documenting it on your website, Mailboxes of Seattle. Why?
Over the last several years, I've done numerous large-scale photography projects that have featured up to 100 naked people each. I wanted to take a break from that, and I couldn't think of anything more different from a naked person than a mailbox.
How many publicly accessible mailboxes ARE there in Seattle?
I have about 375 on my list, and as of now I've visited about half of them. Occasionally, however, I go to a location only to find the box is long gone. Their numbers are dwindling, which should surprise absolutely no one.
You say on your blog this is easily the most meaningless thing you've ever done. What's the point of doing meaningless things like this?
For me, it's important to always be working on some sort of project, even if it doesn't have an obvious purpose. Everything doesn't have to make a grand statement; it's okay to do things just for the hell of it. Plus, introducing yourself as a Professional Mailbox Photographer at parties is an awesome icebreaker.
What's been your favorite one so far?
I have a peculiar fondness for the mailbox that's inside Northgate Mall, tucked into a service hallway next to Macy's. There's a beautiful sadness to it—an object that's meant to be outdoors, yet it's trapped in a mall dutifully performing its job.
What's something you've learned about mailboxes that's surprised you?
The ones with the tapered chute on the front are called snorkel boxes, which I think is a fantastic name. It conjures up an image of a herd of mailboxes slowly crossing a river, moving steadily while keeping their snorkels safely above the water.
What do you like to do around Seattle when you're not hunting mailboxes?
Like most longtime Seattleites, I spend the vast majority of my time telling people on the bus about when I saw Soundgarden open for Redd Kross at the Central Tavern in 1987. Then I trail off, muttering something about the Dog House.
What are you going to do when you're done with this project?
I have no plans to continue working with the public infrastructure, so you won't see me posing with fire hydrants or utility poles. It looks like the next project on my schedule will see me returning to familiar territory (that is, more naked people).
What do mailboxes have to teach us?
The most important thing they can teach us is to keep our skill sets updated. They learned how to do only one thing—ingest mail—and with the demand for that steadily decreasing, they don't have many alternate career paths available.