Known for creating books on graffiti and street-influenced design, street art impresario Roger Gastman has produced Saber: Mad Society, a new book on a legendary Los Angeles graffiti artist with support from the cellphone carrier Boost Mobile.
Boost Mobile targets young consumers and through its Boosted Mobile Artist Content Collaboration, a wide-ranging cultural program, supports a variety of youth-oriented programming that includes everything from graffiti, hip-hop and rock bands to sports events. Boost “has been very supportive,” said Gastman.
Boost Mobile manager of business development Andrew Schulenburg said Saber: Mad Society is Boost's second book project (graffiti artist Claw Money's Bombshell from powerHouse was first) and that books are an “extension of the stuff we do with artists.” He described the Artist Content Collaboration as a “subbrand” of Boost Mobile and a “strategic alliance” with the artists. He emphasized that while Boost will promote graffiti artists like Saber by offering customers phone downloads of their artwork and other content, Boost is also keen on highlighting “our relationship to artists that are in a cool, exclusive niche.”
Published by Gingko Press and Gastman's R77 Publishing, Saber documents the career and works of Saber, an internationally known L.A. graffiti artist. According to Gingko Press editor David Lopes, the book sold out its initial 6,000-copy print run since its August release, and Gingko plans to go back to press.
Lopes also credited the book's popularity to Saber's (and graffiti's) pop cultural influence. “The book is hitting markets we didn't expect,” he said. “Fashion, tattoo and design people are buying it. It's really expanded into other spheres.” Lopes also credits Gastman, a former teenage graffiti writer and zinester, now fringe culture book publisher, for the book's cachet. “He's like a hip packager,” said Lopes. “He puts together all kinds of deals, like getting Boost Mobile, which brought this all together.”
Gastman has produced several notable street art titles, including the 2006 work Freight Train Graffiti from Abrams. “I met Saber when he was 15,” said Gastman, “painting under a bridge. He's a legend, and he's got great stories to tell.”
Beginning in early October, the book will get another kind of boost. In a phone interview from L.A., Saber said he'll be featured along with his book on a new Learning Channel series called Tattoo Wars. “I'm getting both arms done,” he said. “Forty hours of tattooing in five days. It's hardcore.”