Arts & Culture

The Big Jewcy: Jacob Weinstein – FreeDarko Reincarnate

Jacob Weinstein, FreeDarko illustrator-extraordinaire, earned Big Jewcy status this year for his deviceful communication of previously untapped basketball ideas, usually too fleeting to escape the orbit of a puff-puff-pass circle. Read More

By / June 3, 2011
Jewcy loves trees! Please don't print!

The notoriously pseudonymed boys in charge of the FreeDarko operation deserve a standing ovation for turning pop basketball discourse into a whole different animal. By way of blogs and books, (info)graphics, and the ancient art of insightful bullshitting, they gave the sport the freshest breath of air since the court was emptied of the bunch of pituitary cases of the 90s we loved. When FreeDarko officially called it quits several weeks ago, fan responses were earnest, one blogger reminiscing, “The whole site embodied a sports criticism, an extensively thought out process of the beauty in basketball, or, more crudely put, whatever they liked.” This mix of self-serving entertainment and innovative conceptualization gave their work staying power as a genuine art form. While Dali was known to say that “It is good taste, and good taste alone, that possesses the power to sterilize and is always the first handicap to any creative functioning,” it might have been the supremely good taste of these boys that we were so attracted to in FreeDarko.

Jacob Weinstein, the group’s illustrator-extraordinaire, earned Big Jewcy status this year for his deviceful communication of previously untapped basketball ideas, usually too fleeting to escape the orbit of a puff-puff-pass circle. Via playful, Harper-like infographics so alluring that it’d turn your disdainful knitting girlfriend onto the ballgame, Weinstein’s art formidably complemented Shoals and company’s stats-heavy intensive essays. You know your art is something important when it creates its own hype and fans do your promotion. Such groupies will be happy to know that Big Baby Belafonte’s talents will not be stunted as he turns his eye to new projects independently as well as with familiar FD faces (follow the details on their Twitter). Good news is we can’t seem to pinpoint many restrictions to his game, even in format as his digital and publication-friendly artwork recently took on the luxe medium of billboards (recently designing gargantuan art in LA for the Undefeated Billboard Project in honor of All Star Weekend.)

Weinstein briefly caught up with us from a Bolivian internet cafe:

Jewcy: What do you view as the greatest feat of the FreeDarko crew?

Weinstein: Publishing two books about professional basketball where the Mayan calendar, the Fibonacci sequence and moustache length all played pivotal roles.

It is the general consensus that your artwork for FreeDarko along with the work of your compatriots has been a great service to society. If it were an epic fail instead, how else would you be using your powers for good?

Probably mining lithium in Bolivia.

Sticking with sports for your next project, what are you illuminating beyond the scoreboard in the grand scheme of things?

The graphic novel I’ll be working on next year is centered around the 1952 World Table Tennis Championships, but the tournament itself is just an easy narrative device to bring together all these hilarious table tennis players from the era.

How did you interest the NYPL in your sports-not-so-pop-culture-graphic-novel-genre project?

The NYPL offers a research fellowship each year, and since my project involves a lot of historical research I figured I might as well apply.

How did your stint in India affect your trajectory?

It allowed me to spend a lot more time working on my own stuff and the FreeDarko books than had I been living in the States. It also made me much more appreciative of homogenized milk.

What else you got on your plate?

Just the usual. A lot of drawing and gum chewing.

There is general consensus that these boys made a permanent dent in pop basketball discussion. In the end, Weinstein is a great ambassador of the arts as a relevant filter through which spectators will always get more than they payed for.