Collector Profile—Jon Halperin’s Life Amongst Street Art

Artsy Auctions
Feb 18, 2016 12:58AM

Jon Halperin pictured with his personal video game machine designed by Swedish designer Love Hulten, limited to 50 pieces and titled "Pixel Kabinett 42." Courtesy of Julien's Auctions. 

Collector Jon Halperin has worked for more than fifteen years in and around the music industry—booking talent for venues like Chain Reach and The Glass House, while also working for the Coachella Music and Arts Festival and the Music Tastes Good Music Festival, opening this fall in Long Beach. Halperin’s covetable collection of street and pop art is displayed in a dense salon-style throughout the condo he shares with his wife and two dogs. As part of our exclusive partnership with Julien’s Auctions: “Street Art Now,” we spoke with Halperin about how he began building his now sizeable collection, what to look for when collecting street art, as well as highlights from his collection. 

Left: A life size KAWS “Dissected Companion” is housed under a glass case in good company with Banksy’s “Stop & Search” and a Shepard Fairey “Sid Vicious.” Right: An Invader ceramic sits high above the door jamb while a Banksy “Rat” and Invader “Pacman” welcome visitors to the next room. Courtesy of Julien's Auctions. 

Collin Munn: Can you start by telling us how you began collecting street art? What were the first few pieces you acquired?

John Halperin: I really never intended on collecting “street art,” I just collected. I have been collecting Shepard Fairey since 2003, having ordered his stickers since the late 1980's thanks to Flipside Magazine. In the mid 2000's, my friend brought me back a tote bag from Asia with a Banksy image on it. I went to the LA Banksy show that Friday at noon and bought several prints. I met Paul Insect outside, and it just went from walls were already full at the time, and this just exasperated it all. That year, I bought an Invader original, some Banksy prints, Paul Insect, Nick Walker, and D*Face.

CM: What are some of your favorite pieces from your collection?

Views of Halperin’s bedroom with pieces by Pose, Estevon Oriel, Luke Chueh, Tim Armstrong (from Rancid), Miss Bugs, Tim Diet, Zevs, Shepard Fairey, Bruce White, Peter Gronquist, Woes, and Jeff Soto. Courtesy of Julien's Auctions. 

JH: I have a Steve “Espo” Powers that was a commission he did—it was really for my (now) wife. It says “Nothing to do is Everything with You.” I ended up getting it tattooed on me as well. I really, really, really love my Peter Gronquist Louis Vuitton chainsaw. I have a few Futura pieces that are pretty special to me, one being a drawing he did at a Comic Con in the early 2000's. I have a Dabs and Myla from their first solo show—it has been great to see them blow up like they have over the past few years.

Guests to the Halperin home can relax against Shepard Fairey “Obey” pillows while taking in a view of downtown Long Beach. Halperin’s custom coffee table contains a built in print drawer where 150+ prints are stored. Courtesy of Julien's Auctions. 

CM: What tips do you have for collectors new to acquiring street art?

JH: Buy what you like, as long as you can afford it, haha. Don't necessarily buy as an investment. I don't buy with the intention of selling, but with the hope that should I have to sell, I can come out even and have rad walls in the meantime. If you are just starting out, go with prints, then move onto originals when you and your wallet are ready. If you have the dispensable dough, buy what speaks to you and don't believe the hype.

CM: Which artists do you think are essential for a collector to have if they are interested in street art?

JH: The obvious ones would be Shepard Fairey, D*Face, Banksy, Ben Eine, Nick Walker, Kaws, Invader...but also the next wave of Pose, Dabs and Myla, Meggs, and be sure to check out the newbies like Teddy Kelly and Bumblebeelovesyou.

CM: Are there any street artists or specific works that you are currently on the hunt for?

JH: I just bought a Slinkachu original this week, that was a holy grail. I had prints before but never imagined I would have an original piece by him.

CM: Where do you like to discover new artists?

JH: Juxtapoz Magazine, Urban Art Association message board, and of course, by going to shows!

CM: What is your favorite city for street art? Why?

I am partial to Shoreditch, London, only because of the amount of art in such a condensed area, in addition to to great galleries like Pure Evil.

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