Save William Schaff’s Home

March 12, 2014
Detail from inside Fort Foreclosure
Detail from inside Fort Foreclosure

If you’re a fan of ours, you probably know William Schaff’s work. He’s the artist responsible for almost all of the artwork on our records and he’s one of my oldest artistic associates and friends and one of the most talented people I know. (He’s also frequently confused with me because we have similar names, which is why at one point we made a couple of videos to clear things up.)

There’s not a lot of money in visual art – even less than in music, unless you’re tremendously lucky – and for as long as I’ve known him Will has been desperately struggling to keep possession of his house, a beautiful old three storey-building he jokingly/seriously refers to as Fort Foreclosure. Will makes everything in his life some kind of beautiful art project, and Fort Foreclosure is one of the coolest places I’ve been in (you can see a video that shows some of the Fort here, and he also has a photo-set of pictures around the Fort on his Flickr page). The house was left to Will by his father when he passed away, and he has lived there for as long as I’ve known him, sometimes in the upstairs bedrooms and, in leaner times, camped out in the downstairs studio where he works for what seems to me like his every waking hour.

Will has started an indiegogo campaign to try to finally save his home from being foreclosed, and I’m contributing a track for a benefit CD he’s making as one of the rewards. I felt moved to post on this page to ask you to go check out the cause and the rewards. Will’s work is phenomenally creative and beautiful. You won’t regret owning any of this stuff. And you’ll be helping to support a truly brilliant artist and wonderful guy. So check out his page and maybe consider giving a little. Thanks for reading this!


Posted in: New Pieces


3 Responses to “Save William Schaff’s Home”

  1. Kevin Emery

    Okkervil River is getting to be pretty famous now, with The Silver Gymnasium charting in the top 10 on the Billboard charts at a time when the popularity of poetic rock is usually blown cleanly away by electronic pop and R&B. Friends I’ve met here in Boulder, Colorado have heard of Okkervil River. People all around the world have heard of them and been touched by their music. And I can see why.

    When I purchased The Silver Gymnasium from my local record store, I was blown away, not only by the authenticity, the musicality, and the poetic catchiness of the album itself… but also just as much by the poetry and artwork that encased it. Unfolding that album insert, reading both sides of the CD sleeve, and seeing the gorgeous green map on one side, with all the lyrics on the other, I thought “now this is what an album insert should be. You can’t buy this on iTunes.”

    So, one would think that with all this aforementioned fame, of course the visual artist who created that beautiful packaging’s artwork must be doing fine. But I’ve personally known just enough professional musicians and artists in my life to realize the truth. Money follows in the heels of fame begrudgingly and slowly, if at all. Sometimes, the floodgates break open and an artist becomes rich, but that won’t happen with Okkervil River. The music is too poetic, too personal and artistic to ever be sold as stadium pop-rock like Imagine Dragons or Bastille. The Lumineers have surely proven that there’s room in our society for an explosion of fame in return for beautiful poetry, but I suspect that the modestly greater success of Jeff Tweedy’s Wilco is perhaps the next step on the ladder for Okkervil River. I imagine that even Wilco can’t afford to make their album artists immune to the horror of foreclosure. A member of a fairly famous band can hardly earn more than a mediocre computer programmer working in an obscure cubicle farm, in this crazy, wild, modern world.

    So if you’re reading this, keep art alive! Let’s support William Schaff! I’m going to buy the hour-long Skype session, since as you can see, I’m quite a wordy one. Buy whatever you can afford. I will if you will 🙂

  2. Kevin Emery

    Will / moderator:

    I just want to say that I will absolutely donate some bling to Fort Foreclosure whether or not you approve my comment. If you don’t, I totally understand it’s because it’s a long comment and you want to keep this website well-moderated. No judgment either way

  3. bEN from France

    Just bought a Fort Foreclosure Emergency kit for $60. Good deal, thanks Will for sharing the news.
    And thanks for your blog which makes me discover great music (exuma!) and read good stories (yours!).

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