An Interview with Alan Marrero

HR: So Alan, what are you working for IRL: Craigslist?

AM: Well I found a collection of grout samples for free from an interior design company that just had a bunch of samples on hand and they were trying to give away as much as they could and so I was able to get a couple different brands of samples and so I took them out of their packaging and arranged them into a visually pleasing pattern.

HR: So you are working with the “Free” section of Craigslist, what was it like hunting around on there for material?

AM: It was interesting. You really get a peek into people’s lives, a lot of transitions of people’s lives, a lot of transitions of sofas. You see a lot of collections of stuff where people are either leaving in a hurry or they’re getting forcibly moved from somewhere or people have already gone from somewhere and left a bunch of stuff behind because people will post “come to this yard starting at 9AM today, all of this stuff will be here until I take this post down” and I actually drove by two of those and they were pretty heavily picked over pretty quickly. There are a lot of stories you can make up for those scenarios.

HR: What the weirdest thing you found in the “Free” section?

AM: I did see two pets which was kind of sad. I don’t know if that’s the weirdest but it’s something worth mentioning.

HR: That’s so sad… what kind of pets were they?

AM: I think it was a cat and a dog.

HR: Sad. So do you use Craigslist a lot?

AM: Yeah, I have used it quite a bit. I used to use it a lot for free rides and paid rides, so doing a lot of online hitchhiking, now we call it rideshare. I’d find rides around the country to get to and from certain places. And a lot of roommate situations. We found a house that I lived in for four years here in Seattle when I first moved here on Craigslist and that was cool because my friends and I wanted to get this place, and they just posted when their Open House was and we showed up the day before to knock on the door and check it out and then we liked it so we showed up an hour early to when the Open House thing was with our application in hand and we were glad we did because so many other people found it through Craigslist, and just because we were there ahead of it, we ended up getting it. I lived there for four years but at least one of my roommates who I lived with is still there. They’ve cycled through about twenty five roommates through Craigslist and friends of friends.

HR: That’s a lot of people.

AM: Yeah.. Oh, I thought of something I found for free on Craigslist.

HR: Okay..

AM: It was a rug from that house where I used to live. I saw it draped over the porch! And I said hey, I know that rug.

HR: Was it a good rug? I need a rug.

AM: Well, no it was on the “Free” section of Craigslist.

HR: Can you talk a little bit about the pro’s and con’s of accessibility via Craigslist or the internet?

AM: I mean I don’t know what a con is for voluntarily being able to find anything that you want. I guess it creates bad situations for people but not anything that isn’t already in the world. I like what they are doing as far as the people who created the website how they’ve stuck to this very bare bones visual experience that hasn’t changed at all, they’re not constantly trying to update things... I like that I’m not trying to learn a new way to navigate it and I think the way people have used it over the past ten, twelve, fifteen years is the same way. It’s one of the more reliable things because you know what you are doing to get. Or you know that you’re not going to get certain things on it but at least you know what it is.

HR: Are there any other artistics projects you are working on?

AM: Well I did find this free organ on Craigslist and wanted to use something from it for this project but it was a little too inspiring for me, in that I was like “Oh, if I can just use all the keys and have them complete little electrical circuits, it can make all these sounds” but I had no computer or circuitry experience so I spent a lot of time learning it and testing it out but not quite enough to complete a project but I will continue to work on that and play with it. So I’ve been learning a lot of programming and computer stuff so I can make more interactive pieces. So the organ was cool but maybe too much of a distraction for this. And the organ that I found, I got it from a guy from a Ballard and he was like, “Yeah I’m moving to Maine and I got it from a guy I’m in a band with” and I was like, okay whatever and then a week later I was going to go see my friend’s how and he was like “Yeah, it’s for our keyboardist who’s moving to Maine” and I look up and it’s that guy. And my friend was the singer of the band so afterward I went up and talked to them about it and it turns out he had gotten the organ from my friend originally who found it on the side of the road. So my friend was the one who originally got the organ from someone who was dragging it out, an old guy, who was dragging it out of his house. So he got it, had for a couple years, and then gave it to his friend, who then put it on Craigslist, and then I got it back.

Alan Marrero is a designer and visual artist based in Seattle. He is the Production Lead for the design firm Graypants.