We spent a very informative morning in Los Angeles with Jim Heimann in his home studio, two rooms full of books and photos, old advertisements and souvenirs of all sorts, many of them filed in cabinets or on long shelves that lined the walls. It was one of those places where there's too much to see, too much to sit and pore over for hours.
Jim is now an executive editor for the German book publisher Taschen. His publications include a series of bright and snazzy collections titled All-American Ads of The 30s through All American Ads of the 70s, as well as others like Bizarro Postcards, California, Here I Come, Hula, and many other volumes of vintage graphics.
We asked him for an interview because of his earlier books, California Crazy & Beyond (Chronicle Books 2001) which was the second edition of his book titled simply California Crazy (Chronicle Books 1980). The earlier edition was among the first volumes ever to make people reconsider the joys of wacky buildings, and we wanted to learn some of his motivations behind the books, and why he started to love this sort of architecture.
How does he find all the images for his books? He says, "It's like a treasure hunt. One of my great resources for finding material are the flea markets. I don't do eBay. It's too time-consuming. Three hours on eBay versus three hours at the flea market? I find ten times more at about a tenth of the price I'd have to pay on eBay." But there's more involved than just shopping. Jim confesses, "The real joy is to go to a research library. The University Research Library at UCLA is one of my favorite places. And for me, if I'm really tense or had a really tough week, my favorite thing to do is go at ten o'clock in the morning, go to the microfilm room, and sit there from ten o'clock in the morning till ten o'clock at night, and never leave that microfilm room, going through the Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Examiners, the New York Times, and just scanning every page... And that's a real joy."
On Jim's recommendation, we stopped for quick visits at Randy’s Donuts near the L.A. Airport. Truly excellent sinkers.
And we drove out to the suburbs, to La Puente, California, to get some drive-thru donuts at The Donut Hole. Also quality products.
JIM HEIMANN & CALIFORNIA CRAZY & BEYOND