|© MMIX, The New York Optimist. All Rights Reserved. The New York Optimist & www.thenewyorkoptimist.com is a registered
trademark of The New York Optimist. The New York Optimist is a registered service mark of Thenewyorkoptimist.com. The
New York Optimist logo and original photos are a registered trademark of The New York Optimist . All other photos and text
are property of the advertiser artist, writer. And are rightfully protected under their copywright protections.
Adam Pollina is an artist. Hundreds of thousands have seen his work, but have never seen the man. His voice is one that should be
heard because it speaks with such captivating enthusiasm, and when hearing him speak it inspires. He brings you into his world, and
you believe that what he says will indeed occur. He conveys faith in his aspirations about where he would like us all to be in the future.
Adam and I are long-time friends, and when starting this interview we both were reflecting about where we are at this moment in our
lives. Adam is turning 40 (and I have to say, he has an amazing physique! He puts someone in their early 20’s to shame.) He is on a
new, fulfilling life journey due to his revelation that took place approximately three and a half years ago. At that time Adam first
attended a life changing event held in Black Rock Desert, Nevada, called Burning Man. The impact was so great that in-between his
first and second trip to Burning Man, Adam felt so effected by the movement that, “I dissolved my company, sold my apartment, paid
off all my debts and ended my contractual obligations with Marvel.” At one point or another, Adam has been paid to professionally
illustrate, Spiderman, Superman, The X-MEN, and God of War, to name a few.
By, Jennifer Kaczmarek
He begins to tell me about the book The Man Who Tapped Into the Secrets to the Universe. “It’s about a polymathic genius who lived in the early
20th century who did amazing work- a painter, sculptor, musician, philosopher, and theorist unparalleled.” He said, “That if you have done your
work, conquered your demons and followed the higher calling, a man’s life begins at forty; and I tell you Jenn, I feel with all of my
accomplishments, with everything I’ve done experimentally speaking, this has been homework in preparation for what I plan to begin now.”
So, let me give you a brief history of this phenomenon . Burning Man was conceived in 1986 by a gentleman named Larry Harvey with the help
from Jerry James. The first one was held in Baker Beach, San Francisco. In 1990 they moved it out to Black Rock Desert, Nevada and had 100
participants. Today, Burning Man entertains nearly 50,000 patrons. Every year there is a different theme celebrated in its honor with last year’s
theme being Evolution. It is a seven day event dedicated to free artistic expression in complete accordance with our planet while setting examples
of compassion and generosity.The essence of Burning Man is what has inspired his latest art project. This new venture encompasses the
understanding of being non-judgmental, eco-friendly, housing, transportation, good nutrition, yoga, and meditation. The setting is found in the
middle of nature.
“It will be a traveling event, party festival- a carnival of enlightenment, consisting of dancing girls, art cars, and roaming art installations, a
spiritually sexy sanctuary. If you make enlightenment the sexiest party on the planet, hopefully everyone will want to be a member.”
Other plans also underway are a clothing and accessory line- recycled couture, of course, as well as ‘toys for big boys’, as he puts it; “Every
aspect of being ‘a Martha Stewart lifestyle’ for this emerging, awaking evolution.”
“This isn’t something new,” he says. “All of this already exists. I’m just putting my own flair on it by using everything I grew up loving- my New
York, Jewish, heterosexual, Italian, urban, John Galliano, Michael Angelo, Japanese anime influences- and taking the best aspects of it and
wallpapering it in a way that is in accord with nature. Hopefully, not based on profit, but on principle and on pleasure, the money will come- and
whatever money does come will be to sustain the growth of the movement.”
“Similar events like Burning Man exist about once a week, so why not just make it a lifestyle, my own Zen Hefner.” I LOVE THAT! “Everyone
wants to be lead in the right direction. Everyone wants to feel good about what they do for themselves and the people they care about, and these
festivals I think create a stage for everyone to rise to the occasion. It’s worth me rolling up my sleeves for this art project, which is my life, and
which I get to share with all of my friends.”
What he has been doing in preparation for Burning Man over the past 3 years has helped him in the preparation for his own new company. Last
year Adam and his team developed 25 hard hexi-yurts (if not familiar, they are like hard shell tepees.) On my last trip to NY, my girlfriend Gina
and I meet up with Adam (this was probably 3 weeks before Burning Man.) He and his crew were set up in the middle of what used to be the very
famous nightclubs, Sound Factory and Twilo, back in the day. It was now his working studio.
While hanging out in one of his yurts, he gave us girls the details. They’re made of 4ft by 8ft insulation board that is 1 inch thick. They are super
light, efficient, and collapse and store easily, and sleep up to three people. They also can withstand wind and rain. He said the cost to make one
of these is about $650 dollars.
A Moroccan feel came to my mind with large pillows lining the entire inner walls creating a very welcoming atmosphere for retreat and escape. He
said, “Besides being pretty, they are functional. They are like children’s pop-up books, and collapse like an accordion.”
Danny Anders, his partner and right-hand man, and their camp currently known as the Pink Planet, have decided that they will be gifting most of
these 25 yurts to close friends of other camps so that they will stay within their tribe in the future.
“Giving is not losing. Sometimes it hurts to give, and sometimes you have to give until it hurts. It’s sacrifice, but you know the reward is much
better. I’ve been doing it for a while now, and I’m enjoying the hurt. It’s like man, I’ve gotta bust my ass. I can’t be doing a lot of things I’d like to
be doing, but I get to do the things I want to do more than anything, because- oh baby, it is going to lead to better things.”
“Right now the goal is to be a self sustaining entity. We want to achieve making a camp for a small number like 60, and later turn it into 600,
which is a festival, and later 6 thousand, a small town,” which is what Burning Man has become. He explained to me what the set up is like out on
the desert. “It’s shaped like a giant crescent moon, and the inner most edge is called the Esplanade, which is where all the biggest camps line
up, so that all of the people that come can set up on the peripheral and ride their bikes to this concentrated main street.”
“Our camp gets to set up right on Main Street in small town USA. In small town USA everyone lives in their picket fences, and the general store,
the food market, the doctors, the clothing store, soda pop stand, and movies are all centrally located for convenience so everyone can come in
from the farms and the suburbs and do everything. Well, at Burning Man it’s just like that, except they are gifting these experiences for free. You
are not charged to come to the lectures, nor charged to dance at these clubs. It takes extra effort, so that’s who’s given priority placement on the
“Hopefully my company will have this up and running well enough that this festival can go on a circuit in Texas, in the middle of Montana, South
Dakota, the mountains, out on an island in Bali, and be shipped around the world in the most eco- friendly way- a traveling circus that doesn’t hurt
mother nature, but embellishes it.”
What will be part of this amazing world he is creating are these elevated floating pagodas made of recycled material, bamboo, and tie- dyed
fabrics from a village in Laos. He showed me the sketches when I was there. It really showcases how truly brilliant he is.
Adam says, “The ultimate goal is to have them first elevated, then floating with support, then floating stationary, then floating being pulled, then
floating independently. This may take 5, 10, 15 years, but the main goal will be a carnival in the clouds, mixing Zeppelins like the Hindenburg,
quality craftsmanship that floats from festival to festival, from sanctuary to sanctuary.”
I know financing can be extremely difficult, and I was curious as to how he plans to make everything happen, and how he has gotten this far. He
said he has taken a huge hit, but believes it will be worth it.
And luckily in his venture he has many extremely wealthy patrons that are donating money. “Instead of buying a new yacht or penthouse, they
rather help in growing this movement. These wealthy patrons are buying up huge amounts of land away from the urban chaos and away from the
shackles of the life they thought they needed, to now helping build these small oasis.”
“And, there are those who don’t have the means financially, but they have a trade and donate their services and time.”
A great example of a community of people coming together to create the advancement of this vision is what happened when Adam was at one of
these recent festivals shortly after last year’s Burning Man. His 26 thousand dollar tricycle he designed, which is an amazing piece of art, was
seen by some of his friends being peddled around. Adam told them they must have been mistaken, but his friends insisted that there were two
gentlemen riding his tricycle.
Adam told me that his beautiful bike was designed to carry him and his queen across the desert at Burning Man, but that the design wasn’t
perfect because the chain would keep falling off.
“I look up and here are these two grown men riding my bike up and down the terrain. They rode my bike right up to me and said they were sorry
they took my bike, and that they had packed it up with all the other bikes. I was like, ‘No, it’s ok.’ I’m just thinking, how in the hell are two grown
men able to ride it when the chain keeps falling off.”
“They said they were structural engineers, and that they had been working on my bike all week. These guys did thousands of dollars of work for
free, and now these guys are going to help me build my art cars.”
“This is all so new. I just can’t wait to see what grows from the seeds I’m planting.”
To let you know where Adam has evolved from, here is some background information. Adam was born January 2, 1970 in New York. At 5 years
of age he won his first art contest, his prize being dinner and tickets to a play with his mom, dad, and sister. “When I saw the proud look on my
mom’s face, it made me realize all I have to do is draw pretty pictures, and my mom is going to smile.” He describes himself in the early years as
‘quite the essential geek’ that lead him into escaping through his drawings. “I was an insecure, buck toothed, pencil neck boy that escaped by
creating a world of heroes that I wish I could have been. That’s when and why I started doing comic books.”
After graduating high school and being voted most artistic, Adam attended the Rhode Island School of Design on scholarship, spent a year
classically painting in Rome, and just 3 days after graduation, he was drawing pornographic comic books.
Then at age 24 he moved to Manhattan where he began drawing a Superman mini-series for DC Comics which then turned into an X-Men series
Added to his resume are illustrations for Detour Magazine, YSL, Visionaire Magazine, and also a limited edition Louis Vuitton book that is priced
at least 16 hundred dollars.
Once he quite Marvel he began developing his own heroes. He began selling them to Hollywood. “I got paid, but they never got made.” He goes
on to say that 1 out of every 20,000 things that get purchased ever gets to see the light of day. “I’ve earned hundreds of thousands of dollars
over the past decade, but no one really knows of the stuff I’ve done.”
I’m sure many video game lovers out there are familiar with God of War and MBA Street II games, which he headed up character design.
“After selling 5 things to Hollywood that never got made, I put my money where my mouth was. I’m not a director, I’m not a producer, not an actor,
not a screen writer; I’m just a kid with great ideas who draws well. What the hell does that mean to anyone in Hollywood? So, I took a loan
against my house and directed a short film based on one of my own comic books. This short film was purchased, edited down, and became my
first music video. Then I started directing music videos, but all the while still working on a script for my film.”
It is a superhero story about a kid that doesn’t have any powers, a kid who was born poorer than anyone I’d ever known, and was born without
arms. He is a true underdog who rises to the day.”
Which now brings us to today; in true seriousness, Adam is in the midst of creating the most fun project he’s ever had. “That’s why I’m dedicating
my life to it. You know, you carry yourself with responsibility. I wanna be a hero by the way I live my life.”
Suddenly, I pictured that young boy sitting at his parents kitchen table creating the heroes he dreamed of being. He is still that young boy, yet
now with years of experience dedicated to his craft and continuously learning more every day, Adam is one step closer to reaching his goal and
becoming the ultimate hero, off the pages of paper to actual reality. Like every great hero who marks their footprint in the world, he is making a
· Adam has just recently left for Bali, to not only celebrate his 40th birthday, but plans to relocate there permanently, and actively begin
creating his own personal happily ever after- Zen Heffner.
In time he will be able to share this greatest gift with friends, family, and everybody.