What does it actually mean to pursue an artist life?
If you spend time on YouTube, then you know Casey Neistat. Less known is his older brother and original co-collaborator. A filmmaker of commensurate talent who took a different tack. Then, like a Jedi returning from parts unknown, recently resurfaced as ‘The Spirited Man’. A ‘Spirited Man’ that goes by the name Van.
Van Neistat to be precise.
In the Neistat Venn Diagram, Van and Casey overlap on many traits. Both are artists with an utterly distinct aesthetic. Both are exceptional filmmakers who honed their skills in the days before YouTube even existed. Both have a preternatural aptitude for storytelling, perfectionist dispositions, an appreciation for the analog, and extreme respect for detail. The list goes on.
And yet, Van and Casey are also very different artists with disparate sensibilities.
Back in 2010 after The Neistat Brothers HBO show wasn’t picked up for a second season, Casey went on to become, well Casey Neistat (catch RRP 73, 144 & 174). Van on the other hand had some shit to work out. His has been an artistic journey of self-discovery outside the public sphere—until recently.
Now re-emerged by dint of his recently launched YouTube Channel, ‘The Spirited Man’, Van muses philosophical and explores questions large and small with a curious, introspective flare that is totally unique, utterly compelling, and just-so-perfectly Van.
I was (and continue to be) thoroughly entranced by this series—and so curious about Van—that I reached out to Casey to connect us.
Today Van shares his story, and it is wild.
“Artists aren’t smoking pot all day and sitting in cafés acting pretentious. They’re up at the crack of dawn and working hard. It takes extreme discipline.”
– VAN NEISTAT
My plan was to unfurl ‘The Story of Van Neistat’ in a relatively linear fashion.
That’s not at all what happened. And this exchange is better for it.
Fluid and conversational, this is an excavation of the artist life. It’s as much about hardship and survival as it is about creativity and productivity.
We discuss curiosity, sobriety, discipline, the value of being meticulous, and his commitment to preserving an analog life.
We talk about why he didn’t continue making films with Casey and Van’s many collaborations with artist Tom Sachs.
Finally, Van spins a few epic yarns featuring Werner Herzog, the Safdie Brothers, and the lore of 368 Broadway—a building in lower Manhattan that birthed many an amazing creative career in the early 2000s.
Van is super awesome. I love this one. Hope you do too.
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- Connect with Van Neistat: Website | Twitter | Instagram
- YouTube: The Spirited Man
- IMDb: The Neistat Brothers
- INC: Behind the Brand with Van Neistat
- Bomb: Tom Sachs & Van Neistat by Chris Chang
- Mmuseumm: Home
- Kickstarter: The Spirited Man
- ARTnews: New Wave: On Set with Tom Sachs in His Rockaway Beach Surf House
- Neistat Brothers: Yogurt vs. Gasoline
- Neistat Brothers: The Making Of The Maritime Holiday Film
- Neistat Brothers: bike thief
- Neistat Brothers: holland tunnel
- Eames Office: Powers of Ten™ (1977)
- Podcast: No Gruffs Given with Sean Avery
- Documentary: Beauty Is Embarrassing
- Documentary: Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse
- Film: Fitzcarraldo
- YouTube: 10 Bullets. By Tom Sachs
- Book: The Fourth Turning: An American Prophecy – What the Cycles of History Tell Us About America’s Next Rendezvous with Destiny
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