INTERVIEW ARTIST X STEVE SAIZ

Ballard: How many of the Bones Brigade Video Shows were you in?

Steve Saiz: Let's see. I think the first one I was in was Public Domain, then Ban This, then Propaganda, and a little bit in Eight, and that's kind of when my knee was really giving out. That was the end of it (skate career). Didn't have a lot of footage for that one at all. I was supposed to be in Animal Chin, and it was kind of funny, it was like never meant to happen…the two nights, you know, the bar scene in Animal Chin where they're in the Blue Tile Lounge? It was supposed to be Mike Vallely and me, I had such an insane earache that day before and the day that they shot, there was nothing that was going to stop me from going. It was like being comatose, on the bed. I couldn’t move, my head, my ears were hurting, both my ears got infected and I couldn’t film, and then after it was done I was like, all right. I guess I wasn't supposed to be in that video.

Ballard: What was it like working with Stacy Peralta?

Steve Saiz: Amazing. You've seen all the documentaries and stuff. I was excited and hyped just to work with him. A super positive inspiration. I was living in Long Beach when he had his studio in Silver Lake. So I used to go up there a lot. If you could make Stacy laugh, you were stoked. You know you want to kind of get him to be stoked on anything you're doing or saying or whatever. He used to show me things about editing and making videos… He was a force in the industry.

Ballard: Did you have any interaction with Craig Stecyk?

Steve Saiz: Yeah, Craig was around, at first I was kind of like most guys, "who's this guy in the videos?" And then we started working with them. I realized he was quiet, kind of just did his own thing and wasn't worried about getting his accolades. I would ask Stacy about him while we were driving around and he told me... He credited Craig for getting him to think beyond being a ditch digger. They would be driving around LA and Craig would say, "Hey, look at the top of the building!" Or "look at this, look at that!" And get us to actually look at stuff around you" and think “somebody created that!” Craig would sit there and talk to me about where we were skating and say, "These guys walking down the staircase, they don't even understand you're making your living from grinding this handrail. You're making more money than this, terrible lawyer guy”. He got you to look at things differently and Stacy said that, if it wasn't for Craig, Stacy would be digging ditches, he got him to start looking at things differently.  When I first met Stacy he was with Craig, Fausto Vitello, Steve Caballero, Christain Hosoi, and Lance Mountain at this Oceanside NSA street contest. Stacy was like "yeah we don't know what we're doing with this street stuff but, you know, I kind of want you to ride for us, it still took a couple of weeks before I actually got on Powell. We think that street is going to be bigger than vert.” I'm like, "No way. Bigger than Cab doing nine-foot mute airs, and frontside inverts, like Hosoi and Tony Hawk and all these guys.” And he's all, "Yeah, because everybody's going to be able to get to it and do it, not everybody has a vert ramp” I was like, "Wow, you're completely right.” And that was just Stacy and Craig, saying this is how it's going to go."

Ballard: During this period, were you involved in art...?

Steve Saiz: Yeah, I've been drawing since I've been able to eat crayons. Like my brother Marco Saiz, we were always drawing and painting and stuff. Marco always drew tons.  I always thought at some point in my life I would say, "all right, I'm going to be doing graphic design or something in the arts.” I fell into the skating thing and I loved it, and I'm just like, okay, well I'm just going to keep doing this forever. Right after I graduated high school, I was supposed to go to Long Beach State to pursue art. But then skating was taking off for me and Stacy and Powell asked if I wanted to start touring with them.  I was like, "Oh go to school, or go on the Powell Peralta tour?" Yeah, I'm going to go skate for a while, see how it works out.

Ballard: When did you start showing art...?

Steve Saiz: I think I've only been hardcore painting maybe the last...7-8 years, I got into showing stuff maybe five, six years ago? 

Ballard: Has your art been primarily skateboarding influenced...?

Steve Saiz: I say half and half? Skate stuff always kind of comes out in it. I’ve been going off of these black and white photos that I love in my paintings. And some of the photos I’ve loved were always skating stuff, pictures. "Man, they captured something… they kind of moved me.”  I got into this whole thing with old hobo photos too. I thought they were super stylish. They were supposed to be the vagrants of society and they were, I thought they were fashionably cool and I loved them and they just looked cool... So I starting to do that with some of my paintings. And then there are the Featherboards I've been doing, that comes from skating because I think everybody's board is kind of like a feather to a wing, everybody goes through so many boards. But just think of the life of a board to somebody that skates all the time. It's like they last what, only a couple of weeks? And you go to your next board. But that board was like... You might've learned something on or landed an epic trick on it … I look at it like each board has maybe a trick list that goes down, "you learned this, this, this, and that on it.” So that's where it's like one feather of a wing to a skater's kind of whole life I guess. That's where it started. So I always try to post up new Featherboards with any art shows I do with paintings and drawings. I love the fact that skating changed my life for just the way I look at things. And I am a product of that.

Ballard: Do you draw parallels between the two, between art and skateboarding? 

Steve Saiz: Kind of, yeah? Skating taught me certain ways of working at things. I mean being, not just a skateboarder but being somebody who was sponsored, and to going pro, so I went through all the steps of like, you did the contest, worked at getting photos and videos and all that. It showed me how to work on finishing things?

Ballard: They seem very similar in that you have to market yourself, and you have to produce.

Steve Saiz: That's a good point too. The marketing side of things. That's another thing I learned from Stacy, branding, trying to be an artist, just trying to do artwork for a living too. I'm a designer and motion graphic designer for the day job, but the art and paintings have been kind of taking off, and I kind of learned "well, you have to kind of be branded as well,”  I'm learning this with that world. And Stacy said, "Oh we got to get these portrait things done of you for this ad campaign we're doing with everyone.” I'm like "Oh man, I just did this handrail, this lipslide down this one rail. I want to shoot that. Can we do that?" Stacy said, "we can shoot it, but we need this shot of you.” There's one where everybody's sitting there with their boards, I hated doing it, but Stacy said, "well we need photos of you guys to brand you as individual skaters. So when you go somewhere, you go on tour, you're not just some blurry image behind the board doing the raddest thing. That's your job. You do the skating, you get us some editorial on that side. But we want to brand you.”. And sure enough, it worked. So when we went out on tour, people knew us, when we would show up in Germany or Tel Aviv or St. Louis, people knew who we were and what we looked like.

Ballard: I would say undoubtedly that the Bones Brigade was probably one of the best-marketed teams in skateboarding history. You must feel pretty lucky to have been chosen to be on that team?

Steve Saiz: Yeah, that's an understatement. I was super hyped, especially at the time because Stacy and Craig were at the top of their game and I rode the last bit of the 80's big wave being an early street skater. I was so fortunate. I mean, even still today, people just know me from that era. They remember that era, you know, it was important.

Ballard: Did you recognize Stecyk's genius back then as far as being an artist and a photographer?

Steve Saiz: No, not, in beginning. I didn't know what kind of role he played, I knew he did some graphics and stuff. I was trying to do my own board graphics back then too. But I didn't understand his skills until I learned more about him. It's kind of rad when we were filming Public Domain, our black and white part was like Ray Barbie, Chet Thomas, and Eric Sanderson. We stayed at Stacy's house in Los Feliz. So, we'd skate all day. We filmed that part in four days. You can only do a trick three times, that's the first time he used 16mm film. We'd go back to his place, we would eat, everybody crashed out in his living room, and then he started showing me things and I'd stay up with him. He started showing me all these clips, basically the Dogtown documentary. And he was talking about Craig and saying "God, you guys don't understand what this was or is" I was like, "yeah, okay.” But then I started watching the clips and thinking, "Oh man. He was talking about the evolution of something that wasn't done before.”  They were taking flat skateboarding to banks, then transitions, then pool skating came about and those were the things Craig had noticed and helped document and guide. They were the first guys to take it there... and be progressive, you know? It was going to happen. But they were the first guys to do it, and what a group to do it. And I started learning "Oh that's what Craig does.” And then going to Powell occasionally and seeing what they were doing, getting to check out Craig’s new graphics. They were way different for Powell's and they were so cool. I remember thinking Oh man, these are rad.” But they were so different than anything Powell had done. Craig was breaking ground with board graphics and I was like, "Oh man, these are kind of sick.”  I appreciate him even more over the years. But yeah, I didn't see it then, I had to mature into it.

Ballard: Maybe you could do some of that type of stuff with these Featherboards. 

Steve Saiz: Oh, that'd be a dream come true. I'd be so stoked.

Ballard: Let's call Stecyk.

Steve Saiz: Exactly, let’s try to get ahold of him. Just go, "Hey, ah, what do you think?" Craig has always been super cool, he used to come over the house with Stacy when we'd go shoot or whatever.  This one time he came out to my brother's first art show in Seal Beach, it was next to Harbor shop. Craig was there early and I got there late because I was living down south in Solana Beach. It's so rad I always remember this, Craig's at the front door just being Craig and said, “oh, it's nice of you to show up for your brother's art show.” And I'm like, "haha.” The thing is all my family from mom's side, it was like 11 brothers, sisters and cousins all came from Compton and East LA, and Craig had already met and knew all their names, which was no small feat!  Hell, I didn’t even know all there names!

Ballard: Wow.

Steve Saiz: Yeah, Craig had some fun with it calling me out, ”Oh, your Aunt Chacha said this… Oh, Carmen said this… Oh, they said this…” He just went through the list of all of them like, everybody, he’s just got it like that. Oh, he's hilarious.

Ballard: That's amazing, Stecyk is a legend in my book. Thanks for sharing your art with me.

Steve Saiz: Thank you. I'm stoked you like it. To be able to mix in my skate history and different elements, and to have people like it, it's cool...

Ballard: Are you strictly just about the board carvings and the paintings? Or are there other mediums that you work in or ...?

Steve Saiz: Right now it's just paintings, board carvings, napkin Copic marker line art sketches, commissioned murals, and some collabs coming up!  I recently did a mural of Christian Hosoi at the Starbucks by the Venice Beach Skate park. 

Ballard: I will have to check that mural out, keep up the good work Steve.

Steve Saiz: Thank you…

For more information   

http://www.stevesaiz.com 

instagram @saiz5412