Artist BB Bastidas made a visit to Tokyo for Element's Japan tour. We sat with the artist before his collaboration art show Inner Vision, and talked about the start of his career in the skate industry and what the future holds for him.
──BB BASTIDAS (ENGLISH)
[ JAPANESE / ENGLISH ]
Interview by VHSMAG, Photos by Junpei Ishikawa, Special thanks: Element Japan
VHSMAG (V)： Firstly, when and how did you get into art?
BB Bastidas (B)： I was always into art as a kid but never took it serious until I was 18. Me and my buddies went up to San Francisco on a skate trip, and the house that I was staying at, all the people were artists and musicians, but I'd never seen that in person. People that were close to my age making art, and making the type of art that I liked... It just got me super pumped. So when I came home, I wanted to pursue that. And on that trip, it was kind of hectic actually.
V： What do you mean, hectic?
B： The dudes that I was staying at the house... It was weird because half the house was kind of gangster dudes and then the other half was like artists people. We were staying at this house in Oakland because one of the dudes that was with us, his brother lived at that house. But they wanted us to rob a weed dealer house with guns and stuff. So I was contemplating doing it because I was a young kid, just being an idiot. And it came to the time to do it, and I just got really shook and didn't want to do it. So I gave the dudes the gun back and I came home and I was like, "Fuck, I don't wanna do that type of stuff." I would rather live a good life doing art opposed to doing stupid shit.
V： That's crazy. Okay, then how did you get started working in the skate industry?
B： I just lived in the house with a bunch of people that all skated, so people would come stay at my house to film and stuff. And they would just ask me to make boards for them, but I wasn't even good at doing it. They were just friends with me so they would want me to do it, just because I was their homie, you know? That's pretty much how it started. The first board I ever did was one of my best friends, Richie Belton. It was a board for Crimson. And then I did a Lizard King board for Think when he was on around 2009. I remember there was a Think catalog that came out, and it had the Lizard board, and it said "Art by BB." And I thought that was so cool.
V： Okay, so that was the start as an artist. How would you describe your style of work?
B： It's constantly changing, I'd say. I will go through two years of doing stuff a certain way, and then it'll change. Now I'm doing a lot of watercolors, but I was only painting acrylic canvases, and then I'll only want to do murals and then I'll be like, "I only wanna do graphics." Then I'll do them for a while, and then I'm just like "Get over it." So I keep changing.
V： What's your most memorable piece that you've done in skateboarding?
B： I think the tipping point, obviously, would be the first boards that I did because that was crazy for me to do that. I did a Baker series and I remember Reynolds called me, and I was so tripped out that he called me because growing up it was Reynolds, Jamie Thomas, and Chad Muska, and those were to me the coolest fucking dudes, right? And he called me and I was just tripped the fuck out because I had a lot of debt collectors calling me at that time.
V： That sounds sketchy.
B： Yeah. And it was a number I didn't know. So I'll be like, sound like an old lady, be like "Hello?" Just when it's a number I don't know. And he's like, "BB, what's up?" And I was like "Holy shit!" I did a lot of large series, and they're paying pretty good money at the time. It was before the recession hit. I got a pretty good amount of money for a young kid.
V： Okay, I want to ask you about your relationship with Hirotton.
B： We first met in London. I was dating this girl that was friends with him. I was painting a mural in Shoreditch, and Hirotton walked up as I was painting. My girfriend told me that this Japanese artist was gonna come over, and I remember I looked over and him walked up in a trench coat and pants with crazy patch... Honestly, the first time I saw him, I was like "Who is this dude? This dude's crazy."
Hirotton (H)： Yeah. Then we skated and drank together, And then BB told me, "You have to come to Oceanside and we have a show and paint mural together." Then I went to Oceanside. And then we have a show together and that time we did a mural.
V： So, how did this collaboration artshow come about?
H： In the beginning, I called up BB and told him that I want to have an art show with him in Japan. BB was super down and actually at that time, FOS called me about doing a series for Heroin. And BB was also dong boards for Element. So we decided to do that together. Heroin and Element.
V： When did you guys start working on this collaboration pieces?
B： This was talked about maybe seven months ago? I left enough negative space for Hirotton to get as much in it as me. And then I'll ship it to him and whatever he wants to do with it. Pretty much all of them make sense. I just trust Hirotton to do what he does. So, I guess working with him is easy and I trust him that he's gonna do a good job.
V： So you're on Element tour. You're in charge of the video, right?
B： It was kind of like the film "Enter the Void." That was what got me hyped. Just show the team in a perspective that you don't really see. I'm gonna film a filmer filming the team, but usually you would see it from a fish eye lens following them, you know what I mean? I'm showing the filmer. You never see the filmer. I'm showing the dudes eating dinner, I'm showing them just being intimate, them skating around and whatnot. I just feel like a lot of things are kind of played out, and to try to do something somewhat different is... That's the only way to do anything interesting now, because with social media and everything, it's like everything's kind of just blown out. And working on this project, it gets me excited because I've never really done this. So it's hard and it's unique. Doing a show and a board graphic is easy, you just do it and it's done. But this has more to it. You know what I mean?
V： So, you guys are flying to go to Osaka after the show.
B： Yep. We're gonna skate with the Osaka Daggers at Triangle Park.
V： That's gonna be fun. What are your goals as an artist? Is there anything you want to achieve?
B： I wanna transition to filmmaking. My favorite artist is Michael Jackson and Stanley Kubrick. You know what I mean? Kubrick's my favorite. Also I'm working on a new brand, BumBag with my friends back home.I wanna continue to make murals, maybe some collaborations here and there. But I'd like to do more film.
BB Bastidas is a fine artist, muralist, graphic designer and art director based in Southern California. He has provided numerous graphics for skate companies and has recently done Inner Vision series for Element.