New Bigfoot sightings are reported in the skate community. We caught up with the legendary artist to commemorate the collaboration with Satori Wheels.
[ JAPANESE / ENGLISH ]
Special thanks_BP Trading
VHSMAG (V)： How did you get into art?
Bigfoot (B)： I was exposed to art at a very early age, because my mom was painting and making art and doing graphic design. Especially when I was about five years old she was majoring in art at Kean College not far from our house in New Jersey. Of course being a kid I was into cartoons and comics and everything that kids like. In second grade it was my dream to be a cartoonist when I was older, so I would try to copy things to learn how to draw out of the Sunday newspaper. I think I lost sight of art a few years and it was actually when I started skateboarding in sixth grade around '85 that I really got into art, being inspired by skate graphics and magazines.Then in high school around '89 or '90 I was doing good in art class and focused mostly on art, making paintings at home and in school being suddenly inspired by nature. I then left New Jersey to go to art school college in San Francisco. At first I honestly thought going to college was just a way to get to San Francisco and be away from New Jersey... But after experimenting in free art and developing new styles hanging out at the art school and being inspired, I became obsessed with painting and drawing even more than I already was and knew I would always be doing this... trying to describe my vision. Not knowing what the future would bring, but I knew I was always going to be an artist.
V： Where did the name Bigfoot come from?
B： I was looking for a symbol, something that had meaning for what I wanted to represent in my art. And one day in '94 it clicked and I decided that was the name I was going to use for my art. I wanted to vocalize the ancient people from the forest to tell the people of the modern world that they need to recognize and respect nature more.
V： You started out tagging in the street? How did you pick up a brush to paint?
B： Yeah, I started doing some tagging in late '94 in SF. I was really not that good... as far as being able to draw in tune with traditional graffiti style. But I was trying to develop my tag and doing things differently than most people as far as my hand style and my materials. I basically used markers and sometimes scrappy spray cans I would find leftover in peoples' garage, but mostly would use acrylic house paint. It was cheap and easy to get. Also I could find a good bright green. In the 90's it was hard for me to get a good green color in spray paint... So I would just use house exterior brush paint and put in little jars and go out skating around painting brown and green stuff and drawing over it with markers.
V： How did your style of art develop?
B： Just really over years of experimenting, trial and error, and finding out where my inspirations are leading me really helped my art to develop. When I started art school I was happy to be out of high school assignments and do whatever type of art I wanted to try. I basically scribbled for a good two years like a crazy person. But it was through that I then discovered my line quality and the way I use lines. I think for all artists, it's like a journey. You discover new things along the way with your experiences of life and it really influences the art. I realized early on that my love of nature would be the driving force of my art. And I realized that there was enough art out there that was super clean, technical and space age. So I thought I will do what I feel instinctually, which is to develop my own unique ultra nature art style.
V： You co-founded IPath in 1998. How did that happen?
B： Matt Field who I knew from New Jersey from years before met a guy who wanted to make some kind of skate thing. So me and Matt came up with the name and I drew the sketch of the logo.
V： The brand brought in a lot of new stuff to skate shoes. What would you say is the biggest impact IPath made in Skateboarding?
B： I think IPath was really unique and still is. I think it really resonated with people as far as the shoe design, the skate team, and the overall feel of the graphics, logo, and aesthetics. We just wanted some really simple late 80's basketball sneakers to skate in. Because in '98 all the skate shoes were super tech with crazy soles and were all lo-tops. A few years later skate shoes were kind of following IPath's path in simplicity and style accents. I think that was one impact. Also I think the skating of IPath riders was emphasized on individual style and at that time showed people out there that a person does not have to skate like everyone else. I think the third big impact was that the aesthetics of IPath conveyed a oneness with, and alignment with being from nature and earth and maybe influenced people to feel the same way.
V： I think Satori started around the same time as IPath. Did you have any connection with Craig who started Satori?
B： Yeah of course! I would always see Craig in San Francisco skating around. Many of the IPath riders also rode for Satori so there were a lot of common friends and interests such as music, skating, and we are both vegetarian so I would always see him at the same restaurants in San Francisco.
V： There were similarities in IPath and Satori, which was more toward nature instead of tech. Why do you think these kinds of brands started around the same time? What was going on in the skate scene back then?
B： That's a good question! I feel like skating inevitably was going to have more different types of brands no matter what as time went on... I think in the 80's there were maybe 15 to 20 skate brands or something. But from there it exploded into the 90's and in the late 90's there was room for skate brands to be anything. To not have to be like everybody else. We were not jocks or preppies and I think it was time for the nature and earth culture people to represent in skating. There was a big connection between IPath and Satori with friends and riders, but also definitely in consciousness, metaphysical aspects, appreciation for yoga, reggae, vegetarian food and connection in design, graphics, and feelings.
V： You've done multiple shows in Japan. Anything that sticks out in your mind from those days?
B： There have been so many visits to Japan over the years. I've been really inspired by everything about Japan, so I think I have to say all the friends I've made after all my visits there are what is most important. All my Japanese friends, nature, the folklore of Japan, and the onsen!!!
V： Satori went away for a while and came back. How did you feel when they started again?
B： I was happy to hear about Satori coming back!! I think skateboarding needs Satori right now. And the timing is good I believe.
V： Now you're collaborating with Satori. How did it come about?
B： It was the last time I was in Japan in November 2019 I was hanging out with my best homie Hiroshi from BP Trading, and he told me there was going to be new Satori Wheels coming again soon... I told him I wanted to do a collab wheel for fun... Many months later I wrote Craig and told him my idea.
V： Could you talk about the artwork you've done for the collaboration?
B： I used many ingredients to make the recipe that is the wheel graphics. I basically selected and summoned my elements of character, pattern, and lettering, to fit what I envisioned the Bigfoot Satori wheels looked like in my mind's eye. A meditating Bigfoot and mandala pattern was definitely something I wanted to have on a wheel for Satori. Because I get a very meditative feeling from Satori graphics history. On the soft cruiser wheel there are praying and praising characters and they are basically rejoicing for the feeling of freedom and movement that skateboarding gives us.
V： About your art, what's changed over the years?
B： In the last 12 years I slowly learned how to do basic graphics with my drawings, putting them into the computer and making graphics for products. For a while that was all I did and stopped working on paintings, so in some way my art went from really free loose and easy, to very graphic and fine tuned and specific. But I feel like I am going full circle and going back to my 90's style soon. Also most importantly the evolution of the Bigfoot characters I've drawn over the years from 1994 to 2021 has been a long gradual progression and evolution.
V： What hasn't changed over the years?
B： I'm still drawing on actual paper with pens and making paintings on wood objects I construct. Using browns, greens, and drawing my individually expressed Bigfoot characters, trees, lettering and many elements of nature and magic.
V： With the internet and social media, the world has gotten smaller but it seems everything is faster at the same time. It feels the world is super tech and going so far away from nature, what IPath and Satori stood for. What's your take on the current world?
B： Thousands of years ago most humans were still in tune with nature, the earth, the stars, the weather, plants and animals. But I'd say humanity has been so removed from harmony with nature for a long time not thinking about what they are doing to nature. But I believe some people are realizing now, and how important every action is in the balance of nature. I'm hoping we can return to earth and realize how sacred and delicate the earth plants and animals are and are not just for humanity to use. But yes it seems many people just want to get as technological as possible and want to go to the opposite direction of earth and go to space or become robots or something. I hope people realize there's nowhere better than our mother earth and that we need to protect and listen to her.
V： What's next for Bigfoot?
B： Right now I'm balancing out a lot of time between exploring nature and getting set up and organized to make many paintings and to take my art further in the future. I'm always coming up with ideas everyday for paintings, designs for t-shirts, sculptures, clothing, products, drawings, music, animation, murals, and graffiti. I plan to travel as much as possible in the future to Japan and other places I've never been when it's possible. But it's the never ending quest of the journey of art making and discovery of magic is what I will be infinitely heading towards.
Born in New Jersey. Bigfoot is an artist and co-founder of IPath, known for his Bigfoot character who is fascinated with harmony with nature. He has just released a collab wheel from Satori.