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Home BLOGS Guest Blog A Week with Jeff Soto - Day 2

A Week with Jeff Soto - Day 2

Written by Jeff Soto   
Thursday, 09 March 2006 11:38
A week with Jeff continues. Day 2.

Day 2 of 7 Tuesday

10am. So far this has been more of a typical day for me. I just got over to the studio and am farting around on the internet. Stayed at Jennifer’s parents house last night. I miss our bed. And their cat BillyBadass kept chewing on my feet all night.

Noon. So now I’m at the studio working on some business stuff that I’ve put off for awhile. People think that artists have all this time to do artsy stuff, like go camping, and read, and play guitar and go surfing, and travel overseas. I’m jealous of those bastards, I try to make time but am always working on some project or having to deal with lame companies that owe me money. I’m always worrying about paying the bills and providing for us. Guess I’m a bit of a workaholic. Probably because when I was younger the Soto family was poor, we couldn’t afford to go on vacations, we were always eating 3 for 99¢ tacos from Jack in the Box, and wearing Dyna kids shoes (which I thought were Vans until I got made fun of at school). I’m bitching about nothing though, I think sometimes we Americans lose sight of what being poor really is. We take it for granted that we’re not starving. Yeah, we were poor, but they still managed to feed us and clothe us. And they were really good parents which counts for a lot. Anyway, that’s part of my drive- I saw how tough my parents had it and I don’t want the same thing for my family. So I’m always trying to get illustration jobs. Damn, I’m such an art whore.

Speaking of being an art whore. Just got a call from Philadelphia Magazine to do an illustration. Shee-it. I kinda wanted this week to be illustration-free, but I just can’t say no. Half page for $750. They need sketches by Friday and the piece is due early next week. They’re going to email me the text and I’ll take it from there.

1pm. Now I’m working again on the business stuff I’ve put off. Does anyone know what’s up with skateboard companies? In my life I’ve done deck graphics for three different companies, and every one had major problems paying me. I shouldn’t be generalizing but so far none of them understand working with artists. They want to pay super low, they think they are buying the original art (and all copyrights), and they don’t understand the little line on my contract “must pay in full 30 days from delivery of art”! Nine months ago I did four decks for a company that will remain nameless. They’ve been dicking me around, just like the other companies have in the past (if anyone knows Mike Santarossa tell the jackass he still owes me $300) . It was always a dream of mine to have skateboards with my art on them, but these companies have left a bad taste in my mouth. I’ve worked for tons of magazines, book publishers, record companies, advertisers, and have never once had problems getting paid, but ALL the skateboard companies I’ve done work for have screwed me. Huh?

The four decks.

Speaking of skateboarding, I’ll write a little bit about my history with it. I don’t skate much anymore, I don’t know why, I think I’ve gained some weight over the years and my knees are fucked. Last time I tried to ollie I was only going maybe half as high as I used to.
I started skating in1984. Our neighborhood friend had a grandpa who owned a rollerskate shop and he gave my brother Jesse and I free boards. My first ride was a thinnish bullet shaped deck with red roller skate wheels. It was bare shellacked wood with a red stripe along the bottom. There was barely a tail and the nose was probably under 2”. I rode that thing all the time until it got stolen. Then in 85 I got a Nash. I loved it but looking back it was ugly. Multicolored wheels, a sick green and mustard dragon, hot pink skid plates, nose protector, and rails. As nasty as that board was, I kept it for a couple years, it’s the board I learned to ollie on. Then it seemed that overnight skateboarding had exploded. Everyone including yours truly sported the cool skate hairdo with long ass bangs on one side. I had a subscription to this magazine called Freestylin’ and I’d just sit there and droll over the pictures. There was this one photo shoot they did, I don’t know if I remember this right, but I think it was Natas and Mark Gonzalez ollieing over barbed wire and skateboards. So rad. I love skateboarding but it was a weird thing. The kids at school would judge you by what kind of deck you had. I was a pretty good skater by late 80’s standards but I still had my Nash. The one deck I was completely captivated by was the Vision Psycho Stick. I’d seriously just stare at all the different color variations at the skate shop in the mall. The shape was so rad. I never got my Psycho Stick but I saved up enough to buy a deck on clearance, an Eddie Reteague (?) from Alva. With Indy 169’s and Sawblade wheels. Then there was the clothes. It was all about Jimmy’z and Vision Street Wear. Of course I didn’t have any of this stuff, I rocked Kmart clothes and Converse All stars. I didn’t care, I just wanted to skate. We had some jump ramps and there was a cement ditch close by. We lived to skate. Everyday was an opportunity to work on a new trick. I kept skating into high school but as we got into the early 90’s I had a hard time keeping up with the new flip tricks. For years the way we had skated was all about speed, grinding, jumping, and being agressive. Then all the boards got really small and the wheels got tiny. It was hard to go fast because you’d hit a fucking leaf and go flying off. I felt that skateboarding was getting too technical, all I’d see were kids rolling up slowly and timidly to a ledge and trying to ollie and flip their boards. They would land it occasionally but usually the board would go flying and they’d land on their feet. Boring. I kept skating, and ignored the flip tricks and the small wheels and just kept trying to go fast and have fun on my big deck with big wheels. I think the coolest thing I could do was ollie over an upside down trashcan or onto the top of a picnic table. After I got out of high school I sorta lost interest I guess. I became more interested in art and graffiti. Skateboarding was a big part of my life for over 10 years and I still feel close to it somehow. I’m sure there’s many skaters who can relate to this. I still mess around with skating but like I said I'm terrible at it. My balance is still good but can't ollie for shit.

Did I ever mention that I like to write? I think I have diareah of the keyboard. I hear the mail truck coming down the street. Got two cool things in the mail today. Postcards for shows at Spector in Philly for Rebecca Westcott and a show for Arkitip press. Rebecca is pretty cool, I’ve met her a few times and her art is really cool.

I’m going to go find something fun to show you guys.

Ended up going over to the UC Riverside botanical gardens. It’s a really nice place to check out if for some reason you ever find yourself in the I.E. (that’s “Inland Empire” for those who don’t know). It’s a peaceful place to see plants and nature, I used to go walk the place by myself to clear my mind. It was nice today but a little hot. This place is the best in April and May when everythings blooming. Today there were lots of lizards. Here’s some pictures.

Entrance. Gates locked at 5pm.
The cacti area. My favorite. But too damn hot today. No shade.
Old man cactus.
Just like a sculpture.

Textures in nature

Coyote "Fecal"
This is a seed but it's shape resembles something "Fecal".
This is the Australian section. All Eucalyptus trees. you can see the haziness that coats riverside in the summer.
Something got a bird here.
There were lizards everywhere. One in particular was the Lizard king. He was big and liked to chase the smaller ones.
Lizard king's close up. Dude, this guy was like 8" in length.
The shade house. Lots of spiky ass plants.
looks like one of my paintings.
These stalks might find their way into one of my paintings.
Found my way back into the jungle. This tree makes me want to build a treehouse.
Raphael, Leonardo and Donatello.

There was this orange tree grove close to where we live that they just cut down in the last couple of days. Probably going to build a gas station or apartments on it, or maybe a third Starbucks. It’s a shame because of the yummy orange blossom smell it created in Spring nights. Kinda makes me sad. R.I.P. orange trees!

After the UCR botanical gardens I headed home to make dinner with the wifey. Still need to get a picture of her. Her grandma is doing better and her dad is back from work so we don’t have to watch the G-Dog (Gunner) tonight. After dinner watched a little of the Angels game. Yeah, I like baseball and probably waste too much time following it. But it’s fun.

Stupid commercials.

9:30pm. Now I’ve just got back into the studio and am trying to pick up where I left off earlier. Checking the email, maybe get some drawing done. I got an email from Philadelphia Magazine. It’s about Americans’ new addiction to products from China. The intro is pretty nice-

“They opened up a new store on Columbus Boulevard the other day. It’s got seven acres’ worth of veneer particleboard, and you couldn’t imagine a bigger hullabaloo in South Philly if Christ turned up at Ninth and Passayunk and got Himself a pizza steak with onions.
There were rock bands, rap groups, face-painting clowns, and $2,000 shopping sprees awarded to the first five people desperate enough to have camped out in the parking lot for three nights before the grand opening. Yes, IKEA—home of the $7 architect’s lamp and $10–a-dozen wineglasses—has landed inside city limits.”

Hey wait... I have Ikea furniture. I like it and it’s cheap. Sounds like an interesting piece, I hope I do it justice! I’ll keep readers up to date on how the illustration goes.

Someone emailed me this: http://www.chohomio.com/
and this: http://www.ericblumrich.com/pl_lo.html Damn, we live in some fucked up times. Politics are weird. People either love Bush and think he’s the best thing for the world or hate him with a passion. I just think he’s a fucking moron. In his little mind he’s doing what he thinks is right, but he must have a pretty skewed version of reality. Dang, I need to re-register before the election.

So are you guys starting to get the idea that I live a solitary life with no contact with other humans? It’s kinda true. I’ll try to get some portraits of my family who I see almost everyday, and the elusive Jennifer. I think tomorrow we’re going to go on a tour of historic Riverside. We’ll see. Jeff Soto signing out like Doogie Howser....


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