In Conversation with B.B. Bastidas: Skateboard Graphics, the Showcase and Beyond
The adidas Showcase is an awesome opportunity to bring together some of the most talented artists together from skateboarding and beyond. I've had a chance to meet so many creative individuals curating these group shows the past four years. A featured artist in our most recent NYC Showcase B.B. Bastidas grew up in Oceanside and got the opportunity of a lifetime designing graphics for Deathwish and Baker. He has since gone on to show in Australia, Paris, London and Tokyo. I recently had a chance to sit down and catch up with him in New York City.
I’m stoked to be in your studio and to see where all the magic happens.
Growing up in Oceanside, in the middle of such a rad skate scene, what was it like to get the opportunity to do graphics for Deathwish?
Deathwish didn’t start until later. My first two professional graphics were a Richie Belton x Crimson board and a Lizard King x Think board. It was such an insane feeling when that first happened. I couldn’t believe it, because that was all I ever wanted since I was, like, 13 years old; and I was 20 when it finally happened.
Tell me about the Lizard King graphic. (It must have been awesome to see your work on the wall of epic skate shops, like Pacific Drive.)
It was basically a lizard as King Diamond. I remember going to one of my local skate shops and they had a Think catalog. The Lizard King graphic was in it, and there was a bubble next to it that read “Art by B.B. Bastidas.” Seeing that in a catalog in the skate shop was surreal. I had done a few things before, but no one had ever repped that it was my art.
Do you think it was Lizard King that requested it say your name next to the graphic?
I think it might have been Tony Vitello. Not really sure.
Tell me about your skate crew in Oceanside.
My skate crew in high school was my brother, who goes by Mouse, and Richie Belton. When I was getting out of high school, I reconnected with Lannie Rhoades and all the Ego Mob kids, like Jermaine Wright, Danny Scher, Michael Prince, and Austin Ayub, who was a filmer too. Our crew was sick! We stole all the Ego Mob kids and made them into our crew. Other people started hanging too, like Slash, Jon Dickson, Baca, Figgy and Collin Provost. It just kept growing. It was sick. Yeah, that was our crew. The NS Krue.
At that time, it was just about going skating. If it was a good day, it would happen anyway. It was like partying and getting f%$cked up. That was all I knew at that time in my life: going out, skating, and just raging. We all grew up on Baker 2G, you know what I mean? We were watching all the Baker dudes and thought, 'That’s so sick.' The vibe, the energy, how they skated. We were trying to imitate them, just at a way younger age, which probably didn’t really make that much sense (laughing).
What was the skate shop that had that Think catalog?
It was called LNK. It was Nick Lockman’s and Stevie Williams’ skate shop. That was actually the first place I ever had an art show. Thank you, Nick and Stevie!
Hell yeah. I know you are constantly on the move. Oftentimes when I hit you up to go skating, you’ll send me a text from Ecuador or somewhere wild like that. Seems like you’re crazy busy handling murals and art opportunities across the globe. I know you lived in NY before, but you officially moved back to NYC early last year, right?
I had only spent extended trips in NYC prior, sometimes up to three months. I’d get a layover in NYC and stay for a week or two. Most of the time, it would just be for a night or two. It was always my favorite city to hang out in.
We met in 2011 when you had a show at Max Fish. You were here for a few months for sure.
Yup. I was staying in Prospect Park part of the time and the East Village too. Angelea Boatright let me stay with her and my buddy Spencer let me crash at his apartment.
You were definitely out. Skating, partying, just in the mix heavy.
NYC is one of the sickest cities in the world.
From there, you were doing art shows in Australia and Japan. Where else around the world were you showing during that time period?
Sydney, Melbourne, Paris, London, and Tokyo.
What was the gallery you showed at in Sydney?
Damn. That’s legit.
That was my first international show.
How did that feel?
That was wild, I was pretty young, like 23.
How many pieces did you show?
Like 20 or so. And I was showing the skateboards I did at the time, so a lot of them were Baker boards. They were my friends’ boards so they were signed, and I sold most of them for $300 apiece. It was wild. I had, like, 15 boards with me. Actually, Shaney Joe from Keep A Breast paid all the shipping for my work. I didn’t really think about the actual costs to ship paintings across the world.
It was probably like $3k or so.
Absolutely! It was a massive crate and she just, like, paid for it.
How big were some of the pieces?
Dude. They were huge, 40 inches by 60 inches. It was crazy. Thanks, Shaney!
And the Japan experience?
That was through Element Skateboards. It was a collaborative show between me and Japanese artist HIRO, so they were marketing the boards I did for Element and a series he just came out with for Heroin Skateboards. I did like 25 paintings on cotton rag and shipped them to Japan, then he painted on them. It was sick.
And the show was well-received?
Yeah. It went off. That was one of my favorite experiences ever, and my first time in Asia. Tokyo is insane. That trip was so inspiring that it made me want to move to NYC. I was living in Oceanside at the time, but two weeks in Tokyo and Osaka just made me want to live in a big city again. I had lived in Los Angeles, but I wanted to go to NYC and create work. In retrospect, I know it was the right decision to move here.
So, from living in the Lower East Side to sitting here, at your studio in Bushwick, it must seem like a dream come true, right? Wake up, grab a coffee, ride your bike across the bridge to your studio, paint. Just being and creating in NYC?
A dream come true is an understatement. This is all I wanted growing up as an artist. I felt like the pinnacle of being an artist is having a studio in New York City. Maybe I romanticized the idea, but it was all I wanted. When I was younger I just wanted to have my art on a skateboard. The next chapter in life was to have a studio in NY.
Within the first 6 months, we did your solo show at The VNYL on 3rd Ave. That show went off! Your merch for that event was next-level, I'm talkin' tote bags, plates, beach towels, blankets, the works; and it all seemed to sell out quickly.
My brain goes back to skateboarding for merch too. I worked in skateboard warehouses for 7 years, before any of this stuff ever happened. Just seeing how the designers made t-shirts and stuff like that really influenced my thought process.
Those plates were so cool with the text “I’m not a loser, I just haven’t won yet.”
I think people like to see that type of merch because they aren't so blown out. I mean, it seems like everything has been done. I’m just trying to put out cool stuff.
And, dude, thank you for that show at The VNYL. It was sick. You know what’s interesting is, when I first arrived in NY, It was almost summer, May 4, 2018. Shortly after, they had the adidas Showcase, where Mark Gonzales did a live performance at MILK. Like the 20 year anniversary of his show in Germany where he skates in that gallery all dressed in white. I remember being there and thinking, "Fuck dude, I wanna be apart of this." That was one of the first New York thoughts after moving here, "I wanna do one of The Showcases." Then it happened!
What a Showcase to experience. I mean, I had tears in my eyes when The Gonz entered the gallery. I was holding my relatively newborn baby and standing next to my wife, as we watched something so beautiful and pure. It was truly such a special moment in time.
It was so rad.
Cullen and I knew you had to be in the next NYC Showcase, and 2019 lit AF! That new space on Broadway was insane. The lighting, the marquee and, of course, the line up of artists. STAINO, Mark Wiitanen, Lizzi Reid, Hildie Gifstad, Isabelle Reese, Scott Furkay, Joshua Wildman, PHEOS, Mario Cairo. The whole squad came in heavy.
That show was fucking wild. What was really cool is we did the show and I went back home to California. A lot of my friends were asking me about it. They obviously care about what I’m doing, but if you keep doing shows all the time, it becomes less of a big deal to your friends. But they picked up on the vibe that The Showcase was a big deal to me. You always want that kind of love and support from your friends. And when they give it to you, it’s pretty sick. That was a really special group show. adidas does it, right man. Off the hook.
Speaking of good friends, Figgy was there too!
Yeah. Some of the Baker dudes came out to film and finish up Baker 4. Figgy stuck around to do an east coast rock n' roll tour with Pharlee. Frecks was there. Cranny... I was hyped.
It’s the fourth year of the adidas Showcase, and it has been such an awesome experience. So many talented artists come together for these group shows, and the turnout for each city has been next level.
Yeah, you get a chance to meet all of these sick artists from all over the country.
It’s been incredible. Just this year The Showcase took place in Denver, Phoenix, San Francisco, Austin, NYC, Minneapolis, and Chicago. It’s perfect because we can really take our time with each city, working with the local core skate shops, finding the right gallery, and curating a really epic event overall. Last year, we did The Showcase in Atlanta, Portland, Sacramento, Tampa, Los Angeles, and NYC. It's also super cool to have Juxtapoz’s support. Artists are beyond stoked to get coverage through JUX. Skateboarders are in the streets, seeing the madness of society up close. These wild experiences most definitely influence us, right? Can we see imagery reflecting your interactions and observations in the city?
Tell me a little bit about that.
All of the things I paint have to do with something I’m interested in, or reflect where I’m living or have lived. Growing up as a skater, you are a predominantly outside in the streets, and it gives you a perspective of what is actually going on. That’s kind of how I grew up and have lived pretty much my whole life.
Is your bother Mouse an artist too?
Yeah, he does a lot of stencil work. He had a grip tape company called Mouse. In our early 20s, we were just feeding off each other. We had a true 'skate house' with a minimum of eight people living there, oftentimes 10-12. Lannie Rhoades lived there, too. It was his job to house skaters from other countries, then he would document their skating. The house was full of rad people. You were exposed to what they thought was cool and you shared what you thought was cool. That house was a melting pot of creativity. Skateboarding brought all of us together.
The skate world has, and continues, to influence the art world at large. Templeton, Gonz...
The Gonz and Ed Templeton are amazing. Skateboarding influences everything: art, fashion, music.
What mediums do you prefer to work with?
On canvas, I work mostly with acrylic, spray paint and oil sticks. On paper or cotton rag, it’s watercolor and colored pencils. Sometimes, I’ll introduce acrylic to that as well.
I see you recently worked with Pat Hoblin of Pat’s Pants. Tell me about that.
Everything with Pat’s Pants is a one a kind piece. He sources everything in New York, which is super respectable. I had the opportunity to paint a single pair of pants for him. I’m going to do another one in the next week or so.
What’s happening with Brixton?
I’m doing a capsule with Brixton that will drop Holiday of 2020. I’m so hyped. To market it, we're doing an art show in NYC and thinking about a big show in Australia, too. Dude, it’s wild! I was working at Brixton’s first warehouse many years ago. That’s how far back it goes, like 15 years. I always wanted to work with them properly. We tried a few times, but I was on contract with Krew and couldn’t make it happen. It finally came to fruition, which in hindsight, is the ideal time to create this collection. If I had done something with them five or six years ago, it wouldn’t be as impactful for them as a brand or myself as an artist. I’m fully prepared to handle something like this now. It took a lot of patience and I’m putting everything into this collection. It’s, like, 24 different garments.
How many skateboard graphics do you think you have created, in total?
Just shy of 200.
Damn. Shout out to Pete Eldridge! I was in Minneapolis for the Showcase with Familia Skate Shop, and he did the sickest nollie back heel.
He’s on fire! His pop is just like it was back in the Hallelujah Transworld video. He has such good style. It’s classic. Timeless.
What’s up with Psockadelicadelic? Did you help start that?
Psockadelic was started by me, Slash, Figgy, Lannie, a bunch of people, Pete Stoddard, and Nate Elders. That was the first time I had ever started a brand from the very beginning stages. I did all the graphics and creative direction for a while, then recently took a step back. Later on, we started Bumbag with some of the same people and a different group of people, as well. Each brand has around 10 people involved. It’s sick.
Well BB, you really have a lot of rad stuff happening in your life. Everything is in place. Living in NYC, running your own game, and yet, you have your hands in all this cool stuff.
It really helps me spread out my time. When I get burnt on one project, I can just mix it up and tackle another one. It’s perfect right now.
We’re happy to have you rockin’ three stripes. You’re stylin’ in those Sambas.
Dude, adidas is the sickest shit to me. They actually care about skate and art culture and they show it with things like the Showcase. Reppin’ local artists hard, which you have a huge hand in. It’s sick. adidas is killin’ it, especially in New York City.
That Max Fish shoe that came out was such a sick design! The red polka dot with three stripes.
Any shout outs to close this interview:
For sure! The adidas fam; including Cullen, you, and Eldridge. Thanks for helping to make my transition to NY so easy. It means so much. Also, shout out to the Brixton family and the Stoddards. Fuck, just all of my friends and family, from California and NY. All of them. Psockadelic, Bumbag and all those dudes. It really cool 'cause I don't think people realize that companies are actual families of people. You know what I mean? So when I say adidas or Psockadelic or Bumbag, those are people to me, not the brand.
For sure it’s a group of individuals who have helped you live your dream.
Dude, thank you. I'm so hyped about everything right now. Thanks to Jux for this opportunity.