Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reflecting On 2015.

Another year in the bucket and boy was 2015 one for the books. This past year was full of street photography, concerts, the relaunching of Awake & Moving, lots of pizza, even more stickers, and more tests than a 4-year college graduation track. It had been some time since I started this thing known as Awake & Moving and life had a way of pumping the brakes on me just as I got it started. After returning from the West Coast I found myself hungry to complete some unfinished projects and restructure this brand to be the great thing I knew it could be. To do that though, I had to get a new space for myself and my little one.

Puppy love.
Home Sweet Home.

I worked on that setup above for about three months until I finally bought a table. Your psyche will be tested during times of rebuilding yourself. Keep pushin' forward. While I was working on getting my life and Awake & Moving back in order, I started a little thing called Street Keepers. Rooted in my time with Van Styles, 13th Witness, and Levi Dopeness during The Hundreds' Street Meet NY (I'm right under the flag holding Ollie up as high as I can), Street Keepers was my way of bridging the talented photographers I knew locally that never seemed to link up regularly the way my artist friends did. We began having monthly meets and held the first of 2015 at the MLK March in San Antonio, one of the biggest MLK marches in the nation. This was actually the first year I was finally able to attend and it was truly inspiring to see how many people come together annually to support MLK's ideas and keep his dream alive.

MLK March 2015.
Youth at the MLK March, San Antonio.

March came soon after and for a lot of Texans and music lovers worldwide, it's the season for SXSW. This year I would be attending the events as a photographer instead of as an artist like the previous years. With some good karma and some help from my homie Ren, we were able to line up some solid shows and even made our way into a couple others to make some dope live shots happen.

Murs.
Free Murs show, fresh off his Strange Music signing. 

Puff, puff, pass.
Wyclef makes it clear that he supports legalization.

On top of some really great shows, SXSW also gave me some really awesome street photos. The spontaneity of the streets is what I love about lurking during any hour of the day. Knowing the streets would be flooded with people, I also planned an SK meet here during this time--our first foray into another city as a group.

A young girl catches me snapping as her friend sets up the group selfie.

Hannah Tropicana
Snapped this shot of  Hannah Tropicana. She disappeared from IG before I got to tag her in these.

Steeze. I arrived early to take to the streets before our shows.

Street fight.
This guy held his friend back from a fight as an officer threatened to jail him if he didn't walk away from the skirmish. Do you wanna go to jail or do you wanna go home?

Frost Bank, Austin TX.
The iconic Frost Bank owl taken from the street on my last night at SXSW.

SXSW would start an onslaught of shows for me. In 2015 I shot so many amazing music acts with most of them being some of my longtime favorites. From San Antonio to Austin, I got to shoot some pretty amazing musicians and performers from the photo pit rather than from the crowds as I had been used to in my adolescence.

Seattle's best, Grieves.
Grieves hitting an emotional peak. I'd been trying to catch him for some time. So stoked I was able to photograph the show with Grayskul.

This year I also became an Odd Future fan. I know, I know--five years late. The thing is, upon first listen of these cats, I just wasn't feeling it. Even today, I can't find myself liking everything they put out. I realize we ain't cut from the same fabric. However, I'm also a different person now from five years ago and this year I became much more interested in OF after seeing Earl at SXSW. I would go on to shoot Earl again in San Antonio a couple months later and then photograph Tyler in Austin on his Cherry Bomb tour. And I must say, during that show I got some of my absolute favorite images of 2015.

Tyler, the Creator & the Goblin.
From the crowd I saw something I knew would capture the show's feeling at it's best--an image very reminiscent of Yonkers, my first introduction to Tyler's music.

Bloody nose.
Quite possibly my favorite image I shot in 2015.

Between nights of shows and editing, I was [maybe not so] secretly working on a long overdue project. A few years ago I started making art books titled Delayed. Sleep. Phaze. Self-published and produced, they are collections of illustrations I wouldn't initially share on any of my platforms; they would be exclusive to these books until they were sold out. With the intentions of releasing a new book every year, I fell behind and felt the need to make up for the delay by deciding to upgrade these books to full-color and doubling the size. This allowed me to encompass a wider range of images that would include my illustrations, design, and photography. The end result is easily one of my best produced collections to date (cop one here).

Self-published art book.
DSP3 is my finest book and really steps the bar up.

During the summer I invited some of the Street Keepers fam to a beach BBQ the weekend of our meet in Corpus Christi.

North Padre Island/Mustang Island.
After the BBQ we had a bonfire...

Sunrise in Corpus Christi.
...and then woke up around 6 am to catch the sunrise. Some stayed up through the night. I need my beauty rest.

Instagram may be slowly fading in popularity and preference, but it is still providing some solid bridges. During the summer Global Meet took place with simultaneous photo meets across the world. Texas' meet included Austin group Heater Central, Houston group Conquer HTX, and our own Street Keepers. During this meet I met a lot of interesting people including photographer and model, Christie. See and read more about this free-spirited creative here.

Houston model.
Whuddup Christie!

Summer was about to be over and I was finishing up the relaunch of Awake & Moving. The biggest change was creating a new logo, something a bit more solid with less detail that still conveyed the feeling of being awake and in movement. Selecting colors and branding structures for the tees, like logo placement and tag print designs, rounded out the overall new look and feel. Another part of the release would be a design that exemplifies what this brand is--a representation of high caliber, passionate, and creative individuals. Creating a logo flip to embody this idea was important to me in entrenching myself in streetwear--the logo flip is a staple in this industry. The last design is my love for art, photography, and my youth using a photograph I shot of how I spent a few summers--enjoying a six-pack (of paint). Forgoing my previous affliction toward alcohol, this design would capture a big part of my artistic expression--photography, aerosol, and wit. These designs would mark my entry into actually printing these myself, which would prove to be an entirely new beast to conquer. These three shirts would lead the new charge of Awake & Moving. And I was super stoked to be back on it. Pick them up in the online shop.

San Antonio streetwear.
Concise and effective.


San Antonio streetwear.
Del Gente. Of the People.

Photographing shows would continue after putting these tees together and some big, BIG shows came through Texas that I got to shoot. For years I have been an advocate of rap and hip hop being different genres and I still believe this to be true. I grew up on rap, I evolved in hip hop. The biggest hip hop influence that opened the flood gates for my ears was the infamous Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan thanks to my buddy Aaron of Sneaks Up. The Art of War brought this powerhouse MC through and there I stood, stage left next to a speaker stack, photographing the entire thing. 

Wu Tang Clan's Ghostface.
Tell your crew to be easy!

That show was the biggest one yet. Then Deftones toured with Incubus. Talk about your late 90's teenage years coming back to life.

Deftones' Sergio Vega.
Vega with the new grill.


Deftones' Stephen Carpenter.
Sic guitar, Steph!

Deftones' and Sacramento's Chino Moreno.
Chino, live from the stage.

A big inspiration for me as a multidisciplinary artist is Brandon Boyd. His books showcase a wide range of art and word and made me realize that it is okay to have self expression in many forms. From music to visual art to written words, Brandon is a true inspiration to me and my creative expression.

Incubus' Brandon Boyd in Austin TX.
Nice to know you...


Incubus in Austin TX.
...Goodbye!

Wow. A little more than half the year was done and I was ready for more. Taking a short break from photographing shows, I planned a gallery show for SK. With a huge turnout during a mid-afternoon, one day only show, we sold about 30% of the work. Not bad for a group of photographers that people barely knew (but are well more aware of now).

Flock with us.
One of my photos from the show.

I spent a lot of time in Austin this past year...

Zilker Park.
The growing skyline of a progressive city.

And made my return to the California coast. This time, I spent my days and nights in the Bay Area. First stop was Big Sur...

Big Sur, CA.
The Pacific Ocean captured my heart once again.

Bixby Bridge, Big Sur, CA.
Pushing limits with these talented guys, Cory and Ozzy.

...and then San Francisco.

Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco CA.
The Golden Gate bridge and the creeping fog.

We linked up with Travis Jensen who showed us some of his favorite spots to shoot...

The Tenderloin, San Francisco CA.
Tenderloin beauty.

...explored some spots of our own...

Dogzilla vibes.

...and then lurked at night with Devin.

San Francisco nights.
The SF streets at night are pretty dope.

Fall was pretty much on it's way out when I returned to Texas and I began preparing Winter 2015. Most brands have this stuff worked out a year in advance or more. They also have a lot more capital and dedicated time to operate that way. I have to go with what works for me and right now this is what I got. An integral part of my restructuring is to have timely releases throughout the year as opposed to the sporadic, RFN drops I was making in the beginning. I went back into the Pur3ly Root3d print shop as I created some darker images to coincide with the loss of sunlight hours in my days. The results were a lot of bones and some winter-appropriate garments.

San Antonio streetwear.
 Cessation.

Read more about this design here.

The year wasn't over and there were a few more shows I wanted to catch including Freddie Gibbs and Gary Wilson.

Independent artist Freddie Gibbs, ESGN Records.
Freddie Kane. As gangster as it gets.

Living life as a creative I tend to meet some pretty amazing people. From artists, to DJs, musicians, poets, and so much more, my artistic endeavors seem to attract other creative people quite easily and quite often. This year I met Vince who is a talented photographer, a hell of a bass player, and an all around pretty cool guy. Through him I was introduced to his passion of music and collabed on a story of the band he is a part of, Frontage, in conjunction with the release of their latest record, Disillusioned. This would be my last Awake & Moving story of 2015 and it was definitely my strongest.

Frontage, San Antonio TX.
Frontage.

There were a ton of other events in my personal life as well as the brand's. I feel these were the most monumental and inspiring. 2015 was so good to me and it was proof positive that passion & persistence will give you some amazing experiences in life. This past year taught me to push through all the storms, no matter how tough, and to carry on through; they don't last forever. To bend when necessary and stand strong as needed; your inner strength will prevail. That the people you meet and the people's stories you share are important; shine light on all you can. All in all, I learned that with focused intention and good karma, you truly can achieve anything you set your mind to (and that clich├ęs are still true, regardless of their age or overuse). From all of us here at Awake & Moving, which is basically myself and you reading this right now, thank you.

Here's to 2016 and all of your stories we will share through tangible words, visceral images, and meaningful art.

2015, I HUMBLY THANK YOU.

San Antonio streetwear aficionado.


Stay Awake & Moving,
BLUE731.

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