Since 2008, Victor of Archive Bags has been a one-man operation, creating a variety of handmade and custom bags and accessories out of his home in San Francisco.
While there’s no shortage of bag makers in the Bay Area, Victor’s attention to detail is what makes his pieces so desirable. From sling bags to saddle bags, wallets to backpacks, and whatever else you are lacking, he can (or will heartily attempt) to make it. If anything, the competition helps him thrive. “I like that there’s a community of creative people here, they have an idea and they execute that vision. I also like the idea as a customer of working with someone and getting exactly what you want. I strive for that in my work and try to support others who do the same”
The name Archive is derived from its own definition, “We use our bags to store things we need for work or personal use, I like the dictionary definition of archive as ‘any extensive record or collection of data’ and how this applies to all the things we carry with us.” To compliment this, his sewing always involves clean and sharp edges, triggering thoughts of order and organization when you see his bags on the street.
Trusting in some of the best technology ever created, Victor often takes inspiration from backpacking design in the 70s. Traditional form with maximum functionality is Archive’s end goal every time. His bags have travelled to all parts of the world, with a committed market in Japan (thanks to Blue Lug).
Archive is a subtle but strong force in San Francisco. With a humble smile and a balanced work-ethic, Victor’s years of cutting and sewing have made him an in-house name for some and with quality goods for all. If you aren’t familiar with his work yet, check it out HERE.
Shot using a Mamiya 645, loaded with Portra 400 and 400NC.
Photographer Tatum Mangus threw a photo show at Book & Job Gallery in San Francisco last weekend. All art pieces were priced to sell (aka. dirt cheap) in order to support her new life in New York. Here’s a short look at some of the folks who came out to the show.
Lightwaves Imaging Presents The Human Impact @ Book & Job Gallery
Lightwaves Imaging presented an impressive 31 image juried show at Book & Job Gallery last weekend. The images were selected from over 500 submissions by guest judges Jo Babcock, Lucas Foglia, and Andrew Paynter. Each with a strong focus on new directions in landscape photography due to human impact.
GoldCrate loves Book & Job Gallery and Lightwaves is one of my favorite photo labs in the bay area, so it was a no brainer that I’d be there to show support. Beyond admiring all the great work on display, I also brought along a camera to shoot some of the many guests in attendance. Recognize anyone?
I must say this is one show I highly recommend checking out in person. Every single image is quality and does a spectacular job of adding to the debate on what constitutes an ideal landscape. Thankfully, Book & Job Gallery is open Friday to Sunday from 11am to 6pm. The photos should be up for most of next month. Do not miss this one.
Original flyer by Tatum Mangus (I just kinda remixed it)
Event Photos by Arthur Alvarez (Look for his photo in the show!)
[Interview with barber Shane Nesbitt - Owner of Shane’s Barber Shop and San Mateo Zoo]
It’s 5pm. I have my camera, some film, and a 6 pack of Asahi special reserves in my pack. As I wait for a cross light to say walk, I notice mini masses of angsty teenagers roll by. Their transportation method is a blend of bicycles, skateboards, and scooters. It’s so odd to see kids around. I think to myself how I see far more dogs than children these days, then a small troop of mini people adorning soccer uniforms march by. Like a deer in headlights I stare in awe at the anomaly of adolescence and realize, Holy shit, I’m back in the suburbs.
Returning to my hometown, San Mateo. My first impression is that the place has changed a lot. Downtown is full of trendy restaurants that would please any foodie snob. After all, this is the town Curry Up opened their first non moving truck business. It did so well that it spawned another on Valencia just 15 minutes north in San Francisco. The small town has also grown in popularity amongst SF skaters. Due, mainly in part to Atlas skate shop. Over the last few years, many small business owners looking for a location to plant their roots have decided on San Mateo over San Francisco due to less competition and the open minded and highly supportive locals. In turn, these “edgy” small businesses have added personality to a town that was once pretty vanilla.
The reason I’m here is for an interview with a long time friend, highly skilled Barber, entrepreneur, and one of those responsible for subtly adding some spice to our hometown, Shane Nesbitt. Shane has known me since I was a kid waiting tables at a Japanese restaurant downtown. Back then I would float him bottles of our best Japanese beer. For old times sake, I purchase a 6 pack of Asahi Special Reserves and walk over to his shop off of 5th. When I turn the corner I see the large words “Shane’s Barber Shop” painted on glass. Inside, walls are decorated with skate decks, straight blades, and vinyl from a by gone era. Classic punk blares in the background and Shane, with his fiery red beard, sits on a chair holding a corona.
After over a decade in the business, Shane has recently evolved his 4th business, Headshots, into his 5th, simply titled - Shane’s Barber Shop. He’s been working for himself since he was only 20 years old. Creating multiple successful Barber shops and being offered to cut hair all over the world. Beyond cuts, he’s also crafting a collection of high quality products under his personal brand. After the change from Headshots to Shane’s, I thought it would be a great time to stop by, shoot a few photos, have a beer, and learn a little bit about him and what it’s like to own a barber shop.
GC: Hey Shane, can you introduce yourself?
SN: My name is Shane Nesbitt, I’m 35, from San Mateo CA. I’m the owner of Shane’s barber shop and the San Mateo Zoo
GC: Where are you from?
SN: I was born in Sacramento and ended up in San Mateo when I was in 2nd grade.
GC: Did you grow up predominantly in San Mateo?
SN: I grew up predominantly in San Mateo, traveled all over the world and eventually opened a record store [Below the Surface].
GC: When you were traveling, was there ever a place in particular that you stayed in longer than others?
SN: Not really, I was always moving. A few weeks here a few weeks there. I’ve always worked for myself, so I’ve been grounded here because of that. I always end up back in San Mateo.
GC: What is it that draws you back here?
SN: Just my businesses, and now I got my family. Everything is here. My heart is here
GC: You have an obvious love of music. I see it everywhere in your shop with all the hung vinyl. It’s also apparent in your online posts. It makes sense that you owned a record shop. How were you drawn to the barber business?
SN: I opened up my record store in 1998 and I closed it in 2004 because my landlord was getting super greedy. The record industry was taking a shit. I was selling records that were hard to find and they were becoming more and more expensive. That made people want to buy less records and I needed something to fall back on. I never had any aspirations to cut hair or interest in hair, but I woke up one morning and I knew I wanted to be a barber. A week later I was starting at barber college. The following year, I opened up my first barber shop. That was in 2005.
GC: For someone who didn’t want to do this, you’re doing remarkably well for yourself. You’re considered to be highly skilled by everyone’s standards.
SN: I’m honored, I feel super grateful for all the support we’ve had over the years. All the clients we have now.
SN: Everyday I wanna learn. I think that’s what makes the shop survive. Every day I want to learn something. I love cutting hair, I love the barber culture, I love how big it’s getting now. Even in 2005, which wasn’t too long ago, barbering wasn’t any where near where it is now. I’m just glad to be apart of it all.
GC: Speaking of that, there has been a radical evolution in the style of cuts people want these days versus before. Obviously trends move in waves, but it’s a huge difference. What do you think inspired the change? Was it a slow burn or did it happen over night?
SN: I could kind of see it when people were resorting to traditional haircuts. Rather than the extreme line ups and things like that. We still do a lot of fades and tapers, but we’re doing a lot more scissor cuts. It’s come full circle. It’s like anything else, everything makes a come back at one time and now it’s time for cuts to resort back to the 50’s and 60’s. A little less maintenance. A little longer on the top. Overall more style, less maintenance.
GC: Your shop has a strong visual identity. From just looking around I can see a massive mixing of cultures and historical artifacts. What’s the story behind the aesthetic?
SN: Shane’s barber shop is my barber shop, I put my name on it, I put my heart into every haircut I do and everything is based around my childhood. Well actually, based around what I do. Skateboarding, a touch of graffiti, barbering. It’s why we have old straight razors on the wall, old vinyl, everything that makes up who i am. Everything that makes up a part of my being. [Sips Beer]
GC: I believe the shop is definitely more inviting due to that kind of transparency.
SN: Thank you
GC: I want to talk a little bit, not quite about the business aspect, but more about the day to day.
GC: What’s the weirdest thing that’s happened to you here?
SN: Like one client in particular? Shit…Everyday there’s something. Cutting a bunch of different men all day. You hear a bunch of crazy shit. I hear guys ups, their downs. It’s non stop. Seriously, everyday there’s something. There isn’t one thing in particular I can call out.
[Shane is quiet for a second and takes another sip of his beer]
GC: It sounds like you’re a psychiatrist.
SN: Oh everyday! I go home drained every day. I start work at a way different hour than most barbers. I start work at 5am and leave at 5pm. You can only imagine the amount of shit I hear between those hours. A lot of guys tell me… everything. A lot of guys tell me shit I don’t ever want to hear. It definitely makes things interesting though. I don’t think I ever want to do anything else. There are other things I want to achieve, but I feel I’ve found my life’s calling. But to answer your question. Everyday is something. Everyday there’s some crazy shit that happens.
GC: WIthin the same vein. Is there something you’d like to tell people about going to a barber shop? Etiquette, advice?
SN: [Shane let’s out a long sigh] I can’t stand sweaty heads. If you go to the gym, give your barber a couple hours grace. Cool down first. And don’t be fucking late. Those are my two number one things. Don’t be a sweaty pig and don’t be late.
GC: I went on your site and was reading your bio. It says you’ve been mentoring people for a long time. What’s that like in this world?
SN: I try not to think about it. I just kind of do what I need to do. And help people who want to be helped. If someone approaches me with interest. And I see it in them. I’ll definitely be honored to help. I didn’t have any help, I had to do it all alone, but I want to help. It’s something I feel I need to do. At the end of the day I just can’t help but try.
GC: Is there anything in particular, something you see in people that helps you choose who to help?
SN: Not one thing in particular, if someone has enough heart and they want to do this as a career, I can just see it. I can tell whose going to bullshit me. Who is going to waste their time and waste my time. I’m getting better and better at figuring out whose capable of doing it, but most of all who really wants to do it.
GC: Your facial expression shows your’e thinking of people.
SN: Yeah for sure. I can think of a few.
GC: Let’s talk about the idea of success and what lead you to where you are today.
SN: This is my 5th shop.
SN: I had below the surface, I had a clothing store in davis, I had the zoo and I have this shop. As far as a store front this is my last hurrah as far as barbering goes. There are things outside of barbering I want to achieve, but as far as barbering goes, this is the end. That’s why I named it Shane’s Barber Shop. As cliche as it sounds, this is the cherry on top.
GC: Which, leads me into my next question. You are definitely crafting a brand. You have a few projects coming out soon. Is there anything you’re learning from the process of crafting your brand?
SN: Oh absolutely, I learn shit everyday. I learned that everything I have that I have a significant amount of faith in has to have my name on it to make it relevant. Everything I do has to be as close to perfect as possible. I know perfection is damn near unachievable, but if my name is on it, I want to be super proud of it. Everything that we’re doing right now, from the hats to the floor mats, to the soap, to the mustache wax. I want everything that I do to have my name on it because it adds pressure and makes me work harder.
GC: Today, a lot of people put stuff out that they don’t really care about. Is it because they can hide behind the anonymity of handles and aliases?
SN: I’ve done it. I’ve put stuff out that was super lackluster. I look back at it now. At the time it was all relative. I look at all the shit I did in the past as just learning. It’s like the prepubescent kid that thinks he knows everything. One day he evolves into a man. Goes through all the bullshit that he has to go through to figure out what’s going on in life. I did all this shit in the past and to me that was cool, and to some people, it was the best shit ever. But now it’s obvious it wasn’t. Right now is the biggest shit. It took me over a decade to figure out what I’m doing.
GC: Can you tell me about any current projects?
SN: As always, we’re cutting a lot of hair. Sedrick, Travis, and myself. The guys at San Mateo Zoo are killing it. We’re coming out with Shane’s Barber Aprons. It’s a selvedge barber apron made specifically for barbers. We have our hats, soap line, and other things in the oven cooking. It’s just a non stop process. There’s always shit that has to be done to stay relevant. I go to sleep at 10 at night and get up at 330am every day trying to get things done.
GC: Let’s talk about life outside of business? You have a new addition to the family on the way?
SN: My life outside of my business is my wife, my daughter and my soon to be daughter. Outside of here, that’s all that matters. November we have a new kid coming.
GC: Congratulations! Feeling pretty confident this time around?
SN: I know what to do, but now you gotta work harder. You need more money. We always make it through.
GC: Last question. What are you listening to right now?
SN: Golden era and mid 90’s hip hop always. Mid 70’s early 80’s punk. A lot of dub and roots. A lot of classic punk shit. Class hip hop shit.
GC: Can you be more specific?
SN: Pretty consistently Black Flag Damaged. It gets things rolling.
GC: Thank you. I really appreciate your time.
SN: Hell yeah!
[We clink our Bottles together and take our last sips]
Check out his site:
Saturday was the release of #Juxtapoz (s) October issue in the mission district’s Adobe Books & Art Co op.
Like most art shows, the doors were blocked by a modest, yet sufficient number of stylistically similar patrons. Unlike your typical art show, it was not inhabited by a group of pretentious assholes. This show was blessed with a very atypical and generally pleasant cocktail of art aficionados and curious locals. Most of whom I believed had simply stumbled upon the opening after grabbing a bite to eat at the taqueria down the street.
Now don’t get me wrong, the show wasn’t revolutionary. It was indeed, an above average sized space with free beer and enough people to break the maximum occupancy limit twice. It did take a few tries at polite nudging to wiggle through the small door and into the space. But once in, I no longer felt as if I was in a gallery, but rather, somebodies home. This of course, is a testament to Adobe Book’s already concrete setup. A story I will get into in another post, but one worth noting for future reference.
As I navigated through the moving maze of individuals, I saw faces both old and new. Through some boozy conversation about everything from roommates gone wild to the collection of Kyle Ranson’s work currently hung up. I learned from Adobe Book’s, Tiffany Sainz; that Juxtapoz had recently donated $1000 toward re opening AB in its current form on 24th. In return, Juxtapoz was granted a show for whatever they pleased. The thing is, Juxtapoz didn’t really bring much outside of stacks of their magazine and a seemingly endless supply of big daddy ipa’s. Or at least that’s what it looked like.
As to be expected, Issue N.153 is incredible. It features a stunning cover and thought provoking content. Brag worthy stuff. At least in a promotional sense. But, the release didn’t dress itself up like some attention grabbing slut. It didn’t unnecessarily tamper with the already established atmosphere. They brought attention to the revival of the 24th street Adobe Books in an organic a way as possible. Outside of adorning one wall with an artist featured in their September issue, Juxtapoz did nothing, but everything. For a single night, a plethora of Juxtapoz followers anchovy’d their way into the small store front. A re purposing without fogging the original idea. An admirable and truly minimalist move for all the right reasons. And overall, a sizable feat in one of the foggiest cities of them all.
[ JURNE “Division” Opening at 1am Gallery ]
Last night Oakland based graffiti artist JURNE held a solo exhibition titled “DIVERSION” at 1am gallery. The work ranged from abstract blends of traditional ink on paper to hand cut wood pieces with a bay area theme strongly emphasized throughout. Here are a few photos from the event. To see the work for yourself stop in to 1am gallery where it will be around until October 12th.
"JURNE grew up in Portland, Maine, and began painting graffiti in the late 90’s, adding his touch to the freight trains carrying goods through the maritime provinces of the Northeast United States. JURNE has traveled extensively throughout the United States to create large public works, and has shown his work internationally in exhibitions in Berlin, Germany, Warsaw, Poland and British Columbia.
JURNE moved to the Bay Area, California in 2006, where he studied physiology and cell biology and spent time working in a stem cell biology research lab. He transitioned to focusing full time on find art, commercial design, and graffiti art in 2011. While in California, he co-founded a nonprofit that runs cultural and history centric graffiti mural workshops with young kids and adolescents, and has designed and implemented programs in the Bay Area and Lublin, Poland.
JURNE currently resides in San Francisco, CA where he actively paints and pursues a variety of design based projects.”
Jen Giese is Photojojo’s guru, sage, wizard, longest working, and presumably most blue eyed employee. Not just a talented photographer and vinyl enthusiast, but also Photojojo’s Official Store Manager. A deceptively simple title that masks her incredible list of responsibilities. Not only does she work with photographers, writers, and graphic designers, she also acts as a curator of sorts for Photojojo’s webstore. This means she and a team cross oceans in order to find the next big thing. From pristine showrooms to the underbelly of the camera world, Jen sees it all. As a humble lady, Jen would likely never admit it, but she has had a tremendous impact on how Photojojo has evolved over her nearly 5 years on the job. Aiding in earning the Photojojo team nods from the likes of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, ABC, Gizmodo, Discovery Channel, and more. I had the opportunity to ask Jen a few questions and snap a few photos of her in and around Photojojo’s Valencia street location in San Francisco.
GC: Hey Jen! It’s great to see you again. Can you explain a little bit about what photojojo is?
JG: Photojojo is a Photography Store and Newsletter. We started out just as a newsletter when point and shoot cameras were getting really popular. Everyone was taking photos all of a sudden because these cameras made it so accessible. Similar to what’s happening now with iPhone photography and Instagram. Problem is no one knew what to do with all the photos they were taking — so we came up with DIY crafts and stuff to help them out. A few years after that we launched the online store and it just kept going from there.
GC: What do you do there?
JG: I’ve been the Store Manager for almost four years. For a bit it was just me and Amit (Photojojo’s founder) working in the SF office. So I was doing buying, photography, copywriting and hiring for the store all at the same time. Now we’ve got a team of six in the office so things are more big picture/management focused for me.
GC: So you’ve been with Photojojo for about as long as I can remember. What were you doing before this and how did you find yourself at photojojo?
JG: I kind of fell into the photo world on accident. When I left college I wanted to work for a magazine - so I started an internship at JPG Magazine. I met some great people there and when the magazine went under in 2008 (like a lot of things did) it led to a job at Photojojo as the Store Manager.
GC:The photojojo store is always filled with the quirkiest photography toys that most of us photo nerds didn’t know we even wanted. Other than your amazing taste, how do you and the team decide on what gets put into the store?
JG: Ha! Well, it has less to do with what I think is awesome and more to do with what I think our audience will like. Well, it’s a mix of both. I wouldn’t carry something in the shop that I didn’t believe in or think was cool, but every decision goes back to 1, is it awesome 2, is it unique? 3, will it make taking photos more fun, easy, enjoyable, or creative
GC: You shoot some amazing photos all on film. Lomography, UO, and photojojo are all reputable companies that continue to help generate interest in film. Is everybody at photojojo still pushing for film to live or are you the only one?
JG: I’d say we’re half and half. Like a lot of people my age, I started shooting digital. I inherited a Canon 20D from an ex-boyfriend and then moved to film. There’s a generational thing happening with the resurgence of film that’s really interesting. I’d say a lot of my co workers fall into that boat.
JG: One thing we all do is take photos with our phones. It’s true I shoot mostly film, but I’m not opposed to digital either. There’s something magical happening with iPhone or Android photography right now that I’m 100% behind. It’s getting more people to take photos, and that’s a fantastic thing no matter how you look at it.
GC: Just for our readers to get to know you a little better, what’s your favorite song right now?
JG: I’m in the midst of a Wire re-obsession, so I’m going to go with a classic Wire jam like Lion Tamer off of Pink Flag
GC: And a favorite bar from your hometown?
JG: Red Fox Room!! It’s this old steak restaurant on El Cajon Blvd in North Park-ish area. Red leather booths, dark wood paneling, full of senior citizens drinking white wine and so-cal rockabilly kids drinking cheap manhattans. There’s always a “band” this Grandpa with a muted trumpet playing Sinatra. If you know any tunes you can go up and sing along, open mic.
JG: I’m looking for an equivalent in SF but haven’t found it yet. I may need to move back some day just for Red Fox.
GC: To finish, You always seem to be involved in some sort of photography event. You mentioned earlier that you went to some sort of photocamp? What was that like and do you have anything planned for the near future? You know trips, vacations, etc.?
JG: I went to the first two Phoot Camps. It’s this really amazing creative retreat for photographers started by Laura Brunow Miner of Pictory, which you should also check out at http://www.pictorymag.com. I know Laura from JPG, she actually referred me to the gig at Photojojo (thanks Laura!)
GC: Thanks for your time!
JG: for sure!
Check out the wonderful Photojojo to see what we’re talking about and also observe some of Jen’s awesome photos via her flickr.
[Full Frame Collective “What A Day” Zine Release at Book & Job Gallery]
Last night, Book & Job Gallery was host to Full Frame Collective’s “What A Day” Zine release. More high quality photo book than simple atypical zine, “What A Day” is a 60+ page, full color, quality page turner.
Besides the book release, there was also a photo show. Over 10 large prints from the book were hung on the wall and for sale. However, with so many people in attendance, it was actually kind of difficult to see them in their entirety. Thankfully then, for a measly $20 I was able to call one of the FFC books my own.
Nicely wrapped in plastic and accompanied by a myriad of FFC stickers and surprise prints; “What A Day” is equal part greatest hits and world premieres. I was extremely impressed with the array of content and would happily give “What A Day” a permanent home on my coffee table.
For a little history on the book, you kind of have to know what Full Frame Collective is. A photo website run by a small 6 person, mostly San Francisco based unit of friends who all are talented photographers (friendographers?). I’d say about ninety-nine percent of what they post on their site is shot on analogue film and every one of them has completely different photographic styles and interests. This lends itself exquisitely to one of FFC’s best traits; its remarkable variety. Photographs range from historical snapshots of parties long past, to epic sojourns through Alaska and beyond.
I believe any viewer can visit the site and find something for them.
here are a few portraits of attendees at the show. Recognize anyone?
[INTERVIEW] With Portrait / Lifestyle Photographer Tatum Mangus
Tatum Mangus is a photographer based out of San Francisco, CA. She specializes in capturing the cool, enigmatic, and often calm nature of her subjects. By emphasizing the direction of light and using subtle clues from her environment, she crafts images that flatter without excessive post production. She’s done work for Daughters of Simone and Rebel 8. She also contributes to FullFrameCollective along with helping out at one of the last remaining photo labs in San Francisco still processing slide film; Lightwaves. Even more, her boyfriend is an avid shooter and videographer as well. With a lifestyle so deeply rooted in picture making, one would be hard pressed to overlook Tatum’s work. After contacting her, she was very graciously willing to share some of her work with GoldCrate and provide us with a sneak peek into her thought process.
GC: Hey Tatum. I really enjoyed your Rebel 8 Summer lookbook up on their official site. I really liked how natural the set looked. It might be because I know a few of those guys, but your photos made me want to buy an outfit and go run amok with some friends. Can you tell us a little bit more about the inspiration and concept of the shoot?
TM: Hi Arthur! Thanks for all the kind words and thanks for having me! Mainly, the theme for the Rebel 8 lookbook, in my mind, was SUMMER. Warm tones and lots of sunshine (luckily, it was an unusual 75 degrees in the city that day) combined with a bunch of guys hanging out in tank tops with skateboards, to me, fit the bill. My goal was to make the lookbook less like a catalogue and more like a regular summer day with a bunch of dudes that just happen to be wearing Rebel 8. I wanted to make sure I was portraying the brand in a way that spoke to the people that actually buy their clothes, and hopefully make that appealing to people who have never bought Rebel 8.
GC:: So what’s your basic setup? How do you go about a typical shoot from start to finish?
TM: I head out of the house for a shoot with cameras (usually, my medium formats—Pentax 645 and a Hasselblad 500c/m), plenty of film, a light meter, a reflector, and sometimes a tripod. I keep it pretty simple. For me, location and time of day are key. These two things affect the light in a photograph and that’s what I think makes a great image. Recently, I’ve been trying to incorporate more movement/action in the shots to get away from the centered and very still portraits I have become accustomed to shooting. This is actually a really serious task with a beast like the Hasselblad, which is why I have been shooting a lot more with the Pentax 645. The other thing that I am constantly thinking about during a shoot is, “How can I add variety to this set of images?” Coming in close, backing it up, getting shots without people, using the light differently—I have to keep reminding myself to change it up, to keep it interesting. I don’t normally have concrete, pre-planned shots in my head because so many times, I show up and the shot just doesn’t work out and I waste time trying to achieve it. I think that’s pretty much it. I keep restrictions and limitations to a minimum and just try to stay as creative as possible in the situation and just go with it.
GC: One of the first things people probably notice about your work is how deliberate everything is. You obviously have a very technically sound understanding of photography as an art form and practice. Where did this skill set come from and do you believe there is a whole lot more about photography you would still like to learn?
TM: This is such a flattering question! I can’t tell you how many times I pull out my hair sitting at the computer editing my images because things just are not correctly exposed or in focus. A lot of the technical knowledge I have learned is from formal schooling (I graduated through the BFA program at the Academy of Art a couple years ago), but I do all of my learning now through the wonderful photographers I come in contact with everyday at the lab (Lightwaves) and all of my extremely talented friends. Terry (co-founder and IT/admin of Full Frame Collective, and also my lover) has no formal photographic background, but he has taught me so much more than any school could have. His dedication, persistence, and constant curiosity combined with serious self-motivated research has pushed me harder than anything else. There are so many things I still need to grasp in photography, I’m not sure where to begin! Terry and the Full Frame gang spend a lot of time setting up lights to shoot action shots and this is something I have no expertise in. Shooting with natural light has always been my way, but striving to be a professional without proper knowledge of strobes is unrealistic. My other weakness is black and white photography. There is a serious art to black and white film photography that I have not even begun to break the surface of, but am very interested to dive into.
GC: Favorite bar from your hometown and why?
TM: You know, I can’t say I have one! I turned 21 after I moved to SF, so I didn’t spend any time in bars back home (San Antonio, TX), but the other reason I wouldn’t have one is that I’m not really much of a drinker. I’ll have an occasional whiskey on the rocks, but it’s very rare you’ll see this Asian get red in the face.
GC: What was it about photography that originally hooked you? Why did you decide to pursue a career in taking pictures over anything else?
TM: I actually started out in community college as a graphic design major and was turned off when I took a job at a sign shop and couldn’t stand to create ugly designs for people because it was specifically what they had asked for. Obviously, this isn’t the case when you attain a better job as a designer, but it got me trying new things in school. I then enrolled in painting and printmaking classes and was briefly in love with the idea of becoming a fine artist. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very good at it. I was also very aware of the distinct possibility I would not make it as an artist. All the while, for some reason or another, I took a photography course every single semester. After a couple of years of photo classes and failed attempts at other visual emphasis, I fell in love with the dark room and creating images on film. It’s funny how I’ve lost touch with the black and white photography I was so passionate about four or five years ago. My perception of photography has changed drastically since those days, but my love for creating images on film is still the same. I think it must be the thrill of getting film back and wondering if you got the shot, or finding a surprising result in the negatives. Deciding to pursue a career in the field, however, has been a long road of discouraging truths and a struggle to make money doing what I love. We are a part of a generation that is extremely photographically minded and every other enthusiast owns a “professional” digital camera. There are too many photographers saturating the market and lowering the premium of a professional photographer, making it harder for us to make a living. This is what we’re up against and I guess the persistent, creative networkers are the ones that will make it, but I will stick along for the ride.
GC: What song are you listening to a lot of right now?
TM: My main jams these days are Biggie and Tribe Called Quest—I think it’d be hard to pick just one song!
GC: Are there any projects you’re working on at the moment or planning to get around to? You know, what’s next for you?
TM: I currently have my hands pretty full, but Full Frame Collective is always an ongoing project. We’re all working together to create a zine to publish hopefully in the next month or so. There has also been talk of a couple possible shows we might hang this summer, which will be really exciting. Personally, my website is definitely in need of some TLC and I’d really like to make it a point to travel soon. You can’t take photos sitting around your house all day (well, some people can, but I can’t), and nothing is more inspirational and satisfying than taking an epic trip and taking boat loads of photos.
Photos Courtesy of Tatum Mangus
View more of Tatum’s Work, visit:
-Cover+Interview by Arthur Alvarez
STUDIO VISIT: LOW BICYCLES
One man army. A term that popped into my head as Andrew described how he started his business. Practically every skill he employs to his sculptures are self taught. This motivation comes from his own passion and desire to strive for the continuous evolution of himself and his brand.
That brand being, Low Bicycles. Originally a one man operation, Andrew Low, the founder and CEO, dreamed of crafting high quality hand made aluminum bicycle racing frames. A dream, which came into fruition in 2010. Since then, Low Bicycles has been featured in magazines across the US and now regularly sells overseas in places like the UK and Japan.
I was excited to check out his workspace and see where these famous bicycle frames were created. Humbly located next door to the San Francisco bicycle co op, Bike Kitchen, sits a door with a large LOW// inscribed neatly on the glass. Behind that door is a microscopic 500 sq. ft space, which Andrew utilizes in a variety of ways.
A small calendar is used to schedule what the shops purpose will be for which day. For example, Monday and Tuesday could be welding days, while Wednesday and Thursday might be painting days. Every day had something written on it, even days most would reserve for a little r&r. Like a lego set he breaks down and builds his shop to fit his needs. An arduous task, but done efficiently in order to meet the increasingly difficult to reach demands of his clients. The day I came by happened to be a welding day.
I admit, I walked into Low Bicycles with fuck all on how exactly one goes about welding a bicycle frame. I imagined it was an incredibly difficult task, but one left to machines. As 90’s alternative blared in the background and sparks shot towards my lens, I came to a slow realization. “Building frames” was not the right term for what he does. Instead Low sculpts aluminum metal into works of art that he simply calls, “The right shape”. Judging from his personality, Low is both meticulous and gung ho. When asked when he finds time to experiment, he simply replied “Everyday is an experiment” and smiled.
Aluminum is not an easy material to work with. It’s pros are that it is far lighter, but only marginally less dense than steel. However, the rate of heat transferred through it is almost six times greater; meaning aluminum welds solidify much faster than steel. On top of that, Aluminum has an outer layer that melts at hotter temperatures and must be removed to obtain the high quality results that Andrew gets. All of which, ultimately meaning; mistakes can be costly and irreversible. With every fluid and potentially fatal sway of his welder, Low signatures every frame with a piece of his soul.
This is not to say that his work is inconsistent. Andrew’s process requires several stages of passes that I’d call quality assurance. One of which, entails a series of micro welds to smoothen connections and add multiple layer’s of foundation and strength. Low exhaustingly aims for perfection every time.
With larger companies spoon feeding the general public mass produced, machine grown merchandise, it’s no wonder why cyclists from around the globe are flocking to Low Bicycles website to order a frame. Behind the name brand, the fancy colors, and the sponsored cyclists, is a man devoted to quality. That quality is unquestionable and the proof is in the boiling hot, aluminum pudding.
To see the finished product and possibly order your own frame visit
Photos + Writeup: Arthur Alvarez
| Interview with staff photographer of Cadence Clothing and contributor to Rapha’s Survey series |
John Reiss. Part documentarian, part time contributor to Rapha and staff photographer for Cadence. Many would call John Reiss the epitome of a jack of all trades. Not only that, but he also happens to be a hard working cog in the machine that is TCB Courier.
TCB is one of San Francisco’s largest messenger companies and San Francisco’s only late night delivery service. I’m talking cigarettes, condoms, pepto bismo and a bag of dorito’s delivered right to your door at 2am. Sound like a weird job? No shit. If there’s one universal truth, it’s that when things get weird, they also get fun. Lucky for us, John regularly puts his army of film cameras to good use by documenting a lifestyle that very few comprehend.
After deciding on a meet time, we grabbed beer and sat high above the Mission District at a micro park located off to the side of a spiral walkway. As our beer cans lightened, the sun set and pedestrian commuters wandered by; we discussed where his love for photography was bred, how he began documenting the messenger culture, and what he’s truly passionate about capturing on film.
GC: So for our less informed audience, where are you from and why have you made San Francisco home?
JR: I moved from Virginia, Harrisonburg, which is sorta like central Virginia. I kinda just did it on a whim.
GC: So I was able to meet you for a few minutes during the Breakers to Bay alleycat race a couple years back and you were holding a camera then. A few months later there was a sprints race being held at the docks and you had a camera on you then as well. Was your current project of shooting alley cat’s already in progress or was I witnessing the start of something?
JR: I had already been taking pictures for a while. My dad gave me an old Canon AE-1 for christmas one year and it’s been a big part of my life ever since. After some time living in SF I just started meeting people, working on bikes with people within the community and getting involved. I’d raced in alley cats before moving out here, but never to the frequency, pace, or nature of being in a metropolitan city. You know, coming from the country. When I first came out here I’d race a few and noticed that no one was taking pictures. I knew nothing else, but to document my surroundings so it all came about naturally. It’s a function, it’s a habit, it’s instinctual.
GC: Is there ever a goal, quality of light, or compositional element that you try to incorporate into your photos? For instance, in an alley cat you usually know where checkpoints will be when you get the manifest. Do you ever plan things in order to get specific shots?
JR: People race at all times. Sometimes night, sometimes day. It’s fun to play with the lighting and continue to learn. A lot of times I’d be working checkpoints so it’d be a weird mix of how I wanted to take a picture or set it up so I can sign peoples manifests and take a photo as they’re running by. To be honest the alley cat project has kind of lost focus or lost fire because of time constraints. Its more or less become something it was always destined to be. An archival process. It’s just showing up when I can and being there. From 2009 on there’s a race almost every weekend from the spring throughout summer and it provides a lot of opportunities to go out and take photos every weekend. What was the question again?
GC: You basically answered the question. It sounds like you specifically focus on the documentation process of photography by capturing the real world as it happens.
JR: I always try to soak up as much as I can, but you know it’s always dependent on the race. Stuff like if it was a big deal or just a small holiday thing that no one shows up to. Sometimes I’d just take a few photos of the beginning and just hang out and not do anything. Not too long ago I was able to go back to Richmond Virginia for the NACCC [North American Courier Championship]. I actually raced more than I shot, so I came back with far less photos, but a lot of fond memories.
GC: So what’s your basic setup? I know you like to collect cameras and have a lot of them, but is there one in particular that you like to shoot with the most? If so, what’s the combination of gear you like to use?
JR: Well what I’ve been doing for most of the time up here is shoot two cameras. First the Canon AE1 Program that my dad gave me. He used to be a photographer. He did it mostly as a past time, but got a little into developing and made some cool prints that I was exposed to growing up. He eventually passed his camera on to me. I still keep it with me wherever I go. It’s been everywhere that I’ve been as far as traveling. I used to shoot just like 50mm and keep it all kinda tight and focused. There was actually a time before I moved out here where I was really into music photography. When I graduated college I picked up a DSLR and I began to shoot that a lot more at shows. And that kinda taught me the benefit of having a wide lens when shooting crowds or bands, uptight and fast. Now I really enjoy carrying a wide lens and that’s better helped me absorb the world around me.Actually, I’ve always been drawn to urban environments and open countrysides. You know, big plain environments with very few human beings.
GC: As a working messenger for one of San Francisco’s largest messenger companies, you have a far more intimate relationship with your subject matter than most photographers would. As a guy that likes to record the world around him with a camera, have you ever been in a situation where you wished you could have taken a picture, but could not for whatever reason?
JR: God… there were some really weird moments, but nothing I saw as picturesque. I mean if I could have segway’d from the awkwardness and said, “Hey may I please, photograph you right now,” to just get away from the weirdness, I would have.
GC: What about if you had a floating camera behind you?
JR: You know I always make a super strong point to have a camera on me, so I never don’t have the opportunity to take a photo. It’s more of choosing not to.I mean I’ve had some weird people…I don’t know, maybe not come ons, but some very forward social interactions when delivering things. Like you’re in your bathrobe right now, or not in your bathrobe, or not wearing anything. It’d be cool to take a picture of that, but… yeah I can’t. It’s cool when you go downtown and you go to the offices and you get up to the 25 or 30th floor and get this view that you would never have because you’re not making the figures these people are.
GC: How would you define your style?
JR: I enjoy shooting recklessly. I don’t think about the technical details much. I suppose the content dictates the style. If it’s a building, I make it large and wide so you have to look for the details. When it comes to portraiture I like a lot of Bokeh or a tight focus with a lot of information in the back. I’ve had some people tell me that I have a lot of warm fuzziness in my work. I mentioned earlier that photography is a function. I never call myself an artist, but photography is something I have to do. It’s how my creativity pours out. When looking through the viewfinder I feel like I’m looking forward. I’m trying to create an image of infinite nostalgia. I want to remember the conversation, the theme, the words. It’s a very exact day for me. All this will pass, all things will go, it’s necessary in that way. It’s the idea of creating a memory. An image that can remind you of a person you loved, or a place you used to be. I hope that there is some sort of loving or honest quality in all my photos because they represent things that I will always remember.
GC: Besides the subject of messenger culture, what else are you shooting these days?
JR: In the past I’ve done some freelance stuff for Rapha. Portraits I’ve shot for them taught me to think more about keeping a very close focus on things. I’ve been going out a lot on fridays during the days, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone to photograph things I find more out that way [points towards the GG bridge]. You know just putting 40-60 miles on the bike, seeing what’s untapped a long the way.
GC: What do you think of San Francisco?
JR: It’s a lot more intense here compared to where I came from. There seems to be more professional and personal expectations that are forced upon you by peers and society. In Virginia, things seemed a lot more free, a lot more loose. I think that probably has a lot to do with the cost of rent and you know the physical nature of being in the city vs the countryside.
[A large rat the size of a cat runs by]
JR: There’s, a fucking rat. There are rats everywhere. I guess we’re not that far from the country.
GC: [Laughs all around]
JR: I just feel honored to be a part of this project. Someone that you chose to be featured in the first issue of GC. I know you could have picked from a lot of other people that I feel make incredible work. I’m lucky to be here sharing the city with these people, but in the end of the day it’s competition. You’re not fighting against anybody, but you’re not fighting with anyone either.
GC: Thanks a lot! [We clink our beers together]
Keep up with John and view more of his incredible work:
photos courtesy of John Daniel Reiss
Portaits of John and Interview - Arthur Alvarez
| 2012 Interview with the Creative Director at Think and Lowcard |
Ivan Brizuela isn’t one to go home and submerge himself into the cushions of his couch after work. He walks down the stairs of his sunbathed workspace, grabs his board and skates through concrete hallways until he reaches his forest colored van. Inside the rectangular transportation device lies an orange bench tattooed with a variety of stickers and grind marks. On most days of the week, Ivan will drag it over to San Francisco’s DMV parking lot so that he and some friends can inhale beers and passionately skate until the sun dips below downtown’s skyscrapers. If it’s a weekday he’ll go home and start doodling in his giant sketchbook; if it’s a weekend you’ll find him all over town.
In an industry whose entire foundation and history is based around dudes in skateboard ads, it’s often easy to forget about the passionate people behind the scenes designing the brands that support the pros. Ivan, the only resident artist within Strangebird Distribution, holds a ton of the visual responsibilities pertaining to the brands involved. It’s a tough job, but one he’s wanted ever since he was a beardless teenager.
For this particular feature, I had the pleasure of hanging out with Ivan for a boozy conversation involving stories of San Francisco’s Think skateboard team, how he “thinks” up concepts for decks [hah get it?}, what’s up next for the wide array of companies he designs for and much more.
After that we embarked on a night filled with loads of laughs, gaggles of memories long forgotten and a trip to the Knockout for our friend Josh’s Smith-fits DJ night.
GC: Hey Ivan. Can you tell us what Lowcard Magazine and Strangebird distribution are and what exactly your is job there?
IB: Lowcard is a skate magazine started in 03’ in San Francisco. It wasn’t really.. Well there was no plan for what it was going to be. It evolved and ended up with street corner distribution, which at the time was linked to Think skateboards, lucky bearings, Hubba wheels and venture trucks. Whoever owned it before was basically trying to sell it, so they sold it to Rob Collinson [Current Owner], while Venture went to Dlx. Somewhere around then was when it became Strange Bird Distribution. My job title there is creative director. I design everything for the company and if there’s another artist helping out I’ll direct them and work with the art.
GC: You graduated from FIDM a while ago and I’m sure you learned a lot there. Did most of your artistic skill set come from school or personal projects?
IB: Actually, most of it came from skateboarding. I mean I always drew when I was a kid. I started skating many years ago and as a kid always looked at the graphics for boards and hoped I could do it one day.
GC: Since finishing school, is working as a creative director for a skateboard company what you expected it would be?
IB: It’s definitely more laid back than anything corporate. When I was going to school I knew I wanted to design skateboards. Or just be in the skateboard industry. It took a while after school. I took a couple of shitty jobs here and there.
GC: How’d you originally hear about Lowcard?
IB: I already knew about it for a while, just from skating. When Rob bought the company I went over and designed some shit for the Strangebird logo and Rob liked it and things went from there.
GC: When your first set of Think decks came out and they were selling. Where were you at mentally and emotionally? Can you describe how the whole thing came together?
IB: First I was really nervous cause i’ve never done it and I really wanted the first boards to be a big deal. I started with a bunch of scratch ideas and nothing was really working out. But since the change over from the company being sold, it was a while since any new graphics came out. I think I started doing the wolf first and really had no direction. I don’t really know why I started doing a wolf, but after a while I finally incorporated the light bulb that’s always been associated with think. Next came the smoke and the spirit animals. After that I tried to pick an animal for each rider.
GC: How’d you decide on the animals?
IB: For Cody. He’s a texan so I wanted to give him a Cobra. Adrian Williams is from Alaska so i tried to do a Polar Bear, but it looked stupid so I ended up doing a regular bear. The Polar bear looked like the bear from Coca Cola. Danny Fuenzalida talked to me and wanted a Fox cause he wanted something feminine, but still strong and… Was there an eagle? Who was the eagle?
GC: [After a long pause I stood up and walked into Ivan’s living room to look for whose name was on the board]
IB: Dave Bachinsky! For Dave I hadn’t met him yet and I think, he was from… Maine? Don’t put that in. Well I hadn’t met him yet, but everyone already decided he should be an Eagle. Maybe cause he’d have to fly all the way over here to meet us.
GC:: What would you say inspires a typical Lowcard design? Is there ever a battle between what you would want to design for them versus what Rob wants? You know, are there a lot of drafts before a final design is put out or do they usually OK your designs on the first go?
IB: This is my Inspiration. [Ivan takes out his phone and shows me a photo of a pair of breasts his girlfriend sent him earlier in the day]
GC: [Laughs] Seriously?
IB: [Laughs] For Lowcard most of the ideas come from Rob. He’s always had the ideas. I think that’s what’s making the company successful. His not giving a fuck attitude and making the company how he wanted it. It’s about drinking, skating, and having fun. Sometimes we call this idea and we don’t discuss shit and we just pick one. And there’s other times when I’ll just draw… I mostly get my ideas when I get out of work. I come home and just start drawing. I don’t know why that happens, but I get my ideas and I draw, take photos of it, take it to work, design it and he’ll deny or approve it. Sometimes we’ll do clean stuff, usually it doesn’t have to be that perfect though. As far as Lowcard goes anyway. For Think I talk to Justin Carlson. He’s the filmer / team manager and he has a lot of ideas. We just float them around and you know just talk about things. We talk about what direction we want to go in with the company. Visually, I obviously wanted to change the identity of Think. Cause it’s a little outdated.You know the whole tagging thing. We wanted to get away from that. We just wanted to get a cleaner look. The team right now doesn’t really fit the old look. So we wanted to fit the company to them. I feel like it’s going well. I was really amazed by the last part that came out. Everybody had really good parts. I fucking loved Adrian’s part. Usually Pros will come by the HQ to get new gear and stuff, but one time Adrian came by with some donuts. After a little bit he left and somebody asked if he grabbed anything, but he didn’t. He seriously came by just to give us fucking donuts [laughs]. He’s one of the coolest dudes in skateboarding.
GC: What song/artist are you listening to a lot these days?
IB: A lot of Kate Bush, Morrissey, and Beach Boys. Yeah I always have to have music while I’m designing. Sometimes I’ll listen to the same song over and over. I always wear headphones so I don’t bother people though. At Lowcard they usually just play radio and everyone dreads real crazy cause it’s the same songs over and over. 107.7 the bone… I can’t listen to music on the way to work. I always just listen to NPR. On the way home I’ll listen to music, but I’m never in the mood for music in the morning. I just like talk radio. Some people get in my van or something and they’re like, what the fuck?
GC: Whats your favorite bar in San Francisco?
IB: [Pauses] Uh probably the alley [laughs], smoking cigarettes, just drinking at the side of bars. I almost got shot drinking at the side of a bar. I got a gun pulled out on me. That was 6th street though. 6th and Market. I try to avoid that place.
GC: What types of projects are you working on right now at Lowcard? Anything you really excited about coming out soon that you can talk about?
IB: We’re coming out with a new board series. It’s actually already finished… Just gotta wait till it gets to us. It’s not secretive or anything. It just sounds stupid. It’s… Carpets. Every time I tell someone, what’s the name of the new series? I say it’s Carpets, they’re like “What?” and I follow with, you just gotta see it. It’s just magic carpets. Like a skateboard carpet. Other than that I’m working on getting stuff made for Lowcard that’s never really been done before. Like snapbacks and 5 panels for Think. You know, stuff they’ve never really thought about doing. Like I’m trying to get socks done. New designs too, like Lowcard shirts, Think shirts. Basically as soon as I’m done with one series. I need to get work on the next thing. I just have to brainstorm ideas. By the time I finish the design and the boards are on their way we’re probably halfway through making the next one. I’m actually the only artist in there. Not just lowcard, but the entire company. There’s this one dude in LA helping us out with layouts. He’s doing a really good job. But yeah, that’s about it. I’m just always trying to brainstorm ideas everyday. Never taking breaks. Fuck
To keep up with Ivan, visit his blog
Photos | Interview - Arthur Alvarez