Last Updated on December 16, 2016 by Andre Loftis
[vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_column_text]New York City thrives on its hustle, a mentality Steve Sweatpants knows all too well. The Brooklyn (by way of Queens) creative has made his mark in New York and beyond by simply following his gut instinct to move in the direction of his dreams. Many might recognize his photography, comprised mainly of intensely awesome cityscapes, or his work with digital publication Street Dreams, an outlet for upstart photographers to flex their visuals from city to city.
It’s a passion project that Steve (who holds the double duty of Social Director and Editor-At-Large) holds near and dear to his heart, considering his main goal is to keep his own photography fresh while giving others an opportunity to take their own art to the next level. Bevel Code caught up with Steve while he was briefly back in New York City, as he was getting a shape-up before hopping on a plane to Los Angeles. For Steve, the grind never stops when you’re doing what you love.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3979″ alignment=”” style=”” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” css_animation=”bottom-to-top” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text css_animation=””]Bevel Code: Let’s talk about Street Dreams. Is the title a play on Nas’ track?
Steve Sweatpants: It definitely pays homage to that a little bit. My business partners—they’re actually from Vancouver—they came up with the idea to call itStreets Dreams Magazine, and then I co-signed like, “Yeah, we should definitely call it that.” I’m from New York, born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens. But the whole point of Street Dreams Magazine is putting your foot to the pavement to do what you love. So it does pay homage to Nas a bit, but it’s definitely the connotation of what “street dreams” means.
BC: That’s interesting that you’re born in Brooklyn and raised in Queens. You must be on the BQE a lot.
SS: Yup! Belt Parkway, Canarsie…
BC: Was most of your adolescence in Queens?
SS: Yeah, it was a combination of both [Brooklyn and Queens]. Back in my Brooklyn days, I was raised on Flatbush. My grandma’s house is out there, so she raised basically me and all my cousins. My dad, he’s an electrician so he started working a lot, so my grandma watched me for a long time. We stayed around Flatbush until I was like 7 or 8 years old, and then we moved out to Queens, and I stayed in Jamaica, Queens until high school. That’s when I moved back to Brooklyn.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3982″ alignment=”” style=”” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” css_animation=”bottom-to-top” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text css_animation=””]BC: When did you realize that you had this creative eye?
SS: It’s really weird. I just got into photography maybe like 4 years ago. I didn’t go to arts school or anything like that, and I didn’t take a class. I did used to be in orchestra and I played the cello and the violin, so maybe that had something to do with it in some way, shape or form. I always used to like to look at pictures, though. Like, family photos were my shit. I used to do that all the time, and I think doing that became almost like a gateway to me being into photography in general. I love capturing moments in pieces of time. I think it has something to do with looking at family photos when I was growing up.
BC: One thing that’s really cool about your photography is how you handle perspective. The way that you just take photos, it shows your literal love of the streets. You can tell you really love urban landscapes.
SS: Yes, yes! I just want to communicate that. Photography is one of those few things, especially growing up in this day and age, where you’re not really judged by your race or your sex or anything like that. Like, you just see the photo for what it is, and I really took that to heart, and I really try to communicate that in my work.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3980″ alignment=”” style=”” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” css_animation=”bottom-to-top” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]BC: So how did the respective boroughs change you creatively? I mean, Queens and Brooklyn, while they have a lot of similarities, there really is a drastic difference in their landscape.
SS: Oh, it’s a huge difference. I think being born in Brooklyn and being raised out there for a little bit, it gave me a different kind of edge, for lack of a better word. People from Brooklyn always have this different kind of hustle. They have a different kind of way of going about things, and I feel like me being born in Brooklyn, that’s always been really deep-rooted. My mom is from Brooklyn too and my dad was raised out in Brooklyn, and so my mom instilling her Brooklyn heritage in me too – that’s all the stuff that really resonates with me. Then growing up out in Queens, I don’t know. It’s something different about Queens. I’m not saying you don’t do this in Brooklyn because it’s like that in all the boroughs, but in Queens, it made me focus more on style. Everybody is so on it all the time! So it’s a combination of both of those things at the same time.
BC: So fundamental question: Jay Z or Nas?
SS: Jay Z!
BC: Yankees or Mets?
SS: Yankees![/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3977″ border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” css_animation=”bottom-to-top” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]BC: So the tag line for Street Dreams Magazine is “a visual movement,” and I know it’s also touted as bringing Instagram to paper, making it an all-encompassing movement. How did you guys come up with that mantra and that formula?
SS: The place where we’re at now is basically where the magazine started to really, really become like a real thing. My partners, Eric Veloso and Mike Cobarrubia, these two dudes are one of the main reasons we started in the first place. And since they’re both from Vancouver, when Eric first came over here, he came up to me with the idea like, “Hey, we had the idea to do an online magazine!” At first, it was supposed to only feature work from Eric and myself, and Mike is our art director, and he was going to be designing it. But what ended up happening was once we linked up in New York–we met up at my barber’s barbershop, actually–we linked up the next day and we started walking around the city and talking about conceptualizing the magazine. We noticed that between a lot of the people we knew, like with me being born and raised in New York and knowing a lot of the people in these Instagram communities, and with all of the people that they knew, instead of featuring just Eric and myself’s work, we’d make a full-fledged magazine.
So then Eric actually bumped into somebody back in Vancouver who had a publishing place, and they were actually able to make physical magazines, so it went from first being an online magazine to actually being an actual, physical magazine. It was just crazy the progression of things happening once you really decided to do something, because me personally, I never finished anything in my life. I definitely dropped out of college. I graduated high school, but I was definitely a fuck up in high school for a long ass time. I mean, I’ve always had a troubled childhood, not because I’m stupid, more because I wanted to do things I wanted to do, and I didn’t want anybody to force me to do things I didn’t want to do. It’s just crazy to see the progression of the whole magazine and the whole message that we’re really trying to communicate. The first issue was about New York, but other than that, Eric and my work has never been in the magazine except for issue one.[/vc_column_text][vc_single_image image=”3978″ border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” css_animation=”bottom-to-top” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]BC: Really?
SS: Yeah, none of my work. Not a photo, nothing. What I do is I curate the photographers for the magazine, like the main feature, that’s what Eric and I handle. That’s what I enjoy. You know, I’m curating the magazine but also giving people opportunities to showcase their work, and show the world what they’re doing through their perspective. It’s just really fucking crazy.
BC: That’s interesting and cool that you give so many other people a shot at showcasing their stuff, but considering you are curating the magazine, what would you describe as your vision for it?
SS: Just to give a little more insight about the magazine, what we do with each issue is we feature 6 photographers – 3 males and 3 females. And then they all vary in following, so one of them could have a low following count and one of them will have a high following count and one of them will have a medium following count. With each activation, we do it in a different city, so each magazine will be themed as the place we’re doing it. Our first issue like that, we did in Reed Space for Issue 3, and it got shut down in 15 minutes because 600 people showed up. The line wrapped around the corner. It was crazy! We just promoted it on Instagram too, we didn’t really promote it anywhere else. So when we did Issue 3, the police came through and shut the whole thing down because we just had too many people. Then we did Issue 4 in Brooklyn, and we had 600 people show up in this spot. It was really crazy, and then we decided to do one in Chicago, then we did one in Toronto, we just recently did one in San Francisco and now we’re bringing it back to New York. So each of those respective places really try to focus on key photographers from those locations, and we work with them. So each issue is basically like an ode to that city. So we did Chicago, it was an ode to Chicago. When we did San Fran, it was an ode to San Fran. When we did Toronto, it was an ode to Canada. So curating the photographers is really based upon where we’re doing the next issue at.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width=”” parallax=”” parallax_image=””][vc_column width=”1/1″][vc_single_image image=”3981″ border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” css_animation=”bottom-to-top” img_size=”full”][vc_column_text]BC: Run me through an average day for you.
Read more on bevelcode.com[/vc_column_text][vc_separator color=”grey” align=”align_center” style=”” border_width=”” el_width=””][vc_column_text]Words by Kathy Iandoli
Photography by Aundre Larrow[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]