Monday, January 21, 2013

Transplants: Eric Staniford

I can't say exactly how long I've known Eric, it feels like he's always been there. When I first got into shooting skate photos when I was younger, he would always be at the events shooting the same things I was, but usually in a better spot, using more relevant equipment, and pointing his camera in the right direction. I learned some things watching him shoot, and I learned even more looking at his photos. This is the second time Eric Has been featured on Busstop, but his work is even more relevant now, and his story is inspirational. I'm glad to have had this opportunity to talk to Eric in this over-the-net interview. -Normheader photo: Katie Ferguson

How long has it been since you've lived in Florida?

I left in November 08, right after the election. So 4 years.

Does it seem like 4 years?
It seems like longer really. The first 2 years were really rough.

So what was your biggest motivation to leave?
There was a lot of thought that went into leaving. I couldn't find any kind of work in Jacksonville. I was unemployed for 6 months, scraping by on less than 400 bucks a month doing odd jobs. Then, when Amy left me, I was really depressed. I had nothing to lose, really.
What was the toughest part about leaving?
I really missed leaving the homies. I didn't want to leave Kona and everyone behind. Grosser, Murphy, Peanut, Kyle Frere, Tim Johnson, and Duddy were all I had. I was so brokenhearted at the time that I didn't care. I didn't really think I was going to survive the trip out here. I'm glad I did. It was a real dark time in my life: I guess you can say there was a whole lot tough about it.

Things seem like they are really looking up for you now though. Tell me about how you went from there to where you are today.
I started out living in my uncle’s homebrew fermentation shed. I set up an air mattress, and cleaned kegs and did yard work for rent. Looking for a job for over 6 months with no luck (even fast food drive thru) I shot a few gigs here and there but not enough to get set up. Tried to move to SF, but it fell through. 
I cut my dreads, and got hired at a Starbuck drive thru north of Six Flags. That went on for a while until some shady banking by B of A and my uncles PTSD left me broke and sleeping in my car. My friend Pat taught me how to survive by passing myself off as a student at California Institute of the Arts.
I spent a semester sleeping in student’s studios, on couches and eating expired Starbucks food. After shooting some headshots and selling a handful of paintings, I was able to afford my first apartment in Echo Park. I got a transfer with SB but I could only work the opening shift 3am- noon 35 hours a week for less than 900 bucks a month-800 of that going to rent of my studio apartment. About 2 months into this my car died and I started to ride a bike. The whole time this was going on I still skated, shot photos and painted.

After about 9 months, things started to turn around for me. ! Nolan Lee came to LA a few times. Shot some stuff of him and made the logo for POW!! Skateboards. My paintings started getting into galleries regularly, I met my girlfriend Katie flirting while making her lattes, Mike Barnes came out-I was skating a ton! It was killer. Mike Barnes and I went to Orange County to skate pools. I dislocated my elbow at Belmar's. It took me out of the game for a while as far as skating went, but I got to focus on my painting a ton. 
It's been a little over a year and a half since the injury, and life hasn't been better! Things are AWESOME with my girl and her family loves me. I got a job with the Los Angeles Public Library and quit Starbucks. I moved to Silverlake (hipster capital of the world, a lot less hood then echo park). I'm showing paintings in galleries at least once a month. I'm skating again. I'm shooting photos and doing art for Shredder's Lair. My Dad helped me get a retired postage van, so I'm driving again. Things have really turned around!

That's an incredibly uplifting story, and I'm sure so many of your friends in Jax will be glad to know these things if they don't already.

So let's talk about your photography. I've seen everything from self-portraits, to porno sets, to skateboarding and maybe some other stuff too. Are you having a good time with it?
It would seem so.
Oh yeah, There's some wildness in there. In the last few months I've set up a studio. I've been shooting fashion and headshots in there. The porno sets, well that’s a long story, but I got to go to Mike Campbell's (guitar player for Tom Petty and the heart breakers) mansion and shoot a music video for a porn star group Pajama Band. The singer of the group, Jamie Langford, let me drain her backyard pool and shred it. Blue tile Obsession did an article about it. Last month I shot my first set for Suicide Girls. Good times. (you can see the article here)

How did you get hooked up with Suicide Girls? Was that just a hopeful shoot, or did it get on the main site?
I'm not an SG member yet, she's a hopeful. "Scarlet star"- I've been shooting for SG competitors for a while, it was just a matter of time.

Tell me more about your art. What inspired you to start painting?
I've been painting for a while. I did a little graffiti in Jacksonville. I was having shows at the bars in 5 points to pay my bills before I moved. I'm inspired a lot by Banksy, and Shepard Fairey and revolutionary graffiti. My first stencil was Rat for my Gulfport skate crew back in like ‘99. I loved the realism I can get with stencils. It's photographic realism with spray paint.

Let me finish the interview with asking what you are up to these days, and what your next venture might be.

The Shredder's Lair video drops April 20th. So I'm working hard on that when I can. I'm trying to rehab my back and elbow and skate more. 
Nick Blanco is headed out this way. I hope to shoot some epic-ness with him. 
I'm Painting A LOT! Like a WHOLE LOT! I hope to have a solo show before my 30th birthday. 
Katie and I are working on a house in Echo Park that we hope to move into in about 6 months. 
My job at the Public Library is awesome I love it. I'm hoping I get a promotion soon. I’m just taking it a day at a time. Trying to keep submitting to mags and keep on the hustle. It's all I really know how to do. 

Thanks Eric! You can see more of what's going on with Shredder's Lair at the link on the top right of the site. 

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