Photo by Colin Breland
With all of the talented souls making Hampton Roads a creative community, we wanted to highlight one of our AIGA Hampton Roads members. Allow us to introduce, Scuba Steve
, or Scuba
, as he is known by friends and family. Scuba first became known to us through an internship with Meridian Group
where he quickly became a go-to with the digital team, Launch Interactive
. It wasn’t until recently that we caught up with Scuba again at a First Friday event in the ViBe Creative District
where he was creating a giant mural next to Esoteric.
As a 2015 graduate of JMU, Scuba is clearly rocking the time after school — developing his creative voice and exploring personal projects during the weekdays and on the weekends he can be found pouring delicious drinks at Commune in the Virginia Beach Creative Arts District.
We reached out to ask him a few questions about his creative influences, recent projects, and experiences. Follow him on Instagram @scubasteveart to see what he’s making and reach out if you are interested in commissioning work.
Where were your born and raised? Are you a Virginia Beach native?
I was born in Newburgh, New York and moved all around before ending up in Virginia Beach. I moved here from Colorado when I was in 4th grade, but the the Virginia Beach School system bumped me down a grade so I ended up doing 3rd grade twice and 4th grade one and a half times.
Have you always been interested in art? What are some of your other interests?
Crocs Virginia Beach
Growing up, I would draw all over my notebooks at school and had a short lived graffiti phase. By the time I was in college, I stopped taking notes and would fill my notebooks with faces and melting objects while passively absorbing the lecture.
Skateboarding has been another huge part of my life. Board graphics always stuck with me. In college, most of my down time was spent at the one little skatepark we had.
In our chapter, we have always have a large number of students who just graduated. What was your strategy for entering the design industry? What year did you graduate? Do you have any words of advice for recent graduates?
This is a funny question! I graduated in 2015. I don’t think I’ve entered the design industry. At least not in the way that I expected to based on my schooling. My college experience made it feel like I had two options: agency or in-house and possibly some freelance. But none of that has really panned out.
I’d tell recent graduates to never stop making things. Whatever your medium is, if you aren’t getting work, make up projects for yourself, stay busy, keep learning, keep progressing. Talk to artists, sink a whole bunch of time into Lynda.com. Just keep moving. And don’t be a dick. Nobody wants to work with a dick.
Do you have any side projects you are working on? What inspired you to take them on?
Esoteric Virginia Beach
All my side projects just became my main projects when I quit my job. We’ll see how long I can make it last. Right now my personal paintings are explorations in color theory. My early explorations started as a fun way to familiarize myself with painting.
Now I’m taking the exploration in a slightly different direction more in line with the mural I painted for Esoteric. A lot of experiments with tints and shades and creating depth. The graffiti artist Push influenced the result of the initial paintings. Recently, I’ve been looking at a lot of Dalek’s geometric work. What he’s doing is mind blowing.
What or who do you look to for inspiration? What kind of people, books, TV shows, or songs light your fire?
Dali is hands down my favorite artist. Surrealism had a huge impact on me early on.
Talking to artists and craftsmen gets me excited to go make things. I love getting to talk with Igor every now and then. He’s had a lot of tips from a technical standpoint and for dealing with clients.
Talking to other craftsmen is great for me too. Pat Ryan at Benevolent and Aaron McLellan at North End Bags are wonderful humans and have offered a lot of guidance to me. They aren’t painters so when I talk with them about ideas they always have an unexpected take on it.
Finally… Any final statements, words of wisdom, or shout-outs to Mom?
Definitely a big shout out to mom and dad. They’ve been incredibly supportive of my dreams.
Big thank you to the Matt Schmucker Creative Incubator.
Love Is Blind
My brother is an incredibly understanding roommate and landlord and has to put up with sharing a tight space with me. I’ll get the dishes tonight dawg! Anna Ryan has been a wonderfully supportive and understanding girlfriend, thanks for dealing with me when I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Nate Lahy for helping me out on all sorts of projects, spitballing ideas, and drinking all the coffee with me. All my friends who have come out to help on murals.
All the wonderful people who have commissioned paintings and projects. Kevin Jamison and C Mae at Commune, thanks for bringing me onto your wonderful team and working with my availability!
Everyone in the arts district, Igor, Pat, Aaron, Laura, Charles, the Moca, and the city for supporting everything that’s been going on!
Follow Scuba Steve on Instagram at @scubasteveart or his web site at ScubaSteveArt.com.
Each month, AIGA Hampton Roads strives to highlight one of its members. If you have any ideas for our next spotlight, please contact Emily Wilson at firstname.lastname@example.org.