Sunday, February 02, 2014

Buy Handmade vol 93

This week we head out to Portland OR

Name: Eric W Mast
Age: 40
Occupation: artist/musician
Etsy Shop: Dreem Street

Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in Portland, Oregon and my partner for Dreem Street, Matthew Chambers, lives in Los Angeles. We mostly collaborate remotely, but I try and go visit LA whenever I have a chance. Matt and I originally met through trading zines and T-shirts and became friends through our drawing output, so this project makes sense. Its kind of like starting  band that doesn't make music but has an excellent merch table.

When did you start creating and how long have you been on Etsy?

We started this project in 2008, with the profits from a collaborative oil painting that Matt sold. We started selling on Etsy a few years later, maybe 2012.

How did you come up with your business name, is there any special meaning behind it?

The name was originally gifted to me by my friend Brendan Fowler as "Street Dreamz." At the time the name was going to be used for a CDR bootleg remix record label that was an offshoot of my Audio Dregs record label, but we needed a name for out T-shirt line so I morphed it a bit and changed the spelling because I liked all the "E"s lined up like that. To me the name is about "living the dream, every day" although we never really discussed it.

Has your Etsy shop become your full time job? If not, would you like it to be?

It's not my full time job. Although it does take a lot of time, I have a lot of other things I like to do so its always a balance of taking care of daily activities for life and making the creative side a part of that routine as well. Matt is a full time artist, so this project to me is like wearing pages out of his daily sketchbook. Its part of my everyday experience, but the importance of putting drawings on shirts is part of the experience of life and creating, so why not have your wardrobe be part of that conversation as well.

How would you describe your creative process?

Its sort of an extension of our lifestyle. Every day we spend some time drawing, thinking of imagery, taking photos or whatever. Then we hand draw some of those ideas onto silk screens, pull a few shirts and prints, put them online to sell, wrap up some packages to ship, or whatever needs to get done… Matt and I wear these shirts every day of the year. I try to get photos of people wearing them, we give some to friends, and the shirts become part of our everyday culture. We're working on books, zines and videos as well, to try extend this idea.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Humor, philosophy, art, music... There's just a constant barrage of imagery on all of us all the time, from the newspaper, books, record covers, artists, magazines, movies, the internet; so everything is a reaction to that cultural feed around us. Nothing is safe and nothing is sacred, so sometimes we do these short run "bootleg" shirts as an homage to these influences. We take things in and digest them and spit them back out. I think my biggest inspiration is just when Matt makes a bunch of new shirts; he's always got some new experimental approach to silk screening and just so many new designs that it forces me to get working. Often we're just trying to make each other laugh.

Do you also sell your work at craft shows? 

Not really. We've done a couple of our own shows where its like a one-off DJ night crossed with an art show.

What is your most cherished handmade item?

I like the recent 4-6 color prints we've done lately even though I only wear black and white. Matt does more color than me, but I did a shirt this last year for Perfect Nothing Catalog that made me realize I'd like to do more color screen printing again. I try not to be too precious about anything in particular though.

Apart from creating things, what do you like to do?

I make electronic music and DJ as E*Rock.

I run a record label called Audio Dregs:

I also make covers for autobiographies.

Was there ever any other job you dreamed of having growing up?

I wanted to be an artist when I was a kid, but originally I think I was told that wasn't a real job. I also wanted to direct music videos at one point, but again, I didn't think it could possibly be a real job. After college I wanted to be a rock star and a then a graphic designer. I've since kind of done all those things, to varying degrees, and I'm not sure exactly what I do now... so I guess Dreem Street is the DREEM JOB. I'm hoping that we will make more zines and videos this year as par tot the project.

Five years from now you will be…

Directing the Dreem Street sit-com.

Describe yourself in five words:

Difficult, easy, hungry, laconic.

Carrying on with the five theme, if I were to turn on your boom box, what five artists/songs would I see on your recently played list?

Young Thug, Jai Paul, Wise Blood, E*Vax, and Abuela. Abuela is my brother's new band. My brother also plays in Ratatat and as E*Vax, but the new material is so good I can't stop listening! Here's a sneak preview:

Lastly, do you have any advice for anyone thinking about opening their own shop or participating in craft shows?

I would say, do what you like, don't think about what other people like… But then again, I know many people are more financially successful than me, SO I'd say don't' listen to me. BUT if you enjoy what you do then you're always a success. I always have everything I need and get to do anything I want and freedom is way better than money. SO, I'd say, live simply and think about what is really important to you.