Interview by Joe Coward
This interview was conducted over the course of a few weeks via email. Initially one of the main premises, or talking points of the conversation was about Soy’s artwork and interests outside of skateboarding. During the course of our interaction he visited a shaman in the Peruvian Amazon rain-forest. Soy’s words are probably some of the most profound insights about life ever discussed in a skate interview. Please enjoy the mind of Soy Panday:
So let’s jump straight into it: primarily I’ve seen your artwork as predominantly fine illustration and painting – have you ever explored other mediums, like sculpture or photography?
Not really, a tiny bit of painting, and that’s it; quite a shame really. But they seem like a very different process, and illustration/paintings is what catches my eyes first. I don’t really have a photographic eye, and illustration was my point of entry in the arts, and I sure don’t feel like I’m close to having mastered this medium at all, so it’s tough for me to even think of trying another one. It’s hard also for me to find the time. Since we started Magenta I am now working with Photoshop, that I use to edit black and white handmade illustrations and arrange them as colour skateboard graphics. Which doesn’t make for a very profound exploration of artistic mediums, haha. Basically illustration only.
(Pretty much my only painting)
Have you trained or studied art and if so what did you do?
I have not studied art, no, but obviously I have “trained” a bit. I used to draw in the margins of my notebooks at school. That’s when I originally trained the most. Just cartoon kind of stuff and jokes. Then I realised I was not gonna do art school because I hadn’t prepared anything, and I pretty much gave up drawing. I pursued Economics, studied at University and just skated every day, until my next move was either to pursue a doctorate or get a real job. I couldn’t bring myself to do either, so I just skated to forget I had a serious decision to make. Which was at the same time amazing, and quite worrisome, because every now and then you feel like you are running straight into a wall with your life. Along the line I started drawing a little bit again, portraits of people around me, my friends, people on the Metro, stuff like that. This was my second phase of training.
(some old sketchbook illustrations)
Around that time, 2008 maybe, I got to illustrate a couple articles I had written for skate magazines, and I started to think that drawing was maybe something I should look into more to do something with my life, something that I could be happy with. In 2009 Vivien asked me to start a skateboard company with him and his brother Jean. I said “sure” and my illustrations turned into Magenta board graphics.
(Magenta’s first board series, spring 2010)
There’s obviously a strong relationship between art and skating, a lot of skaters are musicians and artists, who are some of the skate artists you’ve been influenced by? I know you did a guest artist board with Brian Lotti, have you ever taken any inspiration from his work (or any skate artist) and adapted into your own work?
I’m not sure I could point to a direct inspiration from a skate artist in regards to my drawings. I have obviously been heavily influenced by a lot of skaters over the years, by skate music too, and obviously, seeing so many board graphics over the course of 28 years of skating, I have been heavily influenced by skate art. I love Evan Hecox board graphics and his art in general, but who doesn’t? Brian Lotti was an influence of mine far before I knew he painted. He was a heavy skate influence for me. I knew his Planet Earth “Now ‘n Later” part by heart! I could literally recite his part orally. Hahaha. I’ve been influenced by countless people really, but it is very hard for me to make direct connections. I couldn’t say “I started drawing animals because of this guy”, or “I started drawing geometric figures because of him”. I know the use of gold I took from Gustav Klimt, whose work has always fascinated me. For the rest I guess your brain picks stuff here and there and you incorporate stuff subconsciously mostly…
Of course Mark Gonzales has been a massive influence of mine as well, and we’re beyond stoked that he was hyped to do a collab with us. For me it’s almost unbelievable you know…
I think as skateboarders we are extremely lucky to be so immersed in art. Every board has an artwork on its bottom, the creative work and personal thoughts of an artist; and a skater will change boards once a month on average. Which means that in addition to doing something creative with his feet, a skater will get to see every month or so one work of art. I know of no other field of activity where this is true. A tennis racket, a football, a basketball, a baseball bat, etc. bear no artwork. If you are not a museum person, then generally the only pieces of art form you get to see are mostly purely commercial work with no other message but to convince you to buy something. Skateboarding implicitly makes you develop a taste for art.
Do you enjoy doing graphics or do you find it can be hard to come up with something under deadline pressure, or do you have a continually expanding portfolio you can choose from? Do you ever find it repetitive?
I love it! Also, I don’t find it repetitive, but that would be of little importance anyway. What I should be concerned about is that people who look at it don’t find it too repetitive.
It’s not easy to always find ideas to illustrate, or to find a way to illustrate them within the boundaries of your abilities, and I sometimes do feel the pressure of the deadlines; but a deadline also pushes you to think quicker. Usually a vague idea is sleeping somewhere in your head, and sometimes it won’t come out by fear of judgement/ridicule. When the deadline is getting close, you either accept to expose your dormant ideas, or you’re quicker to find a new one, because there is no other choice.
I don’t really have an expanding portfolio at hand. I hardly even have a portfolio actually – shamefully – and that’s sometimes a problem, in that it prevents me from stepping into a few open doors. I draw pretty much exclusively under deadline pressure, be it for a board series or for a show. It’s pretty strange, really. I’ll draw in cycles. When it’s time to draw a board series I’ll draw that, on scattered sheets of paper which are useless for any other purpose, then for a while what I’ll have to do is ‘exclusively’ Photoshop stuff, to build a clothing template, design clothing, prepare files for the printer, make a catalogue.. And for this whole time I’ll hardly draw, because I won’t have much time for it. And then I also have a second job in which I don’t draw, and also other endeavours that I want to dip into every now and then.