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A Reminder :: Interview with the Founders of Street Dreams

A Reminder :: Interview with the Founders of Street Dreams

My mother once sat me up on our dinner table and confessed that we wouldn’t live forever. I had to be 8 or 9 years old, because at that age, mortality was unheard of. She held me for several hours until I could enjoy my dessert. All I remember thinking then was that we had little to no time to love, play, and make something of ourselves. I wanted to make her proud. I wanted to make my father proud. I sort of thought I was invincible.

In an industry of artists, and a place that thrives off of creativity, there’s a difference between being childish and being a kid. As kids, there’s beauty in learning and growing. We are always finding the right tools to write our own history, and make ourselves and everyone in our environment happy. Because of this, I would describe Street Dreams Magazine as ‘youthful.’ As hippie as I sound, we forget what a lot of things mean to us. We can be living examples of being able to achieve anything, and be something more than human. Street Dreams is that reminder.

Street Dreams Magazine is a minimalistic canvas that shares the photographic work and stories of artists around the world. With only three issues in, Street Dreams has already received praise from publications like Hypebeast and Highsnobiety. The magazines are also being sold at the New York Public library, and Reed Space. On Thursday, September 25, 2014, there were over 700 people in attendance (including some from different parts of the world) at Reed Space in New York for the release of Street Dreams Magazine Issue 003. Through the overwhelming amount of people in attendance and the disturbance culminated in the release event (it was shut down right after it opened because there were so many people), the founders of the magazine knew that this was something significant. I had the pleasure of having a conversation with founders Steven Irby, Eric Veloso, and Michael Cobarrubia, and it was absolutely a lituation.

STILLA: Steve, define lituation for me one time.
STEVEN IRBY: It’s a culmination of several lit things happening at once. Example: You go to the bodega and a chicken cutlet is half off and they give you a free bag of chips and an Arizona because they know you. That’s a lituation.

I was convinced that lituation was already an existing word. I hope it makes it to the dictionary one day. But I digress. So Street Dreams to me sounds like youth, and staying under. What is at the root of Street Dreams?
The root of Street Dreams for me is a couple of things actually. First aspect is making an even playing field for everyone. There’s a lot of opportunities to be involved with the magazine, including us pulling pictures from the hashtag we promote on Instagram. The other aspect is that we want to bring together the community. It doesn’t make sense for everyone to be on opposite sides of the world – the magazine is the medium for all of us now. Well, at least that’s what we are trying to establish.

ERIC VELOSO: Street Dreams is about getting up everyday and putting your foot to the pavement and striving for your dreams. No matter whether you’re rich or poor, we all walk the same streets and we all dream. This platform is multi-faceted in so many ways, that we truly believe that we haven’t even scratched the surface in terms of the potential of this project. The magazine is literally the tip of the iceberg and we have huge plans for the future of this publication.

For me, what stood out was the features on streetwear/lifestyle websites like Hypebeast and Highsnobiety with barely any issues [under] your belt. I grew up in streetwear, and in the streetwear world, getting that level of recognition is monumental.
EV: I think I can speak for the whole team when I say that we’re all absolutely obsessed with creative culture in every form imaginable. It’s truly inspired inspiration. We definitely were well aware of HB & HS, and when we released issue .002, we concentrated on creating a visual lookbook for the magazine that would catch the attention of those sites, and surely enough they caught on to it.

SI: Back around 2005, I used to post on the Hypebeast message boards all the time. Sometimes I would troll, but for the most part I was always impressed with the overall aesthetic of Hypebeast. Highsnobiety has always been a news source for me in our culture.

So I know Steve is about the film life, and I’m all for being able to physically hold something you create as opposed to everything being digital. It’s a different feeling, isn’t it?
SI: Exactly. Since I’m into street photography especially, shooting it on film makes it way more personal. More raw. It doesn’t force you for perfection like digital. Plus,  shooting film allows you to compose your shots more and take your time to observe whats going on around you. It’s therapeutic for me. Since I have short term memory, I always forget what I take pictures of. So seeing what they are after a couple of weeks is always a pleasant surprise.

EV: We grew up in an era where everything was a tangible piece of media. Magazines were the first internet in some ways. When I was a kid, I looked to Thrasher mags and source magazines to know what the current trends were and who were the ones to watch. The walls in my room as a teenager were covered with cutouts from my favorite magazines, Michael Jordan posters and hip hop artists. I listened to tapes ’til they broke and would read the linear notes of CDs over and over again. In a day and age where it feels like every print magazine is going digital, we decided to flip the script and turn the digital into print. With us getting to the point where we can run businesses and make our ideas come to life, we feel as though people want that aesthetic back without even knowing it.

Y’all seem very cultured, and it’s wonderful. Street Dreams right now is setting itself up for being something timeless. Is that something you guys are going for?
Most definitely. We all gravitate to the most timeless things. That’s the coolest thing about this project. Every single person involved are like-minded individuals who strive to be the best in any path they operate in. We’re all inspired by each other and motivate one another to keep creating the best ideas we can come up with. It’s a total collaboration on every level and being from different parts of the world allows our team to have infinite perspectives on everything leading us to keep connecting with the best and brightest creatives out there.

SI: Growing up I used to love looking at pictures of my family, it was one of my favorite things to do. I have the same feeling I have now looking at everyones photos in the mag. The curation part has to be the most rewarding. It feels like we are making a time capsule each issue.

How involved is your family?
MICHAEL COBARRUBIA: Family is a huge part of it. I design SDmag along side my nephew Rae Fernandez. We both work together to make this something special and we are both obsessed with design. Working with a family member who I see as a brother is one of the most greatest feelings ever.

EV: It’s a total collaboration on every level. My mom is our business consultant, and this operation is very rooted in family. From packing mags to sending them out, our loved ones help us do it all. Being able to bring people onto our team who are close to us is a dope feeling. It allows us to build a solid foundation and create a creative template to last a lifetime. At the same time we feel that the global creative community in general is our family too. We could go anywhere in the world at this point and connect with a photographer and have them welcome us with open arms. It’s really a beautiful thing.

There’s nothing better than sharing and working with people you love. There’s more meaning, and usually allows a brand to really have longevity. Street Dreams, I believe, is also setting up for longevity. You have the support of people who know what it feels like to have longevity. I want to know the story of how SD and Jeff Staple/Reed Space came together.
I used to shop in Reed Space for years literally, since around ’05-’06. So I was already well aware of what Staple was and just how dope they are in general. So when Eric, Mike, and myself finished the first issue and when they asked me where are we going to sell this, the first place I thought of was Reed Space. I wanted to sell the magazine where we actually shop and respect. Then I had the chance to go to Agenda this past summer and had a chance to meet Jeff Staple and Anna Sian briefly. I asked her if they would be down to be a guest editor for Issue 003 and then the rest was history. The best thing of all is that they are so down-to-earth and genuinely want to make the best product available. It’s a dream come true.

MC: When Eric and I opened up the PDF logo files to create their gallery spread, it was crazy. “You mean we are really able to use these logo files for our mag?” It was kinda like a dream come true, being as Jeff Staple has been a huge inspiration in our lives. I knew right there this issue 003 was truly special.

EV: Jeff Staple created the template for this creative culture in so many ways that having us connect with him is a dream come true. The validation that this has created has solidified this whole idea and even deeper on a personal level has made us even hungrier to take this to places we can’t even comprehend yet. It’s just ridiculous to open up the pages of .003 and see his and Anna’s names as guest editors. Staple just doesn’t throw their name around and has completely humbled us. The event that we just had at Reed Space was shut down in 27 minutes due to over 700 people waiting to get in to see the show. The last time Reed Space had to shut down the store was when they released the Staple dunks.

 Regardless of the shutdown, history was being made.

There was more promotion with this issue of SD; you also had special curators, and lines that wrapped around the block at the release event. Something feels different with Issue 003.
It does feel extra special firstly for the reasons you mentioned. Specifically the Staple connect, and secondly the event was a huge build up for us because it was gonna allow us to connect with the community as a team for the first time! We’ve been able to create three issues basically over the internet, and we were so stoked to have the chance to thank the community in person and allow them to put faces to the people behind the mag. It’s unfortunate it got shut down, but this just proved the reach and the scope of the whole project. Even though not many people had a chance to see the exhibit, this was the biggest validation in terms of the direction of this whole project. We’ll be back in November for 004 and we’re focused on making this an event capable of containing the numbers we hit at this reed space launch. It’s truly a beautiful thing. Next one will be even bigger and badder. In terms of the actual issue, we like to think of the first two issues as operating within the “street” aesthetic and with 003 we made a shift into the “dreams” perspective. Meaning we focused on selecting a group of 6 artists that are taking their work beyond just filters and simple editing but into actual style and an art based approach to their photography. To us, all this photography is art and we really want people to recognize the high level of creativity people are operating at right now.

MC: In terms of design, Issue 003 was taken a little further. Curating the gallery grid especially. We focused heavy on trying to tell the story through the images. Matching tones, colors and feeling. It was much more focused than issue 002. The way you look through these gallery grid pages really feels like you are travelling into different worlds.

SI: When Eric, Mike and myself started to work on issue 3, we are all syncing together in an organic way. So the process for each issue is becoming easier. When we finalized the featured artist in the magazine, looking through it felt more captivating. Immediately I said to all of them, “I think we have the banger.” It feels like you’re on a journey from the first page and you’re slowly glancing through different worlds and it feeling different and familiar as well.

(From left to right) Eric Veloso (Editor-in-Chief for SDmag)  & Mike Cobarrubia (Art Director for SDmag).

“This is the product of years of self-discovery and honestly just sticking to your guns and believing in something so deeply that the universe helps you achieve it. All the highs and lows lead to where we’re at today, and it wouldn’t have worked any other way.” -Eric Veloso

Steven Irby (Editor-at-Large for SDmag)

Talk about the beginnings of Street Dreams?
SDmag started as an extension of many years of collaborating and exploring new ways to work together. Mike, myself and the other members of the art team have been rocking with each other for a minute and a few years back we all contributed to this Tumblr blog Mike started called “Really Dope.” It was basically creating art and ads in a magazine format as an ode to the inspiration we received from various sources. Fast forward to Fall 2013; I started exploring ways to connect with people through social media and as a photographer how to get my work out there. I noticed Instagram hashtags becoming their own communities on Instagram and I stumbled upon Steve’s work through his own hashtag creation “#16x9vibes.” I was blown away at the work and I noticed he followed a mutual friend of ours. NY based barber and curator, AJ Albano. I hit AJ up and asked him if he could do an email intro between Steve and I before I headed to NY for a trip. We linked and Steve was totally down to link. We shot for like 8 hrs one day and walked all over the city – literally – on the photowalk. We discussed ideas on how we could work together. I was like, “I got this idea for a digital mag called ‘Street Dreams’ and maybe you and I can put out our work in a digital format.” Steve was so down with it that I headed back to Vancouver lift off the idea! I came back and told Mike that I linked with Steve and that we should do a magazine. We literally created a template that night. A couple weeks later, I ran into a homie I hadn’t seen in a minute and he mentioned that he was still running a print shop him and his cousin bought in the mid-2000s. A light went off in my head and I asked him if we could get this into print. He loved the idea, so I hit Steve up and was like, “Yo what if we add in more photographers and make it a full issue?” And that was it from there. It just took off and we started with zero followers and only [used] Instagram as the only means of marketing. Now we’re at 20k followers and growing. The level of photographers who follow SDmag are what we consider the best of the best and our whole goal is to take engagement and community to a whole new level by connecting on a personal level through branding and a visual aesthetic thats unmatched. To be honest though, I always tell everyone if Steve wasn’t that guy to be open to just rocking with someone he never met on a photographic level just down to shoot this wouldn’t have ever happened, real rap.

SI: I met Eric through my boy AJ the Barber. I’ve known AJ for years now and his shop is somewhere I would go all the time. Last summer he told me that his homie from Vancouver wanted to meet me and he was cool. So when Eric and I met, we spoke for a little at his shop and planned to chill the next day. I was going to show him around Brooklyn and the city for a little bit. We were walking over the Williamsburg bridge and he told me that he had an idea for a magazine and it was called street dreams. From the jump we started to go back and forth with different ideas and he asked me if I was down to be the editor at large. So after I googled what that meant, it was on from then.

And now, you guys are here. That Instagram direct message I sent y’all prior to the release event for Issue 003 was genuine. It’s rare feeling proud of people you barely know. I still have yet to meet you all in person. Y’all have come a long way and endured.
EV: Before we the idea of SDMAG was born, I came to a point in my life where personally it was make or break. Sitting in your car for 5 minutes before your shift starts and thinking to yourself, “I gotta do this again!” was when I realized that I owed it to myself to either stay in that situation and shut up, or take a risk and follow my heart. I chose the latter and so far it’s been an amazing journey to this point. This is the product of years of self-discovery and honestly just sticking to your guns and believing in something so deeply that the universe helps you achieve it. All the highs and lows lead to where we’re at today, and it wouldn’t have worked any other way.

SI: Prior to Street Dreams, I honestly felt no purpose in my life. It was all about working a 9-5 at a shitty retail job, that I never really cared for. Taking a girl on a date, playing Xbox, and repeat the next day. I have had my fair share of encounters with things I shouldn’t have been involved with. When Eric and Mike came into my life, I knew we were onto something, but I wasn’t too sure where it would go. I got fired for being late at my last job, and for the first time in my life, I felt relieved. I told my manager, “You did me a favor,” and he kind of smirked.


Physical copies of Street Dreams Magazine Issue 003 are currently sold out online. Oh, and I have a little feature in there as well.

Instagram: @ericveloso  @rddsgnco  @stevesweatpants @streetdreamsmag

Photos above shot by Sean Dougherty @seandshoots and Steven Irby.

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