• Interview
  • Photography
  • 09/03/2020 @ 10:14 AM

There is a wonderful overlap when one of your favorite artists is also one of your favorite people. Steven John Irby, or @stevesweatpants as you may know him online, is someone who I look up to for a wide variety of reasons. To put it succienctly, Steve is an incredibly talented photographer, community leader, thinker, educator, a man who wears many hats is a great connector of people. Add a strong dose of humility and empathy to the mix, and you've got someone who is able to leave a strong impact on the world of creativity and the world at large. Today, I'm grateful to present his work and ideas to you.

I’ve been lucky enough to watch a long part of your evolution as a photography and storyteller-from the days of 35mm film work and 16x9 vibes to these vibrant black and white scenes of city life. What drew you towards this rich monochrome style that you use so effectively?


I have always have been obsessed with a really good story. So for me, it’s important to have chapters. To see some type of progression, by being consistent with articulating your creative voice. Starting off with 16x9 vibes I wanted to really establish the cinematic atmosphere of my perspective and personality at the time. It evolved into trying to create an immediate sense of timelessness, and stripping the color away so that I’m not distracted by anything else besides the story I’m trying to tell.

Cinematic timelessness is a great description of the sense I get from your recent work. With the black and white tones, there’s such a focus on form and character than really shines through. What are some sources of visual inspiration on the cinematic side? Movies, games, TV?

That should be the name of my next mixtape. Cinematic Timelessness, that’s wavy.

I like a bunch of shit. As of right now, I’m always digging through Joseph Rodriguez archives. His work has been really impactful on me lately, and he’s the goat in my eyes. Recently I bought the Akira manga box set, and the black and white illustrations, the framing and composition, everything is just tight. Hideo Kojima is a constant source of inspiration always. I feel like I’m in Death Stranding sometimes, and trying to visualize my own ghetto cyberpunk in my head. Last but not least, I’ve been playing Ghost of Tsushima for hours and the photo mode has been the best I have ever experienced. The free control of the camera has actually helped me on shoots with working out some ideas recently.

I’m a mixed bag.

Some in-game shots from Ghost of Tsushima:

Love all those influences, and I’m similarly influenced by games and films. We’re lucky to live in a time with such an incredible amount of visual input. We literally have decades of information available at our fingertips. The digital space is where all these ideas kind of mix together, and genres blend and build new forms of expression. To me, that has made you into far more than just a photographer. How would you describe your role in the creative community?

Amen to that, I agree whole heartedly. I hope it’s tight in the future, but I’m stoked to be here now and to experience all of these different mediums and being fortunate enough to be alive and healthy to put on my own time stamp on the world.

I come from a big family, so I am used to being around people of all ages. And I look at the creative community that way too. As corny as that may sound, I really live by that. To some people I’m a nerdy brother, to others I’m a drunk uncle. But my goal is inclusive progressive work with substance and love. If I have to be the preachy grandpa, I’ll be that too.

Thats an awesome sentiment and at the core of what we are trying to do with ALLSHIPS as well. This idea that our crew has kind of lived by- we are stronger together and there is room for everyone to have a voice and play their part in the creative universe. It’s also something you have embodied and encouraged through Street Dreams for years now. Can you tell us a bit about streetdreams.co and the various components of that digital real estate?

Exactly, we have been doing this for close to a decade now. I don’t think I’ll be where I am today without the hours of chill sessions between yourself, Jose Silva, Soap (Raheim), the list goes on.

Street Dreams has been apart of my life for so long now, that it has definitely grown to be as diverse as the people that it represents. Eric Veloso, Mike Cee and myself, from the beginning of its inception, wanted to have our digital presence feel like a mixtape from your favorite artist. We wanted to feel like Lil Wayne’s mixtape run from Dedication forward, and we feel we are slowly getting there. With the launch of streetdreams.co, we have a digital art & culture institution that can be our source for high level art, photography and music. There’s such a heavy focus on commercialization of our culture, but what we are pinpointing our focus on is the love and inspiration for the art and culture we are constantly consuming.

You guys have done such a beautiful job with everything, the site looks beautiful and I love watching you continue to build the legacy. And I so appreciate you sharing these images and thoughts with us today. As a parting thought- what advice would you give to younger creatives trying to carve out a life of art and exploration of ideas?

Thanks for hitting me up about this! I miss you irl, so it’s dope to have a conversation like we always do but now on your platform.

My main advice is something my grandma told me, that I will say that I’m blue in the face. Bad association, spoils useful habits.

Be really conscious of how you spend your time, and who you’re spending it with. Being around loving people and loving relationships is the fastest way to grow creatively healthy.

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