INTERVIEWS WITH TRINA CALDERON

Tomas Staub Grows the Kind Media

In 1987, Tomas Staub traded his Kinks tape to his older sister for her copy of American Beauty. They were pre-teens and sharing whatever tapes they could get their hands on, mostly classic rock, reggae, hip hop, and comedy. He remembers visiting the record store later and seeing marketing materials for In the Dark and thinking it seemed different than American Beauty. Intrigued, Tomas investigated the Grateful Dead further and discovered the holy grail: there were an immense number of live Dead shows on tape! Soon after, his visits to the record store were for blank cassettes because he was hooked.

Tomas grew up around art; his mom was taking art classes in sculpture and painting when he was seven years old.  He recalled, “while she practiced her craft, she would let me have newsprint or a large drawing pad that I would transform into epic space battles in the vein of good vs. evil and fill the paper with spaceships, robots, skeletons and zombies. The stylish zombies were inspired by Michel Jackson’s Thriller video and my impressions of Halloween.

The freedom to explore his imagination inspired an artist mindset early on.  As years passed, Tomas could see how art was also present in his way of life. “I remember in the early ‘80s skateboarding culture came home, and I was fascinated by the branding and graphic design on the skateboards. The surf and skate clothing looked like art to me and the price of it echoed that statement at the time, so we learned to combine the skate merch with a thrifty look and found plenty of baggy hand me downs that distinguished our friends’ group from the others. We believed ‘skateboarding is not a crime’ and forced security to chase us every day we went out on streets to skate. There were so many lessons for us in this time, but I remember clearly noticing that the art and style we were participating in was contemporary yet temporary in that we would literally thrash and destroy our beautiful, decorated boards, our shoes would fall apart, and our bodies took a beating from falling over and over again while trying new tricks on our skateboards. All in all, art was no longer in a box or a museum for me, it was alive in the streets,” he explained.  

Today, Tomas enjoys designing and branding clothing as well as taking photos and shooting video. He likes to explore textures and colors in print and digital media and specializes in deconstructing art through the screen-printing process. His printmaking studio, Grow Your Own Media, is tucked along Glendale Blvd. in Atwater, California, and he’s channeled his love for the music of the Grateful Dead and the show experience into artwork. He shared, “I find myself on the lot overcome by the color of self-expression. That undeniable energy fills my cup with so much joy and love that it spills into my own creative visions and interpretations which pushes me to get creative and go ‘furthur.’”

Primarily focused on screen printing fabric (t-shirts) and flat stock (art and show posters), Grow Your Own Media is one big studio set up for production of merch while simultaneously holding space for teaching and renting space to the DIY creative community in Los Angeles. The shop is set up to take custom orders of all kinds of printed goods and is fully equipped with workstations for teaching and renting to anyone interested in learning and producing their own screen-printed artwork and merch products. 

Tomas creates his own groovy psychedelic t-shirts to sell on Shakedown, and he’s been instrumental in helping other artists who want to create merch for their bands to vend at local Dead nights in Los Angeles. You can check out that merch at the small Shakedown scenes at L.A. Dead Night, every second Friday night at Old Towne Pub in Pasadena, and at Dead Valley Night at the Barrel Tavern in Sherman Oaks, every Monday night.

Tomas related, “I was heavily inspired by the Dead creative culture, so I try to pass the torch along, teaching screen-printing and sponsoring the creatives who want to sell on Shakedown.”

Images courtesy of Tomas Staub.

Links:
GYOM.com
IG: @growyourownmedia and @spacetimegardens

Trina Calderón is an LA-based writer, proud to be a part of the sunshine daydream of the Grateful Dead.