We had the good fortune of connecting with Jose (Pepe) Diaz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jose (Pepe), how has your work-life balance changed over time?
Work life balance? Thats a good question, it has definitely changed throughout the years. When I first started getting gigs and traveling was my priority, nothing else mattered and it definitely shape me to who I am now, but as the years went by I learn to work smarter rather than harder, not because I was tired of doing work but because I wanted to better understand the relationships I had with my clients. Fast forward to now, my schedule has changed, half of the time I spend meditating, learning, taking care of my health, and the other half I am consulting and working on projects, the less stress I am the more I can give my clients and feeling I gave them my 110%.
How do I think about the balance? Well I have learn that if you don’t take the time to balance your life, your clients and your work will suffer, so the only way up is to relax.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Well before I was an Artist I began my journey as a Padawan, edit skate videos, spray painting designs to my clothes and sew my clothes to my liking since there was nothing out there that would fit my style. My sister gifted me a brand new Mac laptop after I showed her my shoe designs on Windows paint, so technically she was the key to the start of my journey. I started to get familiar with the programs and soon started to freelance for different surf companies and a screen printing factory, there I learn everything to be known with graphics and screen printing thanks to one of my first mentors Robert Gayle. A year later I landed my first gig and became a production artist with Hurley and they help me amplify my skills 10 fold, I was doing graphics, catalog work, cut and sew and pattern making, such a great company to learn from. My second job was at DC which was my dream job since my first love was skateboarding, thanks to them I traveled all over the world and learn how to create a high SKU line since the company was at high demand at the time.
After I left DC Shoes I started to get more into design so I took a job at another skateboard company called Sole Tech, that is when I got into fashion , Sole Tech owns Emerica, Altamont, éS , and Etnies so I was able to create, lots of cut and sew pieces , started with tops then moved into bottoms and graphics for all 4 companies.
The years went by and I started to just freelance and started to really stack up my portfolio, I didn’t just work for Surf and Skate companies, now I was designing for MotorCross, SportWear , Hiking, Snowboarding, Skiing , the list goes on. It got to the point where I started consulting for brands to talk about color, fabrics, textiles and even the look of the brand. I started to travel more, and always carried a camera with me, the brand started to see my photos and asked me to start doing campaigns for them and catalogs and of course I agreed. That develop to getting gigs with artist and bands and actually going on tours with bands.
Fast forward to today, and I still do work for bigger brands but also give my time to little brands that can’t afford a designer or photographer, I help them out reach the next level with out feeling like they have to go bankrupt in the process, why because someone took the chance with me back in the day, now its my turn to take a chance with someone else who is dreaming big.
As an Artist I feel like its my need to inspire others dreams because I was there once before and I know its possible.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
This is a hard question because we are surrounded by so much beauty , First I would start by taking them to the Leica store in LA, that store couldn’t inspire anyone, the building is well designed and they even have a show room upstairs, as well as many art books and of course some of the most amazing cameras ever. After that I would take them to some local places to take some photos, right now not most places are open so I would take them to some hiking places around that area. We would get a bite and coffee at a local coffee shop to relax. After that we would probably sit in traffic but head towards Santa Monica Pier and do some people watching and enjoy the weather also great opportunity for photo ops. As the sun is going down I would take them towards Venice Beach and grab our boards and have a fun skate session at the park. Venice Beach Skatepark has some of the best sunsets ever, after that we would grab dinner at C&O Trattoria and call it a night.
Mid week I would probably take them more inland, a trip to the desert, wake up super early and head towards Joshua Tree, explore and do some cool hikes. We would get some lunch and then head towards Anza-Borrego, do a bit of off roading and enjoy the sunset and get ready to camp the night.
Towards the end of the week I would take them more south check out more of the costal places like Newport Beach and Laguna beach, save a day for fishing and head towards San Diego , check out the meditation garden in Encinitas and grab some food at Swami’s. We would end the weekend at Balboa Park in San Diego, they have a lot to see and get inspired by.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give a shout out to my Sister for actually buying me my first Mac with Illustrator and Photoshop and believing that I had a future in this, and to my Mom who would never let me go party at a young age so I had all the time to learn how to design and teach my self what I now know, If it wasn’t for them, I really don’t know where I be.