Schneider: I started reading Juxtapoz magazine when it first came out, and one of the artists who I kept seeing in the mag was Jeff Soto. His work stood out right away because of how fresh it looked and how fantastic his technique was. I was lucky enough to connect with him years ago and buy some of his art, which I’m so thrilled to have. He continues to travel all over the world making street art as well as fine-art prints, rock posters and, of course, his incredible paintings. I recently asked him a few questions for MAGNET.
It seems like most of the street art that you do nowadays is sanctioned by the folks who own the property. Have you ever had any run-ins with the law because of your street pieces?
Jeff Soto: I had run-ins with the law when I was in high school, but luckily I was never arrested. I think, at the time, I did not look the part of a tagger. I had more of a hippy look: long hair, vintage thrift store clothes, beard … Cops and school security were looking for hip-hop gangster-looking kids. I could also run fast and hide well, which were good skills to have. I actually do more illegal graffiti now as a late-30s suburban dad, but it’s usually in foreign countries.
A lot of artists listen to music while they work. Is this something that you do? What are you listening to?
I wish I knew some cool underground bands no one’s ever heard of yet, but I’ve never been on the cutting edge of music. I do enjoy music as I paint. Most recently I listened to a compilation I have called Music From The Wonder Years. I’m not sure where it came from, but it was on my iPod, and it was wonderful! I love music from the ’60s and ’70s. The musicians and the singers really had talent and something to say, and they were creating new sounds as they went. And it drove me to watch The Wonder Years, which has actually been pretty cool.
Do you have a work schedule that you adhere to?
I try to go on a walk in the morning to clear my head, then make breakfast, and get to work before my kids come home from school. The day goes by faster than I’d like. Sticking to a schedule is very important as an artist, and I typically do a pretty shitty job at it! When I’m really busy, I turn into the typical night-owl artist.
Did you make any New Years resolutions?
I always make some career goals at the end of the year, but they’re not really resolutions. I’m working on a book of my art, and I have a solo exhibit in L.A. in June, so I’m trying to stay working on both. I’m also pushing myself to keep eating good and get the exercise in every week. I feel like New Years Resolutions never seem to stick. If I want to make a change in my life, I do it right away.
Did you get anything good for Christmas?
I got a $50 Sears gift card and bought a metal detector with it. So far in our backyard I found a 1968 penny, a piece of chain link, a buried sprinkler head and some buried fence poles. Pretty fun … By the way, I am typing this from NYC, right on the verge of what might be a huge blizzard! I should have spent the gift card on a thick scarf!