We had the good fortune of connecting with PJ DeSoto and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi PJ, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Balance has always been a challenge for me. Especially now that I’m treating what used to be an outlet as more of a business. I love art and creating, the entire reason as to why I started Pehota, but maintaining a separation between the business side and creative side has become a challenge that I never expected. I feel as though my brain is split in two. On one side, I have the business graduate that just wants to succeed. On the other side, I have the artist that just wants to create random shit for people to enjoy and doesn’t give a hoot about what others think. These two sides are at constant war but I’m learning how to make them work together. I’ve started by having designated notebooks for different things. I have sketchbooks for barfing out ideas when they pop into my head and I have notebooks for final designs. When I’m not working my day job, I try to focus on one thing for the day. I’ll spend the whole day catching up on commissions and other business maintenance but if I’m all caught up and can relax, I’ll spend the next day just bouncing around different art projects. I’ll just have an art day to myself, blasting music and going with whatever I’m feelin. Those are the days that motivate me to keep doing this. My balance has changed because it went from just trying to find time to draw inbetween class, work and social time to now finding a comfortable separation between my own art and the art I do for others.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I really love black ink and linework. That’s kinda what my style of art developed around. When I first started making shirts, I had to draw my graphics directly onto the transparencies. There was no eraser or sketching, I just had to run with whatever happened so I think that taught me how to see mistakes as redirections. I can’t say I’m a professional by any means but I’m definitely working on it. I’ve been doing this shirt thing for almost 7 years now and it’s fun to look back to when I was printing shirts out of my parent’s garage with a janky ass screenprinting kit, a trashbag darkroom, and a garden hose. Every day brings another challenge that I’ve never faced before but that’s what makes it fun. I fail a ton. Like constantly. But I learn from each one and then try to fix where I messed up and keep going. Then when I look back, it’s like “oh ya, how did I not know that?”. I’ve learned to not wait for that “perfect” moment. You’re never going to have everything exactly how you want it before you try something. You just have to get out there, fail and then see why. If you are blessed with advice from someone more experienced than you, heed it but then get out there and see for yourself. What do I want the world to know about me or my brand? I sell shirts so please buy one. If everyone in the world bought 1 shirt, I’d be a very happy guy. You’d also be seeing a boatload more stuff cause that’s all I’d be doing. So ya, buy a shirt 🙂
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.
If they’re here for a full week, I’m taking them up the coast of California. Adventuring up the coast highway looking for good surf, isolated campsites, big rocks to climb, and secret skate spots. It’s a blast every time. But assuming we’re staying in San Diego, we would start each day with an epic surf, cause obviously the surf is pumping if they’re down south for a week. There are too many amazing beaches here to list off but some of my favorites are Blacks, Sunset Cliffs, Carlsbad City, and Mission Beach. The Pennant in Mission is a must because that’s our local watering hole. But Carlsbad has a pretty great nightlife as well. Gotta get some 1$ fish tacos at El Pueblos off of Birmingham in Encinitas and some Board and Brew sandwiches if we’re feeling boujee. San Diego’s a trip cause there’s literally anything and everything here. If it’s winter, we could go for the California Trifecta and get surf, snow, and skating all in the same day. Throw some rock climbing in there too, why not?! It’s hard to come up with a conclusive list just cause a week of activities would turn into a 20-page essay and I don’t think anybody wants that.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My parents and family without a doubt on this one. I moved around a lot growing up but I am so blessed with the family God gave me. My parents were dedicated to helping me find something that really clicked. I liked to try sports, quickly give up and move to the next one but art was something that just clicked and stayed with me no matter where we were. No matter where I was in life, I was able to doodle and get whatever was in my head out onto paper. I always felt comfortable sharing my art with my family and I think that’s what eventually gave me the confidence to share it with others.