Street Dreams Magazine is a visual movement.
It’s also a quarterly digital + print publication, online community, and now, full-service agency. Now on their 11th issue, they’ve seen success across Vancouver, San Francisco, New York, Berlin — pretty much anywhere with an internet connection. We were happy to have Eric Veloso, Steve Irby, and the whole crew here to celebrate SDM011 with The Creator Class on November 12th.
Here, Eric reflects back on the past three years with SDM:
The whole goal with Street Dreams Magazine is, and has always been, to make it open platform. We want to give photographers and creatives a chance to get their work into print. We want to be as inclusive as possible, because we know that as new photographers, or as freelancers, the toughest part of your career can be just getting your foot in the door. Whenever you submit your work somewhere, or apply for a job, the question always comes up: “who have you worked for before?” What happens when you don’t have an answer?
Instead of continuing to come up against that wall, we decided we’d publish our own work, and through growing the project, others’ work. We never imagined it’d transform into a culture of its own, but as soon as we solidified the tone, the aesthetic, and the kinds of things we’d be doing with Street Dreams, a community of people was ready to rally behind it. People really gravitated towards it, and it snowballed from there.
The power that a hashtag can hold is incredible, because behind that hashtag is a group of likeminded individuals.
Since first launching #streetdreamsmag three years ago, we’ve had nearly 6 million unique posts on the hashtag — which is nuts. We’re so humbled by this, and so excited by this. This traction started to attract the attention of major brands. The first company to really hit us up after our first year of production was Coach, who wanted to activate more of the original essence of the brand, which actually started as a menswear line. They wanted to work with Street Dreams to revamp the brand in a way that would speak to millennials and the younger generation — the cool kid culture. This was also our first foray into agency work, the first time we put a campaign together and attached a dollar sign to it.
Our working template really got built with Coach. Because first and foremost we’re a print publication, we start there, build out what the campaign or activation could look like, and figure out how to tie it back to the art — whether it’s through an exhibition or something like that. That next agency part to our work was really organic. It really just stemmed from the energy we were already putting into our community, and people recognizing there was opportunity there for us to work together.
The power that a hashtag can hold is incredible, because behind that hashtag is a group of likeminded individuals. The first hashtag that I came across that really struck a chord in me was #strideby. Essentially, it was photos of people walking by a wall, or within their day to day environment, captured mid-stride. I loved the idea of a stranger walking through a really cool frame. I loved the idea of finding cool places to post up at and just wait for that perfect shot. People attach themselves to a hashtag, and begin stylizing their photos to that certain aesthetic. In terms of Street Dreams or The Creator Class, the hashtag really does become sort of a badge of honour. People relate to and attach themselves to this movement and its community. Funny enough, it was actually through following #16x9vibes that I originally came across Steve [Irby]. After going deep down the rabbit hole (looking at his followers/following lists), I realized we had a mutual friend who could introduce us — after all, this was before DMs were a thing on Instagram.
When you just vibe with someone, you know it instantly.
We agreed to shoot the next time I was in New York [from Vancouver], and ended up meeting at our mutual friend’s party the night before our planned photo day. When you just vibe with someone, you know it instantly. Steve and I started talking in the hallway outside the party, about the Visvims I was wearing, before we even realized who each other were. The next day we woke up at 8 am, travelled all around New York together to shoot, and that’s really when Street Dreams was born. It wasn’t going to be a full-blown magazine initially, just a digital collection of the photos that Steve and I shot that day, but the next thing I knew I was back in Vancouver, spending hours designing layouts with Mike, and figuring out a plan for print publication after a chance encounter with an old friend at a bar who just happening to now own a print shop.
Growing up with Thrasher magazine, and cutting out pictures to tape up in my room, I feel really strongly about creating tangible things you can hold in your hand. You scroll through so many dope photos and tweets and whatever all day, but when you can actually sit down and look at a book or a magazine, and really connect with it, you get a totally different experience — and that experience changes every time you pick it up. There’s also something about collectability, and I’m sure all my fellow sneakerheads out there will understand, but there’s something about a limited run that really draws you in. It’s such an accomplishment to be one of those people who could actually cop that item. Everything’s so accessible nowadays that it’s an accomplishment to have to look for, and find, that special thing.
After 11 issues and all the cities we’ve visited, it’s almost crazy to say that Street Dreams still doesn’t have a dot com. We decided to see what we could do with the smallest real estate possible, an Instagram account, and so far we’ve really made it work for us. We’ve seen the power of a hashtag, and the power of the community behind it, whether it’s having the cops shut down an issue launch due to overcapacity, or just meeting fans IRL. It’s incredible.
With each issue, we’re working towards a higher form of art. SDM isn’t street photography, it’s not Instagram photography. Issue 011 really has more of an editorial feel to it, but it’s just one chapter in the bigger Street Dreams book. We’re ultimately writing this huge story, but we’re writing it together with everyone who supports us and adds their creativity [to SDM]. It’s all about putting your feet to the pavement and making it happen.
– Eric Veloso
Co-founder, Street Dreams Magazine