Everyone who skates knows a guy that gets the ball rolling. Whether it’s pumping a not so perfect pool, pouring renegade concrete, or building roller coaster backyard ramps. Well, Michael Sieben is not exactly that guy. Sieben’s the guy that inspires the “non-artist” to pick up that ballpoint pen and doodle for hours on end. So grab whatever cheap beer is hip to drink in your neck of the woods and make a toast with me. “Here’s to Michael Sieben for getting the ol’ ballpoint pen a’rolling.”
You’re married, you do work for thrasher, you help run an art gallery (okay mountain in Austin,Texas), you’re part-owner and art director of Bueno Skateboards, and you’re a full time ditch shralper. How does Michael Sieben find time to do all of these things and still come off as a swell guy?
It’s simple. Crystal Methamphetamines. Actually I just work a lot. I’ve never been the type of person who is content to sit back and watch the world go by. I enjoy participating more than sitting on the bench and complaining.
You live in Austin, Texas. Does this make it easier or harder for you to get shit done?
I think it makes it easier for me to get stuff done. I work by myself out of my house and there really aren’t any distractions, besides the mini ramp. But I usually wait until after 5 to go out back and get the rad going. In some ways it can be kind of frustrating though because I have to rely upon emails and phone calls to see what’s going on rather than just going down to the office and seeing for myself. It’s a double-edged sword I guess. But as long as I can work from Austin I’ll stay here. If the well dries up I might have to head out West to be another turd in the burger. I wouldn’t mind living in San Francisco sometime. I’ve always had fun visiting that city.
Why do you think skateboarding thrives off art and visa-versa?
Does art thrive off of skateboarding? I’m not sure about that. But I think skateboarding in general fosters and rewards creativity both on and off the board. You’d never open a football magazine and see pages devoted to paintings that one of the players was working on during the off season. And I think in general as skateboarders we’re just proud of all the talented people who are involved with the “sport” and we want to show them off.
Do you have any art-fag groupie stories?
No, but most of my Myspace friends are 15 year old boys. I’m probably on some sort of government “watch this guy” list.
Bueno skateboards is still pretty much a brand new baby. What do you do to nurture and care for little baby Bueno?
Basically I just try to convince kids that if they’re not riding Bueno then they’re pretty much blowing it. And when they get older and see those photos of themselves riding whatever corporate bullshit board they were riding at the time they’re going to realize how shallow and meaningless their lives have been. Is that funny? But for reals, I just try to make the best graphics I can and try to promote individualism and creativity. It grosses me out to look at a magazine and see companies trying to sell an image of what a skateboarder is supposed to look like. Wear whatever you want to wear. Don’t let a company dress you up like their doll.
How many licks does it take to get to the center of a brand new Bueno board?
I wouldn’t recommend that. We use asbestos as our middle layer. It’s like boneite for the new millennium.
I’m sure Bueno wasn’t the first name ya’ll came up with when creating the company. What were some other names ya’ll thought of?
We were going to call it Element because we knew for sure that would be a good way to sell a lot of boards right off the bat. But apparently it’s illegal to name your company the same name as an existing company. So then we were going to call it Weekend Forecast but then that P.Rod video came out called Forecast so we had to change plans again. Eventually Stacy said, “What about Bueno?” And I said, “Yeah, that’s good.”, and it was done. It’s cool too because when somebody asks me, “How’s Bueno?” I can say, “It’s good. Get it? Get it? Huh?” and that can get really annoying really fast.
You recently visited Tokyo, japan for you and Millard’s hidden switches project. Do you have any good stories about Tokyo?
Right when we got to Tokyo we got off of the subway and the first dude we see is wearing a pair of Vans that Millard designed. Is that a good story? Maybe you had to be there. But just getting the opportunity to go to Japan for drawing pictures totally freaked me out. I’d like to thank everybody at the Volcom Art Loft for their belief in that project. It was a pretty life changing experience. Whoa, I just became a hippy.
You seem to be on a steady diet of Lone Star Beer and art. Is this the secret to your girlish figure?
Actually lately I’ve been drinking Modelo Especial. But the secret to my girlish figure is high metabolism and not eating dairy products. Oh, and the purging.
How much does music influence your art?
Tons. If i hear a song that in my opinion is totally “the shit” then it makes me want to paint something or draw something equally as “shitty.” Wait, that came out wrong.
How’s the backyard ramp treating you? Have you added any tricks to your bag?
No new tricks. But I think that has something to do with the fact that we’re having a Portland winter right now. As soon as the sun comes back out I’m going to get to work. I just saw that Cheese and Crackers video and realized that what I’ve been doing on my ramp doesn’t even qualify as skateboarding anymore.
Sure it does. I’m not sure if you know this but that whole video was computer animated. They were going to call it smoke and mirrors but that was way too obvious. Is there anyone you would like to say thank you to or mention?
For sure, anybody out there who took the time to read any of this or look at these pictures, the lovers, the haters, and everybody in between. (and also: Michael Burnett, Jake Phelps, Ed Templeton, Dave Carnie, David Dittmeyer, the whole gang in Austin, Roger Seliner, Stacy Lowery and the Bueno Brigade, Mike Aho, and for sure my wife Allison and my family. If your name isn’t on this list and you feel it should be then just write it in on this line: _____________.)