Flats Culture Art: Iamwaseone Interview

The first interview here at SS, we bring you a few words from an amazing artist with his own original style. Iamwaseone is the solo project of Eric Estrada, an avid flats fisherman in South Florida.

For those not familiar with Iamwaseone, can you tell us how this all came to be?
Well, I always had the itch to try to paint something on canvas. I was a graffiti artist in my high school days. So there was always a passion and respect for art. One night, a friend and I decided to grab some late night canvas from Walmart. My first attempt was a redfish tail. It was terrible. But I did pick up some media cards. The pack brought 25 cards. I ruined several before I developed a style. I then did the same on a larger canvas. But it looked too unfinished and plain. So I added more and more until it evolved into what it is today.

Your style is pretty unique, how would you explain it?
Well, back when I did graffiti, I never was really good at doing letters. Which could be a big issue for someone doing graffiti. But I always had a knack for doing characters with spray paint. So I guess I never really was a graffiti artist. More so just an artist portraying characters, using spray paint and walls as a medium.  What I basically did was do characters of my favorite species to catch. Most people say there’s an urban feel to my artwork. Truthfully, I just paint what I see, as I see it. And that’s the outcome.

Did you do any artwork or painting before your current project?
I started doing custom paint work at a very young age. My father was a sign painter that did murals around on windows and local businesses. So I always had a thing for painting. For me, it all started off painting model cars. Then it progressed to painting bicycles. Lowrider Bicycles to be exact. From that, the natural transition was Lowrider cars, and high end speed boats.

Is there a purpose behind this project? Conservation, awareness, or just really awesome artwork?
Honestly, it’s just a way to lose my mind in something else. That’s the only real purpose. Well the fact that I lost my job a few weeks ago, It’s been doubling as my only source of income…lol and not by choice!

Your work is obviously focused on the fish, but more specifically flats fishing. What is it about fishing culture and skinny water fishing that caused you to almost exclusively focus on fish that frequent the flats?
When it comes to fishing, all I do is fish the flats. Be it redfish, bonefish, snook, tarpon, etc. My favorite fish to catch by far is Bonefish. And redfish comes in second.  Basically what we do down here in South Florida is hunt fish. It’s miles and miles of crystal clear water, a foot deep. One has to know when and where these fish will be, or travel. Sure, one might get lucky and stumble upon the masses, but it barely ever goes that way. And that appeals to me. The hunt. I feel as if trolling lures or bait just doesn’t have that same feeling. I mean, sure. When it comes to offshore stuff, maybe it’s about the fight. But the fight is only half the battle in what we do. Finding the fish, and making a close to perfect presentation is everything. And that’s why I choose to paint these fish. When I’m not physically on the water, my mind is. And I express that through canvas.
With that said, I’ve gone offshore once in my adult life. And I puked the whole time we were out there. So I decided to stick to inshore fishing. My buddies try and tell me to go offshore with them. That we can pick a day thats glass calm. My response to them is that I don’t want to waste a great glassy day offshore when all that will be on my mind is how many tails are waving at that very moment at a flat somewhere in Biscayne Bay/Florida Bay.
How does your everyday life and surroundings effect your outcomes on the canvas? 
Well, my every day life consists of few things. It’s either fishing, painting, editing a video, or riding the mountain bike trails. And my surroundings are paintings, fly rods, and musical instruments. So I guess my mind just wanders from one thing to another. Canvas is just one way of expressing that. whatever mood I’m in. I guess the mood’s I’m in is either bonefish, redfish, tarpon, snook, etc. lol

Some of your paintings are of tails, fins, heads, and different parts of each fish. Do each of these [fish sectional] paintings have a different meaning to you? 
Not necessarily. They’re all just different moments captured and recorded through acrylic and canvas. Of course, seeing a school of bonefish or redfish tailing sure gets the heart pumping more than almost anything. I think the only thing that beats that moment was the first time I saw permit bunched up tailing. But I do try to not have the full fish shown on the canvas. I can’t really explain why. I guess I feel like if you can see the full fish in one canvas, there’s nothing more to look forward to.
When people see your art, what emotions are you hoping to convey to them? 
I just want people to see that moment. Live that moment. Whether it’s a memory of their first of a species, or what it would be like to accomplish that goal. Just connect to it and live that moment.

So far, what has been your favorite piece (or pieces) to create? 
The side view head shot of the tarpon is one of my favorites. That, and the original first two I did. The “redrum” redfish piece, and the bonefish twelve by twelve.

How do you see this project progressing in the future? 
Well, I have began to do larger and larger pieces. I have a collection of blank canvas now that are basically larger scales of the same canvas. I like the proportions. I think that has a lot to do with my artwork. But I will eventually start to get into offshore species. But just the one’s that call my attention.

Any different mediums planned? 
I’ve tossed a few ideas around in my mind. I have some things in the works. I don’t really want to get ahead of myself.

Your work has been gaining allot of popularity in the flats fishing community, do you have any advice for aspiring artists with a similar love for fishing culture? 
Just be yourself. Don’t try to portray someone you’re not, or change who you are because of a little negative feedback. Some people will see things your way, while others will not. And just simply be fine with it. Express yourself the way you feel is right.  Oh, and don’t do something for the money if it’s not who you are or what you want to do. You do what you want and feel is right, the rest will eventually fall in place.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us. If anyone wants to contact you or see your current artwork, how should they get in touch?
Well, on my website, I have all my info displayed on my contact page. From Vimeo, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Email, pretty much everything but MySpace…lol I honestly probably don’t check my email as often as I should, but I’ve made a mental note to do so. Also check out my blog posts and fishing reports over at SkinnyWaterCulture.com get a look at who I am and what I do. www.IamWaseOne.com



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