Gritty Arts by Steven Lombardi

posted by Nicoletta Rolla October 4, 2017 0 comments
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About twelve years ago you buy your first screen printing kit and you begin to realize  the t-shirts you sell to your friends. How much of what you are today looks like  the dream you had?


Haha man going back 12 yrs ago I was so naive about the whole process of making shirts and building a brand. 

There was no youtube videos or social networks of artist to help tell you how its done . You needed to know an actual screen printer and I didn’t.  I would actually just draw my art on the screen and fill it in by hand, throw a tee shirt down, make a mess and  just go to town.  The dream back then was to make rad shirts for my buddies and I. We were a bunch of punk/artist/street/skate kids so DIY was the way.

That mentally/spirit and dream still carries on today. I no longer print the shirts myself though, we have professionals handle that end of the process. The dream is and always will be to have as much fun as possible and provide t-shirts that are art driven.  




The culture of skateboarding and surfing has always influenced your art and is a constant in Gritty Arts but also the place where you live is for you a source of great inspiration, right?


Growing up I was always emerged and inspired by skating/surfing and music.

I started skating at very young age so that opened the doors to punk music, lowbrow and street art.

As an artist this always fueled and influenced me.

I feel every where Iv lived has definitely added some flavor to my work at the time. Ive bounced around a bit from growing up in Rhode Island, living in a tattoo shop in New York, couch surfing in Cocoa Beach, jumping around from Orange County to LA down to San Diego and starting a family in Capistrano Beach. Through all these moves Ive had the opportunity to work with some amazing companies in the skate/surf and music industry. 

Being in Capo Beach and San Clemente is so rad, there is so much history and culture over here.  Being able to still see old 50s painted store signage, amazing surf spots, hot rods daily, its an amazing source of inspiration.






Your style resumes the classical art of cartoons, graffiti, skate culture, but your illustrations are complex, real artworks that make every piece original, isn’t it?


It really just goes back to the begining I was always a huge fan of cartoons,comics, street art , skate and surf culture etc.

I lived and breathed all of these things growing up and still do, so I was always exploring styles and techniques.  From painting under a bridge with a couple spray cans, fine art painting on canvas,working in a tattoo shop being asked draw everything in every kind of style, and being an in-house illustrator at skateboard and music companies.

It turns you into a Frankenstein in a way or a rat rod. You end up building yourself and style from all these different worlds, artist and parts. Where you have some recognized parts but when you add it with this ,that and whatever, you end up with something unique and some may view as complex.

The majority of my illustrations are completely original but I do occasionally tip my hat and pay homage to an artist or works of art that have inspired me on my journey.



Briefly tell me what are the steps to make a Gritty Arts t-shirt.


Im always exploring old vintage photos, comics, artist, movies, car shows, everything I can get my hands on really that speaks to me, the brand and vibe of Gritty Arts. 

I end up will a wall of inspiration and things tacked up in the art studio. Thats when I start putting it through the art filter and thinking of ways to create originally pieces that capture the essence and spirit of everything.

Adding Gritty Arts story and voice to the ball of yarn that has been passed around. Breathing new life into these relics. I begin making cuts from the board until I’m looking at some of the strongest pieces. Thats when I begin creating my concepts and letting my imagination have fun.

Sometimes a sketch will go straight to ink and ready to be printed on a shirt while others will be played with until I believe its a solid t-shirt design. 

Ive had some art just sit for some time and then see something or a way it can be executed better, thats always interesting.

I want Gritty Arts t-shirts to jump out at you, to be fun, to have edge, not just a logo but expression through art.  Im not in the business of creating uniforms and stamping my logo on everything, I truly am passionate about the art and thats what I want to reconnect the culture with.  So its important taking the right steps to make that happen and not cutting corners. 





What has been the most satisfying moment in these years?


Oh man its crazy to say but some of the most satisfying times have been the growth pains and getting over obstacle in front of me at the time. There have been some very difficult times and stress/ unexpected events and everything in between of things not turning out how you want. I

’ve wanted to give up so many times, but theres that fire inside that doesn’t let me or allow me to back down.

That mentally I grew up with that nobodies going to tell me what I can and can’t do only I can decide that. If I had listen to most people I would be dead, I would be another statistic, never would of worked for some of the companies I worked for etc. 

Getting sober. Its winning those mental battles and getting those small victories that are so satisfying. The “ Im still here, and I will find a way” attitude no matter how hard and crumby it is at the time.

The real GRIT. Not going to lie though it puts a huge smile on my face when people reach out and compliment the brand and art work being produced.

Thats extremely satisfying when your hard work and efforts is recognized and embraced. 




What is  the most enjoyable aspect of your work and what is the most difficult one?


Coming up with the concepts, ideas, visions and dreams for Gritty Arts .

I love using my imagination and coming up with endless possibilities. Man I could do that all day but it gets down to the execution part where I have fun as well and actually seeing things go from concept to reality is the most enjoyable.

Thinking of an idea and then seeing it through, I love it.

I honestly try to embrace when things feel difficult and try not even to use that word. I know when something is difficult that Im working on making progress and growth and doing something Im not use to.

I don’t think you should ever feel comfortable or have things always be easy, those difficult moments are what mold you and make you in the long run. If you have never experienced it and then do, man that can take you out all together, so try to  feel blessed that things are hard at the moment.





The Moto culture is it inspiring for your art? What is your relationship with the two wheels?


Truthfully I don’t have a real relationship with two wheels, Im more of a 4 wheel kinda guy haha.

I have a respect and appreciation for the Moto culture though and admire those that build and ride.  Custom bikes and choppers are super rad and I love checking them out when I can. 

I dig drawing bikes and Ive had the the opportunity to work with some global companies in the moto world and that was really rad. The idea of owning a bike and cruising around sounds amazing but Iv never actually ridden a bike beside the ones with pedals and I was ok at that. 






What are you working on?


Everything haha.

Wearing numerous hats right now so Im working a lot.

I have new t-shirts I will be introducing. We are working on bringing the brand into some store fronts so we are in the process of hiring some sales reps and possibly bringing on some other people to help grow the company in the right direction. 



Any future projects or artistic plans you can share with us?


Some of the stuff in the works I can’t make public yet. What I can tell you  though is we will begin working with more artist, brands and events…



Where can we follow and shop Gritty Arts? 

You can follow us on Instagram @GRITTYARTS and check out or website/online shop at GRITTYARTS.COM

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