Look out San Jose, because The Studio has a new manager in town…and he’s not really new at all. If you haven’t met Pete yet, you probably haven’t been climbing at The Studio for very long! Pete’s been with us for over four years, working his way up from belay staff to desk staff; now, he runs the place. But can you say you really know Pete until you know just how many Vans shoes he’s owned? We sat down with The Studio’s new manager to ask him hard-hitting questions just like these. All photos by Lizzi Meyer.
Tell us a bit about yourself! How long have you been working for Touchstone?
Well, my name is Pete. Contrary to popular belief it’s not Steve. (Ask anyone in San Jose about that…) I’m a Boston area native who moved out here on a whim and to pursue my Master’s Degree in web/graphic design. I’ve been working for Touchstone for four years and some change.
Did you get your start at The Studio?
I did get my start at The Studio as belay staff, and I’ve just been climbing upward ever since! There’s a pun in there somewhere.
Do you have a strong connection to San Jose?
I didn’t at first. Moving out of the East Bay and (still) one of my favorite apartments ever, I coincidentally ran into one of my best friends who had just moved to South San Jose for work and had a spare room for the taking. At that point I had started climbing more often at the Studio as I’d already been a Touchstone member for a few years. Right from the get-go the community was so much more profound than any other gym I’d climbed at, on either coast. I’m happy to call many of the people I’ve met through The Studio my very close friends nowadays.
When did you start rock climbing? Ropes or boulders?
Definitely boulders, I’m actually terrified of heights. I hate having to move the letters around on our marquee when they need fixing. I didn’t even know climbing was a thing until after high school, but aside from the heights thing, it was the sport that called to me and it kept me chipping away at my fears.
First multipitch experience was the biggest epic that ever epic’d…Seriously. Little to no trad experience (shout out to Ben Steel for the trad clinic waaay back when!) and we chose Snake Dike up the southwest face of Half Dome as our first go. We made every. Mistake. In the book. And pretty sure some they’ve added to the book since…Forgot headlamps, didn’t bring enough food/water, didn’t have jackets for the long, super windy belays, 20 hours later hiking down past Nevada and Vernal Falls with cell phone lights…worst, longest, best day/night ever.
Diane (The Studio’s former manager) tells me that you’re an artist. Could you tell me a little more about your work? What does your practice look like?
Aside from design, I’m a printmaker. Like climbing, it was the fine art form that spoke to me. Between undergrad and grad school, I always took printmaking as the free elective. Most commonly, I do relief printing, carving layers of images from wood blocks, inking them and putting them through a giant mechanical press. I’ve done etching on copper plates and monoprinting using plastic mylar and plastic plates, creating images like a by-hand version of photoshop with my little stencils and cutouts. I like carving out the wood the best; takes way longer, but it’s way more gratifying when it comes together.
Diane also tells me that you have an impressive Vans shoes collection. How many pairs do you think you’ve owned throughout your lifetime? Do you have a favorite style?
Oh man…lifetime? Over a hundred for sure. Solid colors, patterns, limited edition collabs, slip-ons, eras, authentics, old skools, and most recently ultraranges, most comfortable damn things you can put on a foot. Favorite style would be old skools, I’ve had my black ones for everrrr. However, my favorite pair, hands down, are my Vans x Star Wars Endor/Boba Fett authentics in a pseudo camo green, foresty pattern. Thanks Mom!
Do you have any big goals as The Studio manager?
I definitely have ideas for sure! Trying to revamp the campus board room; it could use some love. Moving some things around, maybe throw some interior design knowledge at the place. There are a lot of big and small things to work on and slowly I hope to have this place looking like everybody’s Studio that they know and love, but with an updated aesthetic so to speak.
What’s your favorite font and why?
Such a good question. Georgia? Probably not favorite favorite, but it’s such a versatile and dependable serif font. Alte Haas Grotesk would probably be it. At a glance it’s another Helvetica clone, but if you zoom in the lines are a little wiggly; it’s grimier than your average sans serif. It’s like if a street artist had to do community service at a Swiss type foundry.
What emoji do you think is missing from the emoji library?
Dang, another good one. I tried to find a typewriter the other day, nada. Like, you have a reel-to-reel projector and an old school, tape-based camcorder. Also, no record player, record or turntable-like emojis…Sup with that?
Anything else you’d like to add?
I love California and at times miss my friends and family in Massachusetts, but here is my home. I love my job and the people I’ve met, but you will never. NEVER hear me say “hella” anything. Not once, not never.
Go Bruins! The Boston ones, be more original UCLA. For real though, Bruins…with the Boston Red Sox B…pffffffffff