MYSTIC // MOUNTAIN is an experimental project by climber, artist, and California native Stephen Brooks. The concept explores the psyche of our relationship to the mountains, the magic of our landscapes, and it carries on a tradition of outdoors lore passed through the decades.

All sales from the project support the continued development of Stephen’s art.

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Meet the artistStephen Brooks Photo-min (1)

Stephen is an artist, teacher, and climber based in San Luis Obispo, California. When he’s not climbing, he’s either drawing or exploring the outdoors. You can see more of his work by following Stephen on Instagram.

Share about the early inspiration and influences that contributed to the artist you are today.

As a kid, I got really into punk rock and DIY culture, which was influenced by my older brothers. I think this alternative culture lead me to read books by [Jack] Kerouac, poetry by Gary Snyder, and works by Edward Abbey.

Reading a lot of books in high school got me interested in outdoors lore and the mountains being this bigger-than-life idea. And I listened to music by Bob Dylan, Conor Oberst, June Madrona, and The Tallest Man on Earth, which really influenced my perspective.

I was also into niche things like street art and hobo graffiti. I think it was just a natural progression to get into rock climbing because I was always looking for adventure—things that are out of the mainstream.

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Could you walk us through your design process?

I don’t typically draw from real life. I like to go places and absorb imagery and ideas, then I draw based on my memory and imagination. It leads to the dreamy qualities of my work.

Usually, I’ll do a preliminary sketch with a sketchbook and I might do a more complex drawing afterward. I’ll then take a photo and scan it into my computer. The final drawings are done in Photoshop, which I love because I like to work quickly and if I make mistakes I can easily go back and correct them.

A photo posted by Stephen Brooks (@stxbrooks) on

A photo posted by Stephen Brooks (@stxbrooks) on

What tools/programs are you using?

Pen, paper, Photoshop, and a Wacom Tablet.

Are your designs just entertainment? Or is there something deeper to them—a message you hope to convey?

I get excited about images, but I’m not necessarily trying to convey anything. It’s more just anxieties or dreams or fears that I have. I’m sort of anxious, so sometimes they’re an expression of dread. Other times they’re things I wish I could do.

Finish this sentence: When I’m not drawing, I’m …

Climbing, running, hiking, and wandering around.

Do you hope to make art a full-time career?

On Off Belay-minI haven’t really considered it until recently; but, I think I’d like to be an elementary school teacher in the long-run.

Tell us about your background in climbing. When did climbing and art begin to overlap?

My exposure to climbing began in Joshua Tree when I was in my teens. I didn’t seriously start climbing until a few years ago at my local gym and I took a few sport climbing classes there, which then led to outdoor climbing in southern California. I climbed at Mt. Rubidoux, Big Bear and New Jack City in the Mojave—later on at Tahquitz.

From the start, I started making art about climbing. It translated right away from my other work.

Do you have a specific design or project you’re particularly proud of?

I really like working in a physical medium, with my hands. I did a few projects of self-portraits—carving into wood and printing. But more recently, I am proud of the piece Mountains in the Palm of My Hand. It is simple, but I feel like it is a strong image.

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Does art play a factor in your approach to rock climbing?

I don’t think so. I’m a very tentative, cautious person. Oftentimes, my art reflects grandiose, extreme forms of rock climbing that I don’t necessarily practice. I’m cautious when I climb, whereas my art will oftentimes depict things like free soloing.

Are there any specific destinations or landscapes that provide the most inspiration for your designs?

Definitely the desert. I love the color, the contrast, the red rocks, the yellow lichen, the black varnish. There are so many colors—and I love how stark and barren the California desert can be. Also, the natural landscape around Riverside is a very bleak sort of place with a lot of rock—I kind of like that.

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Get MYSTIC // MOUNTAIN apparel and more

A portion of each sale goes directly to Stephen and the continued development of his art. Show your support and pick up one of these limited edition items.

1-week special: free US shipping on all orders

Free US shipping will be offered at checkout. International shipping is also available.

Tower Solace – $27

Estimated time to ship: 1 week. Order now for limited time free shipping.

Buy Men's Black White Button

Buy Women's Black White Button

About the design

“To me, there is a sense of isolation and calmness that the southwestern desert embodies. Steph Davis has been hugely influential, and in one of her videos she speaks about embracing fear and not ignoring it. That was a powerful idea to me, and I wanted to portray a figure alone, in a dangerous position but also at peace.”

Dueling Quickdraws – $20

Estimated time to ship: 1 week. Order now for limited time free shipping.

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About the design

“I grew up watching cheesy westerns … the pun was just too fun to ignore.”

Mystic Mountain – $27

Estimated time to ship: 1 week. Order now for limited time free shipping.

Close Up Black

Men's Mystic Mountain Rock Climbing T Shirt

Buy Men's Black White Button

Buy Women's Black White Button

About the design

“I was playing with the idea of mountains being these massive things, but at the same time at the will of people. The hands cradling the mountains show respect, and that we play a major role in preserving them.”

Once I had mountains in the palm of my hand … but I threw it all away. — Bob Dylan.

We’d like to extend a big thanks to Stephen for working with us on our first artist collaboration. Have your own art to share? Don’t hesitate to contact us—we’d love to work with you.

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