By Aaron Zachary
Early morning light filters in through carefully cracked shades to illuminate the walls of Edgar Diaz’s Texas Hill Country workshop. There are homemade pastrami breakfast tacos wrapped in foil meticulously laid out for us on a wooden cutting board with a leather handle, signifying a friendliness not usually reserved for artists allowing you into their inner sanctum. And that’s just what this is – a peaceful studio neatly littered with artwork, leatherworking tools, reference pieces, and even a 10-year-old Australian bearded dragon quietly sunning himself in the corner with a tranquility not unlike his owner’s. “His name is Bronco, he kind of just sits on the rock nowadays.”
Edgar carries quite a few titles lately: fine artist, father, husband, former gallery owner, current business partner, life-long angler, and freshly-minted hunter among many. For today, though, he’s primarily the artist behind Sight Line Provisions, an outdoor goods company specializing in leather pieces blended with a variety of stainless steel “badges”.
“Growing up we used to strap our rods to the top tubes on our mountain bikes, ride the paths along the LA river…you’d throw a little carne asada on the hook and catch bluegills.”
To understand Sight Line is to understand Edgar’s humble passion to be outside. “Growing up we used to strap our rods to the top tubes on our mountain bikes, ride the paths along the LA River…you’d throw a little carne asada on the hook and catch bluegills.”
In the brackish aqueducts, seeing a bass was a big deal, so when he eventually found himself in Texas as an adult, he was as excited by the fishing seemingly everywhere. “I remember early on I was at Costco just fishing a retention pond. I didn’t know anything back then, I don’t know why I thought there was fish in there. A neighbor saw me and called my wife, who called me asking what the hell I was doing!”
In the mid-2000’s, when his personal work was taking him on the art show circuit through the Rockies, Edgar seized every opportunity to stop by a river or creek, even if he was alone or felt out of his element. “I remember getting dirty looks baitcasting out on these probably fly-fishing only Western rivers. But there wasn’t social media back then – it was hard to pick up on all this etiquette and the unspoken rules. At first all I had was the online [TU] boards.”
Naturally, Edgar eventually acquired a thrifted fly rod and started quickly collecting his missing knowledge. “I used to take both my conventional and fly rod, but one day I forgot the conventional, and since then have primarily switched to fly.”
“I remember I used to “baptize” my hats in rivers as I was fishing. Memories get stuck in objects, and you get a common connection to your experiences. It’s like ‘I can’t believe I actually did that’ but you look down at your bracelet and remember all of the adventures you’ve taken even if you’re at the office.”
As art increasingly intertwined with his time outdoors, the mixed-media artist finally merged the two passions in late 2015 by creating a leather bracelet with a small metal trout badge. Sight Line was born. “I remember I used to “baptize” my hats in rivers as I was fishing. Memories get stuck in objects, and you get a common connection to your experiences. It’s like ‘I can’t believe I actually did that’ but you look down at your bracelet and remember all of the adventures you’ve taken even if you’re at the office.”
Edgar went all in, trying to get products into all the fly shops he was already frequenting. “I had an idea for a brand and started calling fly shops. I got to know the industry one shop at a time.”
Edgar describes how the outdoor industry can bring with it a pressure to be an expert about everything, a trap he instinctively avoids. “I started a brand and obviously had to know what I was talking about. Instagram allowed me to immerse myself more in the fishing and hunting world so I could gain that etiquette and become more legit. But I had to be okay saying I don't know about something, because that’s how you learn – just do what you do, and it’ll all work out.”
Two years ago, well into Sight Line’s life, Edgar struck a key friendship with Josh Crumpton of Spoke Hollow Outfitters that opened up the world of hunting. Early group dove hunts soon equipped him with the skills to head out there on his own. “You gain confidence, and your role in the group shifts after you figure things out on your own for the first time.” After only a few years, Edgar’s patented relaxed tenacity has allowed him to harvest deer, hunt teal, track wild blue quail, and most recently, pursue woodcocks through the woods of Vermont.
Straddling the cast and blast world of Central Texas, Edgar found himself utilizing Duck Camp gear in the field and around town.”Both brands are driven to do things we like for our own style. That’s interesting, I really like that.” Having always been one to personalize things, Edgar began playing with spare Duck Camp camo fabric on his own. “Duck Camp’s full scope gear…identifies you as this is what I like to do and that’s what Sight Line is about.”
That same determination Edgar brings to the outdoors, has helped the two brands partner on a small selection of leather products, including new shotgun cuffs. “It’s exciting to be a part of another community, like getting plugged in with a new hunting or fishing group.”
Hunters and anglers are a sentimental type. We put antlers and recreations on the wall. Half of us seem to be professional photographers. What we do is naturally fleeting. The Sight Line workshop is not exempt from this – there are fly pucks from shops out west, aggressive thistles from last year’s upland excursions, and artwork depicting everything from trout to quail everywhere. But Edgar doesn’t think your memories should just stay at home, thoughtfully strung up on the wall, he believes they can also be carried with you in a piece of considered leather and metal.