Category: Features

Atlas x Mark Suciu | Cross Continental

Let’s get a bit of history about Atlas in here to start off with. I’ve read that you guys started in 2007: what inspired you to open up? With everything heading to online in recent years, it’s really nice to see physical stores still opening up.

Ryen Motzek: Yup, May of 2007 is when the doors opened. I myself have always been into retail. I worked for the Gap as a teenager and then got a job at Deluxe San Mateo. My biz partner Mike Manidis has deep roots in skating, was AM for New Deal, ran a skate camp during the summer, and we both thought it would be fresh to get something good going here.

There’s something about the retail experience that when done well is really cool and fun. Skateboarding being the best thing ever only makes that experience that much better (good music, classic skate videos, good product and an anti-corporate environment).

San Francisco has always been an iconic and important place for skaters, especially to us guys overseas. We had our own scenes, but we all tried to emulate what was going on over there as well. The whole EMB era was pretty significant to us. How have things changed since that time in SF? When Embarcadero went, did the scene become more disjointed?

When EMB shut down, everyone headed over to Pier 7. That lasted about 8 years. San Francisco has definitely made an effort to make spots skate proofed. Security guards are everywhere, and most new buildings come out with skate stoppers or random object in the way of ledges, rails, and other things to skate.

However, every now and then a great spot will pop up, and I will say it feels just like the old days. People from all over heading to that particular spot to get it in while it lasts. I’d say that the Bay Area in general is the spot. For example, something will pop up in Oakland, and folks from all over the Bay will head over there. Caltrain DIY R.I.P.

SF is also renowned for the quality of skate stores. You’ve got places like FTC and Skates on Haight (who I used to hit up for stickers and tees back in the early ’90s), spots like DLX and (the sadly gone) HUF… and then other core places such as yourselves. Is it a competitive environment to work in? Or does everyone look out for each other?

I’d say that SF is a VERY competitive place, which is why we decided to do our shop right out side of the city in downtown San Mateo. It’s a great place, with a thriving skate scene, and is plenty away from other shops.

Atlas seems to occupy a pretty unique area: you’ve got the core brands and support your local scene, but you’ve got a great ‘art’ side to the business that seems to add to your business, rather than just existing as a token ‘cool thing’ to have. What inspired you to represent the creative side so much at Atlas?

Our goal is to put focus on the art of skateboarding, rather than the sport. There are enough things going on, such as big dollar contests, mall stores, television and other activities that do not pay much attention to the creativity involved with the lifestyle of a skateboarder. Skateboarders have a unique way of looking at life.


Who are some of the artists that you have represented and showcased at Atlas? Have you always created products to accompany these exhibitions?

Ryen Motzek: We have showcased the art of Greg Hunt, Joe Brook, Matt Irving, Mark Gonzales, and Allister Lee.

We always have product to go along with the exhibitions. We also do artist decks with those that we greatly respect but don’t always have a function tied into the project.

Let’s talk about your local skaters and the Atlas team (if there is one!). Has that grown much from your opening days? How do you support your local skate community?

There are plenty of locals; it’s actually pretty crazy how many are in the Bay Area. In regards to our “team”, we rather consider it as something else.. Perhaps just family, or “supporters”.

How did the Cross Continental project come about? I caught a glimpse of it online, which is what led me to contacting you in the first place: it’s not that often you see something so impressive come from a collaboration between a skater, his sponsor and his local store. What was the initial idea for doing this project?

Being that Mark Suciu has been down with Atlas since day one, it seemed like a proper fit to do something with Habitat.

We had a ton of great footy, and wanted to make it a little more special that just an online release. We did a premiere at the shop, and created a limited run of decks with Habitat for the premiere. We’re hyped on how it all turned out, and the reaction to Mark’s part was amazing.

Let’s kick off with a few basics: how long have you been skating and who are your current sponsors?

Mark Suciu: I’ve been skating for 11 years and I ride for Atlas Skateshop, Habitat shoes and boards, Thunder Trucks, Sml. Wheels, and Ruca Clothing.

How long have you been part of the Atlas crew? Are you local to the store?

I’ve been with Atlas since February of 2008. I always go to the shop when I’m on my way up to SF, and whenever I need to solve some board issues or just want to hang out.

The first time I became fully aware of you and your skating would have been in the Habitat video, ‘Origin’. But having read a few things since then, you rode for Powell and Alien, right? Before you got hooked up, did you ever have any aspirations to ride for anyone in particular? Or was that never really part of your aim in skating?

Yeah, I started riding for Powell when I was 13 and left to go somewhere else when I was 16. I didn’t have anyone hitting me up, but at that time I was starting to think it might be possible to get on a company I’d always wanted to ride for.

When I was younger I wasn’t thinking so much about what boards I wanted to ride, it was more like which group of skaters I dreamed about hanging out with. And that was pretty much always the Alien team. So I waited it out a couple months and before I knew it I was getting boards from Kalis. I was so psyched. Even though they eventually switched me to Habitat and I didn’t get to skate with those guys, it was still so amazing to me.

I don’t think I threw my board the entire time they were sending me stuff, all I had to do if I was getting mad was look at the graphic and I’d be stoked.

After ‘Origin’, it seems that you racked up a steady stream of coverage, but before that, you had a lot of online footage that people often refer to. Has filming always been a pretty consistent part of your life?

Mark Suciu: Yeah, I’ve been filming tricks ever since my parents got a Hi-8 camera when I was ten, so it’s always felt natural. I guess it’s a kind of a fascination I have with the progression side of it.

Let’s get to the recent ‘Cross Continental’ project. How long was this in the pipeline? Who came up with the idea of travelling across the US as the background thread for the film?

That footage was from somewhere around November 2010 to the end of Nov 2011, and the two cross country drives were in August and Nov of 2011.   

It started as just a solo Atlas part that I could put out whenever and make exactly how I wanted. Near the end of the filming I talked to Habitat and they said they wanted to back it and that it needed a name. The footage we had already told the story of the cross country missions, so I think it was Joe Castrucci that tagged the name Cross Continental on it. There was really no planning it out. 

How did the ‘On The Road’ clip tie in with everything?

That was just all the footage of the preliminary tricks at the spot. We were kind of just warming up with the HD and  then switching to the VX. Also, as it was a Field Log edit, it helped foot the bill for a couple of our hotels.

‘Cross Continental’ had the feel of some of the older videos that I’ve always liked. Alien’s ‘Memory Screen’ or ‘Photosynthesis’ spring to mind. Putting less emphasis on cutting-edge visuals and more focus on raw skating: The lack of any slow motion really gave it a high level of re-watch factor for me. Did you get involved with the editing or contribute ideas towards the filming at all?

I wasn’t at the editing table, but I knew all of my ideals were. My friend Miguel Valle, who filmed it, grew up with a lot of the same inspiration as I have, so we’re definitely on the same page. We would talk constantly throughout the process. I chose the first song and was picky as hell with the tricks, and he took it all from there.

Everyone who’s mentioned the film has talked about the switch backside noseblunt on the rail and the frontside varial heel into the fountain at Love Park. I really like the quick-fire bank-to-stair tricks and the line that opens with the backside 180 fakie nosegrind (which I think is at Love). Were there any other particular things that that you were really pleased to get for the video?

I would say the longer line at the SF Library and that bigspin into the rock in San Jose are my favorites. That line was probably the most thought out clip in the part and also the most exhausting. I nearly threw up after the first two hours. And the bigspin I had wanted to do the whole year I was filming; it ended up being the last trick I filmed for the part.

The accompanying Habitat board was really nice too: did you know that was coming out when the video clip was launched? Is this technically your debut pro board?

When Habitat joined in they told me about it, and I got to see the first draft of the graphic in November. I’m so psyched to have it, and also to be the reason that Atlas and Habitat got together. But no, it’s not a pro board.

What have you got planned for the rest of 2012? Anything we should be watching out for?

My friend Justin Albert and I are putting out an all San Jose part with some homies. It should be out really soon. (editor: you can check that video here!)

Other than that, I’ll be travelling around from coast to coast, just filming and enjoying it.

C.R. Stecyk x Hurley | Fin

Trashfilter: I grew up skating here in the UK in the 1980s: the first time I would’ve been aware of your work would have been around the time of the early Bones Brigade videos. The Bones Brigade Video Show, Future Primitive, Animal Chin… those had a huge impact on us here.

Being so distanced from what was going on in the US, we knew we were missing out on a lot of the important events of the past. Some of us managed to piece it all together over time, but I would think that a lot of today’s skaters here were brought up to speed with the Dogtown film. Were you guys aware of the international impact you’d had decades before that film came out?

CR Stecyk: Crews of international denizens would come through the Zephyr shop so in a sense there was a tinge of awareness. But in those early days everyone was just trying to get equipment that worked. I don’t think anybody thought much about movements, public awareness of the activity or the longevity of it.

We really wanted to build a new business model to get into these product and distribution areas, and we thought it was a good idea to build a bridge for the consumer to extend the relationship with our brand to an new environment and sport while still playing to our core skills. The idea to work with Burton was a natural one, as a market leader, we wanted to partner with a brand that brought the same level of impact. Burton is the leader and arguably the founder of snowboarding, as we are in the world of sports. In the end I think Burton also felt like a natural fit, as they seek to push opportunities to extend their brand into the street in an impactful way.

When I think back to us skating with our little homegrown scene back in 1985 or 86, scrawling ‘Dogtown’ or ‘Locals Only’ on our salvaged decks, it makes me smile now. We were clueless, but we knew something was going on. The passing around of the term ‘DIY Culture’ is something I’ve picked up on recently – after all, the media love to label everything – but surely it was just a way of life for you guys back then. If you don’t have it, you make it. And then you use it. When did you start foraging to make your own skateboards and surfboards?

Scavenging and repurposing were the rule. I came of age in the late ‘50s. This was during the steel wheeled roller skates nailed to 2” x 4” pieces of wood phase. There weren’t any skateboard products yet. I would make the rounds of the alleys looking for scraps of wood, cast off roller skates and shoes. Oak dresser drawer fronts provided usable blanks. Good shoes were difficult to come by. One day I came up on some great used Converse Deck Stars in the refuse piles down where the yachtsmen came ashore. Apparently the well-outfitted crews tossed out any soiled shoes because they were an affront to the Commodore and the yacht club member’s refined sensibilities. That discovery served me well for many years! Fish guts and grease only served to make free skate shoes that much better.

Film and cinema have always been a part of surfing and skating, but now it’s far more exposed to a mainstream audience. The angry teenager in me still wants to shake my head solemnly, but the reality is that a lot of money has been put into showcasing great unseen skaters and encouraging younger kids to start skating. Do you think the involvement of big brands and media outlets has diluted things down? Or should we all be taking advantage of it after being shunned for so long?

Marketing titans try to quantify the efforts and accomplishments of individuals in order to reduce autonomous beings and independent action into acceptable commodities. Intelligent one-off design solutions force fed into mass production cookie cutters do not a renaissance make. Technology today allows films to be made and distributed on cell phones and operas to be created entirely on tabletops. You can foster revolution from a mobile base. Because of this anyone can do everything themselves from anywhere. Command and control structures are resistant to this groundswell of change, but there is nothing they can do. Ateliers will proliferate as a result. The best playground is already the gutter and the best art is on the avenues. So big brands are doomed to succeed or fail on their own merits. They cannot corral the activity or adapt it to suit their own purposes. Skaters control their individual fates. I think this unbridled information exchange is healthy. Skating evolves and always prevails.

Trashfilter: You’ve worked with Lance Mountain on a few things, but clearly your friendship with him goes way back. When did you guys first meet?

CR Stecyk: Back in the proto Varibunch days, I used to hang with Richard Armijo at his backyard ramp and he introduced us. Lance, John Lucero and Armijo used to have a real affection for the parking lot at the Whittier skatepark. Their runs there were far more interesting in my estimation than the controlled activities in the park proper. So we all shared this cognitive dissonance.

Eventually Mountain and I were thrown into the Bones Brigade mélange via Stacy Peralta’s social experiment. Currently it is several decades later and Lance and I continue to grapple with the issues of l’enterrement des jouets.

One of the best recent collaborative projects I’ve seen in recent years was the Nike project you were involved in with Lance. As far as I’m concerned, the moment they signed Lance up to the SB programme, it confirmed that the right people were doing this. Seeing your artwork on the shoes just rounded it off. How was that project for you to work on? An easy process? Were you pleased with the results and the reception?

Working with Lance is always a pleasure. My involvement with Nike dates back to 1966 when they opened the Blue Ribbon Sports shop on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica. I had shot photos of some of the local track and field athletes. Jeff Johnson, who ran the shop, put some of them up on the store wall. It was Johnson who later had the infamous visionary dream which led to them naming the company Nike. As things worked out, I tried skating in some early BRS trainers. They had great soles that were nice and sticky, but the nylon sidewalls were not terribly abrasion resistant.

During this period I got to interact periodically with Coach Bowerman, Phil Knight and some of the early Nike heads. Sidney Wicks was a talented baller at Santa Monica College when I went there, and our respective girlfriends hung out. So I had an insider’s perspective on his deal. He went on to UCLA where Coach John Wooden proclaimed Sidney the “most naturally talented player that he had ever coached.” Wicks then joined the Portland Trail Blazers where he earned the Rookie of the Year award. Nike had been watching his develop since high school and they sponsored him and that begat the first Blazer in 1972. I skated in those and BINGO. They had great soles, ankle protection and some lateral support. So due to this I always had an informal relationship with Nike and got to work on various projects. Mr. Mountain knew this from back in the days when he, Neil Blender and I used to buy up dead stock Air Jordan 1’s to skate in.

When Lance got on with NSB we decided to do the orange collabs, a film and so forth. It was a great interlude. Over the years I’ve been fortunate to be involved with a number of other interestingly varied endeavors with Nike. Aqua Socks with Laird Hamilton, Stages with Lance Armstrong, murals with Jason Maloney, Savier with Sandy Bodecker, Shaun White and Aaron Astorga, SB with Hunter Muraira, Michael Leon and Kevin Imamura, SF boot development, museum exhibitions with Jason “Sidewalk” Cohn, Phantom projects with Mark Parker and the Hurleys. I also collaborated with Lebron James on another classic project which produced some very forward and different boots. These days I experiment with Omar Salazar up in the Stockton Kitchen.

Trashfilter: What does your day-to-day life entail these days? Have artistic endeavors taken over your skating and surfing time – or do you still take time out to go for a roll around?

CR Stecyk: Tinkering about is my typical occupation. There aren’t any rules to it beyond staying interested. I meander through things and generally make a mess. Specific purpose built equipment has been known to result from these forays. I don’t regard any of the above as being art related per se. Such aesthetic values are conferred by the viewer. When you screw up bad it can all end up in a marble mausoleum or the trash receptacle. Each is a worthy temple. I favor sitting in the last seat on the short bus where there is no particular route. So surfing, skating, bikes are perennial standard deployments.

How did you get involved with the good folk at Hurley? Is your new film – which we’ll get to shortly – part of a long-term working relationship between you both?

I originally met Bob Hurley via surfboard building. His shapes were always thought provoking and he sponsored several riders that I was close to. So over years we eventually indexed on various projects. There is an open art atelier, a recording studio and a shaping facility that the Hurley brothers and sons maintain where they invite different people to come in and work.

My film Fin reflects that unstructured architecture both literally and figuratively. It is intended to evoke the feeling of getting lost in the woods when you wander off the trail to Grandmother’s house. More precisely when I was working in Hurley’s recording space I began a dialogue with individuals like Mike Ness and SxDX, the Honey Badgers, Steve Alba and the Powerflex Five, Julian Ness and the Breakdowns. I tend to film everyday and had captured images of these aforementioned talents.

Another major mover in the evolution of Fin is Jason Maloney whose studio I was sleeping in down there in the previously described creative compound in Costa Mesa’s Velcro Valley. I awoke from one such slumber to have Maloney spontaneously declare, “You should make a movie out of what you do every day.” So I did, Fin is a musing on non-aligned innovation and adaptation. The previously mentioned musicians provided the score and are also profiled on screen. Tyler Hatzikian and Roland Sands are also prime contributors to Fin, and I spend considerable time in their maisons du fabrication. What you see is what we all get after.

What’s forthcoming from the House of Stecyk for the rest of 2012 and beyond?

Fin is scheduled to roll out to H Spaces in Tokyo, San Sebastian, Sao Paulo, Sydney, Bali and Cape Town. I am also involved with a three hundred plus mile per hour motorcycle project with RSD, and separate developmental surfboard composite construction projects at Tyler Surfboards and with the Hurley Brothers and Sons. Gallery exhibitions that I will be doing include Devil’s Highway at 225 Forest in Laguna Beach and Juxtapoz Turns 18 at Copro Fine Arts in Santa Monica, California.

There is also a film made by Stacy Peralta that I have work therein and also appear. It is called Bones Brigade; An Autobiography , and it just debuted at Sundance and the Santa Barbara Film Festival. There is a tour being developed that would involve further premieres etc. for that.

Trashfilter: Your new short film, Fin… tell us about that. I’ve read notes online, watched the trailer and tried to clue myself up on what’s happening here, but it needs the master’s voice to bring it to life for me. ‘Amorphous and always evolving‘ (taken from the press release) sounds like the nature of skating and boardsports in general.

CR Stecyk: Fin has no beginning or end and is adaptable and expandable. It is not a product it is more of an experience that morphs as it lives. It reflects the artisan atelier culture that my associates inhabit. Fin will conceptually continue to change and adapt as further people discover it and recombine its elements. Mathematically it has already received enough basal exposure on the Internet that its eventual aggregate audience is infinite.

This is the nature of a viral art form, it inevitably transforms from the initial millions of impressions into an entity of its own choosing that inperceivably inhabits the firmament which encompasses all.


Trashfilter: How did you get to the role of Art Director at Hurley? Was there an already-present interest in the scene that Hurley is part of? Did you study any particular subject to get into the industry?

Jason Maloney: . I worked for Disney as an artist for 10 years when Hurley approached me. Being a fine artist and a commercial production artist, Hurley tapped me to put some of my artwork on t-shirts and board shorts years ago. After that successful launch of my Hurley collaboration, I started to establish a relationship of sorts. I started to inject my years of Disney experience and knowledge into the brand retail environments such and window displays, stickers featuring my signature artwork and point of purchase displays. Hurley did have a pre existing art component; all I did was expand it.

Hurley, as a brand, has a long history in the surf and action sports world. How difficult is it to try and keep to the roots of the brand whilst still addressing market trends and keeping an eye on the scene’s current developments? I don’t surf myself (the UK isn’t ideal!), but I’d imagine that the surfing scene has changed as much as skateboarding has since the 1970s.

Funny, I don’t surf either…in fact I’m terrified of the water. Hurley maintains consistent brand messages while still doing cool relevant artist partnerships by tapping artist that are connected to the action sports world via surfing and or skateboarding.

How did the project with C.R. come about? Are collaborations a big part of Hurley’s core proposal in 2012? Are there any other things that we should keep an eye out for?

CR Stecyk and myself have been friends for years. So I jumped at the opportunity to work on a project together. I did however suggest that he do a film because it was something that would better fit the H Space Gallery here on the Hurley campus. We are not a gallery per say…H Space is more of an experience…a ride if you will. Each artist that we work with that shows in that space is challenged to think outside his or her comfort zone and do more than just hanging pictures on the wall. Since the lobby of Hurley connects right into H Space, it made sense to me to turn H Space into a movie theater and to then turn the Hurley lobby into the lobby of the theater. I like to use the word partnership as opposed to collaboration…because that’s really what it is. The artists in which we do these larger projects with become part of the family. It’s not just about putting artwork on a t-shirt anymore.

Is there much variation in the different market territories for Hurley’s products? I used to work in a skate shop and we’d see a small amount of the surf-related items, but these would usually be aimed at the summer and holiday customers: the rest of the year, people were looking for sweats and jackets. Do you notice a big difference in what’s popular in different countries – and do you design specifically for those consumers?

I cannot speak for the design team but from what I can gather is that we are a Southern California based surf company. Our key products are hats, t-shirts, outer wear and board shorts….we also have a Hurley Europe, Japan and Australia based offices so you tell me.

What other projects can we expect to see from Hurley – and yourself – in the near future?

Well, myself and CR Stecyk along with 50 other artists will be showing in ‘Juxtapoz Magazine Turns 18!’ Group Art Show at Copro Nason Gallery in Santa Monica, March 24th, 8-11:30pm. Craig is also continuing to film daily…adding more content to the ever-growing story of ‘FIN’. Also, Hurley has some plans for him as well with our design team in the near future as well so be on the look out.

Futura 2000 | Expansions 2012

Trashfilter: So, are you still in your studio in Brooklyn? Last time I came to see you, you had that nice place over in Brooklyn… You had this amazing coffee table of military memorabilia that you’d compiled into a 3D montage…

Futura: The Stash studio! All gone… all gone. All archived and in storage! I transitioned from there and I’ve just got a new studio and place to work in the city: it’s just a painting studio. Not an office or anything any more, as I can do all that from home. That old neighbourhood in Brooklyn has really changed since you were last there. Everyone is living out there now and it became this ‘escape Manhattan’ destination – it’s on fire, in terms of traffic and people and shops. Totally transformed from what it was.

Would you say that a lot of things have drastically changed since that period? I’ve watched the whole ‘street art’ movement rear its head since then. I’ve witnessed multiple bad dealings with various galleries, watched people jump onto what they consider to be graffiti, had valuable pieces stolen from exhibitions, cringed at shoddy stenciled pieces all pushing the same imagery… And, worst of all, I’ve watched veterans and who I consider to be genuine and worthy writers and artists get totally overlooked. Finally, it seems to be settling down now that the bubble has burst for some of the less-deserving chancers out there. And, to me, it’s good to see people like KAWS still at the top of the tree.

So, when we first met that was in the offices near Carnaby Street (the original Unorthodox Styles/U-Dox offices) – and that was pre the whole streetwear/lifestyle/culture market explosion. All the sneakers/clothing/whatever thing took over and got totally overexposed for a while.

Now it’s a good time for me to slip back in somehow. And these guys here – at Galerie Jérôme de Noirmont – seem very committed. This year is going to mark a real transition for me to start anew. I have this new studio in New York, I have this show here in Paris and these guys who are new investors in my work and my future. I’ve seen what’s going on and it’s awesome but all of what’s happening in the ‘street art’ spectrum can only help me in the end. I don’t want to be critical of it even if there are some people who I can’t help being critical of, if you know what I mean! Normally, I just try to embrace the whole thing so it can continue and some other people can get some opportunities off it too.

And, hey Brian (KAWS) gets paid!

Yeah, but to me he was always a graffiti writer first. When I met and interviewed him for Spinemagazine in 2004, I was fully aware of his solid letter styles, billboard batterings and pioneering bus stop advertisement adventures. He went out and did all of that off his own back and he’s a talented individual. And, you know what? He was the nicest and most humble guy I could have wanted to chat with. If I had the money, I’d buy his work all day long, not just because I like it but because I respect what he does.

Exactly: Brian is an amazing artist. He was clever enough to push certain elements of his work and iconography and make it totally work for him.

But I’d say that you did that even before he did with what you were doing with your own figures and icons. When we last spoke, you mentioned that you were moving away from painting your Pointmen figures because you didn’t want to get typecast for that very small part of your artistic arsenal…

I still am leaning away from that. Perhaps for personal requests or signings, but less so for the exhibition work.

Yeah – I’d noticed that in this exhibition there were no real characters in your new pieces, other than some of the atom icons.

That’s right: there’s nothing. And that’s the thing… It’s really hard too because it seems to be something that somebody wants. But the people here were very open for me to do what I wanted to do. I can still see things like that coming up again in the future, but where I am now, it’s not something that I particularly want to put out there in public right now.

My operation in Japan with Futura Laboratories… After everything that happened in Fukushima, I felt so bad that I just wanted to put my business in retreat for a minute. I didn’t want my staff guys out there feeling pressured about MY thing when they’re all dealing with that. How insignificant was my stuff in comparison, y’know? It’s good to put things in perspective and realise that my thing doesn’t really matter right now, so chill for a minute and take care of your lives. My operation over there has been really good and made sure I was able to put a few dollars in my pocket, but things are going to have to change slightly. Over the past decade I wasn’t really out there trying to do this (painting). I found other ways to make loot in the meantime.


Trashfilter: A lot of the more recent ‘street art’ exhibitions were never that interested in what had happened 15-20 years previously. I knew that you, amongst a very small group of other writers out there today, had been exhibiting since the early ’80s or exploring other avenues, such as working with Agnes B who helped launch you in France…

Futura: Big time. I mean, she’s not a collector: she is what I would term an investor. There are people out there who collect to invest – and I mean that in a positive way towards the artists – but they’re not just there to buy work. They’re there to help you to continue to create stuff.

That’s complimentary to you, isn’t it?

Oh, it is. And Agnes B been one of the biggest patriots of my work. And this is one example of how France has been really good to me. Paris has always been big for me. Many of the French writers and the New Yorkers who transplanted here in the late ’80s have found some opportunities through her.

At the moment, I’m thinking I might bring Futura Laboratories to an end. Because my idea was that I’m a small brand in a small town: I’m not trying to export to the world, even in good times before the recession hit, because of the duty charges, importation fees, the mark-up… y’know. It’s a hassle to sell this shit anywhere other than in Japan. it was never something like, ‘I’m gonna make lots of money of it’ – it’s more like a vanity project. "I got a little company, I make nice stuff…". The stuff is well made, but it’s all smaller items. But people get resentful sometimes if they can’t get access to this stuff. And maybe it’s not the right time to have that out there.

My son lived in Japan for 4 years – he speaks Japanese – and I was thinking of bringing him in, like ‘You could be that guy’. And my daughter is 21 and she can ride my coattails for a year or two and get a little experience, some opportunities and maybe a couple of trips. But my son doesn’t need me to take care of him the way I feel I want to take care of my daughter.

He’s established himself, as a creative person, in his own right.

Exactly. He was staying with people in my Japanese circle for a while….

He was staying with Hommyo from Atmos, right? I remember meeting up with Hommyo a while back and he had mentioned it then.

That’s right. He moved to Tokyo and worked with Hommyo, yeah. And how things worked out in the end, he was a good guy and was very generous. I haven’t seen him in a minute, probably since the Recon shops were still there..

That’s a good point to come to: you and Stash and the crew basically turned that small pocket of city in Manhattan into something pretty cool. Rivington, Eldridge… all those streets became places to go for a lot us visiting NYC. You guys and spots like Alife on Orchard pushed the boundaries that had been set by Soho.

Yeah, that was kinda funny how that all worked out. But, to be honest, the whole retail thing wasn’t really MY thing. And in the end I just wanted to bail. I could end up finding a company and just doing a licensing deal perhaps, because whether I like it or not, people do see a lot of what I do as a brand in itself. And that’s why the internet, in the end, is a big culprit in all of this. It’s awesome, but at the same time think about how the world has changed as a result of it. Without the web, none of this shit gets seen. Think about the way artwork is perceived now. I mean, honestly, without the web, who’s gonna even see this stuff? Who’s really gonna ever walk by a physical space in wherever these days and see anything? How many individuals are actually gonna see anything in real life now? Previous to what we do now, it was all word-of-mouth. Anything from, say, ’95 to the present… the last twenty years… it’s all digital or online. People tweeting three hundred times a day. It’s way out of control. Way out of control.

The advent of the web was good for me personally. I was able to make a transition from working in print to digital and then help start up U-Dox, Spinemagazine and Crooked with the guys back in London. And when I get frustrated with aspects of digital life, I have to remember that it’s been good to me, overall. I wouldn’t be here now probably if it wasn’t for that. And when we first came out to New York in 2000 or 2001 to meet you guys, it was a blind trip. We had no real idea what to expect, no guides to follow and no email connections, because that info wasn’t out there! We walked into the shops with printed portfolios and business cards and spoke to everyone. You probably wouldn’t do that now! But when you and I met, you were already pushing things digitally, far beyond what anyone else was really doing. You were a very early advocate of the internet and as a result had one of the most interesting websites out there.

Sure. I was trying to express myself through that new medium. And, in a way, I think that’s what I still do today. But I’m not doing it like other people. I have a completely different approach to it.

It hasn’t changed though.

Right. Like, the calendar on my site, Timothy – my son – designed. And that’s been good for the last five years and interesting with its daily photo… And every year my son’s like, ‘C’mon dad – let’s change it!’. But there’s no need. When you set something up well and it is what it is, you shouldn’t really fuck with it. Just let it run. All it needs is a new photo every day.

My Flickr account is much more ‘real’. The photo calendar on my website is more generic because what happens is that every day it just looks for a file that correlates with the code. Like tomorrow, it’ll be looking for 01_10 and the accompanying TXT caption file for that day. And the calendar format works off your clock on your computer. If you change your clock to 1990, there’d be nothing there. It’s really elegant but it’s also really smart. It knows what day it is, because it’s running off your computer. It’s all preloaded and no-one actually knows when the accompanying image is actually from. When I do put in a real ‘proof of life’ photo, such as holding a newspaper with today’s date or a ticket or something, those are always gems to put in and a couple of those go in every month. If I’m in New York and there are people over in New Zealand who are almost a day ahead, what about those guys? They’ve got to have an image to see! So that’s why it’s all taken care of behind the scenes.

That’s very considerate of you!

I think my web presence has always been considerate. I’ve got a lot of stuff on there, so enjoy yourself!

Trashfilter: When I look at the last decade of street art, things occasionally got a bit too commercially-minded for a minute, I think.

Futura: When that whole blogosphere thing was happening with all the websites and all these ‘guest’ people were being invited to write for them, I didn’t want it to be like ‘Yo, I’m Futura and this is the product I’m making and this is what I’m selling’. It was never about that.

But I don’t think that it ever came across like that though. Even when you were working with people like Zoo York or whoever, it wasn’t like you’d just stuck a few characters on it and bounced…

Oh, yeah, I mean there’s like 20 companies that I would’ve worked with during that period. And now I don’t want to be part of that any more. I was too nice with all my stuff and with every ‘friend’.

Those days are over and I don’t want to be that guy any more. I just want to take care of my family – my immediate, blood related family. Everybody in my immediate world right now, I wanna hook up. All that other stuff is still exactly the same as it’s always been: just promo and hype stuff. I don’t want to do that any more. I don’t even want to do my own thing any more! I just want to give it a break for a while: I’ll retreat to my studio, invest in some materials and bang out a lot of stuff so I can make a really nice selection from the result of that. I want to see how that goes for a couple of years, without all this other external shit going on. I’m gonna take more control: I’m gonna be 57! I need to take charge now. I’m not a ‘boss man’, but in my own internal quiet way, that’s how I am now.

No more Mr. Nice Guy, even though no-one will know that.

Trashfilter: When was your last exhibition?

Futura: Probably the ‘Pirate Utopias’ show with Jose Parla in London, back in 2007. There was this thing I did in L.A. maybe three or four years ago as a pop-up show and there have have been group shows, but not a one-man show.

I remember coming up to ‘Pirate Utopias’ to see you and asking the gallery owner if you were around and it was like, ‘Who the fuck are you?’. I appreciate that they’re busy and they probably have a hundred other people doing exactly the same thing, but it was a bit of a kick as well. I might have caught them on a bad day, but it seemed totally different to how some of the older spots and galleries handled their business.

A lot of those connections were spill-off from friendships and stuff, but they weren’t that real. I wasn’t totally psyched on that relationship either. The movement ‘crashed’, everything got downsized and that old studio with Stash in Brooklyn was lost and I’ve kinda been solo for a while now. Now, the fat is getting trimmed. I understand that there are always going to be some hangers-on around, but the noisier ones have been pushed aside for a minute. There’s no hate, no animosity, no bitterness with anyone: it’s all water under the sand and that boat sailed months ago. There’d be no point feeling like that: it’s negative energy. All the old stuff was just weighing everything down, that’s all. Consumerism is still hype, but everyone got everything they needed. This whole lifestyle that everyone was running on, I think they all got a rude awakening. There’s a better way to manage your shit.

Right. And cream rises to the top. The good stuff stands out now.

Exactly. Without some struggle, where’s that extra drive going to come from? It’s important that we did go through that, because mad people have been weeded out along the way. I see everything right now as really positive. My personal direction now, I’m really excited about.

Do you get asked a lot of the same questions by people who come to interview you? I’ve spoken with you for a number of things in the past, but you’re one person who I don’t get tired of talking to, even if the situation dictates that I need to go over a few ‘standard’ questions to get the feature done.

There was that one interview you did (for Spinemagazine), that was kinda like the whole mid-life thing, but it was pretty full-on! A lot of bases were covered there. In your own personal archive, you’ve got some scope and context as you’ve spoken to me a bunch of times in different situations.

Now it’s more like people asking why I haven’t been in the galleries or asking if I’m still painting. It’s like you said before – ‘did you hear of me in the ’80s? I kinda did that back then and got spit out and stepped upon.’ When the whole ’90s thing happened and we transitioned into the clothing thing and doing t-shirts, it was another way to exist without having to depend on being ‘just’ a painter. Whether that was diversifying what I did or was just a way to see if I could multi-task, I’m not sure. But now I’ve got the support of this gallery, I’m actually able to move forwards in creating work and not worrying about trying to find somewhere to paint or anything, which was the case.

Now it’s just on me to produce.

Trashfilter: Do you remember this piece? For many of us in the UK, it’s regarded as one of the first real graffiti pieces to be done here.

Futura: Oh wow! Absolutely!

I remember it was at Westbourne Park or Ladbroke Grove, with a writer named Skam who took me there. This would’ve been around the time of touring with The Clash.

Gravis Footwear | Dylan Rieder slip-on

Unless you work in the design field yourself, it’s often hard to get a gauge of what goes into a skate shoe. Who is the Gravis design team comprised of and what are the individual titles?

Kelly Kikuta: Our global product team consists of Joe Babcock, Luz Zambrano, Kyle Plummer, Shinobu Mase, Takashi Sato and myself.

An obvious question, but an important one: how did you approach designing Dylan Rieder’s new pro model shoe? The end result is clearly different from any other skate shoe on the market, but there’s clearly something good going on here.

Our main goal was to design a shoe that embodied Dylan’s vision. He wanted something unique, something different. He has an eye towards high-end fashion and we interpreted this aesthetic into his shoe. Working closely with Mark Oblow our Creative Director, we injected Dylan’s style and personality into a silhouette the skateboard market had yet to see.

How involved did Dylan get with the design? Having read interviews with other skaters who’ve simply added a signature to an already-popular silhouette for their own models, it seems this was a little more involved.

The relationships we have with our team sets Gravis apart from everyone else. It’s been one of our most consistent traits from the inception of the brand. We made sure every aspect of what Dylan was looking for was brought to life. I still remember the day he tested the shoes for the first time in our parking lot. To see him be able to pop tricks like he did was validation that we accomplished something special.

Were there any other ideas that didn’t make it to fruition? Were there any unreleased samples produced?

Kelly Kikuta: Actually, we really lucked out with Dylan’s shoe! The first prototypes came back pretty spot-on, not a lot of tweaks were even necessary. Overall we were able to build a shoe that had every aspect and feature he was looking for at the time.

With a non-standard shoe – or rather a product that doesn’t rely on an existing style so much – is it a challenge to introduce it to the consumer market?

Yeah, I think the challenging part in introducing such a unique design was gaining the acceptance. We’ve always had our loyal Gravis supporters since day one, but launching such a unique skate shoe like this really tested that. At the same time we gained a lot of respect for taking Dylan’s lead and designing a shoe that had never been done or seen before in skateboarding.

Everything feels very ‘premium’ with the first Dylan model. A small number of shoes were released to a select number of stores – I recall an element of excitement that is normally reserved for the latest Nike SB or Lakai release. Was the slip-on intentionally released as a limited model?

Dylan’s shoe is not a limited model, although we offered a limited color way (the Oxblood edition) to select stores, the Dylan shoe is available to all of our skate retailers. We have a small collection of styles based around Dylan: those models really compliment what we’ve done with his first shoe and will be available to a larger consumer base.

The Gravis skate program is relatively young compared to some of the core skate shoe brands, but the product has been really strong and the skate team is one of the best out there. Do you need to keep a close eye on the rest of the industry or are things more organic?

Kelly Kikuta: First off, thank you! That’s a huge compliment. We back our team 100% and we’re proud of what we’ve accomplished as a brand in such a short time. Skateboarding has become so competitive at all levels these days that you have to stay on top of what the other brands are doing. We feel we have the ability to produce product that competes with the other brands and at the same time sets us apart from the pack. We want to be different and build shoes that give skaters an alternative to what’s currently saturating the shoe walls. That really comes down to being inspired by our team and bringing their visions to fruition.

With the backing of Burton, are you able to take advantage of their own research and development when it comes to creating new product?

Being backed by Burton has been helpful on a multitude of levels. Jake has been extremely supportive of what we’re doing and makes sure we have all the right resources available to us. We definitely wouldn’t be where we’re at today without the support of Burton.

What’s up next from the Gravis skate program? Is there a full team video due in the future at any point?

The launch of Dylan’s video was been a huge project for us. The guy flat out destroys it! Mo, Oblow and everyone involved in that project did an amazing job… good work guys! We’ll definitely be following that up in the near future. In terms of product, we have plans to launch a new Arto Saari model in the Fall of 2011 – look out for that!

There isn’t really much point in writing a review of the Dylan Rieder Gravis promo video. It’s a web-friendly freebie, but featuring content worthy of a premium release. I might be from the era of Ed Templeton and Rodney Mullen’s ollie impossibles, but seeing Dylan pop one clear over a bench in this video blew me away. Sugarcane in a pool? Chest-high frontside tailslide to flip out? Fakie flip over a rail, into a bank? Check, check and double-check. The little guy we saw in the Quiksilver ads grew up big.

Seeing him skating his private park with Biebel, Mariano, Marc Johnson and AVE and rolling around popping impossibles over the crowd barriers at Street League just confirms his status. I might not be able to rock a pair of jeans like that, but in the same breath I will never be able to skate like that either.

Gravis pulled the stops out with this video. Expertly filmed and edited (Greg Hunt has been a long-time favourite of mine), great music choices and minimal-but-slick graphics throughout. I hope Arto gets the same treatment when his model drops later this year.

The final thing to say – yet perhaps the most important to anyone who’s still wondering how you can possibly skate in leather slip-ons – is that I have been skating in them since I got a pair. Switching from a pair of Lakai mid-tops to the Dylan shoe is a definite head tweak. Whilst I have relied on some ankle protection since breaking my ankle for the third time, the feeling of freedom was actually refreshing. For tricks like 360° flips or pop shove-its, these give you a proper feeling for the catch.

As you’d expect, these are lighter than anything else out there. What you lose in foot security is made up for with suppleness and comfort. No laces means no frayed bits of material hanging off broken eyelets. Minimal seams and panel joins mean there are no obvious areas for abrasion too. And where you’d normally mourn the lack of ventilation holes, the clever construction is one step ahead: thin layers don’t retain the heat like padded tongues do. Thin layers don’t mean flimsy construction either.

Three weeks into my wear test and I can safely say that these are the eye-openers of the decade, in terms of comfort. The fact I can ignore the ‘no sneakers’ rule and walk straight into the pub afterwards is the icing on the cake.


adidas Originals x Burton | Ben Pruess & Greg Dacyshyn

It’s a logical and interesting project for both brands to do, but how did the collaboration idea come about? Who approached who?

Ben Pruess: The program was a natural process of looking at how we continue to evolve the brand and work with what our consumers want. We had often spoken about snowboarding in the context of our success with Originals Skateboarding and how this plays into other action sports and other seasons. We focused on product and distribution as they are the real difference between skate and snow. Skate brand do sneakers, decks, t-shirts and goodies, where snowboarding is a hard goods and technical apparel business model. With Skate, our credibility and skill set is natural since we are a leading sneaker and streetwear brand, plus our team is supper solid. With Snow, we didn’t have a hard goods or technical link.

We really wanted to build a new business model to get into these product and distribution areas, and we thought it was a good idea to build a bridge for the consumer to extend the relationship with our brand to an new environment and sport while still playing to our core skills. The idea to work with Burton was a natural one, as a market leader, we wanted to partner with a brand that brought the same level of impact. Burton is the leader and arguably the founder of snowboarding, as we are in the world of sports. In the end I think Burton also felt like a natural fit, as they seek to push opportunities to extend their brand into the street in an impactful way.

How did you approach this project, in terms of the creative process? I’ve seen previous adidas snow product, such as the Forum-inspired boot, but this is a little different.

The approach was pretty simple; we identified what we saw as a clear white space in the market and worked to use both our brands skill set in a combined way to fill this gap. The idea was about “transition product”. The brief was: what do you want and need after riding to look good and feel good? What do you want to wear – après-ski? What do you want to put your feet into after you get out of your boots? And what makes the whole collection work with style so it’s cooler than just wearing your hill gear on the street?

The Forum boot was something very different; we only made 50 pairs and just did it for fun. It was never for sale but just used as a gift to friends. The idea back then was simple: we wanted to build a 3-stripe boot to ride in to rep the brand.

Were there many existing adidas technologies used when it came to developing the product range? Or did you need to look further afield?

Both adidas and Burton have great histories of innovation for sport, so we had no lack of tools in the shed. Once we knew what was needed, we looked for the right technologies. It was more about sharing needs on how best to solve the brief vs. being lead by pushing any existing technologies.

Who handled the design of the products for this project? Was it a 50/50 effort from both brands?

It was a very collaborative process. We had about 4 design meetings in the process to brainstorm, present concepts and review. We each brought our own creative assets to the table. We brought our archive and clear visual language as well. Burton played to their strengths on the apparel side – bringing cuts, details, construction that they have pioneered with their great creativity on prints and graphics. We brought the sneaker and footwear knowledge and leadership of sportswear items, like track tops and pants. In the end it was really a 50-50 effort to reflect a real balance of influences.

Is it difficult to appease the core snowboarding crowd when creating something that will undoubtedly still need to appeal to a wider market?

Ben Pruess: Having worked in the action sports industry long enough, our team knew that the first rule is not to try and be something you are not. You have to be real. That was our approach; make great products that represent two leading brands in an open and honest way. We did not go out to make the ‘most core product’ – just great authentic products that the consumer would like.

Originals is one of the largest streetwear brands in the world because we are an open and accessible brand. We don’t want to exclude people, but rather invite them to use us as part of how they express and style themselves. This is what makes us an icon in the world of streetwear and allows us to go from the trend-setting top to a wider, more mainstream market. This product shares in that approach. It is what it is; great stylish product for hanging out after riding, not trying to be anything it isn’t. In the end, it makes things genuine. We see this as a value most consumers respect more then just “being” core. Burton’s in a similar place – they are the leading brand in snowboarding, they are the most credible because they remain true to the sport and market they helped create.

How was the work handled internally at adidas? Did the US team handle the design on this project, or was the work distributed between Portland and Herzo? If so, was there much going back and forth?

Almost all the design work was done in the Portland office; it was easier to do it there for obvious reasons. Time, testing and consumer insight are just better aligned working with partners in the US. We did develop the product in a few locations, tapping into our Japanese team that does Kazuki ObyO because they had the best skills on the more technical apparel.

Were there any concepts or products that didn’t make it to the production line for this project?

We designed the range a bit bigger then we needed to just so we could review and edit. Sure, some of the products hit the cutting room floor but it was all about selecting the best offer for the range size we wanted. I feel like most of the ideas we wanted made it into the line in some way. Of course some others did not make it, but that’s how it goes.

Is this intended to be a one-off project or is there scope for it to grow and develop down the line?

Right now it’s just a one-season project. We did not want to force any long term or contractual obligations on to each other. We did this program because we thought it was a genuinely good fit and one that would make some great product. As brands we have a good relationship so the door is open for us to work on future programs together. Right now we are happy to see this collection hit the market and gain some positive feedback.

Burton has always led the way in terms of snow sport equipment and apparel: as a top-tier brand, there is clearly no need to work with anyone else. With that in mind, how did you approach the collaboration with adidas to create this special range of footwear and apparel?

Greg Dacyshyn: Both myself and Ben Pruess of adidas have a long history in snowboarding. So our two brands got together through this common interest.

How does the range of products differ from your normal output? Were there any particular differences in design or construction when putting these pieces together?

The range was co-designed by my Burton Creative Team with the adidas Originals Team and features the adidas Originals Trefoil as well as Burton branding. The footwear styles were primarily designed by the adidas design team, benefiting from their history in the footwear business and expertise in production and quality execution. In return, all the apparel styles were designed by us (Burton) based on adidas Originals silhouettes, blending the adidas look with the visual language and design aesthetics of Burton.

I’ve always viewed Burton as a particularly creative brand, both in terms of the products and the brand communications. Diffusion lines, such as the [ak] range, and the artist projects (Futura, Stash, Mark Ward, Geoff McFetridge amongst many others) have always added something special, rather than dilute things. How does the process work to continually maintain this level of creativity? Is there a Burton ‘think tank’ – or are you always open for people to approach you with ideas

There’s no standardization to this process. There can’t be. This is art, not graphics-for-hire. We structure our projects in so many different ways. Through the whole thing, feedback is a huge part of the process – whether it comes from our pro riders, customers or employees. Our team riders play a big role here. They all have artists who speak to them or inspire them, so in the case of boards for example, we love to reach out to distinct artists who the team request, and have them collaborate with the individual rider to make a signature board. In other cases like in apparel or outerwear, each season we create distinct stories and collection inspirations that are communicated to the artists in very broad strokes, and then they interpret them in whatever way they are inspired. Lastly, in some cases, we create iconic collaborations like with the Andy Warhol Foundation or Playboy or Ralph Steadman, where we have the honor and privilege to incorporate their work into our products. At the end of the day, we always know that the Burton integrity will be well featured in all of our products, because the partners and artists whom we join up with have a natural affinity to our brand and our DNA. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be on the program.

Was it difficult to keep things levelled towards your core market on this project? It’s clearly functional, but there’s a strong ‘leisure’ aspect to the range too, which differentiates it from everything else at the moment. How did you make sure it still spoke to the core snowboarders out there?

Snowboarders have strong personalities and think for themselves, which is what makes the culture so creative. We thrive off different styles, opinions and directions. There’s no way we can or would want to please every rider with every style. That’s why our product range is so diverse, so individual riders can find something that speaks to them.

This range with adidas reinforces the fact that Burton thinks beyond the actual slopes themselves. You’ve already gained a huge following from a street level (through things such as the Idiom product line), but is this something that’s considered at the start of each new project? Or is it always about the core snow angle to begin with?

We’re a snowboarding company. So every inspiration and design is somehow rooted in that culture.

Were there any concepts or products from the Burton perspective that didn’t make it to the production line for this project?

There are always different rounds of designs in every product development process. But we’re really happy with how the final line turned out.

Many people will already know that you’ve got the perfect credentials to put together a project like the adidas and Burton collaboration: can you break it down for the readers who don’t know? You used to be a professional snowboarder, correct?

Ben Pruess: Yes I was, but to be honest I am not sure being a pro rider more then 20 years ago gave me the perfect credentials. Sure, it played some part, as it was part of the path that led me to where I am now. More important, my continued love of the sport has been what happened after when I join the business side. The value of such a diverse experience working in action sports and streetwear for the past 20 years and the insight it has helped to make this happen.

This was not about me but two iconic brands with great teams working together (An adi group and a talented crew with Greg at Burton) to make a project they felt the market would benefit from. Sure the fact that the core group that worked on this project are riders that helped us to speak knowledgeably to create products consumers would want to wear.

You worked at Salomon before joining adidas Originals: was there much of a transition from being immersed in a performance-orientated brand to steering a respected lifestyle brand?

Working at Salomon was a great experience and I owe a lot to Jean Luc Diard for bringing me into that team. They thought about the performance side and the hard goods side of product marketing; it was all about feature and benefit and consumer performance. This helped a lot when I went on to manage Bonfire, as the technical apparel game is very similar. What was also clear from the start was the understanding that success in snowboarding doesn’t come from purely a performance point of view. Snowboarding, like all action sports is first an emotional approach and a lifestyle. Without making a commitment to this side of our market, you will never create a meaningful offer. In snow or skate, looking good and feeling good go hand in hand. Being real is more important then how you think about buying into a brand. Great product is important but without a credible approach is doesn’t matter. This is why even some brands that make technically superior products don’t successfully make it to market. Working on making sure Salmon or Bonfire lived up to what it meant to be a real snowboard and lifestyle brand allowed me to develop the skills needed to find the transition to streetwear so easy. Very few brands are as emotionally connected to street and pop culture as adidas Originals. It really is the original lifestyle brand.

I know that you’ve answered this question before (specifically in your Sneaker Freaker interview a while back), but what advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the industry?

Know what it is that you want to do in this business and why you think it’s for you. Understand that it is a business and whether you’re a designer or a marketer, that’s what success will be judged on. You need to know from the start that if you work for a big brand, a start-up or a shop that this is not an art project or 24/7 fun and games. It takes work, passion and a willingness to listen to what consumers want. It is a great career that can allow your creativity to be seen. Ultimately it can and will expose you to great people and give you the chance for a professional life so that you never give up on the things you enjoy.

Obviously, this interview will be on our website, but I’m from a traditional media background originally – and that’s something I always want to keep an eye on. Whilst I like a lot of the news sites and blogs, my aim to try and create a lot of timeless content that will be just as interesting to read five years down the line. What do you think about how information is communicated these days?

I think that there is a real need to be aware of the relationship of speed versus value. It is a trade off that many consumers are happy to make right now, but at what expense, I don’t know. I see a risk in the disposability of content, both products as well as media.

At the same time, the ability to react and effect so quickly has a huge positive result. In the end, I think we will get a better understanding and respect for what each approach offers and not try to replace one or the other but rather nurture both. Unfortunately I think we will have to go though a period of serious disposability before consumers realize what they miss when time is not given to refine a thought on a product. After so many shoes, many that we still love today would not have become the classics had the market not been patent enough to allow them to develop. Same holds true for music: many people say that we will not see brands like The Stones or GNR be able to become the icons they did because the market does not allow the time any more.

Greg, could you break down your personal and professional background? I’ve read about your early interest in sneakers (before the term ‘sneaker culture’ even existed) and how you became interested in fashion and design along the way. Did you consciously set out to become involved in the design industry?

Greg Dayshyn: To be honest, I’ve had some pretty eclectic experiences. From urban bike courier, snowboard and sneaker store hustler and philosophy student to Russian military conversion consultant, I can’t really pin down a linear path to here. But what I can say is that everything I’ve done in my life led me to getting here. I have always been a boardsports and street culture junkie, and that combined with a passion for design, international business and love of the Burton brand all came together in getting me here.

When I came in, all creative was sourced outside of Burton, and so with my love and background for design I started doing my own designs and taking the initiative, and then wrote my own job description. I turned it into the job I wanted, not the job I had. Sometimes people have their head down and they’re working so hard that they can’t see it that way – but you have to make your own opportunities But beyond that I don’t look back. It’s about what’s next, personally and professionally.

Were you always interested in snowboarding? Were there any other sports or pastimes you were interested in that shaped or influenced your career?

It really all started with skateboarding for me. I was into it from the beginning. I loved the whole counter culture, and the vibe and the lifestyle, and the new crop of athletic heroes that it created. I was never huge into the team sport thing. I did the prerequisite ‘football at middle school’ type thing, and a little bit of hockey (hey, I’m Canadian), but for the most part it’s always been about individual sports. Cruising on my bike or skateboard back in the day, that’s where it was at. Then snowboarding came along, and it just fitted me perfectly. It was super fun and cruisy and had the surf feel, and I learned with all my family and friends at the same time. So it just instantly became a lifestyle for me, and even though I lived in the city (Toronto) at the time, I would head up north every weekend to snowboard, and started taking riding trips out west for more snow and then finally found my way to Vermont which has an awesome local snowboard scene.

What does your day to day routine at work look like? Are you involved very much with the design team?

To start, I am waging a protest against the intrusion of alarm clocks. Really, why do we need to be on such a schedule all the time? Let’s just do our thing and it will work out. Unless you’re catching a flight, and then a clock can save your ass…. I keep a sick vintage Cartier travel clock just for that purpose. But I think the workday should start mid to late morning and then go well into the night. That’s when true inspiration comes anyway. And as for how it works with my team, I am really hands-on. My day is literally full of product reviews and product talk, covering all phases in the development timeline, for all categories. So it could be looking at board graphics one meeting, then outerwear designs or sales samples at the next, then it will be a conference call with an artist or designer or potential partner for something that could hit in two years. It really makes for a diverse day which is both challenging and rewarding.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to get into the snowboard design industry? I can imagine it’s quite a competitive environment…

I think the design industry is very unique. Some careers are a defined skill set that could progress in status/skill/rank. And some careers are strictly about managing others with that skill set. But in product or in creative, there really is an opportunity to do both. You can be the artist, and/or you can be the one who manages the artist. There have been designers who want to design and those who want to manage and in creative you can take either path. I like being a blend of both, so that my actual DNA is built into the products, while also being on the directional end of managing a team of designers. With experience comes the ability to choose your path. As far as newcomers to the industry you just have to be patient. And don’t assume that you have to get into a brand only through the product department, because that is where you ultimately want to end up. Be willing to get in the door however you can, ie., through customer service, retail, internships, etc., and then make sure you get on the radar of the Creative and Product teams. Ultimately, you’ll get in if you earn it. But check your ego at the door. Being humble is a key requirement of success in product design and development.

Obviously, this interview will be on our website, but I’m from a traditional media background originally – and that’s something I always want to keep an eye on. Whilst I like a lot of the news sites and blogs, my aim to try and create a lot of timeless content that will be just as interesting to read five years down the line. What do you think about how information is communicated these days?

The world is a small place these days; in fact, it’s about the size of your 11 inch laptop screen. Everything is accessible to anyone. The fringe is the mainstream. So you have to work harder to stay on top of it, and stay ahead of it. For me, pop culture, global news and current events come from everything around me and everyone around me. Get outside your comfort zone. Travel. Don’t be “anti-TV” when we thrive in youth culture. Don’t be afraid to get into movies, books and magazines outside of your industry. Think big. Get inspired. Play hard. And in the end, inspiration, quality and integrity will never be out of style.

Chrome Ball Incident | Nike Dunk SB

Let’s kick off with a stack of predictable questions to warm the audience up a bit. What is your own personal background? Have you always skated? What is your current day job?

Chops: I started skating in 1988 after a friend of mine’s older brother who skated brought in a copy of Animal Chin. I have just turned 33 years of age and currently work a dead-end job at a real estate office with a bunch of old ladies. They have no idea about any of this and seem to think I have a developed a strange fetish for colorful Nike sneakers all of a sudden.

At one point, I actually told one of them about the shoe and they called me a liar.

Whilst a lot of our readers will know of your site, there will undoubtedly be a few who haven’t discovered it yet. When did you start Chrome Ball and what inspired you to begin the lengthy process of scanning and uploading?

I started Chrome Ball in April of 2008 as a side project and diversion from some of the other hobbies I have (graphic design, photography, filmmaking)… however CBI quickly took the main focus: it kinda just took off, so I went with it. The response was pretty immediate. Within a month, I had comments from Andy Stone and Andy Jenkins. I couldn’t believe it. Still can’t.

Epicly Later’d, Beautiful Losers, Bob Shirt, Police Informer and Seb Carayol and Mackenzie Eisenhower’s articles got me inspired in this whole ‘skatehoarding’ thing. I figured I had the mags and there were definitely some things I wanted to put out there that I wasn’t seeing.

I’m just stoked on skateboarding and want to stoke other people out as well. Plus, I don’t feel nearly as crazy remembering some random ad from 1988 if I know there are a few other people right there with me.

That’s exactly how I felt when I found your site: there are other people out there like myself! Able to recall largely-useless but personally-meaningful information and details. Chrome Ball feels like a secret club, in a positive way. There are so many things mentioned in your posts or in the comments from your readers that resonate with me: have you been surprised how many likeminded people there are out there?

It’s nice. Its good to know I’m not crazy and that other people remember this crap too.

Gotta admit, there are some readers that got me beat hands-down on some of these details though.

Neil Blender’s great skating and artwork and the first Alien video and ads are the easy connections to make, but what made you choose ‘Chrome Ball’ as the title? Have you corresponded with Neil much?

I’m glad they’re easy connections for you because I couldn’t tell you how many people have asked me why I named the site after pinball.

Blender’s always been such a huge influence on me since I started skating in grade school. Just his creativity and overall demeanor. I thought it would be a good reference for those old enough and I liked the uniformity and format of the title with the number count.

And there’s been a bit of correspondence, yes.

Most sites and blogs allow commenting on posts, but I can’t think of many others where the comments actually add so much to the original post. Reading personal stories from former pro riders (such as Eric Ricks) and other people who each add their own strand to the posts is a big part of the site’s appeal. Have there been any specific posts that have impressed or particularly surprised you? Do you spend much time moderating or are things kept fairly sensible?

Comments are the lifeblood of the site. It’s what I feed off of and keeps me motivated. The interaction and the different interpretations. Always appreciated. And when pros get on there. It always stokes me out.

I honestly don’t have to moderate at all. People keep it pretty sensible. Sometimes people get on there and disagree with something I’ve written… and that’s fine. I welcome debate… although someone usually ends up arguing for me before I get the chance to.

I think I’ve maybe deleted two comments in CBI’s existence and I believe that was because they were random racist remarks from anonymous readers

How do you fit time in your daily schedule to update the site? Have you got a list of future subjects that you work to or is it generally freestyled from post to post?

A post usually takes around 3 hours. And yeah, it can totally be a pain in the ass. Luckily I stay up late and don’t sleep much so I still find time to do other things.

The posts started out as just having one scan each – not these 10-scan monstrosities I do now. They just sort of grew over time.

I always have a few candidates in my head floating around. Whenever I think that I have enough material collected and feel like a post of theirs would be interesting, I go for it.

I’ve got little slips of people lying around all over my apartment. Some people seem to think I’m this sort of Rainman-esque type character with a mental index of Thrasher magazine floating around in my brain. Sorry. Not nearly that interesting!

This is where I have to send a special thanks to my girl Peel for putting up with all this.

I just had a partial cleanse of old magazines in my house: once things stop fitting into my bookshelves and piling up on the floor, I convince myself that it’s time for a cull. Slinging piles of $5 magazines into the recycling pile kills me though. How do you handle the storage situation? Do you keep whole copies of mags or do you just clip certain pages?

Whole magazines.

The storage situation is kind of ridiculous here. Subconsciously, I think I started the site as way to have a valid excuse not to throw any of them away.

I’m already finding myself trying to pick up copies of things I threw away or lost years ago. Pretty frustrating and annoying.

Have you ever had any requests to remove anything from the site? I’d be disappointed to hear that anyone had flexed the ‘copywrite laws’ upon you…

Well then I won’t ruin it for you! It wasn’t a post that I did for the Chrome Ball site though. Let’s just say that a few months ago, I did 2 ‘kingsized’ posts on the same day – one for CBI and another for the website of the world’s largest skateboard magazine involving the same skater. One of my all-time photographers reportedly flexed over there on the copyright issue and it was taken down. Fortunately he left CBI alone.

I was bummed but I can’t complain. I understand that this is both his art and his livelihood and I do operate in an area that one could hardly consider ‘legally sound’.

I reckon all of the best artists operate slightly outside of the law.

At the time of writing, you’re just over 500 posts deep, which is incredible. Are there any other projects or major developments in your future plans for the site?

I’m kinda just making it up as I go along… It’s gotten me this far.

I’m a big fan of the web and a lot of my daily life seems to involve being online, but even if people suggest that print is dying, I don’t think anything online will ever replace the feeling of picking up a physical magazine or book. Chrome Ball celebrates print by displaying it online. Did you intentionally set out to bridge that gap? Do you prefer print to web, or do you see equal merits in both?

Print is dying but I don’t think it will ever completely vanish. Information is processed so quickly that its just so hard for the mags to keep the pace. I’m not sure kids just starting to skate today could do a CBI-type site in the future. I guess it would be just a bunch of links to whatever remains. CBI works because in the ‘80s, you had a very finite amount of information regarding skateboarding that everyone just studied over and over again until the next round of mags came out.

I think you’re right in that nothing online with ever replace the physicality of a magazine. What do you do when you find an article online you really dig? You print it out so you can “have” it. At least I do… but then again, I’m old.

How did the project with Nike come about?

Completely out of the blue. I had been receiving some shoes every now and then from a reader over at Nike that dug the site. Well, one day the guy emailed me while I was at work and wanted to set up a time to talk on the phone later that night. I didn’t really think too much of it… I actually thought he wanted to do some sort of Nike-sponsored trivia contest on the site or something. Needless to say, I was shocked when he brought up designing my own shoe.

I only told about 3 or 4 people during the first 6 months of the process cause I still didn’t really think it would actually go down. It just seems so unbelievable.

Honestly, Chrome Ball was supposed to end at the end of August, 2009… I was about ready to announce it on the site when Rob called and asked me to do the shoe… giving the site an extended lease on life. I’m glad he did. That Rob is a solid dude.

You mentioned that you wouldn’t have done the project without Neil Blender’s stamp of authority: how did he respond and how involved did he get in the design process?

Blender already had a project going on with Nike at the time, I just rode on his coat tails. He did the low-top and I did the high. He gave us the okay to use the artwork and name but other than that… he let us do our thing. Thanks Neil.

In the offering, there’s a hightop Dunk, based on the classic Airwalk Enigma colourway and with a little graphic reference to the era when everyone was hacking down their shoes. Was that particular period of skating your favourite? Were there any particular scenes, skaters or companies that you followed religiously?

I just thought it would be a nice touch. It only made sense for the sneaker to be a throwback since the site itself is so rooted in the past. Busting out the fresh new gear for 2011 doesn’t really make sense for a site that spends all its time talking about 1992.

The scissors are just a little nod for the older dudes that remember the whole shoe mutilation craze. Younger dudes think it has something to do with rock, paper, scissors… which I quite enjoy but is not the case.

At first, there was gonna be an embroidered perforated line all the way around but we 86’d that.

One thing that I particularly like about this collaboration was that the hightop is only available at certain Nike SB accounts and not online (in the UK, at least). If you want the shoe, you have to go to a physical skate shop, put your money on the counter and buy them in person. No purchasing multiple pairs online and reselling them on eBay later on. Was this a stipulation from you or was it something that the guys at Nike suggested?

That was something the Nike guys suggested and I loved it. Those guys are pretty good with this whole shoe-selling thing.

Seriously though, there is a misconception about the people involved with Nike and while I can’t speak for the whole company, everyone I’ve met in the SB division have been straight-up, life-long skaters that still very passionate about it. Most of whom either formerly or currently still work for a lot of the board companies these doubting Thomases think of as their favorites.

Time to throw a few facts into the mix for the sneaker fans out there: do you have any idea how many pairs have been produced of both models?

Oh man… I don’t know. The low is actually all Blender and I don’t have anything to do with that one. The high is mine and I believe it’s a “quickstrike”. Not really sure on the numbers.

Sorry sneaker fans.

I’ll make up a number then, just to screw up anyone searching for facts to include in their eBay listings: 1730 pairs. How long did the process take from initial concept through to final production models?

It took a year from Rob’s initial call to when I actually saw the finished product. I had the concept the first night we talked… we ironed out the materials a little after the first sample but pretty much everything was done real early. Really the only thing that changed from the first model was making the swoosh rubber.

I’ve heard that the waiting is the hardest part. They’re right.

Are there any production samples out there that didn’t make the final cut? Perhaps a bright yellow NTS-inspired model or a 540° Prototype with a lace saver?

Not that I know of… though I did have that idea for the prototype with the lacesaver. Maybe that can be the Trashfilter Dunk.

I’ll hit you up when Nike get in touch. It may be too early to ask this, but are there any plans for a follow-up project?

No plans as of yet. I can’t believe I got the chance for the first go-around to be honest with you.

“That Nov. ’95 TWS is definitely a good one. Guy, Koston, Ari portfolio…

Honestly, the only other ones that really stand out for me personally are the first few issues of TWS and Thrasher I bought when I had just started skating.

Everything was just so new and fresh. Just being bombarded by all that creativity”

“This one always hurts my head… ”

Gonz – Video Days

Mike Carroll – Questionable

Guy Mariano – Mouse

Henry Sanchez – Pack of Lies

Ricky Oyola – Eastern Exposure 3

(I really wish I could fit Gino’s Trilogy part in there…)

Duane Pitre’s Olives

Blender’s Coffee Break

Lance Mountain Future Primitive

Mark Gonzales Gonz N Roses with the suit…

-tie-Rodney Mullen’s Summer of 92 with the boobs or 101 Gabe Rodriguez vs Crusher

“Not sure what it is about this shot… maybe Neil’s scowl. Whatever it is, I still want a Volvo to this day. Some people’s genius transcend the act of riding a board with wheels and Blender has always been that dude for me.”

“This is the one right here. Something about this ad… perfect. Probably the main reason that I started Chrome Ball is that one day I tried to find this ad online and I couldn’t.”

“I honestly can’t say that this is one of my favorite ads… but it obviously made an impression.”

“This photo is perfect. The end.”

“This is another one of those where I’m not exactly sure what it means, but I honestly hope I never find out.

I think I’ve told this story a billion times over on the site but I saw J.lee skate at a demo in Columbus, Ohio in ’90 (he took Jeremy Klien’s place on the tour, who evidently had gotten sick) and he remains the best skater I’ve ever seen in person. The loudest ollie to boards and ollie to tails ever… and the tre flips were decent, too.

He was one of my favorite skaters at the time and he totally lived up to my damn-near-impossible 12-year-old kid expectations.

I got his autograph three separate times that day.”

“I was a huge Quim fan back in the day, sideways tan cap and the whole nine… regardless of his brand of department store shoes these days, he still gets the pass with me.

CBI trivia for those who care: the blog was almost named ‘blood, sweat and lampshades’ but was changed at the last minute because I thought the reference was too obscure… because ‘chrome ball incident’ is so obvious. I never said I was smart.”

“This is in the first skateboard mag I ever bought, TWS Feb 86. I remember being blown away by the artwork and not even knowing for a while there after that Lance actually skated too. The creativity I found in that first skatemag I ever picked up is still inspiring to this day.”

“I’ve often heard that whenever Gonz and Natas would go streetskating at this time with other pros that our heroes often felt they were speaking another language and inevitably the visting pros would resort to sitting down and watching. This spread from ’87, for me at least, demonstrates that point perfectly. ”

“Because it’s fucking Cardiel.”

“My favorite cover of all-time. Just the timing of it… street skating was blowing up, the fuse was lit on the timebomb MC and Slap was a fresh new magazine. Everything seemed possible.

I’m actually supposed to be working on MC interview questions right now but I’m typing this… I guess I should probably go.”

adidas Skateboarding | Danny Kinley

Trashfilter: We’ve had a few emails recently from people asking how they can get into the shoe design industry – mainly from students or skaters who are trying to work the angles and find a way in. What’s your role and what was your personal journey to get where you are now?

Danny Kinley: I think you can go all different routes, but I went a more traditional route: I went to design school for industrial design. It was a five year program, which seemed like an eternity when I was in college! I did that for five years, had a bunch of internships but my first introduction to working on footwear was working for Salomon, which at the time was in Colorado. I worked on some trail shoes and that kinda thing and then after college I got a job at DVS. I worked there for a couple of years and then came up to adidas.

I’ve known a lot of people who’ve gone from graphic design into footwear, such as C-Law here, so there are different ways you can translate those skills into footwear design.

Do they cross over much, do you think? Is having a background in graphics advantageous to design footwear?

Yeah, I think especially for lifestyle shoes there’s more of a crossover, because a lot of the time it’s based on a graphic or a focus on logo placement. I think on the Performance shoes, there’s another level. I think there are a few Performance shoes where the focus has moved away a little too much from the graphic side of things.

What’s your official job title at adidas?

I’m the Senior Designer for Skateboarding. I work on footwear, apparel and accessories. We have an ad agency called Juice who handle the ads, website and everything else.

Ahhh… They’re the guys down in San Francisco, right? I think we pitched against them once! They’re really good.

Haha! Yeah! They get the whole skateboarding thing, which is great: Dennis Busenitz will call into their office to see stuff and they know people in the city down there, so they’ve got a good handle on what’s going on. We work quite closely with them, especially when it comes to catalogue time. They’ll have certain ideas on what they want to do and we’ll go through it together. It’s nice to work with guys you can really trust to do things properly.

Trashfilter: So what is the process you go through to create a skate shoe? How do you take it from concept through to final product? Do you get briefed on what’s needed on every project?

Danny Kinley: Yeah. Marc Holcombe – our crack marketeer, I guess you could say! – will come up with a plan for the whole season. How many new shoes we’re gonna do and how many colourways of each shoe and, if there’s a new shoe, what direction it should be. He does a really good job and we work well together – he’ll give me a loose idea of what’s required, not too constraining.

From there, I’ll go and sketch for a week and work on it over and over again and then sit with Marc and we’ll refine it some more. We’ll have lots of arguments and discussions along the way, but we’ve been working together long enough to communicate really well and we’re on the same page usually.

After you’ve worked out the sketches to take forwards, what’s the next stage?

So, yeah, the first thing is the sketches, which I’ll refine to a point where we’re happy with the initial look. Then we’re in a position to take it to the German office and we’ll get feedback and make adjustments based on that. So after the presentation stage, we go to the sample making process. If it’s something we’ve never done before, like a new technology, we start the sampling process a bit earlier.

After a month of sample making, we go to Asia and revise all the samples and make sure the salseman samples are ready.

When you take your designs to Germany for sign-off, does everything translate easily? I don’t mean in terms of language, by the way! I just see the US skate market as being slightly different to the European one. We certainly get different models and colourways here in the UK to what the US stores are carrying.

Luckily, it’s a pretty international bunch of people in the German office. As long as we’re confident in what we’re presenting, they’ll back us up. The only conflicts are if there’s something they’re already working on that might crossover too closely.

Do you have to do different products for different territories specifically? Do certain areas take certain colours and models?

As far as Skate goes, it’s generally all international these days. I worked on some projects that were under the Coastal division category that were more targeted, but not any more. Some of the lifestyle models tend to be US-only: things that are catering for the shopping mall crowd, with bigger logos and graphic treatments.

Trashfilter: What’s it like to work on a pro model shoe for one of the skaters? Do the skaters generally want to have a lot of input?

Danny Kinley: Yeah. I’d say that each person is different: some pros are more involved than others. Dennis Busenitz was really involved in the design of his model. In fact, he just called me and is still trying to tweak things on his shoe, even though it’s been out for over a year and a half! Which is good, because it gives us the chance to continually evolve the design.

Some other guys just trust you to make it cool and you’ll show them the sample and we’ll just revise it from there.

So which skaters have you designed shoes for? You did Tim O’Connor’s model, right?

Yeah – those were all colourways of the Roster. We have our pro colourways of existing models and Dennis’s shoe was the first full-on pro shoe we did. The next one is the Silas Baxter-Neal shoe, which (at the time of this interview) is due out in a month or so.

And Pete Eldridge’s shoe was another colourway, right?

Yeah – in order to keep the product line tight, we can take an existing model and just adjust things a little bit to tailor it to the skater. This time it was a colourway and adding his name to the shoe, but next year it might be something else.

With Dennis’s shoe, that really surprised a lot of us who were waiting to see what was coming. The absolute antithesis of bulky skate shoes, it looked more like a football shoe. It seemed like a really bold and brave move by adidas, considering you guys were still fairly new to the core skate market. But it was really well received – I don’t know how it went in the US, but in Europe, the stores couldn’t keep it in stock.

Nice! Yeah, that was all Dennis’s direction: he really liked the Copa Mondial model. He grew up playing soccer – as we call it in the US! – in Germany up until the age of joining junior high (school). So that shoe had a big influence on him and he definitely wanted something with that toe detail. With the tongue, we were a little nervous about it, as it was our first pro shoe in the line…

Oh – I loved that detail though! The extra-long tongue, with scissor marks to guide you if you wanted to cut it down! I thought that was pretty cool, as it reminded me of when we used to cut down our Airwalk Prototypes!

That was actually something that came in right at the end. We were down at Juice doing an interview – Dan Wolfe (Eastern Exposure) was filming – and bouncing ideas across with Matt Irving, the idea of the tongue came up. We put the text on the back and had Dennis translate it into German for us

We were a little nervous about the tongue, but it seems like it’s been well-received.

I love that shoe, but to be fair, I think that’s a perfect example of a model that you needed to see in the flesh to fully appreciate. Photographs just didn’t do it justice.

It was a challenge to get it in front of people, but halfway through the season it seemed to gain more momentum. I think seeing any shoe that Dennis was skating in… well, he could be wearing Ugg boots and it’d look good! So we definitely had that going for us!

Trashfilter: The adidas skate team is pretty much second to none. Look at the videos, like ‘Diagonal’: amazing stuff.

Danny Kinley: Totally – lots of different styles on there. Maybe not the biggest X Games type characters, but the managers here have always understood about quality not quantity.

The European and Asian team seems to be as well-respected and considered as the US team, which definitely helps. I’m a big fan of Chewy (Cannon), so there’s a sense of UK pride when I see him on ‘Diagonal’ for sure.

Yeah, Chewy‘s amazing! Jascha (Muller) has done a great job directing the look and feel of the team, just like George here in the US. All the decisions about who’s going to join they discuss with the whole existing team first. Once you have that good base of pro riders, you can ask their opinions and get a good idea as to whether certain people will fit.

I was reading something recently where a sponsored skater was being asked in a magazine interview, ‘Oh, so what do you think of this guy who’s on your team?’. And he was like, ‘I don’t even know who that is’. Dude, that’s your teammate!

I guess one other thing that seems pretty apparent here in the adidas design area is that everyone seems to be involved in skating. Do you still skate?

Yeah! I’ve got two kids, so it gets harder and harder! But I keep telling myself that I gotta keep my skills up for when they’re old enough to start asking, ‘Dad, how do I do a tre flip?’. We have a day during the week – Thrash Thursday – where we can all go out for a skate in the afternoon, which is pretty cool.

Mysterious Al | artist and illustrator

TF: This is probably a good opening point to get out of the way: you have never claimed that what you do is graffiti, whereas a lot of the people who’ve profited well from selling artwork over the past few years have labeled themselves that way. What are your own personal distinctions between true graffiti and the guys who are doing street art?

Al: Oh dude, Where do I start? Although I’ve always been massively interested in graffiti and draw a lot of my working process from its methods, I’m about as far away from a graffiti writer as you can get. Real graffiti artists are infinitely more hardcore than me and hold down crazy skill in intensely hot situations and spots. I occasionally paint walls and sometimes they’re illegal, but for me it’s all about the social aspect of this… Painting with friends, doing a good spot, then going for a beer… That’s what I like. I don’t see the point in street artists that aren’t up everywhere fronting like they’re hardcore. Everyone can see through that shit straight away and its embarrassing.

I totally agree with you – and I think that’s why your work has stood the test of time compared to lots of the fly-by-night guys who have made some quick money and then disappeared when people realised they weren’t what they were claiming to be.

What’s your current perspective on the street art scene in London at the moment? Is there anyone you think is doing something particularly exciting or different?

Everybody does things for their own reasons, and that’s fantastic. Personally though, street art in London bores me to tears. I’ve been almost completely out of the loop with what’s going on here since the wheat-paste invasion of 2006. It got so bad that I actually started seeing stencils on wheat-pasted posters on the street! I mean, what’s that all about? Really? What also confuses me is everybody trying to make witty jokes or have satirical remarks in their work. Stencils of children juggling grenades and all that shit… There’s one artist doing that style well enough for everybody, so I’m more interested in people creating art for art’s sake.

I feel that you were really one of the people who pioneered the street-level art scene. Back in 1999/2000 or so, when we first got in touch, your work and the things you were doing with your website really stood out to me. No-one else was doing that. Did you realise you were onto something new then?

I think what’s really worth bearing in mind is that when we all started that stuff, nobody had coined the phrase ‘Street Art’ yet. There were lots of amazing artists, illustrators and graff writers to draw influence from, but Street Art as we know it didn’t exist. I trained as a Fine Art painter (ridiculous, right?) but became more into drawing and creating stuff more spontaneous than ‘proper’ painting.

I was looking at American artists like Futura, Phil Frost, Barry McGee, Andy Howell and UK guys like Will Barras, Mr Jago and Kid Acne. For artists like myself, Chimp and D*Face, making work on the street just seemed like a logical progression from the work we were making at college or in our studios… We had no agenda, which made us very different from the kids who are doing this today.

To me, what you guys were doing back then was more akin to what Cost and Revs were doing in NYC in the early ’90s. As a genre of art, it certainly wasn’t as socially acceptable as it is now: because of the saturation, the general public don’t look twice at most things they pass in the street today. Which brings me onto another topic: Finders Keepers. Putting in time creating artwork and then having pop-up open-air events where people could grab their favourite pieces for free… For 2003, that was ahead of its time.

Finders Keepers was the brainchild of PMH, who discussed it with D*face and myself over one of our many, many nights of drinking. We’d all been doing bits and pieces on the streets at this time and a lot of other artists had started coming up, so PMH came up with an idea for an illegal street-art exhibition. Looking back on everything I’m amazed how far we got with absolutely no planning whatsoever. We invited a load of artists we knew by email to come meet us in a boozer in East London, then went on a mad drunken mission of scouring the streets looking for… Well, rubbish, basically. Old boxes, oil drums, broken computers, fridges… We collected all this shit, took it home, decorated it, then met up again a few days later to ‘exhibit’ it.

We’d emailed everyone we knew and got people to spread the word to their friends and colleagues. ‘Free Art show, location TBC’. That was on the Tuesday, or something. We really had no idea how this was gonna go down, but we found a suitable disused shop-front on a Paul St, a quiet street in east London. We mailed the artists and the public at the same time early Friday afternoon, and by 5pm people started appearing and climbing all over the place hanging work and partying. The emails must have spread like crazy because we must have had 300+ people at our first event. They bought booze, sound systems and we had an illegal street arty in the middle of Shoreditch. All the work was given away at the end. It was a massive success.

Over the next few summers we ended up doing several more of these events across Europe, and I still occasionally see some of the artworks doing the rounds on eBay for ridiculous money. How we managed to do this before Twitter or any social networking sites existed still amazes me.

How long did Finders Keepers run for?

I think we did events for two or three years, but really nothing for me ever came close to the first event. Its success was completely unexpected.

I feel that everything kinda blew up in terms of street art and people making a decent living from it around 2007, 2008… and slowly as more and more people started trying to do the same thing, it got over saturated. Maybe I should name names, but some of the absolute horseshit that was being priced for auctions was ridiculous. I’m sorry, but seeing a stencilled print selling for 50 times the price of an original Futura or Seen piece… that’s ludicrous to me. What are your feelings on that kinda thing happening?

The thing is, a lot of people who are into the work of the older masters of the scene aren’t the same people who actually BUY art. There really was a lot of stuff doing the rounds that didn’t really do it for me either. But I think that goes back to this agenda thing I mentioned earlier. I’m much happier to see artists making art that they’re passionate about rather than trying to tick boxes. That’s why I really like artists who show a real natural progression in their work and don’t just turn on their heels and paint a picture of the queen wearing a balaclava with a rocket up her ass.

How do you find it balancing your passion for creating artwork with the job of having to make money to survive? Do you find you have to compromise yourself much when you’re working for a client?

I’ve been very, very lucky to have worked on some amazing jobs with some really great brands. In that respect, I’d never put my name to something that I wasn’t happy with. As with all creative collaborations there will always be a little bit of compromise with things that can’t be done. Adidas wouldn’t allow me to put an inverted crucifix on my Superskates, and some of the original characters I did for a Yahoo! campaign were deemed unsuitable – But I never sign anything off until I’m 100% happy with it.

Like everybody else I have to earn a living. To me, ‘selling out’ is when you’re handing over your shit for a giant pay-cheque and losing control of it. Doing jobs that I like in my style and getting paid for it is amazing, but I also do soooooo many mundane ‘bread-and-butter’ graphics jobs that are completely separate from my character stuff… I just don’t tell anybody about them.

Are there any agencies or individuals who’ve really helped you out along the way? Any particularly fun projects?

Oh man, So many people and clients have hooked me up. Yourself and Russ at Spinemagazine for giving me my first job after University. You didn’t actually have a job for me to do so I sat on a bin drawing and essentially running a softcore porn site. That really gave me a chance to get on with my shit and I am so completely grateful to you both. The guys at POKE! agency really looked after me and hired me for some great illustration gigs whilst I was starting out as a freelancer, so I owe them a hell of a lot, too. My boy Tristan Eaton in NYC is always involving me in his incredible projects with THUNDERDOG and gives sound transatlantic advice when I freak out about shit, so big him up, also. And finally my family at Goodhood, Word to Mother, D*face and everybody around me that helps each other out on a daily basis.

It’s all about keeping good company and having people around that inspire and are reliable.

What made you want to make the neon sign? At that time, I hadn’t seen anything like that. I remember you going through hell trying to keep the thing working!

There’s a scene in Wong Kar-Wai’s ‘Chung King Express’ where one of the main characters girlfriend leaves him. He turns to drink and narrates: "After she left, I talked to the bottles". I always loved that scene and found such poetry in those words, so my bottles were directly influenced by them, the stark neon feel of Hong Kong, drinking and having girl problems.

Your work for Volvo was one of the few times I noticeably turned my head to see what had gone past when those ads were on the buses. Break down how that project went for you.

The Volvo campaign was one of those jobs that just snowballed. One of the directors of the commercial had seen my work and contacted me through Nelly Duff gallery, who acted as my agent. I got asked to go and spend three days painting a 210ft wall in Bilbao, and took Solo One and Matt Sewell along to help me. Solo is an unbelievable painter. So fast and ridiculously on point. He really held it down when we got hit with an unexpected colour change the day before we started!

The whole experience was great – we stayed in a stoosh hotel and everyone was into what we were doing and really looked after us. I really had no idea in what capacity the ad was going to be used, but the shot of my work became quite a focal point and was used everywhere. My mum got really excited and phoned me every time she saw it on a bus, which was great at first but got annoying after the third day.

Your project with adidas obviously received a lot of attention. How did that project come about – and what was it like working with the US design team there?

Well, to me a shoe is one of those seminal projects that really means you’re getting your shit straight, so it was an absolute honour to work with adidas on those.

I was working with ex-CT design-mogul C-Law, so it was very useful to have a friend on the inside. He hasn’t really spoken to me since the project though, so I think I annoyed him. Adidas were incredible and let me do some very cool things like glow-in-the-dark and all-over-print linings. I have a habit of trying to sneak inverted crucifixes into as much of my commercial work as possible, and one of them actually made it to the very last stage of production before somebody spotted it. I had to do the footbed graphics again which made C-Law pretty angry.

Your Eastpak bags also caught a lot of attention. I saw a lot of people with the backpacks.

I was approached by Eastpak many years ago to make all-over prints for their various rucksacks and apparel. Eastpak weren’t quite as open-minded as adidas were so there were A LOT of design changes. Towards the end I actually ended up losing it a bit with the colourways, so did the most disgusting orange / red / black design as some sort of defiant pisstake. I thought Eastpak were joking when they signed it off, but they clearly know what they’re doing as it turned out to be a massive success. I even spotted one on the O.C. which means that technically I’m in with that Mischa Barton.

I remember flicking through an issue of Sidewalk magazine and seeing your Enuff graphics – and thinking how well your artwork suited skate decks as a canvas. A lot of artists seem to have their existing work reappropriated for that platform, but your style really works on that dimension.

Enuff have been an absolutely amazing client – they literally let me do whatever I want. My first series with them had crazy fluro colours and the second glow in the dark! How cool is that? I’m currently working on my third set of decks with them and these ones are gonna be the best yet. The most super-hardcore time-consuming illustrations I’ve ever done. I almost regret starting them because drawing them makes my eyes hurt… You’ll see what I mean when they drop!

What are you working on at the moment? What are your plans for the rest of 2010 and beyond? Anything exciting on the horizon?

Man, this is already shaping up to be a big year. I’m involved in design and art direction for a couple of music acts and am working closely with them on artwork for their packaging and visuals for their live shows… I can’t mention them here but trust me, if you go to any festivals this year you won’t miss them.

This year I’m also preparing to give my artwork a BIG push. I’ve been quietly observing from the sidelines for a while, and am now working on a new body of work based around the Maesoamerican calendar and 2012 doomsday predictions! Expect a solo show towards the end of the year…

Blind ‘Video Days’ | skate video

The Blind skate company was formed when Steve Rocco approached legendary street skater Mark Gonzales (AKA The Gonz) to start his own company under the World Industries umbrella. Mark’s previous sponsor, Vision, was regarded as one of the ‘big 5’ companies, generating a lot of money for the owners and shareholders but not necessarily an equal amount for the skaters it sponsored – and whose names kept the Vision products flying off the shelves.

People have analysed the Blind name and come up with their own ideas on the name (perhaps it was the opposite of Vision?), but that’s always been ‘officially’ denied by both Gonz and Rocco. Regardless of any in-jokes or private inspiration, skaters immediately latched onto the fact that one of their long-term icons was now in creative control of his own entity.

And we could hardly wait.

The roster of riders in ‘Video Days’ might have been short, but it was certainly sweet: Guy Mariano, Jordan Richter, Mark Gonzales, Rudy Johnson and Jason Lee. At a period when skate videos were few and far between, to have such a concise team was considered an unusual and brave move, especially for a new company. Established competitors such as Powell Peralta and H-Street would happily make a 90-minute film showcasing 20 different riders and sell it for £20: by comparison, Blind were barely a few years old and ‘Video Days’ featured five riders over 24 minutes – and for £25. The other companies had full-colour VHS cases: ‘Video Days’ had a grey cardboard box with a sticker on it.

If you’ll pardon the pun, in this case, less was clearly more.

Whilst The Gonz’s creativity made Blind a force to be reckoned with in terms of skate companies, there was another big contributing factor to the success of ‘Video Days’.

Enter Spike Jonze. Today, Spike is known for his Hollywood productions and music videos as much as anything else, but ‘Video Days’ was the starting point. With a genuine background in the BMX and skateboarding scenes, Spike was the perfect person to direct Blind’s debut video.

Creating ‘Video Days’ as your first commercial skate film production certainly didn’t do Spike’s resume any harm.

The camera work by Jacob Rosenberg was amazing and upped the ante for all subsequent skate video releases. ‘Video Days’ had an all-star cast, from every angle.

The video kicks off with the Blind team driving around Los Angeles (well, four of them: Jordan Richter is busy rolling down hills, it would seem) in an old blue Cadillac. As they cruise the streets and drive dangerously close to the edge of the freeway, we get to see glimpses of the skating abilities within. And a rather spectacular stack down a large double-set of stairs from Mark Gonzales.

Once the 60-second intro sequence is over, the individual sections begin…

Guy was fresh from the Powell team, along with fellow Blind team-mate, Rudy Johnson, even wearing a Powell ‘Supreme’ t-shirt at various points in his video part.

Skating to the sounds of the Jackson Five, Guy’s section is nothing short of incredible. We’d already had a small taste of his skills in Powell’s ‘Ban This’ video from ‘89, but by ’Video Days’ his skills were honed to perfection.

Riding a board that was almost as big as himself (Guy was 14 when much of the video was shot), he did the first noseblunt slides I’d seen on film, an impossible lipslide on the infamous Hewlett-Packard handrail and some incredible flatground lines. One of the best opening sections of any skate video ever.

Jordan had a short section compared to the rest of the team – and to be fair, he had his work cut out to hold our attentions. Whilst vert ramp skating was the popular style of the ‘80s, by the time ’Video Days’ came out, vert was in a lull and everyone wanted to see street skating. It didn’t help that the person who’d brought him to Blind – ramp genius, Danny Way – had moved on, leaving Richter as the lone ‘ramp guy’ on the team.

That said, his part shows the beginning of the period where vert riders began bringing street-inspired moves to the ramps: nollies, nose manuals and other tricks.

Opening with clips from ‘Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory’ (not to be confused with ‘Charlie & the Chocolate Factory’…) and skating to John Coltrane, Mark Gonzales produced his first full video section anyone had seen. We’d seen the photos in the magazines of his incredible tricks, but watching them on the TV screen was something else altogether.

There aren’t any highlights: his whole section is outstanding. The first to ollie the infamous Wallenburg steps (see middle picture above here), the handrail manoeuvres, the cruising down the street, the long linked lines of flatland… Nothing had ever been done of this calibre before.

One of the best video sections of all-time.

Having joined Blind from Powell with Guy, Rudy’s section was just as impressive. High speed lines, technical trickery (the manual to 360 flip at Embarcadero being a prime example) and crisp style made Rudy’s section the perfect follow-on from Gonz’s section.

You can tell how good Rudy was by the visible clue that many of his tricks were filmed in the same day: just look for the same clothing in a number of clips.

Another skater who we were used to seeing in the magazines but had little idea just how good he actually was, Jason Lee’s section is still a benchmark twenty years later.

Skating fast, with plenty of big moves, you get to see a number of outstanding tricks in this part. The 360 flip over the sand gap (see above left) is one of the best 360 flips of all time. We’ve heard numerous times that Jason’s part doesn’t actually show just how good he really was. But it was still enough to blow our minds.

The blue Cadillac device continues at the end of the film, with our rowdy skate team grabbing some alcohol and taking to the dirt tracks of Tijuana. Alas, it all ends in tears when they go over the edge of a cliff and crash, resulting in a eulogy-style credits section that could bring a tear to anyone’s eye.

Whilst it seemed pretty clear that it was all a joke, I recall people asking ‘Wow… did they all die?’ after seeing this for the first time.

Phat Magazine | Hot Stuff For Hoodlums

My good friend Mr. Warnett covered Phat Magazine tremendously well over on his blog already, but I feel it would be an injustice to miss out on an opportunity to write a little about it myself.

Drawing parallels with other magazines doesn’t really work so well for Phat: it was a unique compendium of different topics, perhaps centred around skateboarding, but progressive enough to go off on a tangent at any moment. The only other real comparison might be with Spike Jonze, Andy Jenkins and Mark Lewman’s ‘Dirt’ magazine, but that’s a topic I’ll return to at a later date.

Before Phat, there was R.a.D. (Read and Destroy) magazine. And before R.a.D. was BMX Action Bike. When skating slowly infiltrated the pages of my much-beloved issues of BMX Action Bike magazine, I was initially dismayed! How dare they cut pages of BMX only to replace it with skateboarding photos? In 1985, I was still fully immersed in riding my BMX: trying to race very occasionally for the Bexhill Burners and then learn flatground tricks by copying people such as the Curb Dogs. Skateboarding was not on my radar at all at that point, so when December 1985’s issue of BMX Action Bike came around, I was surprised to see a 16-page ‘Skate Action’ special tucked into the magazine. Today, I would kill for a replacement copy of that pullout (please get in touch if you have one), but at the time I felt slightly annoyed.

Seeing my buddy Rich on his Variflex Twisted soon changed my mind and I gradually swapped two wheels for four, as BMX Action Bike morphed into R.a.D. magazine at issue 53.

R.a.D. was a complete anomaly on the shelves of the newsagents. Whilst there were other attempts to take ownership of the UK skate demographic, editor Tim Leighton-Boyce and his editorial team were by far the most influential. Freestyle BMX magazines tried to cram skating into their pages, but fell by the wayside early on, whilst Skateboard! and the abysmal Sk8 Action slowly faded into obscurity (Skateboard! was all ready to relaunch as ‘Crack’ or something, but it never materialised: I’m not surprised, with a name like that). R.a.D. truly held the banner aloft for the UK skate scene.

Due to a variety of shenanigans (Robert Maxwell being a main culprit), R.a.D was put up for sale and despite being offered to the staff who were running things, it was sold to another party who went on to ruin the magazine. Speak to anyone today about that period of R.a.D. and they might recall how the mag halved in content overnight. Meanwhile, the original R.a.D. team went and launched their own magazine: Phat.

Phat had a loose but unique structure that made it particularly accommodating to anything that was deemed worthy of publication. A cover feature formed a major part of the content, but the other parts of the mag were broken down into three different sections that went far beyond the realms of skate-only content. In short, the magazine hooked you in with the skate stuff, which was just as good as it had been in R.a.D., and then took you somewhere completely else. Little amusing lists (ie. ‘5 Reasons Not To Be A Ragga’ or ‘5 Fashion Items We Never Want To See Again’) were peppered between UFO articles and interviews with graffiti writers and comic book artists.

30,000 went out to the newsagents, ready for a hungry audience to consume. So what happened?

It was the cover feature on issue 1 that caused irreparable damage to Phat. A feature in The Sunday Telegraph picked up on the gun culture cover feature and used it to fuel a diatribe on how the teenage gang phenomenon was being encouraged by publications such as Phat. The reality couldn’t have been further from the truth: the gun culture feature was actually a fantastic argument against guns, written by the late, great Gavin Hills who wrote some truly great articles in his time. The cover photo (well-respected UK skater Matt Stuart, holding a replica Beretta with a daisy stuck in the end of it) and the ‘teenage gangsta’ headline gave the media the perfect ammunition to cause uproar from nothing. If they’d actually taken the time to read the article, things might have been very different.

The end result: some backers pulled out, John Menzies insisted on vetting every page before stocking it and in the end WHSmith decided they wouldn’t stock the mag at all. With their monopoly on distribution, it meant there was nowhere to go with the magazine, despite a last-minute attempt to move things under the Time Out wing.

So, with a limited sales outlet and a negative media frenzy, the magazine seemed doomed. Throw into the mix that the lead designer (the extremely talented Steve Hicks) was poached to work on another magazine (Mouth 2 Mouth, based over in the US) and that sealed the magazine’s fate. That said, the fact that Tim and co. managed to get the third issue out there before the coffin was sealed is a testament to their determination. In three issues, they’d made more of an impact on my life than any other magazine has done since.

On a personal level, I’ll always be extremely grateful to Tim for giving me the chance to contribute (a small number of product and music reviews) to both R.a.D. and Phat – something that inspired me to keep writing and led to me writing for a number of other magazine titles down the line. I still find myself pulling the old copies of Phat off the shelves and reminiscing. Thank you Tim.

C21 Publishing (the publishers of Phat) were genuinely innovative. Phat was one of the first magazines to begin using the Internet (in the early CIX guise) for both internal communication and inviting outside participation. Remember, this was 1993: most of us hadn’t even sent an email at that point, let alone logged onto a website.

As early adopters of email and other forward-thinking technologies, Phat was truly practising what it preached. Part of the mission statement said it was ‘a revolutionary new magazine for those who will be 21 in the 21st Century’.

The infamous ‘first issue’ that ultimately caused the unfair media backlash, Phat was talked about in a hush-hush tone as ‘the new magazine that Tim and the guys were doing’. My friend Ray (who was working as an editorial assistant) told me what was going on, and I was excited when I finally got hold of a copy. The thing that stood out was that there was plenty to read. I found myself spending ages trying to absorb everything in Phat.

‘The fun, the facts, the fear. Your guide to gun culture’

A great feature that ran through the facts and opinions on whether guns needed to join fashion and music as a complimentary (but often visible) accessory to youth culture. The ending paragraph simply states, "Practically all this world’s problems are caused by men with guns. Life may be tough and we all might want to be cool, but shooters are strictly for losers. Because the thing about guns is: they kill people. From Moss Side to Sarajevo: from Somalia to South LA; Bang-Bang and you’re dead sucker."

The reviews section in Phat was something else altogether. Where skate magazines had kept to equipment, clothing and perhaps the occasional video review, Phat delved into anything that had interested the team that month. As a result, you’d get little insights and personal opinions about anything from hip-hop albums through to television programmes. To someone ‘not in the loop’, it may have appeared disjointed, but to us, it was all relevant. The term ‘peer to peer’ never felt so appropriate.

The cover poked fun at the media backlash from the first issue (Lewis Goodyear holding a banana in a gun-like manner). The little bar down the side of the cover let you know what was going on inside, in case you felt nervous and the lead feature – ‘The top 100 babes’ – was more Viz than FHM.

One of the funniest and bizarre female run-downs I’ve ever read. ‘Seven pages of charming chew’ had me laughing and grimacing in equal amounts: there were clearly some diverse tastes at work on this feature! Nicole (French actress, Estelle Skornik, from the Renault car adverts) sat alongside Katie Puckrick (c’mon now…) and Jessica Rabbit (yes, the cartoon character) in a lighthearted and amusing celebration of the female form. The fact I had some video footage featured in the article (a chance liaison with a girl who’d been watching me skate Fairfield halls in Croydon) only added to my excitement.

Before Geoff became globally renowned for his skating abilities after emigrating to the US, he was practically a household name in the UK. Known for balls of steel and style, his little feature in this issue of Phat was nothing short of great.

Perhaps my favourite issue of any magazine of all time. With its ‘International Info Overload’ tag line on the cover and the cover’s ‘Theft special’ feature, the boundaries were blown to smithereens on the the final issue of the magazine.

OK: it’s not a full feature, but the little interview with James Lavelle, when he was in full flow with Mo’Wax was both inspiring and encouraging. The DIY ethics that Phat promoted were instrumental in my wanting to write later on in life. A great piece that really sums up the positive and realistic angle of Phat’s journalism.

An in-depth article that looked at the facts behind the question ‘does crime pay?’. With a shoplifter interview, a section on how much prison will cost you financially and a review of ‘The Italian Job’, it was a great (and unique) piece.

My friend Ollie was the model for this feature, which was pretty cool.

Style Wars | hip-hop & graffiti documentary

Filming began in 1981, following on from director Henry Chalfant’s

documentation of the early New York hip-hop and graffiti scene (best

demonstrated in his and Martha Cooper’s ‘Subway Art’ book – something we’ll return to later on Trashfilter). Chalfant linked up with Tony Silver and between them they filmed and collated over 30 hours of raw footage. The formative era of b-boying, with Rock Steady and the Dynamic Rockers is captured, but it’s the interviews with the graf writers that makes this so essential to me.

If you’ve ever picked up a can of paint or a marker, you owe it to yourself to study the film in full. The now-legendary clips of Skeme and his mother, the exploits of Seen and Duster, the wars with Cap and the MPC crew, Min One and Iz laying it down… It’s still just as invigorating to watch now as it was back in the ‘80s.

Documentaries come and go over the years and there have certainly been some fantastic efforts when it comes to documenting hip-hop culture. But nothing has knocked ‘Style Wars’ from its well-deserved pedestal.

Henry Chalfant and Tony Silver were forward-thinking enough to start

cataloguing and recording the pioneering days of a worldwide phenomenom that will outlive all of us today. As an open-eyed 8 year old, I couldn’t

necessarily relate to what I was seeing on the screen at the time, but I knew I wanted to find out more. Channel 4’s infamous screening one Christmas in the UK was carefully dubbed and shared until an official VHS release of ‘Style Wars’ appeared in the early 1990s. I made do with that copy until the

excellent reissue on DVD courtesy of Plexifilm in 2003. And now there are rumours of an HD version being created if funding can be found.

The excellent Style Wars website, designed and built by the legendary Mare 139 (who also features prominently in the film) was the first graffiti-themed website I’d seen where the design was as carefully considered as the content: the pieces and photos look great on there.

Tony Silver sadly passed away in 2008, but his name will live with future generations through his work on Style Wars. Henry Chalfant is still very much around, often attending exhibitions and shows, proving that he’s very much ingrained within the threads of hip-hop. His photographic partner Martha Cooper is also still shooting and writing, as her own ‘Hip Hop Files’ book will attest.

I had the opportunity to see some of Henry’s original prints (and sit down to a big screen showing of ‘Style Wars’) when in Paris for the ‘Born In The Streets’ exhibition. Judging by the crowd, the

magnetism won’t ever end.

Make sure you take some time to watch the film, whether you’re fully immersed in hip-hop or just have

the yearning to see a well-made and intelligent portrayal of one of the most exciting subcultures to have ever emerged.

World Industries | skateboarding and anarchy

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Dom Marley | photographer

Keep The Faith magazine

Over the years, a lot of printed UK graffiti mags and fanzines have come and gone. If I look at my own collection of mags from the past few years – from early issues of Graphotism and London’s Burning, on to projects such as the recent Not Guilty fanzine and the always-good Wordplay – it’s clear that there has always been a high standard of self-published works in the UK. Looking at online photo collections is great, but I appreciate the effort that goes into printed matter.

So when I heard that Keep The Faith was on its way, I felt it was a good chance to catch up with the editor and get his take on the disappearing (and underappreciated) world of UK graf magazines.

Andy Jenkins Interview

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