Addict footwear | Addict Scout shoe

Addict footwear Scout model

There’s rarely a situation where you can’t find an appropriate pair of sneaks to wear, but I’m starting to realise that broadening the wardrobe selection a little bit probably isn’t a bad idea. But, seriously, finding a decent style of shoe to wear isn’t very easy. I’ve got a pair of Clarks Wallabees for weddings/funerals/court hearings and some very similar-looking Paul Smith shoes for the same thing, but they’re a bit too… smart.

So when C-Law got loose with the new range of casual footwear at Addict, it was inevitable he’d be conjuring up something I’d actually like to own. Let me introduce you to the Addict Scout model.

Addict footwear Scout model

Those of you familiar with Japan’s well-respected Visvim brand will definitely draw similarities to their FBT model: there’s a trainer-style sole, a similar silhouette and suede uppers. But unless you’re happy to drop several hundred dollars on those, you’re not going to be getting a pair.

Rather than a straight facsimile, C-Law and Addict spiced things up and gave it their own twist. You’ve still got the comfortable shape, but things are simplified by leaving the ‘skirt’ off and focusing on other eras. I wouldn’t normally be down for any desert boot styles – a foot like a dirty Cornish pasty has never looked good – but these are about as far away from that as you could get. These have a refined shape but still show enough chunk to know they won’t fall apart in the first ten minutes.

Addict footwear Scout model

The D-ring lacing system is perfect for speedy fastening (with nice waxed laces) and the tongue takes aspects of sneaker comfort but looks a little more fresh with a really nice suede label. one thing that I think is really nice (albeit slightly unimportant), is that the packaging really looks quality. It’s clear that you’re getting something nice as soon as you see the box.

The midsole is EVA with a nice gum outsole for extra style points and it’ll give you enough grip when clambering home from the pub.

Addict footwear Scout model

Addict footwear Scout model

I’ve just started wearing them and although some people have said they feel quite snug, I’m glad I went a half size down. The best thing to do is try ’em on before you buy ’em. There’s a nice thick insole that actually does its job well and holds your heel well.

In three decent colours and at less than a third of the price of anything similar, you really won’t go wrong with these.

Addict footwear Scout model

You’ll find the Addict Scout in all the usual spots – Crooked Tongues, Size? etc. – but you can read a little more about them on Addict’s own site: http://www.addict.co.uk/products/sku/footwear/scout_desert. Based on these, I’m really looking forwards to seeing next year’s selection from the guys.

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.

Cliché Résumé | A Decade Plus of Skateboarding in Europe book

cliche resume skate book

Cliché are one of the few skate brands to originate in Europe and successfully crack the global skate market. Others, like Flip (who many of us here in the UK remember as Death Box originally), Blueprint (who, again, started out under another name: Panic) or even Etnies (Etnics), did it beforehand, but you can’t help but think that the odds were stacked against any foreign companies trying to conquer the US. Without hardcore investment or backing from a larger brand, it’s no surprise that many companies outside of the US have only really succeeded in their own countries. Cliché, from France, are an exception to the rule.

I’ll be honest: I had no idea that it had actually been (over) ten years since they started the company. We didn’t really see much in the way of their boards until after the millennium, and even then in London we were more likely to support our own indigenous woodshops than look at a French brand. But things changed and perseverance clearly paid off. Today, you’ll see Cliché sitting alongside the best that the skate scene has to offer.

cliche resume skate book

The good skate-related books are few and far between – you’ll find a few of these others reviewed here on Trashfilter – but this 320page compendium of Cliché’s journey from their humble start is fully worthy of being printed and bound. Mackenzie Eisenhour from Transworld Skateboarding provides the narrative as we’re taken from inception to current-day and it makes for interesting reading. But, whilst the words are good, the photography and layout was outstanding. Photos from the cream of the crop are interspersed with clean and interesting page layouts, archive graphic images and lots more visual confectionery.

Jérémie Daclin’s personal story is briefly covered and he modestly steers away from the fact that he was one of the most well-known European skaters in the the early ’90s. His part in New Deal’s classic ‘1281’ was short but memorable (anyone that did double-flip caspers out of long manual rolls was clearly at the peak of technical ability) and it’s inspiring to read how he translated his skating skills into developing a business from scratch. Cliché’s ‘Gypsy Tours’ – covered many times in Skateboarder and other mags – sound crazy to those who are used to the ideas of pro skaters wearing ‘ice’ and driving Bentleys, but the reality is that they’re guided by nothing more than friendship and a raw love for skating. I’ve done my time on tours like that in the past, but even I haven’t had to use the sea as my daily bath/toilet before.

cliche resume skate book

May of the past and present riders are covered in depth: Pontus Alv, Lucas Puig, JJ Rousseau, JB Gillet, Javier Mendizabal, Vincent Bressol, Al Boglio, Andrew Brophy, Charles Collet, the ever-popular Joey Brezinski… even the turning down of Arto Saari is covered, accompanied by a statement of regret and a photo fo his sponsor-me tape. There’s some Gonz-related factoids thrown into the mix as well. All good stuff.

Résumé balances the fine line between being an arty book for the coffee table and something that you’d actually want to sit and read. Bear in mind, if you do plan on reading it, you’ll need strong arms: this thing weighs a ton and the corners on the hardback cover were designed to stop blood flow. You’ll be able to find this in most of the online book stores, but before heading over to one of them, check to see if your local skate shop’s got it in stock. At around the £25-30 mark, it’s not exactly cheap, but it’s much better value than the six magazines you could’ve bought with the money instead.

Emerica ‘Stay Gold’ | DVD review

emerica stay gold

It’s been a long time coming and the ads over the past 18 months have certainly fueled our expectant minds, but Emerica’s ‘Stay Gold’ certainly lives up to the promise. I don’t usually venture out to skate film premieres these days (the last one I went to was probably ‘Public Domain’ at the National Film Theatre in 1989), but I actually wanted to see this one in the cinema. Well, unlucky me: a prearranged client meeting put paid to any leisure activities on the evening of 26th August. Messageboards blew up with news and early reports and I did my best to ignore leaked footage and spoilers so that I could approach viewing with a clear mind. You have no idea how difficult this was.

I wouldn’t normally pay for a download – call me ‘old school’, but having the physical DVD is far more appealing when it comes to parting with money – but I dropped the £5.99 via iTunes and purchased an official copy of ‘Stay Gold’. A physical copy is on the way, and I’ll update this review when it arrives, but in the meantime let’s run through the feature presentation.
(Big thanks to Tom at Sole Tech for dropping me the DVD in the mail: see the bottom of this review for a DVD-specific additional section)

Firstly, it may or may not surprise you to find out that this is unofficially Heath Kirchart’s retirement video. The guy’s smashed it for years (I first saw him in Birdhouse’s ‘Ravers’ back in ’93) and when you look at what he’s accomplished since then, he’s been at the top of his game for the best part of a decade. Read the full run-through of Heath’s part towards the end of this page.

emerica stay gold

The opening sequence is slick. I really like the combination of Jon Miner and Mike Manzoori behind the cameras and the edit desk: the result is far more cinematic than a lot of other skate films and easier to stomach on repeated viewings. Handdrawn typography, the green tint to the footage and other devices such as vignetting and careful use of slow motion gives a relaxed and immersive feel. One thing I had heard was that the video was tough going in places because of the repeated hammers being thrown left, right and centre. Whilst that’s true to certain extent, there’s enough variety from section to section to keep things interesting.

emerica stay gold

Brandon Westgate. Jesus Christ. What an opening section. I’d seen a fair bit of him (the Zoo York DVD springs to mind), but this section elevates him to a new level. On the topic of elevation, he’s a contender for having the biggest pop out of anyone at the moment. Comparing him to Busenitz or Cardiel is being lazy, but there are definite similarities: confidence, speed and style being three common characteristics they all share. My favourite trick of his section? Probably the massive driveway/rail clearance when he’s bombing the hills of San Francisco. Seriously impressive.

Bryan Herman follows with an entire block’s worth of kickflip nose manual and some schoolyard picnic-table/bench destruction before his section truly starts. Big rails and big tricks all popped and landed solidly. The hardflip at Bercy in Paris was particularly insane. Marquis Preston doesn’t seem to be restricted by his choice in drainpipe trousers: lots of large steps and rails get annihilated in his part. Spanky’s section – Kevin Long, to his parents – is short but good fun (the backside tailslide bigspin out on the brick banks was smooth and being able to cry on command is fairly unique) and Collin Provost shows that he can cruise a skatepark properly and drop some ridiculous tricks into the mix as well (the 270° ollie flip into the painted red bank was amazing). Little Jamie Tancowny starts with a harsh slam before proving that he’s pro material with a part that’s packed with man-sized tricks. I’ve seen enough crooked grinds on handrails to last me a lifetime, but the one down the kinker he does is as good as they get. Aaron Suski… what can you say? A killer part with a mix of power that’s best summed up by the reaction of the schoolchildren when he clears the ramp/rail. This man deserves a pro shoe, in my opinion. Braydon Szafranski might wear some illegal clothes by my standards but damn he can skate: great smooth lines and plenty of big tricks to keep the hammer count high.

Justin ‘Figgy’ Figueroa skates fast and can do every trick you can do on a flatbar but on a full sized handrail. You could sit and pick out individual tricks (his kickflip smith grind, for example), but it’s best watched as a whole part. Jerry Hsu has been plagued with injuries – his opening montage will convince you of that, in case you thought he was being lazy – but what he does show in his short part is amazing. Switch tailslide over the ‘rainbow’ rail was frickin’ incredible.

emerica stay gold

Leo Romero goes up handrails as you might have seen in photos before, but he does a hell of a lot more as well. One of my favourite sections in the whole film, he does some seriously impressive stuff going at mach one: frontside half-cab boardslide to fakie, a sick nosegrind nollie big heel out on a picnic table, a l-o-n-g double kinker 5-0 grind and an amazing 50-50 up a proper handrail at the end. Surpassed my expectations, which were already high enough.

Who else but The Boss could end this one? Andrew Reynolds in ‘Stay Gold’ has one of the best ending parts of any skate video yet. If you’re a fan (and, c’mon, who isn’t?), you can rest assured that you’ll enjoy this one. Speed and energy go without saying, but it’s the style of his skating that makes it so pleasurable to watch. In a video that is crammed full of pneumatic-level hammering, Reynolds follows the formula but makes it look like no-one else’s section. Watch his line with the backside 360 down the stairs and then the kickflip down the next set: if you couldn’t see the stairs, you’d think he was doing them down curbs. A frontside flip down another massive set of stairs is celebrated by having a puff on the lit cigarette he’s holding in his hand. The nonchalance is in override.

The outro and credits show little clips of Chris Senn and Ed Templeton – yeah, I’d hoped for full sections from both, but a little is better than none – before Marisa Dal Santo and Ben Krahn give us a glimpse of their skills.

emerica stay gold

Time for some data:

1) The main feature clocks in at 56 minutes and 47 seconds long.
2) There are numerous Easter Eggs hidden in the DVD: Heath Kerchart’s section is one, a Barrier Kult section is another. There’s also a flow team section, an Andrew Reynolds bonus part, a Euro team section… and probably some other bits hiding in there as well.
3) The deluxe edition of ‘Stay Gold’ comes with a dope book of Ed Templeton’s photography of the Emerica team from the past ten years. I’ll update this review with a breakdown on that when it arrives.

The ‘Stay Gold’ soundtrack is pretty cool. Some mellow guitar stuff and a few heavier bits and pieces, which suits the style of the film perfectly. Data collectors, here’s a full tracklist for you:

‘Stay Gold’ soundtrack: main feature:

Intro Dead Meadow ‘Through The Gates Of The Sleepy Silver Door’
Brandon Westgate Earthless ‘Jull’
Bryan Herman #1 Tom Waits ‘Top Of The Hill’
Bryan Herman #2 Black Sabbath ‘Fairies Wear Boots’
Marquis Preston John Cale ‘Big White Cloud’
Kevin Long Captain Beefheart ‘Electicity’
Collin Provost Dead Meadow ‘Green Sky Green Lake’
Jamie Tancowny Comets on Fire ‘The Swallow’s Eye’
Aaron Suski Flower Travlin’ Band ‘Satori Pt. 2’
Braydon Szafranski Hawkwind ‘We Took The Wrong Steps Years Ago’
Justin Figueroa Dead Meadow ‘That Old Temple’
Jerry Hsu Ultimate Spinach III ‘Somedays You Just Can’t Win’
Leo Romero Mott the Hoople ‘Thunderbuck Ram’
Andrew Reynolds Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros ‘Om Nashi Me’
Credits Earthless ‘No Road To Follow’

‘Stay Gold’ soundtrack: bonus sections and Easter egg soundtrack:

Andrew Reynolds & The Madness #1 Chali 2na ‘4 Be Be’ (Instrumental)
Andrew Reynolds & The Madness #2 Chali 2na ‘Controlled Conscience’ (instrumental)
Andrew Reynolds & The Madness #3 Years ‘Don’t Let The Blind Go Deaf’
Ed Templeton Stay Gold Deluxe Tristeza ‘Golden Hill’
Emerica Europe #1 Graveyard ‘Lost in Confusion’
Emerica Europe #2 Earthless ‘Devil-Eyed Woman’
International Montage Sleep ‘Aquarian’
Heath Kirchart Joy Division ‘Atmosphere’

emerica stay gold

— DVD-specific update!

So the iTunes download is a cheaper alternative for those who want something convenient for the laptop or iPod, but the physical DVD is the way forwards for those who want to wring every last morsel from ‘Stay Gold’. The DVD contents and timings are as follows:

Stay Gold Main Feature: 56:41

Bonus features
Andrew Reynolds And The Madness (DVD bonus): 13:19
Ed Templeton – Stay Gold Deluxe (DVD bonus): 6:18
Emerica Europe (DVD bonus): 8:23
International Montage (DVD bonus): 5:34
Flow Bros (DVD bonus): 7:47

Easter eggs
Heath Kirchart (DVD easter egg): 3:34
Barrier Kult (DVD easter egg): 3:46

You can find Heath Kirchart’s section by doing the following maneuvers with your DVD remote control:

Go to ‘Chapters’ – and then press up.
The highlighted menu link will go away: then press ‘Enter’.
Allow jaw to lower to ground level.

emerica stay gold

The main feature will play as normal, but it’s prefaced with what’s rumoured to be Heath’s last video part of his skating career. And what a part it is. Of the 3 and a half minutes of footage, a good chunk is older footage you’ve already seen in previous videos. That doesn’t matter. All it does is remind us just how amazing Heath was and is.

emerica stay gold

The few new tricks in this section are just as good as you’d expect – the downhill street line only has two ‘basic’ tricks in it, but no-one else could do them like that – and his last trick is… well… just watch it for yourself. He might have a permanent facial expression that looks like someone’s just set fire to his pet dog, but that only adds to the legend. Skating’s gonna miss you.

emerica stay gold

My personal favourite DVD-only part is ‘Andrew Reynolds and the Madness’. I’m a big fan of The Boss (again, someone who I first saw when I picked up Birdhouse’s ‘Ravers’ VHS tape), both as a skater and his personality. The episodes of ‘Epicly Later’d’ with Andrew were some of the best filmed, so to watch another little insight into the man’s character is really interesting stuff. Rather than come across as being weird or eccentric, he shows that no matter how good you are at something, you’re just the same as everyone else in many ways: we’ve all got out own ticks and habits. Watching him land a perfect noseslide 270° out on a handrail repeatedly or the tricks at Bercy again and again and again is amazing. A true perfectionist – and a true professional in the real sense of the word.

emerica stay gold

The Barrier Kult Easter egg part is viewed by following this sequence:

Click into the Bonus menu.
Select ‘Andrew Reynolds and the Madness’ – and then hit ‘left arrow’ and ‘Enter’.
Enjoy.

emerica stay gold

It’s almost 4 minutes of concrete destruction, with bare chests, masks and noisy metal guitars. If this doesn’t induce bedwetting, nothing will. The other bonus sections are just as worthwhile, but picking the entire contents of every section apart is boring to read when you could be watching it for yourself on the TV.

If you care about the future of skate films, then bonus parts and Easter eggs on the DVDs are the way forwards. The iTunes download is great for convenience, but with so many extras on the physical DVD disc, you’d be crazy to turn it down. Not to mention the excellent design and packaging: simple, but premium. ‘Stay Gold’ isn’t one to sit and watch on YouTube or via crappy-quality downloads: you’re shortchanging your experience if that’s how you choose to view it.

This is a proper cinematic skateboarding experience. Thank you Emerica.

Will I Go To Hell For This | graffiti book

The past couple of years have seen a rise in graf publications and instead of things being awash with mediocrity, they’re getting better and better. In fact, I stopped buying graf books a few years back when I got tired of the same old photos turning up in everything. But while there’s still enough stencil-based horseshit and clueless idiots publishing nonsense (I’m looking at certain people in particular here, but we’ll address that subject another time), there is a steady stream of good quality print coming from the right people. This book, fresh from Denmark, is specifically about the Copenhagen S-train scene from 1984 up to 2009. And with 264 pages and over 600 photos, it’s pretty comprehensive.

The red S-trains hold the same amount of appeal to the Danish writers as the Tubes do to the UK writers and the Subway does to the NYC writers. The trains just look good with paint on them: cherry red flat panels do wonders as a background. And it helps that the Danish writers have bucketloads of style to cover it with.

The title of the book, ‘Will I Go To Hell For This’, comes from an end-to-end painted by Rens back in 1993 who also contributes the cover logo and page-long foreword that starts with:

Graffiti is like a hard drug: it bypasses your common sense.

I went cold turkey a while back (and I was shit anyway), but reading through the quotes that accompany the photos in here brought back some of those passionate feelings. The use of the quotes alongside many of the photos is a particularly nice touch, as you get to read about some of the background stories behind the pieces.

Enough talk: what are the photos like inside? Pretty damn impressive. If you ever picked up ‘Magic Moments’ mag (perhaps via Cept 148 who used to distribute them in the UK), then you’ll be well-prepared for the onslaught of good runner shots, yard activity flicks and general excellence. There’s a lot of good stuff to look at and you won’t be finished with this book for a while. Pictures of iconic events (such as the infamous ‘Eyes’ wholecar from ’85) sit next to modern-day destruction (insides, bombing and paint throwing), while the common theme of great train panels runs right through. I’m a sucker for Kegr’s pieces, so seeing pages of MOAS panels made my day.

I also liked the Mode2 panel in there from ’86 – it’s always good to vintage-era TCA letters on steel – and the inclusion of foreign visitors is a nice touch without detracting from the Danish writers.

It’s a big heavy book and it’s been done really well. There are rumours of a second volume being published, in which case you can put me down for a copy. It’s not cheap (around €40), but when you see the book in the flesh, you’ll probably want a copy for yourself.

Check out the official site here: www.willigotohellforthis.com.

adidas ObyO KZK x Neighborhood Luker Superstar 80s

adidas - ObyO - KZK Superstar 80

I missed out on Neighborhood’s 35th Anniversary Superstars. As much as I loved the shoe, I wasn’t about to spend all night outside Foot Patrol in London on New Year’s Eve. As a result of my sleeping, I couldn’t get a pair and I watched prices shoot through the roof on eBay as everyone proclaimed that the all-black vintage Superstar was perhaps one of the best of the entire series. Since then, I’ve acquired a few models that are personally more interesting now (a one-off/all-orange Superstar Skate is on that list for sure), but even though I managed to pick up the Union and Foot Patrol Superstars at later dates (shouts to Harputs in San Francisco) I still hold a candle for the Neighborhood and Undefeated models. It’s not gonna happen, unless I find an extra $700+ in my bank account.

So when I saw the first set of photos of this new collaborative Superstar from the hands of Kazuki (the ‘KZK’ in the name), you can imagine my delight. OK, it’s not the Vintage silhouette, sure, but the 80s Superstar shape is a close second favourite. And the colourways covered the angles nicely: a touch of both the Neighborhood and the Undefeated 35th Superstars. The sample versions spotted on Crooked Tongues were simply amazing – other details aside, the tumbled leather on the uppers really raised these a level, reminding me a little of the embossed adidas x Bathing Ape Superstars from 2003. And although these were set to be limited, enough online places were set to get them for me not to think too much about it.

adidas - ObyO - KZK Superstar 80

When both pairs arrived, courtesy of Crooked Tongues, I was pleased overall, but a couple of things would’ve made the purchase more satisfying.

The released versions are slightly different and, in some ways, slightly disappointing when compared to the sample versions. Why on earth they dropped the tumbled/crinkled uppers and used standard leather is beyond me. It’s a small detail and in the grand scheme it’s not important, but it makes a difference when you see them in the flesh. You’re getting a very nice Superstar instead of a premium Superstar in my opinion. I’m not a fan of lace jewels personally, but it would have been a nice nod to the 35ths if there’d been some included with these. And the stock laces are terrible. The standard polyester lace is what you’ll find in your shoe when you open the box – a little digging around in the box reveals some spare cotton laces, but only in the opposite colour (if you get the black shoe, you get the white cotton laces and vice-versa). I bought both pairs, so a swap is in order, but it would’ve made sense to sort this detail out.

And on a personal tip, there were no UK 8.5s to found anywhere: my UK9s are a bit big and the UK8s were too small. Grrrr.

Whinge over.

adidas - ObyO - KZK Superstar 80

So, what’s good about them then? A hell of a lot, as it goes. It’s a good shape, for a start. Those few who oppose the stretched-out look of the Vintage silhouette will automatically prefer the 80s shape here. If you’ve got big feet, this is pretty complimentary. The details that have carried over from the previous ObyO/KZK releases are present – stitched footbed label, nice heel tab and slightly vanilla-dyed midsoles – look great. The typographic embellishments on the side are also nice.

Even with the few gripes, I do like them a lot and they sold out quickly as expected.

adidas - ObyO - KZK Superstar 80

Hurtyoubad x Topsafe tees

Hurtyoubad is as good as the internet gets. Amusing graffiti-related postings, a dusting of dark humour and an injection of toxic opinion means that it should definitely be stuck into your RSS feed immediately. In places, it’s reminiscent of the Spine Dungeon that Mysterious Al curated for us back in the early 2000s.

On any given day, you might find a few ‘borrowed’ (ie. stolen) graf flicks, some amusing images and perhaps a few xenophobic rants. All part of a day’s work for the HYB team. Not being led by the aim to please PR teams – or anyone in fact – has heaped a little bit of legendary status from those in the know. And they coined the now-popular term for wheat-pasting stencil bastards, ‘art fag’, first.

When I heard that they were releasing a limited set of t-shirts in conjunction with the good guys at Topsafe, I knew they’d be good. And they are. None of your standard multicoloured screenprinted vomit means that the styles get to speak for themselves. You’ve got a Robert Crum-esque technical illustration from Horfe contrasting with the simple raw style of Egs’s lettering and then Finsta’s comic book style going up against Hefs’s buckled brass section characters. I’ve opted for the Siege 52 design for myself, simply because it says that it ‘hates my blog’. Can’t argue with that.


Horfe and Hefs


Finsta and Egs


Siege

Against standard Trashfilter protocol, I’m gonna copy-and-paste a bit from the press release that accompanied the announcement, to give a little background to the project:

The line features artwork from an international lineup of artists; Horfé from Paris, Egs from Helsinki, Finsta from Stockholm and Hefs and Siege from London. Using the Hurtyoubad name as a common theme the artists have lent their well established aesthetics to the tees.

When my tee arrives, I’ll update this post with some more pictures. In the meantime, I suggest you join the Hurtyoubad Facebook page and have a look at the other photos from the shoot they did for the tees: very nice indeed!

They’re available in three sizes – M, L and XL – and are £25 each, plus a bit extra for postage. At the time of writing they’re selling fast, so get over to the Hurtyoubad store right now: http://hurtyoubad.bigcartel.com.

Go on: right now.

— update —

The tee arrived – and not only is it as good in the flesh, but it’s got a glow-in-the-dark printed neck label. I’ve noticed a lot of the sizes are selling out, so best get in quick.

éS x Atiba Jefferson | Square Two model and book

éS x Atiba Jefferson Square Two model and book

Collaborative projects with photographers have slowly become more and more frequent over the past few years, to the point that you could almost categorise it as its own subgenre of footwear. And, why not? It’s not an easy job, no matter what anyone thinks. I remember watching Skin Phillips painstakingly shooting pictures of Paul Shier years ago at my local spot and being amazed at the patience and effort that went into getting results. I was lucky enough to tour around France with Ollie Barton a few years back with Shier, John Rattray and a few other skaters and can remember his professionalism throughout the trip. I can’t imagine turning up to countless spots and having to stand still and work while everyone else gets to skate.

Atiba Jefferson’s contribution to skate photography is undeniable. For almost 20 years, his work has featured prominently in a variety of publications, such as TransWorld Skateboarding (TWS) and The Skateboard Mag. He’s taken some of my favourite skate photos of all-time – the Jeremy Wray triple set at the San Diego Sports Arena, for example – and when TWS dropped the ‘Chomp On This’ video (where they turned the cameras onto the people who were normally behind the lens) in 2002, Atiba had one of the best sections.

éS x Atiba Jefferson Square Two model and book

To be honest, when I heard about this collaboration, my first thought was towards the book that comes with these shoes. I’m a sucker for photography books and the thought of an Atiba-dedicated volume excited me: I cleared some shelf space in anticipation. I probably didn’t need to clear as much as I did, as this isn’t one of those overly-laden examples that weighs 14kg and takes up a foot of shelving real estate. It’s more of a sit-by-the-bedside publication than a coffee table art project. Covering the last 15 years of Atiba’s photography for éS, there are some amazing shots in here: City Stars-era P-Rod, Eric Koston killing rails, a particularly dope Rattray portrait, lots of team shots, Tom Penny… a shot of Rick Howard riding for the team (I never knew he’d ridden for éS, even though it was a gap filler after his DC days)… lots of McCrank goodness, Justin Eldridge, PJ Ladd, Muska, Ronnie Creager… the list goes on. It’s only when you look at this book that you realise just how many incredible riders éS have supported over the years. It’s a really nice book and showcases the photography perfectly.

éS x Atiba Jefferson Square Two model and book

The Square Two model could definitely be worn as a skate shoe in itself, but I have a feeling that it deserves some time away from the griptape. éS is a core skate brand and therefore doesn’t really opt for ‘leisure’ shoes in their product range, but these would be a perfect pair of ‘chillers’. They’re smart enough to sneak you into a VIP booth, but still have the skate shoe aesthetic. You’ve still got all the good stuff like the STI footbeds and the durable vulcanized outsole, but it’s kept clean and simple on the uppers. Throw in a little embossed film roll on the tongue and photographic details (the footbed artwork features Bobby Worrest and Danny Garcia, whilst you can tread all over Rodrigo TX and what looks like McCrank on the soles) and you’ve got the perfect sign-off.

éS x Atiba Jefferson Square Two model and book

As always, éS sling in some spare laces so you can switch up the colours a little and the box features a nice little Kodak logo reappropriation that made me smile. That’d look good on a shirt, now I think about it…

A really nice pair of shoes and a fantastic book from a brand that is still at the top of the game. You can probably find these in your local store, but if you need any pointers, check out the product locator on the éS site.

We’re gearing up for a Trashfilter interview with Atiba shortly, so watch this space!

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.

Sneaker Tokyo vol.2 | Hiroshi Fujiwara | Shoes Master book

hiroshi fujiwara

There’s no point pretending that there was some higher-level theology drawing me towards this book: Hiroshi is undoubtedly a clever guy, but it’s his aesthetic awareness that is so appealing. Without having looked through this book, I knew it would be packed with lots of images that would have me drooling – the accompanying text is almost a bonus.

Hiroshi runs through his sneaker archives by brand, featuring the usual players along the way but also throwing a few curveballs in too. I didn’t expect to see Northwave, Airwalk and Timberland sandals in amongst the Nike and adidas gems, but that just adds to the book’s appeal.

I’m a huge fan of Hiroshi’s design contributions, so it’s nice to see pictures of his HTM (Hiroshi, Tinker Hatfield and Mark Smith’s collaborative series for Nike) models and the Fragment designs. The Footscape pages in particular are great to see and the small glimpse into the Monotone series from 2001 should inspire some people to dig those out again.

hiroshi fujiwara

Shoe porn aside, the pages of copy in here are actually pretty interesting: this is far less of a magazine with a hard cover and much more of an actual book compared to some recent publications. There’s documentation of his travels around Asia, with interviews from Hiroki Nakamura (Visvim), Kazuki Kuraishi (adidas) and Takashi Imai (Madfoot) and a nice discussion section with Mark Smith from Nike.

hiroshi fujiwara

Something that would normally grate with me is the use of worn (in some cases heavily worn) shoes, but here it makes perfect sense to feature them. Hiroshi is less of a sneaker collector and far much more of an informed connoisseur and fan.

Another Japan-only publication, thanks to the joys of auction websites, you should be able to locate a copy reasonably easy.

Make Friends With The Colour Blue (MFWTCB) | Blueprint Skateboards DVD

blueprint make friends with the colour blue

Skate DVD reviews are probably one of the most time-consuming things to prepare. You need to watch the film repeatedly, make notes, occasionally do a little research, take screengrabs (which is trickier off an actual DVD than from downloaded content) – and then write it all down. As a result, I try to stick to the cream of the crop. Blueprint’s latest film, Make Friends With The Colour Blue (or MFWTCB, as I’m going to refer to it from now), fully deserved my time.

Blueprint is one of the UK’s finest exports and something that all skaters over here feel an affiliation to. When we heard on the grapevine that the company was going through a difficult patch a while back, we kept our fingers crossed things would sort themselves out – and with Paul Shier and Dan Magee steering the ship, it’s clear that things are on the up again. Look through the Blueprint video archives and you’ll find one of the strongest back catalogues of skate film history from any company. The exposure might’ve been limited to Europe mostly, but with ‘MFWTCB’ things have gone global.

And with a global reach, you need to adjust things accordingly. The Blueprint team is now international with a few new additions from the US, some continental Europeans and the backbone of UK riders, making for a well-rounded feeling to the proceedings. There are still plenty of the expected homegrown references (rain puddles, grey rooftops, Greggs bakery shops), but this has less of a ‘yes mate, we’re from the UK’ vibe and more of a ‘it ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at’ feel. I’m a big fan of the traditional style, but this time you really feel that Blueprint’s arrived on an international level. And, to be honest, things like the Marty Murawski promo and the week at The Berrics have all reinforced this new feeling of growth. ‘MFWTCB’ feels like springtime after a long dark winter.

blueprint make friends with the colour blue

Enough babble: on with the review. Kicking things off with a ‘this is our mate’ intro, Dave Mackey has a short but amusing pre-title sequence section. He skates fast, spends a fair amount of time on the floor and does a dope bluntslide up and over an angled ledge. The title sequence follows, nicely edited to ‘Birdhouse In Your Soul’ from They Might Be Giants (with a couple of little references to the band’s original music video in for good measure). Colin Kennedy is first up, with a super-fast, super-powerful section from one of the original members of the team. Great music too. Next is my old mate Paul Shier, who shares the same music with Colin (as they did back in 2001’s ‘First Broadcast’). I grew up skating – and filming – with Paul at Fairfield’s in Croydon and every time I see him these days, I jokingly remind him he’s ‘not getting any younger’ and he might ‘need to think about a future career’. Well, he can put the job applications on hold indefinitely: this section is probably his best yet. It’s so good. Lots of speed (a quality that seems to run throughout almost all of the Blueprint team), plenty of amazing combination tricks and lashings of style. Without peaking too soon, this is definitely one of my favourite sections. Congrats Paul. My Fairfield’s pride is at optimum levels.

Sylvain Tognelli from Lyon, France is up next with a great section packed with flippery and shove-it lines: he does a perfect fakie 360 flip/switch manual/pop-up on this disgusting-looking icy road gap. Bench-king Danny Brady follows with an as-expected gem of a section – loads of nice lines and a few rather unique tricks to make you hit rewind. His half cab bluntslide to flip out was particularly memorable. Thoroughly good.

blueprint make friends with the colour blue

Tuuka Korhonen from Helsinki shares his section with Arizona’s own Marty Murawski, whose ‘Make Friends With Marty’ promo video apparently utilised a lot of his recent footage due to camera compatibility issues. It’s not an issue though, as he still rips it here. Tuuka’s lines of tech balance nicely with his bigger stuff and I liked all the little ‘rewind’ tricks he does. It doesn’t need saying that Murawski is a fine addition to the team.

Fuck YES: Chewy Cannon. If you’ve seen his part in the adidas ‘Diagonal’ video, you’ll be well accustomed to how good this dude is: his blend of power and style is perfect. Lots of solid and confident tricks, executed with finesse. Adding to the Blueprint US roster, Boston’s Kevin Coakley has an amazing collection of footage. Fakie flip/switch crooks on the Pyramid ledges in NYC, lots of nimble-footed quick hop action over and down steps and blocks and a sick frontside tailslide to drop off on a big block/red brick bank combination. I really liked his music as well: Cheap Trick’s ‘Oh Claire’ was a great choice.

I’d sympathise with anyone having the duty of following Coakley’s section, but Sheffield’s Jerome Campbell has got what it takes. Loads of great tricks and lines (the catch on his flippery is always spot-on). Neil Smith’s section is next and although his part in 2005’s ‘Lost and Found’ was good, this is a real progression. Big BIG ollies (the one over the rail to bank is massive) and some smooth tech makes for another stand out part of the film. The huge nollie heelflip down the steps blew me away. I liked him wobbling the road sign as well. The guest clips of teammate Tom Knox (no, not the Santa Cruz guy) are also really impressive: I look forwards to seeing more from him in the future.

blueprint make friends with the colour blue

Nick Jensen is the second half of the Royal Family to feature – and, as you’d expect, his section is a testament to how natural he looks on a board. Powered by the sounds of Portishead’s ‘Sour Times’, he shows a vast array of tricks with plenty of style. He switch ollies the Liverpool Street station steps (where I broke my ankle back in 2002) and makes every difficult nose blunt transfer and grind-flip combination look incredibly easy.

And so we get the final part: curtains duty deservedly goes to Mark Baines, who’s been at the forefront of UK skating for over a decade and is showing no signs of slowing down. Super good. Plenty of tricks that no-one else does, all executed at vast speeds: half-cab nose grind, nollie big spin out, switch backside heel noseslides and lots of manual trickery. To be fair, the closing honours could’ve gone to a number of the team riders here, but I’m stoked that Baines took the podium. Check out his ‘leftovers’ in the little DVS promo film that is doing the rounds online.

blueprint make friends with the colour blue

This is definitely a DVD to come back to. I liked it upon first viewing, but it’s the subsequent viewings that have really made it a firm winner. At only £10, you’re doing yourself a serious injustice if you’re just watching downloaded clips on your computer: this is one to experience in front of your TV set. Well done to all who made this film possible: Blueprint are truly on the up and up.

www.blueprintskateboards.com

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…

London Burners book (Prestel) | graffiti book by Jete Swami

Another day, another new graf book. Can anyone else recall when there were only a handful of books on the subject? ‘Subway Art’, ‘Spraycan Art’… a few obscurities from the ’70s and early ’80s… and a small selection of foreign language books. That was about all my library consisted of, at least until the early ’90s. In the past couple of years there have been some substantial publications, at last moving back to the hardcore graf subject as opposed to art gallery catalogues and stencil guides. There’s been some serious horseshit put onto the bookshelves in the past 10 years, so it’s nice to see a return to quality again.

And, on the topic of quality, we’ve got ‘London Burners’ here. I only found out about this book when Amazon threw it up as a suggestion based on my previous purchases. With so much crap out there, my interest in graf books has waned slightly over the past few years, but this one seemed to stand out above the torrent of street art nonsense that was presented to me. The cover alone – daytime full-colour Tube panels – had me nudging towards the virtual shopping basket.

The publisher’s blurb on the back cover sells the book as a ‘photographic project’, which is true to a certain extent. But whilst the photos are pretty consistently good throughout, it’s the graf inside that will have you drooling. No wall pieces, no pages wasted on crew poses or paraphernalia: it’s almost 100% pure London train action. Plenty of action shots are included, but the bulk of the imagery inside consists of pure train panels. Steel, steel, steel throughout.

It’s a fairly concentrated representation of the London graf community – one main crew dominates the majority of the content – but that’s no bad thing, as the pieces on the whole are top notch and haven’t been plastered in other books or magazines. The text in the book is minimal, preferring to have a few pages of missions, chases and opinions rather than in-depth interviews or profiles – but what’s included is cool to read.

Another worthy addition to your bookshelves, ‘London Burners’ will sit nicely between Crack & Shine and London Handstyles as the spotlight on homegrown graf continues to shine. At around £12 from various online places, you’re much better off spending the money on this book rather than a £15 ‘graffiti magazine’.

Now, where’s Skore’s book got to?

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.