Tag: "book"

Warning: The Art of Marc McKee | a book by Winston Tseng

The Art of Marc McKee - a book by Winston Tseng

My affinity with everything World Industries-related might’ve died with the birth of Flameboy, but there’s no denying the back catalogue. A third of my infatuation came from Rocco’s business model and his marketing schemes, another third from the ridiculous skate talent all World teams contained – but another hefty portion came from Sean Cliver and Marc McKee’s incredibly good artwork.

Winston Tseng put together this nice little monologue of McKee’s artwork for Mark Batty Publishing: Winston’s own artwork is worthy of review, as he’s the Art Director at Enjoi skateboards and has created loads of amazing work himself.

The Art of Marc McKee - a book by Winston Tseng

This book isn’t the massive portfolio that it could have been, but it’s a nice portable size: whether you’d risk reading it on the bus is another matter, as there’s plenty of McKee’s confrontational graphic work in here to offend the most stoic of commuters. Fucked Up Blind Kids? Yes. Natas ‘Devil Worship’ board? Henry’s ‘Beauty and the Beast’ deck? Yes, yes, yes – they’re all in here and they still look as good as they ever did. I liked the nod to the Randy Colvin ‘Censorship Is Weak As Fuck’ graphic on the cover as well.

The Art of Marc McKee - a book by Winston Tseng

Alongside the board graphics, there are some original sketches (I was amazed how much work went in the Jovontae Turner ‘Napping Negro’ board) and some editorial work for Hustler magazine, which was interesting to see although I can’t say I’d want it framed on the wall.

The Art of Marc McKee - a book by Winston Tseng

The portfolio has been compiled in chronological order, so when you get towards the end of the book, you start encroaching on Devil Man, Flameboy and Wet Willy territory. And to be fair, it’s given a fresh piece of contextual reference: you can see the brand strategy document that details the later years of World’s product licensing. After years of getting under everyone’s feet as the annoying underdog, Steve Rocco, Rodney Mullen, McKee, Cliver and the rest of the crew got the well-deserved last laugh.

The Art of Marc McKee - a book by Winston Tseng

Whilst I still think there needs to be the definitive book about the whole World Industries story published, that’s another topic altogether: in the meantime, this book gives a glimpse into the archives of one of the most important artists in skateboarding’s history.

Data: 96 pages/21.6 x 16.2cm/ISBN: 9781935613237

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.

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.

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!

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.

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?

Nike SB | Fluff book

I have to be honest – although I consider myself pretty well-informed in anything skate-related, this book initially confused me. A little exploration and research quickly informed me that Fluff is a respectable skate mag based in Holland, with a little more focus on creativity than most other magazines. Flick through a copy of the mag and you’ll notice that photography is given a priority over pages and pages of text.

So it’s very appropriate that Nike SB collaborated with the Fluff guys to create this incredibly impressive promotional book. My buddies Ray and Pete sourced us a copy (thanks!) to check out on Trashfilter and I’ve spent the past couple of weeks combing through the weighty lexicon: at 610 pages in length, it’s incredibly heavy (we’re talking around 4-5kg) and will give you dead-leg syndrome quicker than a long-haul aeroplane flight.

Photographer Marcel Veldman was given creative freedom to give his insight into the 19 European countries that form the background behind the visuals. You get plenty of full-bleed action, lots of great sequences and enough text to give you something to sit and read once your retinas retain their focus.

A very limited (ie. a rumoured 12 pairs per country, to coincide with regional exhibition spaces) Nike Bruin model was created as well, in a very nice light grey suede and canvas combination: the as-expected ‘overnight queue’ system kept the hype levels at a premium. Standing outside a closed store overnight in the depths of February’s icy conditions shows dedication!

The book must have taken a hell of a lot of hard work to compile and in some ways it’s a shame that it seems to be a limited item, considering the amount of skaters who’d probably like to own a copy. That said, it’s free (seriously!) and there do seem to be copies available through selected skate stores, so check if your local skate store has any left.

Check out the Nike SB Fluff website for more information.

Personal Effects | Hiroshi Fujiwara

When you’ve been crowned ‘the Godfather of streetwear’ by your contemporaries and followers, you’ve got a lot to live up to. And if anyone is going to qualify themselves for the accolade, then Hiroshi Fujiwara is probably a pretty good contender. His work for various brands over the past years has often been interesting and his attention to detail and thought process is something to aspire to. Add to that, he’s a very personable chap as well: he popped into the old Unorthodox Styles/Crooked Tongues office back in 2003/2004 along with Nike’s Mark Parker and Tinker Hatfield and we enjoyed meeting him.

This little book is nothing more conceptual than a little visual list of some of Hiroshi’s favourite items that he’s picked up. And when I say ‘items’, it’s as broad as it gets. You get a page of text (in both Japanese and English) and a photographic plate of each item, which ranges from technical Burton jackets, through to Gibson guitars and even his favourite elastic bands and artificial sweetener! Something like this could easily be a tasteless display of self-indulgence from others, but the little descriptions and the feeling of passion behind the selections makes for a very interesting snapshot of Hiroshi’s world.

Although this seems to be a Japan-only release, it doesn’t seem too hard to find if you have a quick search online.

All City Writers | graffiti book

Newly published books on the topic of graffiti seem to be getting released weekly. I remember when hunting out unseen graf books would involve visiting poncy art book stores and then being coaxed into dropping £40 on some obscure German-language photo book. The old Zwemmer book shop on Charing Cross Road in London was a prime location for these, but hardly the most appropriate place to hang out unless you liked being with stuffy art types. We’ll do a proper write-up on some of our favourite graf books down the line.

The peak of the ‘street art’ interest in 2007/2008 had every fake writer producing watered-down and uneducated shit (seriously, has anyone seen the ‘Urban Cookbook’? I’ll be addressing that particular crock of shit in my graf books feature), so it was often hard to see through the haze of nonsense to find the good books.

I first heard of ‘All City Writers’ in the summer of 2009: it had a cool styling to the press release and website, and the claims sounded a bit too good to be true. I mentally scribbled it down as one to watch for if I ever saw it on the shelves (I’m not blindly buying any art/design/graf books ever again, after being disappointed with my Amazon orders so frequently). I wasn’t sure when it’d be out, so I was pleasantly surprised to have found it when we went to the Cartier graf exhibition in Paris: it stood out on their table of publications for sale, so I grabbed a copy. I say ‘grabbed’, but the realism is that I struggled to pick it up, as this thing is a beast! With 410 pages and a good inch-and-a-half thick with a hardbacked cover, it’s not something to take off the coffee table without a forklift truck. That said, leaving it there for posing points is a total waste, because this thing is packed with features, interviews and knowledge that you’ll want to read. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a graffiti book with so much interesting text.

The angle is mainly European, but that’s not to say there aren’t lots of US contributions. The first half of the book is the story of writing in Europe, showing how the influences of NYC spread across the oceans and infected a whole continent. The second half of the book focuses specifically on Italy, documenting the rise and growth of the scene there. That might turn some of you off, but trust me when I say this isn’t throwaway content by any means. The images and stories are incredible and it’s clear that the six years spent putting this book together were well spent.

One of my favourite sections was the comprehensive story about T.C.A. (The Chrome Angelz) and how they developed from Zaki Dee’s Trailblazers into one of the world’s most highly regarded crews after their subsequent ‘Spraycan Art’ exposure. Thought Mode 2 and Bando and the guys didn’t hammer the trains upon their European travels? Think again…

Drax, Elk, Coma and Don contributed some great content on the London scene, which was enough reason to buy the book anyway. Real history from the people who created it and not some kid who’s been taking flicks of his best mate’s stenciling career.

There’s a great timeline in the opening chapter that puts the European graffiti movement in parallel with the NYC scene – and plenty of interesting stories about the European writers making their first trips to try their hands at painting the NYC subway system. There’s nice features with various graf magazine editors (including a breakdown of what went down with the guys at Xplicit Grafx when the Parisian crackdown took place a few years back) and a lot of images from some of the best fanzines that have been part of the scene.

For the £30 or whatever it’s retailing at, this is one of few books that’s worth the money. At the time of writing, I’ve had this three weeks and I still haven’t finished reading it. Available from most of your usual online book vendors – and you can check out the official website here.

Crack & Shine

To finally have this book in my hands after months of waiting for it to come out is a great feeling. I’d seen various preview images from the project over the few weeks before release, which just fueled my impatience further, and after seeing the launch exhibition I knew that it was probably going to live up to my expectations.

Freshly racked from their website, here’s a brief account of what to expect: Featuring forty of the most exciting and prolific graffiti artists to have lived and painted in London, Crack & Shine is the only London graffiti book ever to be published.

It’s funny to read that: I’d never really thought about whether London had been properly portrayed in a graf book before. Little bits here and there, token features in foreign compendiums and a scattering of magazine cuttings. All had generally been disappointing tributes to one of the rawest and progressive scenes out there. Graphotism tried its best at times, Hold No Hostage was dope, Bomb Alert went a step further, but magazines seemed to be as far as the coverage went.

And that’s where this book steps in. Even the title of the book is spot on, referencing the dominant dub style of many of London’s elite writers. If you weren’t down, you weren’t gonna find out very much and outsiders who tried to muscle in were dealt with in a variety of ways.

In the words of Dreph, “The London graffiti scene was a closed and unforgiving one. Information was guarded.”.

So taking on the task of documenting the history of London’s graffiti scene was clearly never going to be an easy job. For each person you pull out as an enigma, there’s another twenty who deserve just as much exposure. Whilst there have been whispers of another book in the making over the past few years, it was a pleasant surprise to hear that Crack & Shine was more than just rumours and was actually being printed. So I paid my £25 (via their website) and waited for the book to arrive.

First of all, the book isn’t a thrown-together collection of blurred photos and egotistical quotes. If you’re wondering what to expect, maybe flick back through your graf mag archives, pull out issue 9 of Graphotism and remind yourself of the DDS feature. All the good things that were in there – Brixton roof entrances, unseen full-colour panels, yard shots etc. – are all present and correct, but surrounded by loads more things you won’t have seen.

Instead of simply being a nice picture book, there’s great text to accompany everything. Interviews and quotes from people who shaped the way London looks today are given generous amounts of space. So instead of a collection of ‘Q+A’ journalistic nonsense, you have people like Bozo giving a first-hand account of painting Farringdon with Fume, Fuel, Teach and Elk. Or the background behind Zomby and Sham’s Christmas trackwalk up the Northern Line (I was living in Tooting at that point and remember taking flicks of the damage the week after). You’re probably not going to get that kind of personal account anywhere else.

There’s a strong emphasis on Tubes, which gives a harder edge to everything, and the mix of featured artists generally keeps to the core groups that have been out there relentlessly. You get hardcore writers like Zomby, Teach, Diet, Fume, Sub, Siege, Drax, Prime, Sub, Steas, Dodo/LDS, Pic, Grand, Fuel and Elk showcased alongside newer (and equally prominent) groups and individuals such as TPG, ATG, Vamp and Neas. You could sit and point out omissions perhaps, but it won’t make you look very clever.

Sput and Revok’s perspectives as foreign visitors sit a bit awkwardly on first glance, but when you read through their accounts, it’s an interesting angle and something I’d never really thought that much about.

Aside from the excellent collection of graf flicks from the writers themselves, there’s a lot of great portrait and in-situ photography from Will Robson-Scott that adds an extra level of aesthetic to the project. The sharp layout, clean use of typography and other little details (I liked the page titling at the top of each ‘chapter’) make the whole book reek of professionalism.

It feels like a lot of the right people were involved throughout the entire process of making this book, so you don’t feel like you’re putting money into the wrong pockets when you purchase a copy.

Go and grab one of the 2000 copies from the Crack & Shine site before it disappears off the shelves. Easily one of the best graf books I’ve seen to date.

Blabac Photo | The Art Of Skateboarding Photography

Mike Blabac was always on my photographer radar if I ever needed to name one of my favourites. When I heard that PowerHouse were releasing a book of his work, I knew immediately that this would be a definite purchase. I tried to work the angles to get a review copy through, but ultimately it was my man Ray who came through for me by grabbing me a copy at the book launch night in London. I wasn’t keen on Amazon’s ‘6-8 week’ delivery projection.

The first thing to note is the weight and size of the book: it’s really not a ‘pop it in your backpack’ type of deal and truly deserves a key spot on the coffee table. 224 pages deep, with a hardback cover and bold black sleeve means that it’s going to be hard to ignore. Whilst the nicely composed pages of text that break the book into rough chapters are really nice, it’s the presentation of Blabac’s photos that make this such an epic release. All of the major image highlights get the deserved full bleed page treatment, but there’s some nice slide and contact sheet presentation pages as well. Stevie Williams holding a manual perfectly still for a DC shoot? Check. Josh Kalis launching a freshly caught tre over a bin? Check. Danny Way flying over the Mega Ramp? Check-check-check: all the boxes are ticked in this one.

Whilst I recognised a lot of the photos from past magazines, it’s great to be reminded how amazing some of them are. One of my favourite photos of all-time is included, which is the shot of Bobby Puleo and Brad Staba rolling through Union Square in SF back in 1996, disturbing a flock of pigeons. The shot of Scott Johnston doing a backside smith behind the parking meter is another photo that was pinned on my walls for a while.

As I flicked through the book, I noticed that a lot of the photos didn’t have captions, which was fine for most of the pages (as I could usually work out who it was skating), but frustrating on others. Needless to say, I had jumped the gun: everything’s taken care of properly with a nicely laid-out index/caption section at the back of the book, with little stories and info about each shoot. Absolutely flawless.

It’ll cost you in the region of £30 to own this book, but it’s well worth it. Check out all the info over at the special section on the DC site right now.

Matix ‘This Is Progress’ Book: Celebrating Ten Years of Matix Clothing

This landed on the Trashfilter desks with a hefty thump: the large cardboard box was quickly opened, as I had no idea what was inside. A 280-page book about the past decade of Matix clothing? Call me ignorant, but has it really only been 10 years since the guys started the label? It feels like they’ve been part of skating’s DNA for considerably longer.

If you’ve never stopped to appreciate the work and thought that goes into creating one of the truly genuine skate brands, this book will blow you away. From the original 4th July conversations in 1997 between Tim Gavin, Daewon Song and the guys, through to the first collection in 1999, via pages of initial identity and design ideas, and right up to the some of their most popular and interesting pieces, this book is far more than your average backslapping catalogue.

The Matix team members (and a host of affiliates, such as Giovanni Reda) get asked the same five questions based on the idea of progress, each giving a little insight into their own thoughts. Whilst there’s enough reading material in there to keep you occupied for a few nights, it’s the collation of the stunning photography that gives the book permanent coffee table rights. Mike Dytri’s fantastic design and layout skills shine throughout: the result is a clean, easy-to-follow, and (most importantly) interesting journey through the brand’s archives.

Seeing the September ’98 cover of Thrasher in the book brought back memories: Marc Johnson frontside heelflipping in the original yellow Matix promo tee took me back to standing in Slam City Skates discussing what the range was going to bring. Over the years, Matix have managed to get a bunch of tees (and several other items) into my wardrobe. Association with the right names gave the brand immediate credibility: the original team line up of Rodney Mullen, Rudy Johnson, Tim Gavin, Marc Johnson, Daewon Song, Sean Sheffey, Jeron Wilson and J.B. Gillet has gotta be one of the strongest line-ups for any clothing label launch.

I was initially led to believe that this book was a promo-only treat, but I’ve found a bunch of places online offering it since, so make sure you jump on it and grab one. Thanks to the guys at Revival/Podium for sending this one across – book of the year for me, so far!

Made For Skate: The Illustrated History Of Skateboard Footwear

I had the chance while I was still involved with Crooked Tongues to go to (and report on, alongside Mr. Warnett) the launch of the UK excursion of the ‘Made For Skate’ exhibition over in East London’s Brick Lane. After being introduced to Jürgen Blümlein and Daniel Schmid from ‘Made For Skate’, it was clear that this wasn’t just some backslapping endeavour for a major sportswear brand. These guys were skaters, had a genuine personal history in the skate scene and were trying their best to give an accurate account of skateboarding footwear.

At the time, at Crooked, we’d toyed with the idea of doing a sequel to the ‘Sneakers: the Complete Collectors’ Guide’, but perhaps purely about skate footwear and its influence – and to be fair, I was one of the people who discredited that idea. It just seemed too much of a job, and remembering the experiences I’d had when writing the first volume, it was going to take a lot of time to hunt down the shoes and imagery we’d need to make it a success.

Having seen this book in the flesh, I know we made the right decision. There’s no way we could have put the time in to make something of this calibre. Hopefully without sounding like too much of a cock, I’d say my skate knowledge is pretty good, but this book uncovers a lot of stuff that I’d never seen before.

Sensibly broken down into a generally-accurate timeline structure, the book is a weighty tome, tipping the scales at 400 pages, meaning that you’re not going to speedily flick through a pile of non-contextualised pretty pictures and then leave it on your coffee table. I got sent my copy two weeks ago, and it’s taken me that long to digest the contents.

I’m strongly adverse to anyone writing about anything to do with skating, unless they had some form of direct relationship with it, but this book was put together by the right kind of people. It’s not perfect, but it’s not going to be bettered for quite some time either.

Having spent a fair bit of time analysing the content, overall, it’s a really impressive effort. A slight German bias in places doesn’t spoil the writing, but it’s noticeable and there are several sections where I’m wondering if anything was lost in translation. It’s clear in places that different people have composed different sections of the text, due a significant switch in writing style.

The imagery and photography is pretty amazing: lots of archive ads pulled from old skate magazines, plenty of photos of rare shoes (albeit some absolutely battered to death!) and plenty of background content I’d never seen before.

There’s a heavy Sole Technology presence, which is a credit to them and their position in the world of skating, but I’d have loved to have heard a bit more from DC Shoes, DVS and Lakai instead of so much emphasis on the early era of skate footwear. I think a slight expansion on the past decade’s brands might resonate a little better with the audience who this book is aimed at.

That said, some of the old stories about particular times and photos are terrific: if you ever wondered the reason why four of the five handplanting Bones Brigade members were wearing Air Jordans at the Animal Chin ramp, well, that story’s in here. As is the story about who was scheduled to have the first professional shoe before Natas Kaupas. The background behind the Nike vs. Consolidated battle is laid out as well, which is amusing and interesting.

I liked the various sections on some of the brands that got lost in the ether over time and it would have been nice to hear some of the reasons why the shoes didn’t succeed from the people who bought them and were riding them (for example, I was getting sent free pairs of Axions in the mid ’90s – and, in my opinion, the real reason they didn’t take off was that the visible air bubbles continually blew out!). This slight gap is fortunately filled with words from the shoe designers and the pros who endorsed the shoes, so it’s not a deal breaker in the end.

It’s a big heavy book as mentioned above and that comes at a price that might keep it out of the hands of those who would most like to own it. At £40 (in the UK), it’s not likely to reach the full audience it deserves until it’s reprinted in paperback unfortunately. The special edition Nike SB slip cover version (and the limited-to-24-pairs hyperstrike edition Nike Blazer shoe sent to special people only) let’s those in the loop know who may have helped out – and fair play to Nike for stepping in and supporting something as adventurous as this.

Overall, this is a great book well worth the space on your coffee table. Go visit the guys over at Made For Skate and send in your own stories and images to keep this important archive and resource growing.

Skatebook

skatebook

Skatebook is a quarterly, 350 page, hard bound, coffee table book featuring skateboarding’s most iconic personalities, moments, events, eras, brands and the culture as a whole.”

That’s what the ‘About’ section on the Skatebook site says, so I figured that was more than enough information needed to try and find myself a copy. The first stumbling block was that there’s no international postage from their US-based site. Dammit. Living in London might be good sometimes, but it spoiled my chances of easily getting a copy of Skatebook – and there are no UK distributors either, so that angle was firmly lopped off at the root too.

Luckily, a quick Google search uncovered the guys at Unicron in San Diego, who were happy to send me the last two issues. Not only that, but Kevin at the store was kind enough to track down a copy of the long-gone first issue. Now that’s the customer service I was searching for!

skatebook

The three books arrived fairly swiftly – and the first thing I noticed was how big and heavy they are. Bigger than an ’86 Transworld, heavier than a set of Gullwings. The hardback cover on issues two and three takes this publication out of the ‘magazine’ section and firmly into the coffee table zone; I had them on my desk at the office and all day people kept flicking through them. If you like your skate literature word-heavy and packed with lots to read, you’re probably looking in the wrong place, but the photos are amazing.

skatebook

There are too many great pages in these to do a full review of each issue, but some of the features I particularly liked were the Fucked-Up Blind Kids/DGK parody retrospective, the Cardiel section, the Danny Way pictorial spreads, the Hosoi article… and… well, there’s a hell of a lot more.

If you ever felt the need to stick something substantial in your bookshelves, then Skatebook is probably a good decision. If you ever skated, you’ll find plenty to keep you amused. But even if you’ve never experienced the graze of tarmac across your knees, these are still well worth the $19.99.