Tag: "photography"

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!

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.”

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.

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.

Hold Tight London DVD and t-shirts

The Hold Tight London project is one of those little shining examples of motivation and creativity that deserves some coverage. Bringing together groups of skaters throughout London and presenting the accumulated video footage as a series of regular episodes online, it’s one of those things that you can easily lose a few hours working your way through. The skating is top notch and the filming and editing by Henry Edwards-Wood and Morph raised the bar considerably.

The recent ‘Extended Episode 12″ is a 24-minute DVD production that adds a little competitive fun in the form of ‘North V. South’. Hailing from Fairfields in Croydon, I’ll always be biased towards the southside, but I’ll grudgingly admit that the Northern section is equally impressive. With the support of Slam City and DVS, the guys were able to get this one professionally duplicated and out in the shops. Check out the saucy little Quicktime trailer below that I’ve poached from their website.

To celebrate the release of the project, DVS got a couple of shirts printed up, featuring the photography of Sam Ashley and my good buddy Dom Marley. I’m always partial to a photo of Fairfields, so, as nice as Sam’s photography always is, the South shirt gets my vote here!

Pick up the DVD directly from the HTL mini-store here – or head over to Slam City and purchase the shirts and the DVD in person.

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.