Beating Expectations: Voxel Boards

Beating Expectations: Voxel Boards

When it comes to innovation in longboard development, there are endless possibilities for those who make it their mission to experiment with the combination of available building materials in unique ways. For the ones that succeed in creating a functionally distinct solution, the result is a ride unlike anything the community has ever experienced.

Between their adventurous blend of bamboo/maple/birch/fiberglass decks and their 3D printed foot stops and wheel cores, Voxel Boards is a prime example of an up and coming innovator in the Southern California longboarding scene. As the brainchild of Ventura County-based skater, Shawn Jones, Voxel Boards was born out of a desire to experiment beyond traditional street skateboards. Over the past three years, the operation has continued to develop and remains fueled by curiosity.

More recently, I ran into Jones sometime after midnight at one of The Gel Lab’s Downtown LA Sessions. Besides standing out as one of the most approachable people at the session, he also stood out as the only one who had personally hand crafted the board they were riding. To learn a bit more about the story and the mindset behind Voxel Boards, the two of us connected afterwards and chopped it up:

Let’s start from the top: where did your respective interests in longboarding and product development begin?

My interest in longboarding specifically came in 2015. I’ve always been a hands-on, creative sort of person and have a background in engineering and design. I had been into street skating when I was around 13 and spent that Summer by refurbishing and repainting decks that were donated to a skate club that I started at our local Boys and Girls Club. You could say there was a natural marriage of my curiosity to do more with my hands and the love of the sport that got me where I am today.

Between foot stops, wheel cores and decks, how do you separate/break down your efforts?

In a sense, everything is developed as it is required. A deck will design itself over time, so not quite as much attention is required after a design has some age behind it. Our footstop took an afternoon to design, and our wheel cores are being worked on tentatively. My greatest strength is my ability to cross-discipline, and I hope that one day my work will be looked at as a positive contribution to the community.

What was the response like when you gave out your foot stops at one of the following Gel Lab sessions?

That was actually one of my favorite Gel Lab sessions! I had arrived a little later than I usually do and missed a chunk of the session that night. But Ari “Shark” gave me a chance to show off what I had been cooking up and to give back to the community. People were stoked about the different colors and I got a lot of verbal encouragement and support that night. It’s honestly the most accepted I have felt in a given community. People roll up to sessions with my foot stops of their setups, and I’m happy to get so much positive feedback about them!

How do you think 3D printing technology can be adapted to the skateboarding world?

I’m not really the first one to bring this technology to the industry thankfully, so there’s been some things tried and groundwork laid. Landyachtz actually mentioned using 3D printed nose guards during the conception of their Triple Beam deck. I think for 3D printing to be integrated into our community, there has to be more well fit demonstrations of the technology. There seems to be an impression that 3D printed objects are “weak” and other usually negative misconceptions about their potential. I kind of saw potential within that natural skepticism. I realize my foot stop could be a person’s first experience with a 3D printed object, so I wanted to take that opportunity to show that not only could this technology be used for prototyping but for a full fledged products as well.

You mentioned getting into shops in the near future. Are we talking brick and mortar or online shops or some combination of the two?

I want to answer this one in a fun way. (See the image below. A man can dream!)

Definitely a combination of the two. We’re in a unique spot with our direct sales compared to Amazon, since they don’t typically cater to customers who want custom graphics.

What does 2019 hold for yourself and for Voxel Boards?

2018 marked roughly three years since I began. The biggest challenge in my fledgling career is making the transition between garage and shop quality.  We’ve expanded into our own workshop, and I am currently in a golden age with our line up of artistic talent! I really want our artists to be a highlight of our brand. I’m currently working on getting new moulds CNC’d and have plans for an Alchemy 808 rework to start off our Spring. I have also been approached by way too many people who want me to make a dancer, so maybe that can be a summer release? I would need a lot of dedicated rider feedback to make something like that work. I want to invest in a laser cutter. Maybe by the end of next year? It would dramatically increase the sophistication of our manufacturing process.

I didn’t get to finish my wheel project this year’s, because I 100% didn’t expect to get a new workspace, and that definitely put a dent in our budget for the year as well as brought me back to square one in terms of setting up to build comfortably.

To keep up with the latest from Voxel Boards, drop them a follow on their Instagram here or keep an eye on their website here for the latest releases.

Finding a Line: Skateboarding, Music and Media

Finding a Line: Skateboarding, Music and Media

Though skateboarding has made it into Hollywood on screen and in the streets on plenty of occasions in it’s 60 year lifespan, it’s presence in the music and media capital of Los Angeles this past week was unlike any other depiction of skateboarding this area has ever seen. This can be credited to the Finding a Line event, hosted at the Ford Theatre. Billed as a celebration of the intersection between skateboarding, music and media, the county owned space provided the grounds for one of the most progressive events that skateboarding has seen in recent years.

Beginning this past Tuesday, the process was kicked off by a gallery exhibition, panel discussion and film screening, curated by the likes of Collegiate Skateboarding Educational Foundation Board Member, Neftalie Williams, former pro skater, Laban and filmmaker, Diana Wyenn. Featuring visuals from around the world, the issues of race and diversity in skateboarding culture served as an underlying narrative carried by some of the most iconic people of color in the skateboarding community, including Paul Rodriguez and Stevie Williams. Drawing solid reception at the beginning of the week, this event set the tone for the days that followed.

The resounding capstone to this weeklong celebration was a performance by jazz pianist, Jason Moran with backing instrumentalists, The Bandwagon, fused with a live skate demo. Thanks to some help from the OC Ramps wood shop, the stage for such an unconventional event directed a group of skateboarders front and center as a crowd of hundreds gazed on. Unlike other skate-centric events in the area, this crowd was not intrinsically filled with messy haired teenagers but rather with patrons of all ages whose banter indicated that they hadn’t a clue of who these skaters were or what tricks they were throwing down. At the same time, the mix of pro and am skaters taking the stage seemed undeniably unfazed by the fact that they were skating in front of hundreds, rather than in the privacy of their local park.

However, the interplay between the different occupants of the space was something that Executive Director, Olga Garay-English, noted in her opening address. Speaking on the ownership of physical space that skateboarders take in their communities, Garay-English noted that the evening was a way for a recognized institutions to better embrace skate culture. At the same time, she noted how the weeklong event was a means of skateboarders being able to celebrate their culture alongside the culture of their neighbors in one of the most multicultural places in the world. Though these opening remarks praised skaters as “philosophers” pursuing a “counter culture art form,” the crew of rider sat idly by, seeming less interested in the compliments as they were about sizing up the ramp for the shredding that was set to commence.

With no further ado, the likes of Greg Lutzka, Brad McClain and a host of other rippers began to drop in as the performance commenced. Coming out firing, Lutzka stomped out a series of 360 flips and backside flips that evoked greater ovation from the crowd with each consistent land. Then, after a period of somewhat standard runs for the jam, the cast of skaters began attacking the ramp from all angles. What originally started with casual manuals on the deck led a pair of skaters to take over the entire area, ollieing a gap from the band stage into the half pipe before promptly launching a kickflip indy grab and a massive 360 grab (respectively) out to the other end of the stage. At the same time, there were nose manuals across the deck, 360 spins from Jim Gray on the flat of the ramp and even a drop off the stage and into the crowd.

With all of this was going on in the forefront, Jason Moran and the Bandwagon remained equally unfazed by the crowd and the skaters as they powered through their performance for well over an hour. With instrumental improvisations that matched the off-the-cuff skateboarding, the sounds and the visuals complimented one another perfectly. Plus, Ron Allen tapped into both his skate and MC side by switching from freestyling on the ramp to freestyling on the microphone throughout.

All things considered, the evening and the week of programming represented much more than a couple nights out in Hollywood. Instead, it was a visual testament of skateboarding’s ascension into mainstream culture as we know it. Whether through jazz musicians tailoring their notes around the actions of skateboarders or skateboarders dropping in and skating to the tune of music they had probably never skated to before, it was as much a learning experience on the stage as it was for those in the surrounding crowd. With a positive example of the benefits that sharing skateboarding with other cultures can have on the community, we sincerely hope that efforts like this one are replicated in the future.

All photos shot and authorized to use by Lindsey Best.

Melancholia and Darkness: Martin Ander Interview

Melancholia and Darkness: Martin Ander Interview

Buying a new deck is one of the greatest feelings a skateboarder can experience. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most guilty. Especially in those moments just after walking out of the skateshop with a shining new deck that displays a thoughtful graphic with full knowledge that some artist poured their blood, sweat and tears into curating it. Without further ado, you head straight to the nearest flatbar and smear their work across a cold steel beam without even a second thought. For anyone that’s ever done this to a Flip Skateboard, odds are that the tragedy might have come at the expense of one of Swedish illustrator, Martin Ander’s graphics.

Luckily for guilty parties, the folks at Dokument Press have you covered as they proudly release their latest title, ‘Ouff! Mander Selected Works.’ Now, skaters, fans and art connoisseurs can keep a testament to the work of Ander’s 25+ year illustration career in the form of a hardcover publication without worrying about chipping any paint. Clocking in at just under a hundred pages, Ander has managed to cram over 200 original illustrations into the pages of this work and has supplemented text throughout to help carry the narrative. While we could take a stab at trying to articulate the allure of his thought-provoking work, it’s clearly better to let Ander’s illustrations speak for themselves. For that, the snapshots of this book provide a glimpse into what we’re talking about here.

In addition, we posed Ander with a few questions just before the title’s European release party. Ranging from his beginnings in the skateboarding world to eventual developments in the creative process, have a look at what Ander has to say about his efforts to make viewers go Ouff!

I thought one of the most important points from your press release was that the skateboard industry found your work. How exactly did your professional relationship with skateboarding industry begin?

Well, it came quite naturally, I’ve been skating since 1985 and know most of the skaters in my generation of skaters in Sweden, and everybody knows that I like skateboard graphics and draw a lot.

I did skate zines and did some illustrations for a skate mag here in Sweden long before I got to do graphics. My first paid job in the skateboard industry was drawing posters and illustrations for eighties pro freestyler, Per Holknekt’s, skate shop in Stockholm back in 1990.

In 2007, when my friend Martin Karlsson started a company called Bellows Skateboards, he asked me to do some graphics for them, they had the same distribution as Sweet Skateboards, which was one of the big skate companies in Sweden at the time. They saw my work for Bellows and asked me to do graphics for them too. After that came Seven Inch Skateboards from Finland and Polygon from Sweden which I was part owner of for a while.

Then I got the contact with Flip Skateboards via Ali Boulala, I contacted them and got to do lots of graphics for them too. That was about five or six years ago I think. I’ve always been freelance – I want to work with everybody. The past year I’ve done graphics for Sweet again, and both Sunrise and Scumfuc skateboards from Chile, Chrononaut from Sweden and RVCA.

Between huge names like Flip to smaller names like Polygon, are there any differences in your creative process when designing graphics for larger brands versus smaller brands?

All clients are different. The biggest difference is that I’m friends with most of the Swedish clients and their teams and they totally trust me to do something cool. In a small market, it doesn’t have to be as commercial. The decks will sell anyway and the team is stoked that I do their graphics. Working with a bigger company means more people involved, more opinions, more decks per series and of course, the need to follow the brand’s aesthetic idea more and to keep the team riders happy.

What’s the craziest part of seeing a wall full of boards displaying your work on them?

The coolest part is to see a kid picking down a board and looking at the graphic, just like i did when i was a kid with the VCJ and Jim Phillips graphics.

Can you explain any of the reasoning behind fusing what’s been referred to as “melancholia and darkness” with bright colors?

I don’t really put too much thought in to that. I’m not really a melancholic dude, but my work tends to be a little bit dark sometimes. Maybe its me just trying to make the images look a little bit more fun, or it’s the fact that I love old blacklight posters. My work is quite detailed – lots of things happening at the same time. By adding bright colors to it, I can make the important stuff ”pop” and tone down some of the not so important details.

Frida Talik’s account of your book describes how it provides an “insider view” to your work. How do you think it does that?

I myself buy a lot of books about artists, cartoonists and illustrators. And usually they don’t contain that much: one image per page, mostly stuff you have already seen and hardly any text. I wanted to give the audience what they pay for so in Ouff!, there’s one long interview, two shorter texts and over 300 images, camped in to 96 pages. I have not tried to just put the absolute best stuff for the coolest clients in the book, there’s a little bit of everything. Just like the life of an illustrator.

What was it like to take art that you would usually have endless canvas space for and consolidate/reformat it for the purposes of the book?

At first it was hard. Most of my images is drawn to be pretty big and I had to scale them down to fit in the book. I had to think of every spread as an art piece in itself and [think of] the images in it [as] parts of a bigger picture, not art pieces themselves. It was the opposite from showing in a galley, where every piece hangs by itself on a white wall. I was afraid that I would lose the details in some of the images, but I think it worked out great. You don’t read a book the same way you read a poster or a skate graphic.

Any parting words about the book/your artistic career that you’d like to share?

The book is called Ouff! Mander Selected Works. It dropped in Europe on Sept. 20, and drops in the USA/rest of the world on Oct 25. Follow me on Instagram for new work: @manderoid

All photos provided and authorized and provided by Dokument Press and Martin Ander. Portrait photo shot by Petter Danielsson.

Female Fronted: Proper Gnar

Female Fronted: Proper Gnar

Female skateboarders deserve more attention. Proper attention. Same goes for females in the similarly male-oriented world of streetwear who have the drive to make a name for themselves and the ambition to release their work for the world to judge. That being said, someone making a dedicated effort in both of these circles definitely deserves a bit of shine. Enter: Latosha Stone, Owner of Proper Gnar.

As the name implies, Proper Gnar is a women’s skate and streetwear brand dedicated to creating original designs and broadcasting original skateboarding in a way that Stone feels is currently neglected. In her own words, she described the significance of the name by explaining, “It just means being good at what you do. Shredding in your own way. Having the right amount of stoke. A perfect world where you have enough time to do all your responsibilities and still have time to skate.”

To skateboarding’s credit, there is a growing collective of names like Yulin Oliver, Kristin Ebling and Valeria Kechichian who are making it their mission to spearhead efforts that advocate for genuine representation and equality for women in the scene. These movements, along with Proper Gnar, are all admirable strides that have pushed women more towards the forefront of attention in skate culture than ever before. Needless to say, however, there is plenty of room for improvement. With a resounding collective of men in positions of power within the industry and the general number or participants still overwhelmingly male-centric, the odds of a women achieving something close to equal opportunity within skateboarding is, in many ways, still far off.

The parallels for the streetwear game are comparable. In a culture where men dominate top positions at the most revered streetwear companies, the same holds true at the grassroots level. In the case of Proper Gnar, Stone has often felt this dynamic as one of, if not the only woman exhibiting at various local streetwear popups. Add this to the fact that women have been sexualized time and time again in streetwear photography and degraded on the hang tags of even the most respected skateboarding companies and it becomes clear just how much an uphill battle there still is in order to shift this narrative.

In the middle of both these worlds and the middle of the country itself, Proper Gnar exists to try to put a foot down and use it to push forward both literally and figuratively. Based in Ohio, Stone is aware of her distance from the usual cultural epicenters for both skate and streetwear in LA and NYC. Still, with a handful of fashion schools, up and coming brands and stockists for industry leading brands situated in the larger cities including Columbus and Cleveland, there’s still a decent amount of cultural influence that makes it’s way to middle America. Speaking on what the balance between both sides of the United States is like, Stone told us, “It’s different! Ohio, being in the middle of the country, finds a way to take a little bit from everybody and make it their own.”

With a ripping all-girls team of riders, a considerable Instagram following and some well deserved press coverage behind the brand, the originality of Proper Gnar’s lineup seems to be working well and speaking for itself. One look at their packed web store displays not only a range of deck graphics but also an expansive collection of pieces ranging from hoodies to socks to pins and even a few art pieces.

As for the future for Proper Gnar, Stone will be taking her efforts to the streets where she’s recently began offering skate lessons to local girls in Ohio. In addition to getting more rippers on board herself, Stone also has aspirations to support some of the charities that are working to bring skateboarding to positive new heights. Plus, even though she is without definitive plans, Stone admitted, “I know a ton of people that moved to LA and it’s probably in my future too.”

For the time being, we wanted to conclude by asking Stone to leave us with some words of parting advice regarding how best to interact with female skaters whether in the streets or the parks. Speaking on this, Stone advised, “Don’t talk to / come at us unless it’s respectful. Don’t treat us differently because we are women, or assume we can’t skate, or only do it to attract dudes. And stop asking us if we can kickflip! I also wanna say they should give more respect to trans skaters too, the comments they get sometimes are even worse.”

To show some love to Proper Gnar, check out their web store here or follow their latest updates over on Instagram here.

Crafted By Hand: Hunt Skateboards

Crafted By Hand: Hunt Skateboards

When you think of old school-styled cruiser boards made in Australia, it’s tough not to have the name Penny come to mind. However, the crew behind Victoria-based, Hunt Skateboards has a completely different project on their hands that combines modern versatility with the glory of 50s/60s skate nostalgia.

At first glance, these boards look similar to the Skee Skate by Tresco but with a contemporary, hand crafted finish and a set of trucks and wheels that look like they could handle far more than the metal wheeled contraptions of decades past. Nevertheless, Founder Alex Hunt claims that it was not one specific board that inspired their hallmark shape, but rather a general appreciation of skateboard manufacturers from that era that has given Hunt Skateboards their direction.

Speaking on the creative process, he told us, “The shape we ended up with actually evolved through trial and error when we were developing our concepts back in 2014. We had tried everything; every shape, style, type as a means of being innovative but we were always drawn back to the basics – the hardwood cruiser – I guess it has a nostalgic quality that can’t be tainted.”

With a tried and true model as the base, the allure of Hunt Skateboards stems from the updated maneuverability that these boards bring to the table. Upon first push, these boards are inherently easy to pick up and ride. As such, their style has been described as something in between a longboard and a Penny Skateboard. These things are designed with speed in mind and come with all the carving abilities to make it happen. They also handle with optimal responsiveness and are resistant to speed wobbles. For a casual cruiser, Hunt Skateboards check all the right boxes.

When it comes to those who have put their boards to the test, Hunt claims their customers range from hipsters to hardcore skaters to surfers to casual skaters of all ages. In line with their vision of creating an accessible ride for all – this is exactly the clientele that Hunt was shooting for. “When we were developing Hunt Skateboards, our primary focus was to develop not only a board that felt perfect under the feet, but also one that suited the broad spectrum of skaters, from beginners to advanced,” Hunt added.

As for the minds behind the brand, Alex Hunt and his partner, Caitlin Jostlear, interestingly ran the operation out of their van for the entirety of 2017. Equipped with a batch of blank decks, the pair set off on a 12 month road trip across the country, putting the finishing touches on boards and selling them as they went. Through their travels, they were able to remarkably get their boards under the feet of skaters in every state in Australia.

By the end of the excursion, van life had run it’s course as the Hunt Skateboards operation left the road with a head full of life lessons and a grip of common sense to continue their endeavors with. Now, instead of a lifestyle of long term travel, the team is about to settle into a sizable headquarters of their own. With half of the space dedicated to a workshop and the other half dedicated as a show room/hang out space, the plans for a new working environment sound like they’ll be the perfect place to further foster Hunt’s craftsmanship. Along with the new space, the team is also gearing up for the release of new hardware featuring the brand’s signature branding.

From there, the future of Hunt Skateboards will be driven by the pursuit of finding good times and celebrating the means of reaching them. To sum this vision up, Hunt concluded by telling us, “We are deeply engaged in what has always fueled the overall culture of skating/surfing and that is its creative, laid-back attitude to seeking a good time and release. With respect to the innovative, forward thinking skateboard manufacturers – to us, it is about keeping it simple and staying true to the core values of the industry. That is, as we have said to others before you, to the likes of when the skateboard was fist invented; it wasn’t about designing something new, rather finding an alternative to surfing when there were no waves. This is what we celebrate – a collective that is about enjoying life and appreciating something that allows one to do so.”

Wear & Tear: Houkie Skateboard Shoe Protector

Wear & Tear: Houkie Skateboard Shoe Protector

Words by Daniel Fedkenheuer

As a contributor to the skateboarding world still attempting to grow within the industry, I reach out to a number of riders, company owners and brand associates on a daily basis. In the myriad of replies and declines I tend to sift through, rarely have I been approached about the release of a new product in the same way. That being said, when Michael Fransko, Owner and Developer of the Houkie Skateboard Shoe Protector, reached out to tell me about his gear and intentions to revolutionize the skate footwear protection game, I was all ears.  wear-and-tear-houkie-skateboard-shoe-protector

What Fransko went on to tell be about was an effort rooted in a George Powell-esque effort to create an innovation solution for his skateboarding son. In this case, however,  the focus was turned to the wear and tear of skate shoes. To explain, Fransko told me, “The project started between me and my currently 23 year old son. He has been a skater since he was 12. Of course, I would have to buy him new skate shoes every couple of months because he destroyed them. I said that someone should come up with a way to save these shoes from getting shredded… Years passed and when he was 20, he came to visit me and I saw that his shoes were still shredded. I said, ‘Well, it’s time we made something to save these skaters and their parents money.’ ” Thus, one of the most comprehensive attempts at conquering skate shoe protection was born.

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In essence, the Houkies, sold in pairs of two, are rubber sleeves that slip over skate shoes as a durable, all-over layer of protection against wear down from grip tape, foot stopping or any other abuse on any side of the shoes. The protectors feature a smooth layer of flexible rubber on all sides including the bottom, where a base layer mimics the tread pattern of the sole of the skate shoe. For a snug fit, the material is vented on the tops and sides while the bottom features a break in the material to help slip them over your shoes. Though Fransko and I originally had plans to give them a shot somewhere in between our homes in North and Central New Jersey, a delay in the manufacturing process and my recent move to the West Coast meant that I would be taking them out for a spin in the Southern California sunshine instead.

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Luckily for me, The Houkies arrived at a point where my Nike SB’s had just about worn though the last layer of the Shoe Goo I applied to them. Admittedly, I tore the packaging open, slipped the shoe protectors on and burst outside to take them around the block and see how they felt. Expecting a bit of discomfort due to my unfamiliarity with them, I only realized after I got back in and read the directions that to properly fit them to your shoes, they had to be boiled and quickly adorned to take a more form-fitting shape. Once I went through this properly, they fit like a charm.

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Perhaps the most enticing thing about the latest iteration Houkies is the look. In a world where skaters are more prideful of their shoes than the participants of any other sport, the clear material used for the protectors is a crucial piece to keeping the aesthetic of the form on point with the function of the product. When you look down at them, it is an unfamiliar sight to get used to. However, the functional durability that they provide soon alleviates any doubt over their appearance. This is something that Fransko noted by acknowledging, “My son and I collaborated and came up with many designs until we ended up with what the Houkie is now. Gotta trade some looks for productivity.” Nevertheless, they can hardly be noticed on the riders feet from far away, unless specifically looking for them.

As for putting these things to the test, I was clearly in the presence of quality company in the review department with names including Sam Tabor already giving glowing reviews on their functionality. After a number of rips, I can attest to a similarly positive experience with the Houkies.

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When you first slip them on, it takes a moment to feel them out, just the same as it does to get used to looking down at them. When you take the first push though, the inherent difficulty of skateboarding seems to take over as the feeling of the shoe protectors take a back seat. What this goes to show is the care that Fransko and his son took to develop a covering that molds to the shoe like a second skin, so as not to pose as an obstruction.

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Moving forward, these things stayed in place perfectly after the cycle of ollies, varial flips and beyond that I put them through. Serving to mimic the same sense of board feel provided by skate shoes on their own, the Houkies gripped the pavement perfectly with each push and maintained the proper hold when digging my back foot in the pockets and tail for popping and scooping tricks. As for the front foot, the top of the material remained flexible enough for the necessary feeling of a smooth flick. The best part? As I ended my session and slipped them back off, there were no signs of any sort of wear on the protectors – only the presence of a mostly thrashed left Janoski that probably could have used a solution like the Houkies a long time ago.

If you’d like to cop a pair for yourself, you can scoop them from their website here. Otherwise, you can stay tuned to their site for a future that Fransko claims will be filled with new colorways, potential designs, sponsorship opportunities and above all, savings for parents and skaters everywhere.

All photos shot by Andrei Churakov

Noteworthy: Alternative Longboards

Noteworthy: Alternative Longboards

Words and Photos by Daniel Fedkenheuer

Working at a skate shop in Southern California is an experience that truly makes a person realize how much of an epicenter the area is for skateboarding and longboarding. The amount of figures in the industry that flock to Los Angeles and the surrounding counties is only surpassed in number by the thousands of skateboarders and longboarders that take over the streets, parks and garages. Immersed in this land, it’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world of skateboarding and longboarding that exists far beyond the bounds of blue skies and palm tree-lined streets.  However, when my co-worker, Christian Teplitzsky, returned from a Euro trip with a fresh dancer longboard dubbed the ‘Ostrich’ in hand, I was reminded of just how expansive the skate world actually is.

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After gawking over one of the most elaborate sets of top and bottom ply graphics I’ve ever seen and running my hands along a set of colorful urethane-infused tips, I reached out to Szymon Śmiałek, owner of Alternative Longboards, and posed him with a few questions on how he was able to craft such a beautiful board. Between the historical ruins and the mountains surrounding the southern city of Nowy Sącz, Poland, Śmiałek gave me the inside scoop.

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The story behind the growth of Alternative Longboards is one rooted in a daunting trial and error process, whereby Śmiałek and his team exhausted countless resources to find the right combination. Initially plagued by the frustration of not being able to forecast problems the team was further beset with the challenge of finding efficient ways to solve and circumvent future conflicts from arising.

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While their initial run alone required figures upwards of 100 decks and 4,000 sheets of graphics, the numbers go up from there. In fact, since their inception, they’ve spent over 1,200 hours creating the right molds for their diverse lineup of shapes. In they end, they devised a system that requires a cutting mold and a pair of press molds to get their wood ready for a refined, four-step grinding process. Nevertheless, the team still claims they go through up to 40 prototypes of each new board before it is released.

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What this extensive research and development process goes to show is the emphasis that the Alternative crew puts into their craftsmanship, despite releasing ten distinctly unique boards in each series. To Śmiałek, the immersive approach of crafting these boards in a small-scale manufacturing environment is important because as he says,

“Making the boards with your hands gives you the opportunity to create something new; to learn how to work with different materials and introduce new ideas.”

However, the name of the game for Alternative Longboards has been and continues to be providing a strong point of differentiation at a modest price. Figuring out the optimal levels of weight and durability for these boards is also factored into this search for a justified price point. Nevertheless, Alternative faces these challenges in a more aggressive manner than many other board manufacturers currently do. Learning from their past but keeping their eyes on the future, Śmiałek asserted, “When you look at the past and check our previous collection, you’ll find a lot of differences, but we aren’t afraid to try a new solution! Next season we are going to release new collection, so expect something dope.”

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Though the back end of the operation is enough of a story on its own, the graphics on these decks add the final layer to a board that’s as visually appealing as it is technically sound. For each new series of boards that Alternative releases, they take a unique approach to curate a meaningful aesthetic in a interconnected way. As Śmiałek commented on the brand’s art direction he said,

“Graphics are one of the most important things, because it creates the soul of board, and helps owner to express oneself. Each year we are looking for the artist who will create something special. We spend a lot of time on Behance/Instagram to find that person who has their own style which fits our taste. We create one big graphic and split it to each board to connect the whole collection. All boards are different, but something must connect it. For us, this thing is a graphic.”

concrete-wave-magazine-company-profile-history-alternative-longboards

With artistic and manufacturing-related ends of the operation thoroughly covered, the only piece left in the puzzle for Alternative Longboards is scaling and distributing their product globally. Understandably, they’re making quick work of figuring this out too. The team already has an established following across Europe and Asia while team riders like recent RedBull ‘No Paws Down’ winner, Patrick Lombardi, have been holding them down in the streets. This makes the earlier-mentioned skateboarding mecca of America one of the next places for Alternative Longboards to cross off their list in an effort to get their boards out to every continent. “It makes us proud, when somebody from another country asks for our boards, because it shows that we’ve done a good job,” Śmiałek added.

If you want to give Szymon and the Alternative crew the pat on the back they deserve, go out and hound your local longboard shop to start stocking their decks or take matters into your own hands by scooping up something from their 2018 lineup online here.

FTC: Zombie Hawgs Wheel Review (Video)

FTC: Zombie Hawgs Wheel Review (Video)

From The [cw] Community:

Thanks to Nate Braks for submitting an awesome review of the Clear Zombie Hawgs wheels with some buttery slides from Boardworks Tech Shop team rider Ben Bartlett. Check it out:

Boardworks Tech Shop
Website: https://boardworkstechshop.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/boardworkste...
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/boardworks_...

Rider: Ben Bartlett

Filmed by:
Kyle Martin

Edit By:
Nate Braks

Music:
“Rocket Luv”
Ben Bada Boom

New! Submit Your Posts to Be Featured!

New! Submit Your Posts to Be Featured!

Well, we’re back from Hiatus!  We’ve been in the lab, not so much with a pen and a pad, but with some good things cooking, and some major changes coming up (stay tuned for an upcoming post).  But, until then we have an awesome new addition to the website where you can submit your content for us to feature!

Featuring Real Skaters, Sponsored or Not!
This is our way of connecting with the real skate world, sponsored or not, to feature real skaters from the real skate world – downhill, street, freestyle, longboarding, even art – anything goes!

Feature What?
Mainly we’re looking for Instagram posts or YouTube videos since they have easy links that you can submit.

Feature Where?
Once you submit your clips or pics, our editors will review them.  If they’re approved, we will insert your Clip, Pic, or Article into an awesome new post in our Blog or re-post on our Instagram page.  Some lucky contestants may even be contacted to be featured in upcoming editions of our submit-skate-print magazine!

Submit to Get Featured!
If you’re interested in submitting content to CW to feature, simply hit up our new Skate Content Submissions page here:

Submit Skate Content Here
Made in Venice DVD

Made in Venice DVD

For those lucky skaters who visit Venice, your journey there would not be complete without stopping by the City’s incredible skatepark. It was skate legend Jesse Martinez who led the charge to get the park built. His tenacity and pure stoke for skateboarding accomplished something truly remarkable.

The story of how the Venice skatepark came together is told in the documentary Made in Venice. Click here to view the trailer.

Drone overview of the Venice Skatepark

We are pleased to let you know that the film has been released in the U.S. on the following platforms: iTunes, Amazon, Microsoft Store, Google Play, VUDU; and On Demand at Xfinity, and Dish. In Canada, UK, Australia, Ireland, and Sweden you can see it on iTunes. Later this year, Made In Venice movie will be on VHX-Vimeo for WORLDWIDE viewing.

Note: The DVD ($14.99 + shipping) plays in ALL Regions and can be ordered worldwide through the
Made In Venice website.

Swiss Pumptrack Challenge

Swiss Pumptrack Challenge

Sure, the press release was written in German, but the photos are understood in ANY language. The Swiss love their pumptracks and the Pump King Challenge is coming up fast!

Here’s a great video they’ve put together to announce this year’s tour.

Have a look at some of the great memories from 2017.

Felix Meier

Patrick Switzer

Simon Sticker

Caroline Weibel

Tour winners 2017

Heal Fast, Candy!

Heal Fast, Candy!

Last week I received one of the most distressing texts ever. It was sent by Dan Gesmer, founder of Seismic and he gave me the tragic news that Candy Dungan, our associate editor had hit the guardrail during a run in Colorado Springs. I called Dan immediately and found out Candy had pretty much severed her spine. It was a total shock as I’d only been talking with her the day or two before. We were discussing her upcoming trips to the Philippines and South Korea.

Aaron Hampshire with his fiancee Candy Dungan

It’s incredible to think how fast our lives can change in a blink of an eye. It’s also amazing to see miracles happen.

Aaron Hampshire has dutifully posted updates on FB and Instagram. According to Aaron, Candy was scheduled for a 10 hour surgery but miraculously, she only need 3 hours. The doctors changed their prognosis and collectively everyone who knows Candy is breathing a sigh of relief. It turns out things could have been MUCH worse.

Some of Candy’s friends from the Longboard Girls Crew.

The skate community has rallied behind Candy and a Go Fund Me Campaign has been set up.

Funding as of April 2, 2018
10 AM

Candy Dungan is one tough cookie. Not even 30, she has faced some pretty difficult challenges in her life. But her strength and fierce determination has seen her through. I know that Candy’s perseverance will see her through this next phase of her life. Concrete Wave encourages you to donate to the fund and help out in any way you can. On behalf of the staff, advertisers and readers worldwide Candy, we wish you a speedy recovery.

The REAL Wonder Woman, Candy Dungan

More on Woodshops

More on Woodshops

A few weeks ago we did a story on what to look for (and to avoid) when it comes to choosing a woodshop. We know there are many folks out there who are very interested in starting up their own deck company. We heard from Mike Mahoney of Savvy Cycles and founder of Honey Skateboards.

Mike Mahoney in his shop.
Photo: Jeff Nass

 

Mike is an expert when it comes to wood and we are delighted to share his insights. Here is just a partial list of things Mike suggest you look for when it comes to choosing the right shop for you.

Does the shop control the environment?
Almost every shop will control temperature but many do not consider humidity. Since wood will shrink or swell as it drys out or takes on moisture, a shop should keep the humidity level within a certain range to reduce the movement of the wood (veneers). They should monitor the moisture content of the wood as well. Veneers should be stored in an controlled environment. Pressed decks should be given the proper time to cure and return to an equilibrium state before they are cut and shaped and stored in a controlled environment until they receive the finish.
Pressed decks should not be stacked to cure, this promotes unequal drying that can cause warping, air need to circulate around all side evenly. A deck that is too dry shipped to Florida will take on a lot of moisture do to humidity and can warp easily, and a deck with a high moisture content shipped to Arizona will dry out considerably and potentially warp and/or crack. Shops may not give you the specifics but they should indicate that they the decks are maintained in an humidity controlled environment for storage of veneers to finished deck. If not, look elsewhere.

Photo: Jeff Nass

 

What materials does the shop use?
Wood (veneers):
Maple, bamboo, birch, fiberglass, carbon fiber, other or a combination of. I caution the use of bamboo, it cracks easy and best used in a composite construction. I have seen many brand new, never ridden, big name longboards on racks in shops that were cracked. Shops should advise the proper wood species to suit your needs.
Adhesives:
Epoxy, PVA or other. Both epoxy and PVA have specific applications. A lot of people think epoxy is best, but are they using the right epoxy for the application. Epoxy should not be press under as much pressure as PVA because it requires some space between veneers to be effective, otherwise you run the risk of a week bond. There are several PVA glues that were specifically design for skateboards. They are water resistant, and designed to work with the characteristics of maple to flex with the wood (AKA “POP”). PVA’s can be pressed with a tighter glue line than epoxy. Epoxy is better suited for composite constuction. If the shop is using consumer PVA or expoy, look elsewhere. These are industrial products used in industry and not available at Home Depot or Lowes.

Photo: Jeff Nass

Finishes:
For years the standard finish used on skateboards was lacquer. Lacquer in not he best finish for outdoor use. The reason it was used so much is that it is required if your graphic is a heat
transfer and it’s easier to apply. Polyurethane with UV protection is better if possible, it is more water resistant.
Carbon Footprint:
Water based adhesives and finishes win here. PVA is water based and most finishes are available in water based these days. Epxoy, carbon fiber, fiber glass and bamboo are the losers. Yes, bamboo! It has been marketed as a “green material” due to it incredible ability to regenerate, however, the process required to get the round bamboo into a flat veneer come with a huge carbon footprint, outweighing the green benefits, but no one wants you to know this.

Photo: Jeff Nass

 

What type of press do you use?
Cold press vs hot press, manual, hydraulic, pneumatic operated, vacuum bag or clamps?
Cold vs hot depends on the materials and the adhesives used. Press time can also play into the equation here. Hydraulic and pneumatic are more production oriented, then manual, vacuum bag and clamps.
Does the press have a pressure gauge?
Adhesive manufactures have a recommended psi. Without a pressure gauge, how do you know if you meet the recommendations or that every board is pressed consistently? Again, epoxy requires less pressure that PVA.
Molds – Do you have stock molds? Can you make custom molds? Who owns the custom mold? If we part ways, can I take “my” custom mold with me?
The type of mold used is directly related to the type of press used. Do you need a one sided or male/female mold? Woodshops often will have a choice of stock molds to choose from. This is a good way to get started because a custom mold can cost upwards of $1000. Molds are often laminated with baltic birch, maple or even aluminum=($$$$$$). Stay away from a shop that recommends using 2×6’s or other framing material to save money. Just like your veneers, the molds should be kept in a controlled environment. A warped mold will only press a warped deck. Molds need to be precise to get consistent and secure glue joints. A CNC cut mold if far superior to a hand shaped mold. A mold can last for 10’s of thousands of decks if taken care of. A mold also needs to be designed to press a given number of boards. This leads to the next question.
There is a large variation in the industry with this. Some will press up to 5 decks in one mold to save time. This creates 5 different decks with respect to the contours, concave, kicktails, and wheel wells. As you stack decks, each decks’ contours get progressively smaller up the stack. Some don’t care, and some do. Pressing 2 decks at a time minimizes the differential range but takes longer to press decks in a production setting. This is a decision you have to make. Consistency or quantity, where is the happy medium?
Swap Meet Toronto – No. 11

Swap Meet Toronto – No. 11

The 11th annual Swap Meet held at Roarockit is coming up fast. #SWAP11 happens on Sunday April 8, same place, same time as always. For those who don’t know the exact address, it’s 880 Millwood Avenue in Toronto. Temperatures are slowly warming up here Hogtown. The fun begins at noon! After 4pm, there will be a slide session at the Poop Chute.
Roarockit is also presenting an additional event that benefits the amazing work of the Oasis Skateboard Factory. It is taking place on April 12 is the Boards of Education Art Show and Auction at the Gladstone Hotel. This This year, there many artists, from music to street and everything in between. The students are teamed up with an artist, who then creates a board with the student’s input on the topic, this year it is Mis-Education. Boards are auctioned off by Jay Mandarino – owner of CJ’s skatepark. It’s all good fun and raises some badly needed funds to support the school.

So.. You Think You Can Longboard Dance?

So.. You Think You Can Longboard Dance?

So.. You Can Longboard Dance? 2018 Worldcup Longboard Freestyle and Dance (flatland disciplines) 6th edition APRIL 21st and 22nd 2018 Klokgebouw Eindhoven The Netherlands competitions. Entry is free for spectators. 
Bianca Kersten heads up Flow Provider and she is in charge of the event. We contacted her from her home in Spain.
For those who are new to the party, what is it about longboard dancing?
Longboard dancing is riding a longboard in your own style, with flow (speed, consistency, combos) and creativity (innovation is important in competitions). It includes dancing that is accompanied by a variety of technical tricks.
How did Flow Provider become part of this movement – and what was the impetus to start the SYCLD
Already since 2003 does Flow Provider organise projects within street culture and street sports. Mainly events and programs in school. We believe in making a circle: pro’s inspiring people to start who are taught bij <retired or not> pro’s who can make a living out of their passion this way. These new inspired people who are taught form the new generation of pro’s and so the story continues. I believe in taking care of the whole circle to maintain a healthy scene. I use to manage a building on the opposite side of the Klokgebouw. Jan, the owner told me that I should just ask whenever I wanted to do something. It was bad weather and we wanted to skate. And so we did.. and the whole world came. Things lined up.. I had the time and knowledge to make an event out of it (which was necessary because of the huge amounts of people that wanted to come), I have the love of longboarding and knew the people in the scene and the owner of the Klokgebouw supports us in an unbelievable way. So.. it became ‘So.. You (think you can <- the first edition this was added) Can Longboard Dance?’ as a joke because the event that was her big sister, in Zwolle NL, was called ‘Dancing with the Stars’. Nobody knew it would lead to this. And I think the secret of the succes and growth is that there is no ulteriar motive. As long as a bunch of people have fun skating and inspire others, SYCLD is a succes.
What are some of the goals of Flow Provider?
The goals of Flow Provider is inspire, connect, educate and spread the stoke. Get people to feel what we all know about. The feeling of motion on a board and the butterflies and joy that gives. What it means if you can live your passion. I guess that is also the strength of organising SYCLD. I love every moment I can spend on the beach and in the ocean, so I only want to spend time behind the computer doing what I love, my time is too precious to me. SYCLD is an event I love to organise because it’s all about positivity. Everyone wants the best for it and each other. Even the sponsoring brands don’t want to dominate each other. Everyone supports it and loves doing so because it’s nice! Teaching longboard is also so nice! I was teaching thousands of kids and the smiles are the best! So inspire and get those who are inspired to inspire others. The pebble in the water..
For SYCLD I would like to have one event on every continent or in every region. The winner wins a trip to Eindhoven to have a shot at the title of World Champion. I think everyone should have the chance to attend and that a plane ticket to Eindhoven should not be the reason that maybe the biggest hidden talent somewhere can’t come. I think Brenno’s story is so inspirational. Did a crowdfunding campaign to get money for a ticket from Brazil to Holland and luckily he made it because he became world champion that year! And this changed his life!
For those who’ve never attended a SYCLD, what should they expect?
A huge venue of 5000m2 where you can skate, watch and enjoy yourself! With the nicest people on the planet doing things on a board that seem impossible. Just enjoy, skate and relax. The event is both days (21st and 22nd of April) from 13.00-22.00 and on Saturday there is a party nearby. Many competitions and much space to skate with obstacles. Eindhoven is also an awesome city. Most innovations and new developments in design are coming from Eindhoven. For those who can’t make it there will be a live broadcast!
Need more info? Visit sycld.nl
Virgin Blacktop World Premier

Virgin Blacktop World Premier

This Saturday, in MORRO BAY, California, the world premier of Virgin Blacktop will take place. Thanks to the work of Charlie Samuels, this 23-years-in-the-making film will finally be unleashed formally to

the world. This is not to say that it hasn’t been seen. It has – in Nyack, New York back in fall to a local audience. But this particular moment in Morro Bay is the official world premier. I’ve seen the film TWICE and I can tell you that is absolutely is a masterpiece. It is 100% pure stoke. No skater will be unmoved. In fact, I think once this film works its magic on the skate world, you’ll see change within skateboarding. Positive change.

Virgin Blacktop isn’t just about skateboarding. It’s about community. It’s about how we as a society get a long. It’s about life and it’s about celebrating people’s lives. Unlike the Dogtown and Z Boys film which hit 18 years ago, this movie is in completely different head space. If you’re an old school skater, you won’t know any of the main characters (except if you’re a freestyler and the name Joe Humeres rings a bell).

The film will make you think about the positive energy that the act of skateboarding gives us all. If it doesn’t make you want to leap out of your seat and grab your board, chances are you’re either dead or comatose.

To Charlie Samuels and all of the Wizards who are featured in Virgin Blacktop, thank you for inspiring me to love skateboarding that much more! Your film and story is lesson for us all.

You don’t need to be sponsored by Vans to be a Wizard. Nyack, NY November 2017

 

 

 

Today is International Women’s Day. Get Out There and Roll!

Today is International Women’s Day. Get Out There and Roll!

Today is March 8th. it’s International Women’s Day.

Did you know that?

The truth is my wife reminded me – but I thought it was on the 11th. Turns out that is the day many folks are gathering this weekend for rallies.

Patti McGee a leading light in skateboarding since the early 1960’s. Five decades later, Patti is still rolling!

By a strange coincidence, March 11 is my mom’s birthday AND the day I met Noel Korman in 2011 at the world’s first longboard trade show in NYC.

In most years, I’d be working on the April issue and waiting for the March Buyer’s Guide to come back from the press.

Ellen O’Neal rode for G&S. An awesome freestyle skater.
Photo: Warren Bolster

That didn’t happen this year. But more on that in a moment.

Peggy Oki made a huge mark on the “Lords of Dogtown.”

 

Laura Thornhill was featured in the Fall 1976 issue of SkateBoarder. She received over 10 pages of coverage!

 

I used to put a huge amount of focus getting the magazine out at the specific time. Speaking of time, I spent a huge amount time chasing advertisers to get their ads or listings in for deadline. Speaking of advertisers, happy to report we one new Swiss advertiser – Rocket Longboards.

Thanks to a series of events, I have the time to focus on things that connect all skaters. And that’s why I am writing this column. My first shout is to Candy Dungan, who is our associate editor. Can you spot her in this layout? Candy is right there…on the top left!

Can you spot Candy?

 

You see, I think now more than ever we need ALL skaters (both FEMALE and MALE) to be part of International Women’s Day. Here’s just one link why.

Girl is NOT a 4 Letter Word!

I encourage you to get out there and roll for women today. Think of what is must be a woman in Vatican City, the only place in the world where women can’t vote.

And in Belarus, women can’t become truck drivers. Then again, if you think about it, it was only 1971 when women got the right to vote in Switzerland.

The Longboard Girls Crew

For those male skaters who can’t understand what your role is today, here’s my take:

Get out there and skate. Enjoy everything the act of skateboarding gives you. Freedom and fun springs to my mind. If you run into some female skaters or just females, treat them the way you’d like to be treated. If they are new skateboarding, stoke them out. If they’ve been riding longer than you, take the time to learn from them. If you just do that, you’re rolling for peace – that is your role. If you want to march, or support women

in some other way , that’s also cool too.

So, here’s to women everywhere in skateboarding! Thank you for being here! Girl is NOT a 4 Letter word!

Special shout out to Valeria Kechichian of the Longboard Girls Crew.

Tip of the hat to:

Pink Widow Distribution.

 

 

BTW: Our next roll is April 22 – Earth Day.

Come join us in Toronto for this event

Spots are available for your product – it is green

 

 

 

 

 

 

And check out Peggi Oki’s charity that fits perfectly with April 22.

Not for Profit

Not for Profit

A quick glance over at Amazon USA and you can get into a longboard for $29.99

YIKES! (just kidding about the roll over image part!)

And here’s something else to consider – FREE SHIPPING

How the F**K does this even work? Shipping has to cost something. A big box like this has to be at least $15 to ship.

But don’t take my word for it, have a look at the reviews.

I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t have price point products. We should. But can someone please explain to me after you:

  1. take a piece of wood – shape it into a deck and add grip
  2. add trucks and mounting hardware
  3. add wheels and bearings
  4. pay someone to put it together, put it in a box and ship it to the USA
  5. then ship it from a warehouse to a customer somewhere for FREE

HOW THE HELL DOES THIS EVEN MAKE A PROFIT?

We are devaluing skateboarding one not for profit complete at a time.