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.

Artist Profile – Cory Scroggins

Artist Profile – Cory Scroggins

In the Winter of 2016, I fell in love with parking blocks in the depths of an unassuming New Jersey parking garage. Rows and rows of them. Always in pursuit of the best low impact skateboarding I can find, I would spend nearly every night from January through April realizing how much potential these mini concrete flatbars had packed in them. As skateboarders, curbs and parking blocks are up there among the most appealing found pieces of architecture to mash our trucks into and slide our decks across. From those seemingly perfectly polished California red curbs to the crustier east coast hexagons that chip away to exposed rebar, few skaters can say they have gone without hitting a parking block one time or another.

 

In the midst of this developing love affair, I came across the work of Cory Scroggins, (aka @CoryTheCreative on Instagram) and found another skater out there who seemed to share this affinity for the blocks. In his work, Scroggins has painted blocks of all shapes, sizes and colors, to compose his neon and pastel-heavy aesthetic. Whether busting out his favorites, either lipslides or front/back blunt slides, or having a casual session, Scroggins told us, “to me the parking block is one of the more fun things to skate, especially with your mates. With a fresh waxed block and sesh with your friends, there’s nothing better haha.”

 

Beyond the blocks though, Scroggins’ art catches the eye through the variety of non-conventional mediums he uses. Random slabs of wood, broken boards, cassette cases and beer cans are all subject to be taken by Scroggins’ brush and reimagined in a colorful second life. Speaking on his choice of canvas, Scroggins says, “I honestly enjoy painting on all different types of objects and items. No real preference as long as it’s not something brand new. There’s just something to an old item or object that tells a story all in itself before I even paint on it.” For example, if you see some of his work on that pint bottle that would have otherwise been trashed, you might see that it’s actually an IPA from that local brewery up the street from his studio called Upland Brewing Co.

 

 

 As for the other bottles and scraps that Scroggins salvages, you might find them at a pop up art show, of which he has had plenty. When asked about the process and intent behind his shows, he told us, “When I had my first couple of shows years and years ago, I didn’t really know what to expect. Some folks where taken back by my style while other loved what I was doing. When I have these shows I try to have a theme or a message I want to say, instead of just making all about me or my name. In the end I just want to inspire others to be creative and to be comfortable as the kooks they are.”

 

As for some of these other kooks Scroggins has worked with, his work was notably shown at the Quiet Life’s “The Art of Table Tennis” show alongside the likes of Chris Pastras,  Henry Jones and one of his best friends, Lucas Beaufort.

 

The ping pong paddles he designed helped benefit Long Beach’s homeless community. With impactful goals in mind for shows like this one, it is important for Scroggins to dive right into the creative process when an idea arrives. This way, he can avoid, ideas “sitting in your mind floating around [and] not being put to use. Wasting away.  When I get an idea that I’m really excited about, I try to draw it right away so I don’t forget it” he asserts.  

 

Not only is Scroggins dedicated to keeping his ideas from going to waste, he is committed to fostering environments where up and coming creatives can let their ideas out as well. To speak more about his vision, he announced, “I’m working a project to give back to skateboarding and the youth. I’m currently planning out 10 stops at skate shops to have shows and bring art supplies and skateboards to create unique experiences and donate all proceeds back directly to each shop I stop at, in hopes to build up creativity and spark positive change. While this announcement leaves us to question whether or not his tour will breed the next generation of parking block painters, there is one thing for certain: with the eclectic collection of work that Cory Scroggins has produced thus far, those participating will have all the inspiration they need to emulate both his creativity and his humanitarian endeavors.

 

To follow the upcoming events, drop Cory a follow on Instagram here

    

ARTIST PROFILE – SUSAN HRIBERNIK

ARTIST PROFILE – SUSAN HRIBERNIK

Hribernik Boards was created in Richmond, Virginia by me, Susan Hribernik. I have been a colored pencil artist, a photographer, and a graphic artist for many years. I fell in love with skateboarding, and so my art went with it. The boards are all made of Canadian maple, and screen printed in California. Some of the designs are made from a created computer graphic, while others are hand drawn by myself. I have been testing out various shapes, to see what works best, and will continue drawing and creating for the next board. Hribernik Boards are made to ride.          

Cannot Be Bo(a)rdered

Cannot Be Bo(a)rdered

Cannot Be Bo(a)rdered is a visual exploration of youth rebellion through skate culture. The exhibition will explore popular 20th century subcultures in new works by 34 artists/collectives from France, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Using the skateboard as a primary medium, each work challenges existing stereotypes by

reconstructing a new narrative through different creative styles and visual expressions.

 

Cannot Be Bo(a)rdered was first commissioned for the Aliwal Urban Art Festival (AliwalUAF) by Arts House Limited (AHL), as part of Singapore Art Week 2016. It travelled to Urbanscapes in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 23 April – 8 May 2016, where nine Malaysian artists were added to the lineup.

 

In 2017, the Singapore Embassy to France invited curator Iman Ismail and AHL to present the exhibition at the Urban Art Fair in Paris. Nine French artists from Paris.

 

Here is a sample of the work that was showcased. As you can see, it exceptionally creative. Here’s hoping that the work will eventually wind up here in North America!

 

 

        

Danilo Goncalves – Old School Illustrator

Danilo Goncalves – Old School Illustrator

I found out about Danilo on facebook. There was something truly exceptional about his art that combined a mixture of fun and soulfulness. He currently lives and works in Brazil. I think his art truly captures the fun and chaos that is skateboarding. Enjoy! We have a four page story on Danilo in our latest issue.     If you visit his facebook page you will see a lot more work.    

4 Questions: Lucas Beaufort

4 Questions: Lucas Beaufort

Hello Lucas, 

Your work is almost, actually not almost, but everywhere. You started painting those characters on the covers of magazines, ads along with  collaborations with bunch of brands. You are French and you got a huge amount of exposure in skateboarding in only few years. We don’t know how you did that, but we have 4 questions for you:

 

1- Why combine skateboarding and painting?

Skateboarding is the best thing ever ! I can’t see my life without it. To be honest with you, skateboarding gave me this need to paint. I remember when I was a kid, I wasn’t interested by the brand but more about the graphic.

 

 

 

2- How do you get your inspiration?

I get my inspiration from everywhere, from where I eat to how I make love. If you open your eyes and you take the time to see what is around you, you will feel me.

 

 

 

 

 

3- What is your goal ?

My goal is to bring something special to the world. I don’t want to come out with something that you see everyday. It’s weird to say but come on, what’s the point to be transparent with no goals in life? I’m currently traveling the world, I need it so much, I can’t stay to one place more than 2 months.

 

4- What do you dream about?

I would love to paint a plane or a building, I have big dreams and want to achieve them.

 

 

 

Follow Lucas Beaufort on:

Facebook :  Beaufort.lucas

Instagram : @lucas_beaufort

website : www.lucasbeaufort.com 

 

 

 

 

 

Portrait by Francois Marclay