Just like anything I’ve ever done in life, I do it ‘cause I love to do it. If money or a career leads from that then that’s just a bonus. I never skateboarded because I want to go make money out of skateboarding. Money didn’t exist when I started skateboarding; Transworld was like ten pages. All my teachers and everybody was just like “why are you skateboarding? It sucks. Get a real life”. Money doesn’t govern my life ever, my passion governs my life. I’m just lucky enough that the passion has turned into things that support me. The art that I create can be applied to the skateboarding products, whether it’s decks or t-shirt graphics or colour schemes or patterns that exist on shoes and stuff like that. So they all feed off each other and inspire each other so that’s a good thing about it to, I don’t think one necessarily takes away from the other. Sometimes you can focus less on one thing than another to do that one thing the best you can do it, so maybe I won’t be skating as much during that time period, but it will always come back full circle because skateboarding is the backbone of everything, without that I would have nothing. So skateboarding is my life.You’ve been quite influential on your board, in terms of progression. How do you feel about the state of things now? What with Street league etc?
Skateboarding has gone from something that was us, a family, an industry that was controlled by skateboarders to something a lot bigger. Now corporations have come into it and that’s what has changed it. You can look at skateboarding and go “there’s Street League and shit, the X-Games, the Dew tours, the Red Bulls and the Monsters” and whatever the hell other shit. All that shit to me is bullshit and it’s not skateboarding and it’s not the way it should be represented, because all the reasons those companies are in skateboarding go against the reasons I started skateboarding. To me with in skateboarding there never should be a winner, there should never be a guy on a pedestal holding up a gold thing going: “I’m the winner, I’m better than this guy” and the other guy is so sad cause he got third place. What the fuck is that? This ain’t the Olympics – this is skateboarding.
(Street League is like) How many tricks can you do perfect in a row, and skaters are looking at the score before they roll away. That’s not skateboarding to me. But if that is what it takes for mainstream America to identify with it and open their minds up to skateboarding then at least we know that things like Southbank can still exist. You can go to Southbank and see little kids having fun and not giving a shit, they are on the personal challenge between them and the skateboard obstacle that is presented to them. That is going to exist no matter how big all this [Street league etc] gets. As long as Southbank exists I’m cool with all this other stuff happening. It just sucks that with generation after generation of that stuff being on TV and living in the streets and its grittiness are not being represented. The whole industry is going to become this mainstream thing, which is scary to me because I don’t want to see skateboarding like that. I don’t care if you ride down the street and you can’t ollie, as long as you’re having fun that’s skateboarding. Kids shouldn’t make another kid feel bad because they can’t heelflip, and you see that starting to happen more and more. Skateboarding should be a source of self-expression and freedom, and I want to see that aspect always remain and be the main thing associated with skateboarding.I read a quote from Skin Philips saying that you are perhaps the most marketable skateboarder ever. Is that a conscious decision – to present yourself in this way?
No way, I just do what I do. That being said I’m obviously a businessman, I’m not stupid. I don’t chase money, but money makes things easier in life, and allows me to realise my dreams and achieve my goals. I guess I’m aware of how I’m marketed, and I was always hands on since I was sixteen, from the first time someone was like “hey we are gonna put your name on a board” I wasn’t going to sit back and let them put some cartoon crazy weird shit on there and do whatever. Some boards popped up that they just did, but for the most part I tried to control how my image was marketed so that I was proud of it and comfortable with it. There have definitely been some wacky moments over the years though, and there will probably be more…
I’m also into fashion and design, and fashion is all about new seasons, creating ideas and supporting them and celebrating it. Everyone looks back on their fashion and thinks: “That’s crazy”, I look back at myself and laugh all the time, and I’m sure with what I’m wearing right now I’ll look back and laugh at some point. But it’s mainly about having fun and enjoying life, and that’s all I have ever been about.I was of the generation that ran the rolled up shell pants…
Yeah, it’s coming back let me tell you. The 90’s are here! It’s all about the 90’s!You mentioned fashion just then, are you still exploring that with Supra and Krew?
I’m no longer with Krew. We were on different creative paths and I wasn’t really feeling it anymore, so we kind of parted ways. There was some underground politics involved. So Supra is my main focus right now. I’m sort of in a re-birth situation right now. I think you see that a lot in the industry now. A lot of pros have gotten older and are starting to analyse the state of the industry. That’s why they start new companies and do new things, to help put their foot back in and show corporate America it can’t control everything here. I’m stoked for people like Dill and Brian Anderson who are starting their companies. And then Greco and Ellington are still doing their own thing. That inspires me; I want to do something for sure. I always knew I was going to do it, I know a lot about business and I know the amount of work that it takes to do it, so I’ve been patiently waiting for the right time, but I know when I do it I’m going to have to put a lot into it. But time is ticking right now, I’m not getting any younger, and the time is now. Throughout the years I’ve always liked building teams and finding kids that are rad. So many have amazing abilities and personalities… What is a pro skateboarder? Somebody that can come to a spot, talk to the kids, hype them up, influence them in a positive way, send them home happy and make them want to skate more. Being pro isn’t about nollie nosegrinding a fifty-stair handrail – that can get boring. Don’t get me wrong I love progression in skateboarding, when I was growing up seeing people like Gator, wait maybe I shouldn’t reference Gator (laughs). But people like Hosoi and Neil Blender, guys like that were rad, you saw them and felt their vibe, guys like Gonz and Natas were such shining individuals to me and that’s what a pro skateboarder is to me. So I would like to find kids like that, find somebody who has a cool story, doing what they love to do and have the potential to make a living out of it you know?Who are some of your favourite up-and-comers right now?
I can’t even pick any anymore. As far as good kids go, there are just too many and I feel like I’ve been disconnected from the industry. I don’t really look at magazines or watch videos anymore. I can’t remember the last video I saw… Actually I just watched that Nyjah part the other day and that was crazy! Seeing him go from being the little 9 year old kid on Element to become this incredible skateboarder has been great. When he came back after disappearing, I was like ” I knew it!” I wanted to put him on Supra, and everyone was like “I don’t know, he’s kind of a contest skater” and I said “trust me I’ve been on the streets with this guy, he’s fucking amazing”. But at the same time Nyjah is not the biggest “personality” you know what I mean? There’s nothing bad about him though. In fact he’s pretty much the best skater out right now, I don’t know who the fuck else is on his level. Other than Nyjah I also like Keelan Dadd. I like people who have some sort of random flare about them. But I’ve seen so many parts where I’ve been like “holy shit these guys are crazy”. Everyone’s doing insane stuff these days.