Poetic Collective is a small brand from Malmö, Sweden who have just come out with their new full-length "White Black Colour". Started with art school inspirations in mind, don't expect Sweden's next Street League contender on the Poetic Collective roster. Instead we liked the company's calm slow movement approach about White Black Colour, and the fact they stand for what's so magic about skating: the scope to go out with your friends, create and paint your canvas. Black White Colour will come in 3 parts, so for this first installment featuring Peter Johansson, John Nordh and Tom Botwid, we talked to the latter one to let us in…
Tom, what's the idea behind Poetic Collective?
The company was started when I was studying at the art academy in Berlin. Being surrounded by so much visual input got me thinking about how the skateboarding world mostly draws inspiration from within itself. There is so much repetition and nostalgia, I wanted to bring in influences from outside of skateboarding. So that is the main idea: to draw inspiration from other things – fine arts etc. And bring it into skateboarding again. All while very much sticking to the core of skateboarding and being a skateboard company.
What's the difference between your approach and say the one Plan B might have?
Plan B and many companies like it is at their foundation based on shock value and performance I feel. Of course we don’t have any skaters on our team that are even close to their level. I really respect their skating, they push that side of it and I watch all of that as well, but we try to push another side. It’s like skateboarding has gotten so big that there are almost genres, just like in music. Mozart, Madonna, N.W.A, they all pushed music. Just in very different ways and in different directions.
I would say our approach is more conceptual. To me skateboarding is a creative process and that’s something we try to bring out in all the things we do.
»Chris Joslin and Leo Valls are booth great skaters but so different«
What do you love most about skateboarding? What got you hyped enough to start your brand?
I’ve been skating for so long now and love everything about it really! It has shaped everything I am and do. I love the act of skating so much, often when I skate I notice myself smiling just because it makes me feel so good. But I also love all the great people I’ve meet through it and that is a big part of running the brand - to do things together. There is a great energy in that.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I try to look at everything and anything I’m interested in. Obviously I look at a lot of art but I also find a lot of photography, fashion or just random things inspiring. But the most inspiring thing is often to do things yourself, because once you made something you feel like there are so many things you could do better so you want to keep going, keep building on that.
Artistic expression or athletic performance? Can skateboarding be either one for you?
I like both, like I said before it’s like different genres. Chris Joslin and Leo Valls are both great skaters but so different. I often find the combination best, performance expressed in an artistic way. Like I love watching Stevie Williams skate because he does such good tricks but all with such a unique style. He expresses a lot just with one switch mongo push!
»I love watching Stevie Williams. He expresses a lot just with one switch mongo push!«
What would you like to see more of in skateboarding? Is there a “best" form of skateboarding for you?
I don’t want it to be just one thing, so I like to see what is happening right now. Some people push the athletic side, others the more artistic. There is something for everyone. The best form of skateboarding is the one where you do what you love, whatever that might be.
You're citing famous dadaist, Marcel Duchamp in your video, with soundbites probably more than 70 years old. He's saying: “The public cannot be shocked anymore. There is so much repetition in the visual sensation…" Isn't it funny how up-to-date this sounds?
It is definitely funny! He probably wouldn’t be able to stand to see how extreme it has gotten. There is so much imagery now, in skateboarding maybe more that other places as well because it’s such a big part of the culture to document it. It can definitely be too much, but like Duchamp says in that interview the shock will probably come from something completely different, I think that’s true. I don’t know from what but I think -different- is the key word, not bigger, flashier or more extreme.
That said – going socio-historical here – do you think described feelings are a new phenomenon or one that every generation is having to deal with?
I think every generation has had these feelings but I also feel like now we are moving at such a high pace that our brains can’t keep up anymore I am a victim to it as much as anyone else, checking my phone constantly, always online. But I always put it far away when I skate and don’t check it. Skateboarding is good in that way that it is very concrete and it requires your full attention. It’s just you and the board, that gives you a break from everything else in a way.
Is your video an active slow movement approach for deceleration?
We try to decelerate in some ways but accelerate in others I think. But the act of making videos and having an instagram account etc. Contributes to the noise as well of course so maybe we’re as bad as anyone.
What's the idea about the three colour schemes in the full length? What do white, black and colour stand for?
From the beginning we were thinking a lot about how to keep a full length video interesting. I love watching skate videos but I find that I easily lose focus when it just keeps going in the same pace all the time. This was a way to try to experiment with the format and give ourselves a framework to start from. White, black, colour represents the different moods in the film really, changes in pace.
»Skateboarding has gotten so big that there are almost genres, just like in music. Mozart, Madonna, N.W.A, they all pushed music. Just in very different directions«
An investor wants to buy into Poetic Collective, but wants you to cater to the Snapchat and Periscope prone youth of today. What do you do?
I don’t know really, I would never want to sell it. But I believe that if you put a lot of time and effort into making something different some people will appreciate it. Even on snapchat or periscope, I think those kinds of platforms have a lot of potential and use cases that we haven’t seen yet.
What's skateboarding going to look like in five, in ten years from now? Where do you see Poetic Collective and how many videos will you guys have under your belt?
When I think about it I keep returning to this thought about skateboarding developing into different genres. The more the Street league side grows the more other sides will grow. I think we will be fine. Hopefully Poetic Collective will continue to grow so we can do more projects, reach more people and be able to put more time into it.
We are gonna take a break from full lengths for a while and work on shorter, more conceptual stuff . The short film format feels more exciting right now and we ’have got several projects in planning and in the making. So I think we will have quite a few in a few years time!