Tag Archives: skateboarding

Art Technique Form

I wrote this short essay for my friend’s zine because I know he loves skateboarding and art and the two are one and the same. Sort of.

“It’s art. It’s technique. It’s form… It’s what looks good!”

J. Dill, On the topic of skateboarding

Skateboarders are naturally creative. They need to be. The world is their canvas and their boards are their tools to express themselves as they wish. No rules. No limitations except for their minds. From the wooden frames of the ramp to the unpredictable nature of the street; from the expressionism of poured concrete to the abstract spirit of freestyle, every skateboarder finds their place and perfects their skills.

The artistic integrity of professional skateboarders depends entirely on their ability to respect and defend their ancestors. Street skateboarders flock to the vast workshops of San Francisco, New York, Paris and Barcelona to redesign and refine the techniques their predecessors mastered in the multiple plazas and schoolyards of the city.

Sometimes the modern skateboarders draw inspiration from opposite ends of the artistic spectrum. For example, Ricky Oyola’s minimalist use of Philadelphia’s innercity architecture placed in juxtaposition with the surrealism of Japan’s Gou Miyagi has spawned a new genre of expressionism in Bordeaux, France, where powerslides are no longer limited to four wheels.

Even though skateboarding is a creative art form, it also embodies the qualities of a martial art with clearly defined technique and skill needed to perform tricks of the highest standard. The culture respects the skateboarder who has a response for every game of S.K.A.T.E. just as much as it respects the skateboarder who performs a singular trick perfectly.

Federations and corporate entities attempt to harness the creative force of skateboarding and use it to their own profit. However, core skateboarders have a sixth sense for authenticity and are quick to disown and condone any party that tries to benefit from the art form’s marketability. In the advent of globalization and free markets the popularity of the skateboarder identity has grown to the point that it has become difficult to recognize who is a true artist and who isn’t.

To distinguish between artists and imposters, analysis of equipment, health and posture are vital. The use and wear of a pair of shoes, signs of bruising on elbows and shins, or the manner in which a person handles their skateboard when walking are clear indicators of integrity. Grip tape thumb and mall grab are two benchmarks of the skateboard culture that separate the real from the fake.



The sound of Julien Stranger grinding a curb

I’ve pretty much retired myself from the physical aspect of skateboarding but I still love skateboarding. The other day a thought crossed my mind that reminded me why skateboarding is rad and only the people who have ridden a board will truly understand: Julien Stranger grinding a curb.

Julien Stranger is a skateboarder’s favourite skateboarder because he keeps things straight forward and lets his skating do the talking. Julien skates everything – fast. Watching him roll demonstrates an energy that very few possess. The hill can be steep, the ledge long or the transition vertical and Julien hits it hard regardless.

With the power of his push, Julien doesn’t need wax. The sound of his trucks grinding through concrete is like a battle cry that screams in your ears and twists your gut. The weakness in your knees is countered by adrenaline pumping through your heart to push harder and faster than ever before in a bid to imitate an individual that cannot be copied.

The video below documents five minutes of Julien Stranger skateboarding.

Chapter XXIV Skatebags

Chapter XXIV is a small independent brand that’s released a couple of bags made from tough camouflage material. One is a tote bag with the Wu tang symbol emblazoned on the side and the other is a drawstring duffel bag to carry your skateboard in. Or your swords if you’re a martial artist like myself. Or your dirty laundry…

I first heard about Chapter XXIV when the owner and designer posted up the news of his new creations on a British skateboard forum under the name Crackaollie. Like most people trying to push their latest product to the anonymous masses, he got a bit of flak but weathered the storm, took in some constructive criticism and aimed to do even better. A couple of months passed and Crackaollie resurfaced with a competition to win one of his camouflage skate bags. All you needed to do was write why you deserved the bag in rhyme. One forumer entered with some hot bars, but I thought I’d even out the competition and throw a few of my own rhymes into the comp. It turns out Crackaollie couldn’t decide and announced a draw. Thanks to my rhymes below, a Chapter XXIV skatebag was on it’s way from Latvia to me.

Word on the street it’s double X – I – V
Got the hottest product drop since the first Palace tee
I’ve got 24 reasons to want a skatebag this season
But it’s mainly to support a product I believe in
Don’t read between the lines as I deliver these rhymes
With the voice in your head thinking “Damn! Where’s mine?”
Crackaoliie came to the game with a whole new chapter
On functional fashion items with more than the x-Factor
Durable skatebags in camo print for your back
Doper than bum bags or the nineties knap sack
You don’t need speakers bells or whistles to get noticed at the spot
All I need is my Chapter 24 for my board ‘cos you know that shit is hot!

As a skateboarder but also as a cyclist, I’ve tried a few different skatebags in my time. Sometimes the bin liner and shoe string don’t cut it. I’ve had a volcom backpack with two velcro straps that was pretty useless; I’ve had a cheap zip up bag from Russia where the strap broke; and I’ve even got the Eastpak skatebag that’s pretty sturdy but has one major design flaw which is that the bag sits straight along your back so you can’t lean your head back – a big problem if you’re riding a bike to the spot.


So, what does the Chapter XXIV skate bag have that the others don’t? It’s light weight and completely waterproof. I ran mine with the board inside under the tap and the water slipped straight off without a hint of damp. It’s made of (recycled?) camouflage material that’s can take some wear and tear and match your camo pants that are in fashion these days. It has a single thick adjustable strap to carry the board diagonally across your back – avoiding any restriction to head movement, and it has a handle on the side for quick grabbing. Finally it’s got a decent sized pocket on the front with popper buttons to stash your wax / tool / weed / … I might just add that the board I’m riding is a bit of a beast at 8.5″ wide for 32.5″ long with 65mm wheels. The board fits inside and that’s what counts.

If you’re interested in purchasing a Chapter XXIV skatebag (or Wu tang tote bag), check out their Etsy page here: https://www.etsy.com/people/chapterXXIV