09/01/2014 | by Arthur Derrien
How come you’re in London?
So I basically came out to London just mainly for the Skytop 4 launch for Supra. Then in the process of coming out here it was brought to my awareness what was going on with Southbank as well, so I thought it would be really important to come here to skate and just show this place [Southbank] means something to me too. And I also just wanted to skate it and have fun, so pretty much between the Skytop stuff and coming to see Southbank, those are the two main reasons.When did you first come to London?
I first came here for some comp at Wembley. After the competition we went to some bar, I think it was called Bar Rumba or something. I had the boom box with me the whole time in the club. When the club shut I lead everyone back to the hotel; I was like the pied piper with the boom box going down the street. We get back to hotel and 40 of us started partying in the room – it was crazy. Someone then pulls the fire alarm and we had to bail as the hotel people were so pissed with us. This was the days before you had to put a credit card down in the hotel and we had no money so we had to run out of the hotel.How involved are you in the design of the Skytop, from conception to actually production?
100,000%! Design is just as much a passion of mine as skateboarding, music, art or photography – all these different things I do and design is one of my main passions for a long long time now. Ever since I did my first shoe with éS I have always been very involved with the design process of all of my product and not just allowing people to create something and put my name on it.And this is the 4th one?
Yeah this is the 4th editionAnd is it your favourite one?
It is you know, I think it’s easy to say that each new version at the time is your favourite, but I really feel that this one now represents what the Skytop is to me. And that’s change, innovation and offering something new in our market that doesn’t exist, and I felt like when the Skytop 1 came out people were like “what the fuck is this thing?” you know “Chad’s crazy” you know and I like that, because I like a sense of individualism. And I like to think of something and create something and be proud of it and wear it – and hopefully inspire a new style or a new culture, whatever you know? So I feel like the 4 kinda has that feeling again for me because a lot of the sales reps and different people are like “what the hell is this?” so for me I like that, I like to get a reaction out of people.
When I make anything I like to stir up our skateboarding industry. I’m sure within skateboarding people are like: “what’s up with this?” and to see people outside of skateboarding support it and all that, I get a lot of flack from that. A lot of people talking shit and stuff, and for me I think that’s stupid because eventually it may turn people onto skateboarding you know? If somebody is out there that has no idea about where skateboarding is going, and they’re buying the shoe just because they like the shoe and they don’t know it’s a skate shoe. They might go: “oh this is in skate shops” and they will go and get a skate shirt and then maybe a board and hopefully that (the shoe) can inspire people to start skateboarding. So I think it’s a positive thing if skateboarding products can reach outside of skateboarding.
And being skateboarders, growing up from being kids, we kind of have a closed minded mentality a little bit you know? And I think that was due to us wanting to be different than soccer and basketball and all these different things, we were just like “this is ours don’t touch it”. But I think that if we want (skateboarding) to be an industry and make a living off this and be able to do what we love, whether you’re a pro skater, or a sales rep, or a designer, or a filmer, or a photographer, or and editor, all these different jobs that exist in our industry, so the bigger it is the better it is for our industry. So we don’t have to go and work some corporate job or something, and even skateboarding has a corporate aspect to it, but at least you’re involved in something you have true passion for.So I saw you had your first art show (that Transitions show). Was that your first solo show?
Yeah that was my first solo show. I’ve been a part of other little group shows, but that was my main first solo show.How did that come about?
There’s this gallery called New Image in LA and Marcia is the owner. I had a studio in Los Angeles when I first got back and I set up this space. It was sort of a concept space for me and just a trial thing to bring a lot of people together from skaters to photographers, to artists and designers, directors, architects – I mean all these different people in one space and I wanted to encourage creativity. There was a big 20ft wall with supplies and it was a non-stop changing graffiti wall. So anybody that came I encouraged them to paint, interact with each other, have a good time and then my work was being created there and displayed there as well and people came and saw that and asked me to do the show, and that’s how it happened. Also for me art is an extension of skateboarding and they just complement each other kind of you know? I had some injuries over the years, and art had always been a part of my life, I’d be into graffiti as a teenager and all that, but I didn’t even know that that was art. At the time it was just graffiti for me. I didn’t like art but I liked graffiti you know? Then as I got older I realised that it was art and then the progression kept going, going… I forgot where I was going to go with that.Are you planning to do more in the future then?
Oh I was going to say I had an injury and that forced me to have another outlet of creativity, like what skateboarding has been for me all these years. So I put my passion into art. I was in Paris and I tore my ACL and it took me out hardcore. It was traumatising man. I was in bed for like a month just recovering from it and that is something I can’t deal with. I can’t sit still and not be self-sufficient and go and run down the street and jump off stairs and all these things. It was a pretty depressing time period in my life, so I had to find something to put this frustration into, and art was the thing that took the lead for that. And for sure I love it and I’m passionate about it, and I’ve gotten a pretty good response for the things that I’m doing. It started as one thing and I kept doing it in repetition over and over and over again and it keeps progressing and going into different realms, and I could just see the infinite potential of the things that I could create and the things that I can do with it. And then finding ways to connect it to skateboarding and tie it in and the Transitions show was obviously a representation of that.
You know making the transitions in life, from skating your whole life to trying new and different things, the transition of all these different girlfriends, style and just everything. And then the transitional aspect of just flowing, I like the idea of flowing through life, and transition always has this curve to it. That led to me building this thing in the middle of the show, like this structure, kind of like an obelisk or a monolith that had transitions. And so that really sparked me into this idea of making skateable sculptures, something that can live in a museum environment, and can look totally architecturally stimulating to a non-skateboarder but skater are gonna be like “this is dope, we can skate it”. I was always fascinated by that because how often does that occur naturally without the artist even knowing it, half of them have died and never seen their objects used in this way, so that was always cool to me. Going to Barcelona and all these surrealist artists were designing this architecture without skateboarding ever in their head, without even knowing what skateboarding was you know? So they were thinking in motion and flowing, their mind was flowing so that was why they built these objects, and I like bringing motion to an inanimate object, and also participation with a sculpture which is very rare. So I really like that idea and I think I’m going to keep going forward with that.