Paving Space – London skate/ art event curated by Isle

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A new London event to put in your diary this month is Paving Space, an unconventional encounter between maths, art and skateboarding.

This exhibition presents film, sculpture and photography, documenting a series of performances, at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, Institute of Contemporary Art of Singapore and Sainte-Croix Museum in Poitiers.

The project originated with Carhartt WIP approaching Isle Skateboards to work on a collaborative collection. Isle, which started in 2013, has always prided itself on artist-led, conceptually driven ideas.

Carhartt WIP and Isle could think of no one better than artist and fellow skateboarder, Raphaël Zarka.

When they approached Zarka, he had been researching the work of 19th Century mathematician Arthur Moritz Schoenflies. Schoenflies – a master of geometry and crystallography – had developed his own three dimensional models that specifically captivated Zarka’s attention, inspired with their sculptural potential.

The exhibition invites you to view Zarka’s large scale reconstructions of Schoenflies’ models re-appropriated in a way never imagined before.

Date: Thursday, November 17th at 6pm-10pm.
Address: Protein Studios, 31 New Inn Yard, EC2A 3EY London, United Kingdom

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Squelch! Zine

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If you are a big fan of skate art, graphics and fun gore, then head over to Jack Hamilton‘s blog this week and pick up a copy of his new 16 page zine Squelch!

His wonderful illustrations have graced a bunch of decks and tees over the last couple of years for the likes of Kill City etc, and now he has finally clipped a bunch of his work together into paper form for your viewing pleasure.

Head here to order yourself a treat for £3.50. Just email him from there and he will sort you out good and proper.

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Sketching the irony with Henry Jones

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The observer who lurks behind the counter of your local skate shop generally picks up on traits in everyone who visits the store. Aside from providing you with the best freshly glossed pieces of maple and urethane to suit your steez, their other natural game is to be aware of the characteristics of their clientele, by clocking the dominant, the followers, the thinkers, the slackers, the fearless, the jokers, the thieves…. and so on. It’s not set in a rule book, it’s just human behaviour.

Within these observations comes banter and Henry Jones likes to dish out a lot of it, in illustrative form. His satirical sketches, derived from his experiences, have become insta and tumblr favourites, bringing a smile, a thought, a chuckle and a share, generally in that exact order. So long as irony presents itself on a plate, Henry’s fingers will never get bored.

Find his world on instagram.

How’s it going out there Henry?

Good man, just hanging at the shop all day working on stuff.

Fairman’s right? Isn’t that one of the oldest skate shops in the US?

Yeah man, one of the oldest, if not the oldest on the East Coast. Some people just came in but they are just riding around on Penny boards so I can answer your questions now. Haha!

Let’s start at the beginning as this is straight off the bat with no notes…

Originally I’m from Downingtown, Pennsylvania, which is just short but outside of West Chester where I’ve been living and working for the last few years.

How did skateboarding take over your life?

When I was younger we only had like one other family living close to us, two of their sons who were a little older than me skated and I thought it was the coolest thing. We also didn’t have a paved driveway either so if I wanted to skate I had to go over to their house or just skate flat on a 4×8′ piece of plywood. A few other people in the area started skating and eventually the local hunting and fishing store started to sell skate stuff since the owners’ sons both skated.

Result, at least you had some access. So what era was this and what decks were on the wall at the fishing store?

This was like early 2000’s, I started skating in ’99. I remember the first pro deck I bought was a Blind ‘Switchblade’. Their wall was usually filled up with classic Shorty’s logo boards; they had Maple, all the old AWS decks too. That was when everyone still screen-printed a lot of their boards so I can still remember how the place smelled of freshly screened boards. Haha!

What a memorable waft…

Right?! The nostalgia is really seeping in right now.

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I guess you were watching the likes of Welcome To Hell, Mouse, Menikmati, Misled Youth etc. Board graphics would have been starting to get gnarly in that era…

Yeah mostly stuff like that, I had a lot of the Logic and 411VM’s.

They were skateboarding’s Holy Grail back then before the internet watered it all down…

Exactly! I’d watch the same ones over and over just to make sure I’d be up to date on everything. Now I don’t know shit about anything going on in skating cause it seems like there’s just too much happening too fast.

What video was your most wanted? I see one of your sketches references Flip’s Sorry vid.

Sorry was and will always be a favorite of mine. I think the video that I really enjoyed the most though was Maple Skateboards’ Black Cat video. I remember all the intro’s to everyone’s parts had really sick animations and some of them had like cartoon titties and shit, so I though that was ‘cool’.

Nothing like seeing cartoon titties to get you in the mood. Were you one of those kids at school who would sneakily draw dicks on people’s school books then?

That was the least of it. I used to draw some pretty fucked up stuff in grade school. Haha! Mostly for shock value but yes, that was definitely me in the simplest of terms.

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Were any family members caught up in the artistic world or did you just pick it up yourself?

Yes, both of my parents are phenomenal artists, graphic designers, carpenters etc, so I’ve always drawn from a very early age. I think skating actually kept me from drawing as much as I did before I discovered skating. I consider my Mom) a real “artist”. She does amazing oil portraits and things like that. She actually started a sign shop on their property that my Dad pretty much took over since he is very talented with graphic design as well.

What about sarcasm, did they manage to pass a heavy dose of that on you too?

I’d say that’s mostly me. They always managed to stay pretty wholesome when I was growing up. They actually made me go to a Christian school until middle school and I would always get into trouble for my drawings being too “obscene” or “demonic”.

Ah, so it’s the old rebellion uprising from being around religious nuts that fuels this party then originally, good call. What offended people most in your initial offerings?

I used to draw like knights, dragons and shit like that – people getting their heads chopped off etc. Some of it got pretty gruesome.

I also had a friend whose Mum and Dad were priests and he turned into the gnarliest skater / crack head you ever met…

Ha! I could definitely see that happening! Thankfully my parents never tried to jam anything down my throat and respect my beliefs, or lack thereof.

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What about irony, at what time in your life decide to rip the piss out of traits that skateboarders can’t help but drag around with them?

Well I’ve worked at Fairman’s skate shop for almost five years now and in those first few years I was really exposed to all ends of the skateboarder spectrum. The material just seemed to walk in a present itself to me. Also being in a relatively busy hub like West Chester I get a lot of opinions about skateboarding from people that haven’t the slightest clue about it.

We also run skate camps so I’ve taught private lessons in the past, and let me tell you…holy shit, it seems now that every parent expects their kid to be a pro skater ’cause they saw it on fucking ESPN2 or some shit. I could go on and on about that. Yeah man, just the fact that we are in downtown West Chester means that we have so many weird lurkers and shit, the inspiration seems endless sometimes. Haha!

Skate shops are built for lurkers though, (thankfully) especially when it rains, I guess the doodles just flood out from every scenario…

I think that I spend so much time either working in the shop or just lurking there that so I get so much inspiration I don’t even know of. Fairman’s is like right in downtown West Chester, which is a college town 75% of the year so we have our fair share of longboard douches, penny douches, segway thing douches, etc. We have a wall with a bunch of old boards that the original owner, Dave Fairman, pressed and shaped himself and every fucking Friday night some drunk middle-age dude wanders in to convince me that he “had that exact same board with the roller skate wheels” when he was a kid. That traditionally then leads into their life story and how “kids these days”…..yadda yadda yadda. Oh man, I could go on and on. I don’t wanna seem like too much of a hater. Haha!

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The old “I skated with Tony Hawk once and have a lock of his hair” scenario…?

Exactly. I’ve heard it all. We also get a lot of Bam Margera fans coming in looking for him because they think it’s his shop. In fact we still get fan mail for him every week! The shop has sponsored him since he was a kid so he’s always been associated with us, but yeah, he’s nice enough to usually give the shop guys the code to his gate so we can skate his park.

Ah, Castle Bam….

Yep, it’s like ten minutes or so outside of town. It can get pretty crazy over there but I usually steer clear. Haha!

Is he still painting his old man’s kitchen white and slamming axes through his front door or has he chilled out a bit now? Is there a local legendary story?

His kitchen is currently paint splattered with a multitude of colors for reasons I don’t know. The craziest local Bam story would probably be the time he got too drunk in town, started a verbal dispute with a local resident, that ended with her knocking him out with a baseball bat. Ha! Or when he burned down his mega ramp. As the intro to ‘Viva La Bam’ states: He does “whatever the fuck he wants”. In all seriousness though I have no idea, I’m sure I could make assumptions but I’ll leave it at that. Long forgotten, he’s a fruit cake.

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The 90s had so many characters, I see your art reflects all sorts of responses debates from skaters that their generation were better than the current scene. Knowing your skateboarding history often helps with progression though.

Yeah, I like to draw stuff like that because I think it’s so easily forgotten. Like it’s weird for me when someone comes into the shop and has never seen ‘Sorry’ or ‘Photosynthesis’, or any skate videos like that. I’m biased because that’s when I started skating but it will always hold a special place in my heart.

The old “My era will always better than yours” debate will go on forever. Your ‘2015 trends’ carrot chasing sketch really captures an image of exactly what’s going on…

I think that drawing can translate to every era, 2015 was just appropriate at the time. People are always chasing the trends trying to stay ‘cool’ and make sure no one has a reason to hate on them (that’s where I come in) that they almost seem to end up losing their own sense of style just to look like everyone else. It’s kind of depressing if you ask me.

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Does ‘cool’ even exist in skateboarding? Everyone will always have their own opinions on what they believe it is. Sheep culture seems to have kicked in more than ever right now, at least when Bam was at his peak, he dressed like a pirate and didn’t give a fuck. Isn’t that what skateboarding was supposed to be about originally?

That’s exactly what skating is supposed to be, but on the other hand if you really want to dress a certain way or skate a certain way, fuck it. No one’s hurting me. I will make lighthearted jabs at you however. I try to poke fun at everyone; we all have our flaws that can be exploited via pen and paper.

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That’s true. Who do you think has got away with it the most?

Today all people get away with it most. I think recently it has got to the point where I almost expect a skateboarder to be dressed a certain way. I call it the skate uniform. Skateboarders are so connected now that once something is ‘cool’ everyone knows and everyone is doing it.

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Sheep mentality is unfortunately herding skateboarding towards the Olympics. Core brands have always resisted involvement in the past but sports brands have moved that theory into skating ten fold to sell more product globally. There’s no doubt that the sheep who think they are ‘cool’ will all complain when the Olympics arrives, but forget that the shoes they have worn played a huge part in it. Typical skateboard irony.

I think we are defining ourselves too much. When it gets to the point that you can televise it and make it that sort of competition, when one can say, “that person is a skateboarder because they do that like everyone else”, I think that’s bad.

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Is that what skateboarders really want in the long term though? Do they realise by backing big corperate sports brands not owned by skateboarders that vacuums money out of the core industry, they are funding the movement towards the complete opposite of ‘cool’? The hashtag skate every day thing means skate more, wear out our shoes and buy more of them please kids. You can picture the sales graph and the marketing people around that boardroom table if you shut your eyes.

I don’t think most people think of it on that level unfortunately. Skateboarders started out as the misfits, now when I see the generation of skateboarders they just remind me of jocks.

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There was a moment in the early 2000’s where all the supposed ‘cool’ kids started working for sports brands who hated on skate parks. It was street or nothing, with turned up noses to the internet, skate jams and fun comps. Now we see those same people talking about parks and repping skate events because the corperate brands they front own them. It’s just one of the sad, ironic situations that has made a lot of people laugh worldwide. It’s even harder not to laugh at those individuals who shouted skater owned to the hills and finally gave in, jumped ship and took the money.

Yeah, I do think that’s pretty unfortunate, but you could also look at from a different perspective. I also think it’s great that more people are able to actually make a decent living off of skateboarding since so many more people are willing to endorse skateboarders. It’s a double-edged sword. Do you want to stay ‘core’ or do you want to be able to lay a foundation for a future family, housing, retirement even?

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That’s an obvious point, but if the industry backed skater-owned shoe companies, like the majority used to, and skaters fucked off the sports brands, the skate industry would actually have sales to fund those same jobs for those who needed them keeping ownership of their own scene. It worked for everyone before those brands came along just fine. How is your own brand Corposkate going to cope with demand when it launches?

Haha! Corposkate will never be an actual entity; it’s merely just a manifestation of all the different pros and cons of big business in skateboarding. But yes, if skateboarders did actually back skater owned companies that would be possible, but unfortunately Janoski’s are just so darn ‘cool’. There’s that word again.

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If Corposkate was real, who would you have on the team?

Hmm that’s a tough one; I’m assuming I’d have a corporation sized budget right?!

Well of course, everyone else’s mum, dad and cousin would be funding it as a tax write off in their jogging wear and hackey sack lycra shorts.

Bobby Worrest would be up there, the hometown hero. Also if I could actually get the original Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater line-up on my team I think that would be pretty legendary.

Pushing those buttons…

Up down left C, man.

Ha! Pass that blunt.

We might not win too many contests with that lineup however.

That’s fine though because if you ran your own branded contests your own team riders would win anyway. Isn’t that how it works?

That is how it works! When your own skater wins your contest it’s just like paying yourself for advertising.

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Exactly, small world problems then. How do you run away from your own problems in this life?

I can usually only run away from my problems for a few hours when I skate before I’m dragged back to reality. It’s getting tough to find the time these days.

How much time goes into the drawings, do you bust them out super quick?

I can usually bust ‘em out pretty quick and the actual concept or idea takes the longest. I do everything with just a black pen then colour them with markers.

So no computers needed, that’s rad.

Nope, I’m sure I could do them on a tablet or something but when I scan them, the actual drawings have a certain grittiness to them that would be impossible to mimic on a computer. I like that, it keeps it alive and very real.

Have you ever tried to roll them into comic strip form?

I’ve thought about it. I really like the idea of single panels though, short and sweet. I suppose if an idea required me to do multiple panels it wouldn’t be out of the question, I’ve just never felt the need to yet.

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If ‘likes’ are a means of measuring what’s most popular which drawing takes the #1 spot? The pills?

I think that one would probably be up there if I posted it now, more recent ones have more though. Like the “sorry mom” one and a few others have a considerable amount more than the others.

Do many people send requests?

All the time! A lot of time though it will be for a personal thing like a tattoo or something so I try to help out if I have the time.

What’s the most ridiculous?

Hmmn…Nothing too ridiculous. More likely than not it’s simple stuff, like people ask me to doodle their dog or something. They just want it done they way I do it I guess.

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Did you laugh when you first saw your art tattooed on someone’s skin?

At first yes, because the first tattoos I saw of my art were people getting them thinking it was Gonz artwork. After a while more and more people started to get them knowing it was me, which really amazed me.

I will let you get back to counter duty, I’m sure that Penny boarder will need some new sports shoes and weed socks, but let’s have your final words on whether you see yourself as a skater or an artist…

I fancy myself a skateboarder rather than an artist for sure.

Nice one, keep up the splendid work.

Find Henry Jones’ wonderful work on instagram.

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Pablo Would Be Stoked

Ph: Jimmy Gorecki wallrides for Blair Alley’s lens in 2007.

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Downtown Chicago hosts a rad Pablo Picasso sculpture that you may well have seen in various East Coast videos. Uprise skateshop made a short film in homage to the spot that Pablo Would Be Stoked on.

Pablo Would Be Stoked from Uprise on Vimeo.

Haroshi – Monster Children interview

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Hiroshi’s woodworkings are masterpieces and to see them up close and personal last year when his exhibition ran at Stolen Space in London was a treat to say the least.

Monster Children visited his studio in Kosuge, Japan to speak with him on his fascination with recyling skateboard decks into modern works of art.

Studio visit with Jim Phillips

jim_phillips_skate_artThe wonderful art of Jim Phillips is to be admired for life, for the generation to discover too.

The pioneer of the Screaming Hand and countless more mind blowing iconic skateboard graphics is back with a new video feature on the Berrics this week, enjoy looking into his world and read our interview with him here.

Talking About Money with Mike O’Shea

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“Mikey, my big butt brotha, an authentic individual with a rotund rumpus. A man with the weight of a moon on his back. Posterior monthly’s rear of the year. Yes it’s true that Mike can do really cool doodles, but it’s unfortunate that his raw talent should be so overshadowed by his bell shaped buttocks! Such is the luck of the draw (get it…draw?) in the birth lottery that his undeniable gift as an artist barely gets a look in because of his undeniably god given curves. But he doesn’t believe in God, because he thinks he’s a bit of a berk, not just Christian God either..all of them! What sort of God would gift Mike with a trouser-bursting hump like his and deny the same privilege to his two identical triplet brothers! A God of war! Or a God of phwooaar! Zing!

Anyway, enough butt jokes, Mikey is a breath of fresh air in a sea of pretentious try-hards, he has an in-built default setting for always calling things as he seems them (whether you like it or not) and I believe his authentic approach to life really shines through in his art. Plus it looks fun, like Mike, a fun dude who has a mean bs 360 to boot. I feel honored to have him as a friend and to be able to piggy back on his talent..and he can croon like you wouldn’t believe…plus he can dance. MIKE IS ART! Mike is his butt! Like Totally! Yeah buddy!” – Phil Evans

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Our cartoon correspondent and all round dope doodle cheese Jon Horner talks wonga with this week’s guest…Mike O’Shea.

Let’s start with Lightbox. A lot of how you made the animations is covered in the behind the scenes video, but I was wondering whether you had ideas for scenes you wanted to do before you started working on it, or whether you were reacting to the footage once you saw it?

There were no set plans beforehand, I just knew I wanted to do some sections where one frame animated into the next frame. Other than that I just made it up as I went along. Phil would send me rough edits and ask if I could add stuff in certain parts and I’d just try stuff and send it back to him and go from there. I was getting bits sent to me all the time and we would talk about ideas for it and stuff, but most of the time I didn’t know what it was going to turn out like until I had finished that section. Long story short, it was all about reacting to the footage when I got it.

When did you know what the music was going to be? Everything fit together so perfectly, it’s pretty impressive that there wasn’t some massively elaborate master plan beforehand.

Haha, Maybe Phil had a plan all along and didn’t tell us! It just kind of grew organically I think. Me and Phil are on a similar wavelength so it just kind of worked. It was so easy working with him, he pretty much liked everything I gave him and we seemed to have a very similar view of what we thought worked and what didn’t. I didn’t know what music he was using until he sent me a rough edit for me to work from. Like I said before I couldn’t really do much until I saw the rough edit, I responded to the footage and the music at the same time. I really like Gibbo’s music and I think it fit really well with the whole vibe and that definitely helped when i was drawing my silly pictures. I got super amped on the tunes and it made me want to do some trippy stuff that would work with them smooth beats, ha!

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Have you and Phil worked together before?

Yeah, we have worked on getting a dance floor pumping with our sweet moves but we have never worked on a video project before. Phil got me involved with a group exhibition he was apart of a few years ago, so we kind of worked on stuff together before but not really. We both had work up in the same show but that’s about it until now. We clicked pretty quick and I always really liked his video work and he seemed to like my drawings so it was only a matter of time before we did something like this together, I think he was just waiting for the right project to bring me in on. We had talked about doing something like this for a while and this seemed like the right time to give it a go. I hope we get to team up again in the future, just like they do in the Avengers.

Ha! Which one of the Avengers are you? Which one is Phil?

Hhhmm, good question. Which one keeps them all together? I guess that would be Captain America. Phil is that guy, the nerdy dork that no one likes but without him it would fall apart. I think I would be Ironman because I’m super smart, witty as hell and I have loads of money and sex appeal. Yeah, that sounds about right.

Good choice. And you make things that almost destroy the world.

Haha, hell yeah. That’s me. The key word there is ‘almost’, I also save everyone’s asses. People reading this who don’t know the Avengers aren’t gunna follow this, ah well screw em, those jocks.

It is pretty odd that a huge amount of people now do know who the Avengers are. Ten years ago I don’t think anyone would have seen that coming.

Yeah for sure. Anyway Jon, back to me and my drawings. Jeez. it’s not all about you and your dorky comic book heroes. Why did you bring that up? (I know I brought it up but I thought some tension would be good for the readers, ha!)

Hahaha! Did you read comics much growing up?

I read Spider-man a bit for sure but that’s about it for the American stuff I think. I always liked that guy. I read a lot of the Beano and some Dandy also. Can’t remember too much of it now, but I used to have a stack. Me and my brothers would try and come up with new super heroes all the time. We would all draw a bunch and try and out do each other with the coolest heroes.

You make comics yourself, right?

Not too much, I have dabbled. I did a couple for Eyeball Comix and some small ones for Vice. I want to do some more for sure, I think its fun to mix up what I do. I get bored if I just stick to one way of working. I like to paint, illustrate, animate, make comics, clay sculptures and whatever else I can play around with. This week I have been playing with clay. It’s fun to use your hands and experiment a bit with the stuff rather than just drawing all the time. It’s cool to think in a different way sometimes.

Yeah, I totally know what you mean! It seems like a lot of how you work is really tactile, like you keep computer stuff to a minimum. Is that true? And is it a choice or just how you like to work?

I wish I could keep it even more minimal on the computer front. I’d love it if I never had to use a computer again to create anything but that’s not going to happen. It is very useful and of course it is great for a lot of things, I just don’t like staring at the screen all day.

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Did you go to art school or anything like that?

Yeah man, did all that jazz. Got into debt and learned a little bit, ha. It was good actually but I’m not sure I would go now with all the rises in fees. It’s way to expensive for what you actually get out of it, you spend most of the year off with half terms and summer holidays.

When did you start Highbrow? What made you make the plunge into small business ownership?

Haha, to be honest I’m not sure when I started it, it kind of happened slowly and is now moving even slower! I just wanted to make a bunch of stuff and put it all in the same world, the world of Highbrow. I was starting to make videos and I wanted to make some board graphics that I didn’t think fit anywhere else so i made them for my own thing instead.

So what’s up with it now, is it on a Roger-style hiatus? Got anything planned?

Haha, yeah kind of I guess. I just moved to London so I’m trying to still find my feet here. Once I am settled I think I’ll start doing some more with it. It’s not going to be a proper board company or anything, it’s more of a fun side project I can work on from time to time, you know, put out limited edition boards and shirts and stuff. I am about halfway through filming a new video. Now I’m in the big smoke I hope to get the ball rolling on that a bit more. I’m sure I’ll have something else to go along with that when the video is done.

Also, starting cool, independent, underground board companies is so last week.

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What prompted the move to London? You were in Bristol before, right?

I had enough of the white crusties with dreadlocks and bare feet! I was there for 9 years and one by one a lot of my friends moved to London. I came up to stay with Chris Jones a bunch (yeah I just name dropped, big deal) and he pretty much convinced me it would be a good idea to move here. I don’t think he has many friends, so I have to hang out with him now to make sure he has company, I mean, who likes that guy? Well apart from everyone. Only playing. I luv ya C.J. Now go finish filming your Isle section.

I love London right now, I mean, it’s the honeymoon period so of course I’m loving it. I’m lucky that I have a good crew of friends that live close to me so I don’t have to travel for 2 hours to visit anyone. There’s also really cool stuff happening all the time. It’s hard to stay in and draw when there are exhibitions, book and zine fairs and stuff like that to go to. Also there are loads of new spots for me to skate.

Rad. You’ve done board graphics for the 3 Js (Joe Gavin, Jak Pietryga and Chris Jones), got any more coming soon? Anyone you’d particularly like to work with?

I don’t have anything lined up at the moment. I think it’s time I do one for the double J, Jake Johnson. How cool would that be? Ha. There aren’t too many that I’d like to work with to be honest. It would be cool to do a board for Polar maybe, or Magenta, but I’m not sure if my stuff would fit. Where do you think my vibe would work best? Which company would my drawings fit on?

Maybe enjoi?

Yeah, I think I could maybe do something for them if they were down for it. I like Drehobl’s new series that just came out. Oh and a Krooked guest board would be awesome.

Have you got any other projects in the works?

I don’t have any projects lined up at the moment. I’m just about settled into my new life in London and I’m now in a position where I can start thinking and working towards new things. I am pretty much just doing things for myself at the moment. If anyone is interested in working with me give me a holler, I’m well down for doing some cool stuff.

Do you have a day job then?

Yeah, I have a day job which takes up a fair amount of my time at the moment, but you’ve got to work to pay the bills and London ain’t cheap. I work in a coffee shop in Camberwell called Daily Goods. Most peeps who work there draw and skate including the badass boss ‘Carter’, so I’m in good hands. Pop down for a coffee if you’re ever in the area.

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Do you collect boards or art or anything like that?

Yeah, I have a few boards that I have kept hold of and not skated. I have a Roger deck that I really like, it’s called the Bowl Troll. I also have the first Skate Wizard Polar deck, which Jakke said was the first graphic he drew for them, so that make it even more special for me. Jacob is my boy.

Oh and I have Chris Jones’ first pro board for Crayon. I don’t really like the graphic if I’m honest but when your mate gets his name and face on a board that’s kinda a big deal. Most of them are sentimental I guess. Oh, and I’ve kept one of each graphic I’ve designed in the past.

I collect art and zines from my friends too. We normally do swaps. I give them something and they give me something in return. It’s good to support friends. I have some stuff from Kyle Platts, a few paintings from Jacob Ovgren, Paul Arsecott, Tim Ryan and a bunch of other friends that make cool shit.

Who else’s stuff are you into at them moment? In skateboarding and outside?

Hhhmmm, well to be honest i have not been looking at much artwork at the moment. I find I get too influenced by other people’s work so I’m making a conscious effort to stay away, ha! I want to focus on developing my own stuff and not get side tracked with what other people are doing. Also, I think I’m more inspired by people’s attitudes towards working then their actual work. Like, somewhere who loves to make things and is honest and pure in what they do and just does it because they have to. People’s positive energy for life and creating get me hyped, I’m hoping some of it will rub off on me. All that aside, I really like that cartoon Rick and Morty. Have you seen it? It’s so interesting and goes to some deep places at times but is still just a funny cartoon. It would be pretty damn cool to work on that show I reckon.

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What medium that you’ve never tried would you like to have a go at?

Stand up comedy, that’s an art form right?

Yeah, definitely! How come?

Because I think I’m funny. Ha, well normally when I’m drunk. Oh and I like the attention. A room full of people watching me makes me feel good inside. I’m a bit of an attention seeker sometimes.

No, but I really like stand up comedy and I think it could be an interesting thing to try, or maybe do sketches and weird videos and just put them on YouTube, ha. I mean, I use humour a lot in my artwork and I always wondered if I could translate that to something else other than drawings. But these are just thoughts, I’m in no position to actually try it out. I’m too scared.

Me and Phil Evans send each other little weird videos of us trying to act and stuff from time to time, mostly to make each other laugh. We have talked about trying to make something for the public also, but maybe they are just funny to us. Inside jokes and the like.

Last words…

Try not to be to self conscious about what others might think. Do what makes you happy and enjoy yourself. You don’t have long on this planet so have some fun. Oh, and go dancing in a club, field, bus stop or whenever it doesn’t matter, as long as you are dancing its all good. GO DANCING RIGHT NOW.

Check out Mike’s dancing skills at his site, buy some of his rad shit on his shop and follow his doodles on Insta. Phil Evans’ Lightbox project can be found here.

Now get those teas on mate…

‘Talking About Money’ with Greg Conroy

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The first time Greg Conroy‘s humourous illustrations caught my eye, they brought a wry smile. His simple, but effective artform tells a story, poking fun at skateboarders by highlighting the hypochrisies we are sometimes surrounded by. Our cartoon correspondent Jon Horner was sent to delve into the background of Conroy’s mission, paying homage to George Bernard Shaw who once famously said: “No, I am an artist, not a businessman; businessmen always want to talk about art, but artists only talk about money.”

Let’s start with Suburbs (Gregory’s stream of consciousness style comic about London, dog walking and Toby Shuall). How did that one come about?

Well, I’d just broken up with my ex. We lived together in Zone 1, right by Tower Bridge and I’d moved back to my parents’ on the border of Lewisham and Greater London, so I spent the first few weeks trying to find a local alternative to Southbank. Just somewhere to go and have a roll about. I’d just got a dog too, so I spent most of my days walking around the suburbs looking for spots with the dog. I was always stoked on Toby Shuall’s Head Cleaner section but started watching it obsessively when I moved home. it seemed a lot more relatable to me, back home in my late 20s.

The comic was sort of a visual diary I suppose. I had the thought process that’s in the comic going through my head all the time cos I was always out with the dog and always watching the section. With the other half of the book (that Jeremy Jones contributed to) I wanted something a bit funnier, making fun of the ‘deep stuff’ a bit.

So you were a proper Southbank kid then?

Yup, pretty much. Me, Henry Edwards-Wood and Faris Hassan went to the same school in Lewisham and all started skating the local carpark, then after a year we upgraded to Southbank. I’ve always preferred Shell Centre though. In the mid 2000s it would be ‘let’s skate Waterloo’, and I think its a bit sad that the new generation doesn’t have that. Southbank, Shell, lower Shell and, at a push, pigeon shit banks!

Where did drawing come into it? Was it something that came from skating and skate art or something separate that eventually joined up with skating?

My dad’s an artist (a proper one), and we didn’t have much money so, as a kid, we’d spend all day just drawing and making stuff out of cardboard boxes and paper mache. There weren’t many computer games as a kid, actually we had a black and white telly until the mid 90s. I remember going to a mate’s house and watching colour TV and getting proper tripped out, I thought it was only colour in cinemas! Haha!

My dad got me into it though, he lectured at Goldsmiths in the mid 80s but got laid off. He always encouraged us to draw, I was always super keen on cartoons and my older brother got me into comics early on. When skating came along I sort of fell off drawing religiously and skating became number 1, but it was always there in the background. Then I got back into it again heavily in my early 20s but never really wanted to show anyone. I was a bit embarrassed.

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What sort of things would you draw? I used to obsessively copy Beano characters.

Early on it was Asterix and Obelix and Tintin. We had loads of those books and I used to think they were amazing. I liked the Beano and Dandy but the drawings in Asterix were so great, really solid cartoons, they still stand up today. Then as I got a little older it was copying comics: Green Lantern, Superboy and Robin. I liked the teenage superheros, they had fit girlfriends and were always a bit jack the laddish, which to an 11 year old nerd is sort of the dream. You can tell I was popular at school! Then as I became a lot older, 20s, I got back into cartoons and sort of started to form a ‘style’.

I love the Asterix books! I used to get them at the library when I was younger and now I still keep an eye out for them in second hand book shops.

Yeah you can get so many good books in charity shops, for like 20 pence, I go for a dig once a month or so on the high street. Loads of great children’s books too. Anthony Browne the children’s book writer/illustrator’s work is what really lit a fire under me to get back into drawing in my early 20s.

Oh interesting, why him in particular?

His books can be read on two levels, he writes for a child to understand but there a visual hints and clues to a deeper story for the parent to see as they read. A lot of his books have quite adult content really, class issues and troubled relationships. I like things that have multiple depths and can be viewed simply or with a more significant undercurrent. I’m not sure if that comes off in my cartoons though, I’m sure most people go ‘haha, yeah man I think weed is cool too!’ and I’m thinking noooo, laugh at the stoner, not with him! Not that there’s anything wrong with it, I don’t want to alienate myself from skateboarding entirely, I’m not that dense! Puff away lads! Laugh with the stoner!

Hahaha! What was the process of finding your style like? Your work is really distinctive, was that a deliberate choice or something that sort of just happened?

There’s a guy called Walt Kelly who worked at Disney, he left and started doing a newspaper strip called Pogo which I personally think is the basis for all good cartoons. He’s the Gonz of cartoons. If you look at Robert Crumb’s early stuff as a teenager, im sure he was looking at him loads. And there’s a guy called Jeff Smith who made a comic called Bone. Jeff Smith says that his Bone character is kind of his take on Walt Kelly’s Pogo, and my characters are pretty much a vague rip off of Bone. It’s all a farce! I’m just nicking from other people. But realistically, I think most western cartoons end up back at Walt Kelly.

I always wanted to put my drawings out into some sort of public forum or do something with them, but for years I had no idea what I wanted to draw. I spent loads of time in Cide skateshop when I was younger and French worked there and I think he’s the best. I spent years trying to draw gory stuff like him, but it just wasn’t for me.

So after drawing French-esque stuff, what was your next move?

The French stuff was always half hearted. I’d start a drawing then give up halfaway through knowing it was just a poor imitation. That was around the time skating took over from drawing and I just doodled cartoons on post-it notes at work. Then I got really heavily into cartoons again, watching loads of them. The Studio Ghibli stuff is great, and Japanese cartoons like Conan Boy of the Future and Mysterious Cities of Gold, Japanese kids’ cartoons, that’s where the cartoon style started to develop. I was reading Bone over and over trying to pick apart how to draw good cartoons at that point too. It was quite methodical really, too bad I fell short of the mark copying them!

After reading Bone loads and tracing it back to Walt Kelly I just wanted to make newspaper strip style stuff. 3 panels or single panels, I got a bit obsessed and started to think that newspaper strip cartoons were the basis for ‘real’ cartoons and that cartoons should stay true to that. I still think that actually. Comics and animated cartoons are just an extension of those newspaper strips I think, a political or social story broken down for the everyman.

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What do you think about political or editorial cartoons?

They are the purest form of cartoon. I’m just not smart enough to do them, so I have to break it down to skateboarding, which I think I understand.

I don’t really see a lot of difference between what you do and what guys like Steve Bell and Martin Rowson do, I think you just exist in different contexts. It’s all about ‘speaking truth to power’, right?

Thanks! Yeah totally. I find the world in general, or more specifically humans, pretty hilarious. The way we conduct ourselves and what we think is important is so alien to me. I find most social interactions pretty funny in terms of the ridiculousness of what people think they are supposed to say, and skateboarding is exactly the same. It really is the silliest thing a grown man could do. Super rad but really silly.

I just want to make fun of people that take it seriously, growing up in the London scene is a big part of that. There was and still is a very big focus on ‘being legit’, and when you think you want to impress an older guy on the dole who gets left over trainers from his mate who’s sponsored it’s so daft. It’s all ridiculous.

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Hence ‘Serious Adult’?

Yup! Plug time! Serious Adult is pretty early on, but at the moment it’s half a crew/half a clothing company I guess. It’s just an outlet for something creative and fun. We’re putting a video together and doing a few runs of t-shirts to try and fund filming trips and get it out there a bit. Everyone that gets free stuff is into art and looks at skateboarding creatively and are all amazing skaters too. I hope we can make a short edit and get people stoked on having a laugh when skating. Everyone says ‘oh, skating’s just for fun’ but then HAVE to wear the right clothes and do the right tricks. Everyone filming for the video is creative and really has fun skating.

Who’s involved so far?

Jeremy Jones, Jaspar Woolf and Luka Pinto are stacking clips. We’re doing a trip to Sheffield on Saturday and I’ve spoken to Shaun Currie (who I used to know back in London and who might be the funniest skater in England) about it a little, so I’m hoping we can get some footage of him. Both him and Luka have filming commitments at the moment so it might just be a few tricks, I’m not sure, hopefully everyone can get 30 seconds and we can put a 5 minute video out. I’m hoping we can get some Lukas Kacevicius footage too, he rips Southbank and is always happy! Jasper’s been stacking clips, he’s killing it, and shout out George Toland for filming! He’s always keen to go on missions. The crew is coming together well!

So yeah, putting t-shirts out, hopefully more stuff when the money comes in. I just want to make money to take everyone on trips and make rad edits of them. It’s tricky trying to make clothes or a product from cartoons really. I don’t want to just put out a logo t-shirt, because who cares? Buy a Palace or Landscape one if you want to support a skateboard company. I want people to buy it because they think the designs are fun and they like the team.

Have you got many left of the first tee? it looks like most sizes are sold out on your website.

I’ve got about 3 left. I gave a lot out to friends but I just broke even, so the money has funded a smaller run of tees and the filming trip to Sheffield. I’m trying to do it properly, paying for travel, per diems, buying DV tapes. I don’t think people should do something for free, much like illustration.

Have you been approached by any companies to do stuff for them or approached any yourself?

I haven’t approached any myself yet, but I worked a few roughs out for Science, that’s sort of on hold for now I think, we couldn’t quite work out an idea that really grabbed both of us. I’ve been chatting with Matt Bromley from Blast, it looks like something will materialise there which I’m super stoked on, Matt’s a great guy and really thinks deeply about art within skating and Blast is my favourite company, I only ride their boards so I’m super stoked. And Bryce asked me if I wanted to do an exhibition at Parlour. It’s just talks at the moment, but hopefully that will come together soon.

I would like to do boards or graphics in general for companies of course, it’s every skate art nerd’s dream, I just don’t want to jump the gun. If someone’s stoked on my stuff I’d be really chuffed to be approached but it’s still early days for me I guess.

If you could do a board for one pro (doesn’t have to be a current one) who would it be?

Hmm, a tough one… Lavar Mcbride. He’s one of my all time favourite skaters and he was pro during a time when skateboard graphics flourished. You could really do something cheeky with it.

He’s from the right era, he’s the right skater, and you could definitely take the piss in those days. No logo boards then!

What do you think of the state of skateboard graphics at the moment.

There are some amazing people out there, but in general it’s so banal. Just really clean and sanitised and graphic design based. Skateboarding and cartoons really belong together, the 90s proved that. It was the best era for graphics, the most controversial and visually the funniest. I don’t understand how we have gone towards this logo board era. I see kids skating really creatively and having fun all the time, so why are the boards not a reflection of that? Todd Bratrud can put out something well drawn and funny, so what’s everyone else’s excuse? Paul Parker, Matt Bromley, French and other people do hold the candle of course, there are great people out there, but I don’t understand why some graphic designer that doesn’t skate is being hired to make a graphic for a mega-corp company and pass it off as a board. Just put a Monster energy drink logo on it and get the real money if that’s your goal.

James Jarvis’ Blast board is one of my favourites in recent years though, it’s great.

Maybe I should retract that graphic design stuff? Will I get in trouble?

You can if you want but I’m with you 100%!

Yeah fuck it. It’s true.

Also, I doubt Plan B were about to hire you to do a series. Sorry.

Haha! It’s great that you dont have to even say Plan B but we both know that’s what i was talking about in terms of logo boards. I hope Danny Way doesn’t find me and hit me, I’m fragile!

You aren’t gay are you? Then you’d be in real trouble.

That’s a different interview.

Hahaha! Next time.

I totally had sex with a girl this morning! I swear to god. It was great!

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Props. I think it’s fair to say that most people who know your work know it from Instagram. When did you start putting things up there?

The longlivesouthbank account put up a rough of a drawing I did for them and i had just got Instagram but didn’t really use it. I saw it had a bunch of likes and being naive didn’t realise anything they put up gets automatic likes so it felt very validating. That’s when I started putting my own stuff out there for the first time really. It felt nice to know people were looking at my stuff and found it funny, which is quite sad for a 28 year old man really. But that’s what Instagram is for.
I find it interesting though, I was chatting to Matt from Blast about it. People think that’s how it works, and I totally fell for it too – if you have likes you have a product, which isn’t true at all. There’s a far shout from 100 or a thousand or whatever people liking your drawing on the internet to handing money over for it on a physical product. It’s the same as skate videos. No one buys them and the market is completely turned on its head. I suppose Sidewalk cutting back from print is the same thing. The internet can be great to put something out there, but it makes us lazier as skaters I think.

Was it Insta love that that prompted you to make Suburbs? Or were you planning that already?

Hmm, I kind of wanted to make it and just put it on my shelf and forget about it but the insta love made me think maybe other people would want to see it too. It’s like when people get addicted to taking selfies. I avoided smart phones for years but now I’m totally sucked in. I’ve become the person I hate. Check me out on Instagram I need validation!

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Ha! Well I’m glad you made the jump to putting out a physical comic, and if Instagram helped make that happen then it can’t be all bad. Do you think it’s affected your style or your work in any way?

That’s interesting, because like I said I think single panels or 3 panels are a perfect medium for cartoons and that really lends itself to Instagram, so I would probably do the same thing either way. The next comic is longer and has a mix of single panels, 3 panels and longer comic stories so I don’t think it’s had too much of an effect.

But to a degree, maybe, I’m not sure. I really find it fascinating. It’s really narcissistic and the London scene has a lot of that (clothes, wanting to be seen etc, mainly in the younger generations) so I guess Instagram is a good medium for what I do, or what I’m trying to make fun of.

What’s the plan with the new comic?

It’s just an extension of the Instagram, with some 6 page stories thrown in and interviews with Jeremy Jones and French.

Sounds good! What stage is it at? Will it be out soon?

I just need to wait to see if I can do more than break even on the next run of t-shirts to put it out. For the tees the money model is: break even, keep some money aside for trips and some for the next run. If I dip into it to put the comic out I can’t put out another t-shirt run, because the return money on the comics is so much less than the tees, and if I don’t get a return we cant go on more filming trips.

Hopefully if the Parlour exhibition comes together I’ll sell/give away the comics there.

Good luck with everything! Anything else you want to add?

Shout out Greg Finch. He’s my favourite skater.

Find Greg at seriousadult.com

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Haroshi: Pain exhibition, StolenSpace, London

Photos: © Zac Crossfire. Contact us for permission to use them elsewhere.

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As skateboarders we all know that we have to pay to play. From an early age of pushing down the street, hopping off curbs and learning how to ollie, Pain is something that we universally understand as an end result of wrong doing. Japanese artist Haroshi has shipped his own pain to London this week, showcasing his personal affliction and questioning what pain is within a stunning selection of new exhibition pieces featured exclusively at the StolenSpace gallery in East London.

Haroshi’s trademark art recycles skateboard decks in intricate form. Each sculpture is made from tiny mosaic pieces of deck ply that are cut with a Japanese carving knife, glued together and heavily polished to form exquisite end products. Some take a few weeks to complete, others take up to 4 months depending on the various concaves needed to perfect each structure, but once they are prepped, the artist inserts a piece of metal inside each object to give them a distinct sense of life acting as a soul, only visible via x-rays.

His self-taught ways of cutting old decks into incredible art pieces have handed him worldwide recognition over the last decade. His incredible workmanship has attracted collectors worldwide who exchange thousands of dollars to own his work and by the time we had arrived to this show on Saturday, only one remaining sculpture awaited a lucky new owner.

From the smaller broken finger pieces to the monstrous A Vulture Waits For The Dead montage at the head of the gallery, seeing ‘Pain’ in the flesh is simply mind blowing and highly recommended. This gallery feature is for the many skaters around the UK that are unable to travel to London to see this exhibition for themselves. If you are nearby, witness it for yourself before the show ends on the 3rd November at StolenSpace gallery on 17 Osborn Street, London, E1 6TD.

Get down there and take this in, you will not regret it.

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Zombie Surf Party Exhibition, London, May 2nd

Zombie Surf Party Zine are throwing an art exhibition this May with various illustrations and skateboard photography from Guy Jarrett, Michael Biddulph, Matt Musk, Helena Long, Liam Clark and Becci Atkinson. These 5 met through skateboarding in the Norwich area and have various goodness to share. This will be set up for you to pop into from 2nd-12th May at the Basement Gallery, (under Lomography) at 117 Commercial Street, East London, E1 6BG.