Features Skateboarding

Jak Tonge interview

Portrait by Rich West


Being an adult in this demanding culture is tough enough, so anyone out there who has made the leap into having children should receive extra special big ups for championing their own routines. Today we speak to Jak Tonge, Portsmouth’s all-terrain ripper who has just turned pro for UK skateboard co Drawing Boards and is a man who knows a thing or two about juggling a skateboarding life between looking after his two wonderful sons.

Before you delve into what it’s like being a skate dad, enjoy this clip of Jak filmed and edited by Matt Simmons within an hour or so at Portsmouth’s Leigh on Sea park.

Hey Jak how’s it going? First up congratulations on turning pro, how does it feel to have your name on a board?

Hey, pretty good, cheers. I can’t complain at all. A board you say, what, with my name on? Ha! Yeah, it’s sweet mate. It felt a bit odd at first, turning pro feels a bit like a myth. I was used to seeing Reynolds and Rattray boards as a nipper and now I have my own. There are so many people in this country alone that could, and rightly should turn pro today you know, the British skate scene is tight, but in some ways the deck market is over populated. Haha! I just feel lucky to be involved in something that I can call home, even if we are a bunch of space cadets.

Do you feel you have more of a reason to skate and earn your so-called ‘pro status’, or do you just do the same as you’ve always done?

Yes and no to be honest man. I know that having a deck out is a big deal to the youthful side of a skateboarder, as a kid I would see a pro board in the shop and would think what it could be like – you got a lot of time in a skateshop as a kid! To me, it was a scary thought having your name on something that could be sold, we just wanted to build obstacles and travel to new places, making it something material seemed shit. But now, being in that position, I don’t think like that, so I want to push what I have. At the same time, I go to parks and just roll about kicking it so I have a laugh too, always have done.

Explain the crest for us on your deck graphic. I see music, boobies, your sons and nature, all things which are important to you in there right.

Yeah, the symbols are mainly old English symbols meaning Earth, beginning of creation, Yin Yang, Renewal, Mother, Spirituality, the 3 realms: Land, Sea, Sky, Life & Birth and Cakes and Ale!

HUF was a part of your life too right, what happened with that relationship?

I was on the UK HUF team for about a year, got hooked up through Out of Step thanks to Jed Cullen. They asked me to put out a part and I did that, but when they saw me in a pair of Vans they got a bit miffed, thing is they hadn’t sent me stuff for months and I had no choice, as dry days in winter are limited, so I thought chuck on some shoes that don’t have big labels. Got the edit done and they said they were more than happy. A few months later that was their excuse. If your getting hooked up, the first thing you’d hope for is great communication, but best of luck to those dudes and cheers for the free stuff!

Piercing ollie shot by Ranny


So I hear that you have two children Jak, it must be good to know your getting paid for the status, after all kids are expensive.

Yes, I have two little boys that are 4 and 1. They are my best mates. It’s good to know that money can be achieved just by skating, but I need enough money to sustain their habits you know; trips, crayons and pogs aren’t getting cheaper. These two make me want to rip it more than anything. If I’m going to drop in a comp run I’ll think of my dudes – that makes me skate better.

I guess they are too young to understand the concept behind turning pro and what the graphic means?

Indie knows that I get some extra cash for it, I put it aside for those guys so I mention the board cash to them when buying some books or what not. My youngest (Arte) is learning to speak at the moment which is great fun having done it all before. I will explain more as he grows up. I have explained to Indie what the symbols mean: family, nature, music and boobs (mothers milk) and they both like the colours of the graphics,

Have they been on a board yet?

Yes, of course, I can’t keep Arte of them, he literally has to hold one if it’s in front of him. It almost possesses him! Ha! Indie isn’t as fussed though, he says he can run faster and jump higher using just his feet which is so rad!

Despite family commitments there’s always time for a backside flip for Ranny’s lens


Do you take them skating with the crew?

If I know people are out at a convenient time I will drive by with the nippers and chill, but it will never be a plan to just skate, we have little adventures and plan out stops en route. I recently entered the Shop Riot with the Bored team and took them with me. It was mental. Most the time I was fearing for their lives as you know comps can get pretty powerful, but Prevail (skate park) has a balcony and we could just chill and eat Vans waffles.

Did you enter?

Yeah, I managed to have a roll with no warm up, I kind of chilled it, didn’t want to get a twankle with kids in tow. Lloyd from the shop looked after them for the six minute jam, but I was constantly looking over and checking the dudes, I could see Indie’s face in the crowd the whole time, just checking out my stunts. Ha! I didn’t land much mind. I asked him after what was his favourite trick and he said he liked it when I slid across the floor. Ha! Having them there was the best but I couldn’t do it for every event, I think Nass would be a bit much for now, although Arte has been when he was growing inside mother.

Hurricane by Rich West


Wow, that must have been pretty busy for a pregnant lady.

Nass isn’t the busiest festival but you do get some nutters there. I was on patrol moving anyone that could be a hazard whilst walking about, shouting “pregnant lady, watch out” alongside a decent group of mates all doing the same. She was 5 months gone I believe, but loved it, and Arte kicked a lot when the music got better.

Krook by Ranny


Good stuff, sounds like you still enjoy life to the fullest. I hear you have a skateboard school in the works?

Yeah, I’ve have been working closely with Adam and Donny from the UK and Oz side of Drawing Boards, putting together a workshop brief and making events. Basically we use Drawing Board wood and work with councils to help youths learn to skate. It’s dope as I have been teaching nippers for years with Team Extreme, a company that put on large events and everything I have learned I’m using for my own thing but on a smaller, tighter scale. We want to get more people into skateboarding and help communities do something positive and fun. It’s great to learn all the academic stuff as that is essential, but skating definitely gives people a bit of peace in between the hectic stuff, you know. It also helps Drawing Boards, the riders and the skate scene, I would like to get local bands and artist involved too, there’s a lot of talent about man.

Good work, stoked you can give something back to skateboarding. Any last words?

Try not to care about what people think but care about people. Learn to push whilst turning. Ha!

Any thanks?

My family, my boys and their Mum. All my mates, the girls and the nutters. Drawing Boards, Signature Clothing and Bored skate store.

Jak Tonge’s pro deck is out now on Drawing Boards. Pick one up from your local skate shop or online at DB here.