Words by: Ben Powell
Mark Baines’ front-loaded, fleet footed approach to skateboarding has made him a firm fixture on the global scene for longer than he probably cares to admit. Following in the wake of Worksop’s earlier pioneer Carl Shipman, Baines grew up skating in the technically obsessed early 90s and made a name for himself alongside the development of the domestic skate industry and the legendary Blueprint skateboards.
A focus on progressive street skating, married to a work ethic matched by only a handful of his contemporaries, has seen him create a body of work in both print and film that spans three decades and stands as a testament to both his talent and mindset.
A brace of unused photos burning a hole in Ice Man’s hard drive provided the perfect opportunity for me to catch up with Mark and quiz him about how he’s been occupying his time of late. With both injury and Covid interfering with his traditionally proactive approach to time management he was more than happy to chew the fat about life inside and outside the charmed circle of professional skateboarding and more.
Read on, enjoy the photos and remember: there’s no substitute for hard work.
As long as I’ve known you Mark you’ve always been working on something skate-wise: filming, shooting, etc. How has the last year impacted on your perpetually proactive self?
Yeah I was thinking about this the other day after reading the interview you did with Adam Mondon. It feels as though I have put myself under this huge pressure to be out filming and producing for as long as I can remember. I actually had an operation in September 2019 after my knee locked up when we were on a New Balance trip out in Berlin. It was just a keyhole surgery but my knee is still having some problems.
Last year I had a few skates here and there, mainly to show to myself that I could still skate. I would go out and the test would be, ‘can I still switch heel?’ then fake flip and so on.
During that period I managed to film one thing with Dale Starkie in Wakefield as Shier was putting together a little Insta clip dedicated to Joe Burlo (RIP) and I really wanted to be a part of that.
I hadn’t skated at this point really since the operation but I went to meet the Welcome boys in Wakefield and filmed a little line. I was stoked because I could still skate but the knee felt off afterwards.
When the virus really kicked in I wasn’t skating. I don’t like skating by myself and I was definitely trying to minimise contact with too many people so it resulted in maybe a few solo skates in car parks.
I remember having a skate with Smithy when he was up in Sheffield and I beat him at SKATE so that was my highlight for skateboarding in 2020. In terms of footage, 2020 was probably my least productive year ever but whatever, it was nice to have the weight off my shoulders.
I don’t ride for a board brand currently so there wasn’t the feeling that I’m letting the board brand down.
How many years has it been since you’ve been without a board sponsor Mark – weren’t you sponsored from 13 onwards?
I think I was 13/14 when I first got hooked up so yeah, 27 years of board sponsorship so it’s pretty strange for me. I was first given Bigspin boards from Alvin at Faze 7.
Is it refreshing in any way not to have the pressure to provide photos for ads/footage for company videos for the first time in years?
Fabric was always a bit of a struggle in all honesty. I really wanted to help make it work but I think my ideas and Jackie’s ideas weren’t often aligned. That’s not a diss either, I have a lot of respect for Jackie but we have very different perceptions of where the brand should go I suppose.
In essence though, everyone tried to make it into something we could all be hyped on, regardless of differences of opinion at times. I did find myself defending the brand all too often and it wasn’t even mine. I believed we had a good enough team to make it work but it never really clicked. I’m grateful to Jackie though, he is a good guy and he did back us with trips and whatnot. I suppose in some ways I was trying to carry on the way we worked at Blueprint but it was obviously so different and it couldn’t and shouldn’t have been applied to Fabric but it was all I knew really. We had no Jake Harris or Dan Magee there. I think when we agreed to call it a day I was relieved to be honest. I was always happy to provide photo and video content, I just didn’t think it was worth the effort I was trying to put in sometimes, almost like fighting a losing battle I guess.
Does it remove any of your motivation to push yourself being in that position?
I have always had motivation issues with skateboarding. I would often go three or four months without skating, usually over winter. Then we’d do a Mallorca trip and I’d be back on it ready for the year, I think that was just a case of burning out a little constantly filming and obviously winter here is tough anyway.
I miss all that massively, trips with your teammates all filming for something you really care about. That was a big part of it for me. I’m sure I’ll get back on it once the weather picks up and my knee feels up to it. It’s not the first time I’ve been in this situation. But to answer the question, not riding for anyone is tough as I do enjoy being a part of something and I have been a part of something for more years than I haven’t in my life so it’s hard to get used to. Saying that, I have other priorities now too so it’s not all bad. Maybe that will be it in regards to riding for someone though and if that’s the case then I’ve had a good innings.
There’s been a lot of talk in the skate media about how the Covid situation has made it possible to skate a lot of places without the overseeing glare of security for the first time in many years – have you taken advantage of that aspect of this nightmare?
I have seen people were out skating some spots that were normally a bust. Like I said above, my skating was minimal last year so sadly I didn’t get to take advantage of this. If I’d been able to skate then I may have been down to hit some spots with a filmer but I think I would have been keeping it low key not rolling with a huge crew.
Some people have decided to flaunt all the restrictions that have come with Covid and then brag about it on Social Media. Have you found yourself on either side of that fence?
Yeah that’s a weird one. If I’d have been skating as normal I would have maybe gone out with a filmer or photographer and kept it low key like I said. We’ve been asked to follow some rules for the greater good.
We haven’t been asked to go to war or anything like that as much as the restrictions do suck. I’ve seen people out in big crews and just post it all up on insta. It’s a weird one because they’re not doing anything wrong really but it might be a bad look and it’s been gnarly seeing how much Covid has affected people. I’ve followed the rules so I don’t pass it on to someone older in my family. I wouldn’t forgive myself if I’d been carrying on as normal then passed the virus on to someone in my family. Everyone is different though and some people need that Insta fix even when things get as crazy as they have been. If I was younger then I don’t know how I would be reacting to all this, it hasn’t been easy.
I think there’s a difference between going out with a filmer and photographer than going out rolling 10 deep though. I guess it’s going to get the public’s back up against skaters, which doesn’t take much at the best of times, but people have to make their own decisions for this.
If I worked as a key worker I would maybe not be carrying on as normal because you have a responsibility to those you’re working with but it’s easy to judge and it’s not like we’ve been given the best information and advice from the government here at times.
Skating has definitely been a help to a lot of people the last year or so though that’s for sure. Look how many people have got back into it or newcomers; it’s been crazy and I am sure very welcome for skate stores everywhere.
On a more serious note though I saw recently that Mark Waters (RIP) passed away after getting Covid. It seems he had followed the rules and been super careful but still caught it. It’s so sad to see, you read the tributes from so many people in the industry and it hits home that we are losing a lot of good people to this virus so we do have to be careful and do our bit even if it is difficult at times.
A few years back, myself and Rye Gray tallied up which UK skaters had produced the most video parts and as I remember it came up almost a dead tie between Frank Stephens, Joe Gavin and yourself – do you have any idea of how many sections you’ve filmed over the years?
Not by number but I know there’s a few. I actually wish there was less in truth but at various times I needed to be seen to be doing something I guess. I don’t hate them but I’m perhaps not that stoked on them either. Maybe I’m being harsh on myself but I find some awful to watch.
Do you have any particular favourites?
I would say I’m happy with most Blueprint parts I did.
My least favourite personally is Lost and Found; I just wish I’d used a different tune. Waiting for the World is maybe my favourite. I filmed that part in about 6 months when I came back from the US and at the time I started filming I didn’t realise my kneecap was broken in two pieces.
I used to come home from skating and have to lift my left leg up onto a coffee table with my right leg so I could ice it. It was the worst pain constantly but I wanted that part to happen and I owed it Joe and the other Blueprint guys to do it as well. So for that reason I’m probably most stoked with that particular part. The tune is amazing too. I haven’t watched it for a long time but I remember watching it and remembering the pain I was in for certain tricks and sometimes how I would adjust my weight to try and relieve some pain. Maybe other people wouldn’t notice that.
The Sumo video Through the Eyes of Ruby was an amazing video to be a part of, Neil Chester’s best work in my opinion – it really brings back so many memories when I watch it.
I enjoyed the Dudes Dudes Dudes stuff we filmed for DVS and more recently the part I put out for Lost Art for a guest board we did a while back. I think that was the best stuff I have put out since MFWTCB. I tried to limit my go-to tricks as much as possible and do different tricks, it’s tough but I somewhat managed it I felt.
"at the time I started filming I didn’t realise my kneecap was broken in two pieces. I used to come home from skating and have to lift my left leg up onto a coffee table with my right leg so I could ice it."
You mentioned above about motivation issues throughout your career – what was it that made you bite the bullet and go out and film parts throughout those periods where you maybe didn’t feel happy with the pressure, or you were dealing with injuries? As someone who probably filmed 10 (very basic) tricks in 35 years of skating, I’m always intrigued as to what drives people. What kind of ratio is there between personal satisfaction/desire to progress versus professional responsibility and which factor has been most important to you?
I suppose in some ways it was survival, as dramatic as that sounds.
I have been paid for skateboarding since I was 16 pretty much, I’ve never done anything else and the thought of having to do anything else drove me sometimes. I know I have been in a privileged position being a professional skateboarder so I wanted to respect that and make sure I was producing content the brands I rode for could use.
In other ways it’s the friendships. There’s been so many times where I haven’t wanted to shoot or film a trick but I know that the photographer or filmer needs to produce too so the idea I was helping them would keep me going sometimes. I’m aware I’ve repeated a lot of tricks for footage or photos but when people are hyped to shoot those things you get stoked and it drives you on I guess. It’s those kind of things, that ‘we are all in it together’ type of deal, that makes you respect certain things I suppose.
But also skateboarding for me is progression, as a kid I wanted to learn tricks and not let skateboarding beat me. I remember when I learnt kickflips and I would land them with both feet on the tail so my board was pointing up on just the back wheels, it used to frustrate me so much, sleepless nights (laughing) then you figure it out and you move on to the next level but it’s kind of never-ending which is what makes it so good I suppose.
I love the process of filming a part mostly, it’s so fulfilling to see a part form, the way you piece it all together but like I say earlier I wish I could get rid of the parts I put out where I felt I had to because someone was saying I didn’t skate anymore or something else. I don’t think those parts are well thought out; I just had to put them out to show I was still doing stuff. I think when I filmed for something like Blueprint or the Lost Art project where it was for something I fully believed in, the desire to progress and make it the best it can be is there so the professional responsibility is naturally taken care of too.
"I know I have been in a privileged position being a professional skateboarder so I wanted to respect that and make sure I was producing content the brands I rode for could use."
You mentioned above that you have other priorities these days beyond just fulfilling the role of a pro skater – can you elaborate on that?
So what exactly does your role involve and does it allow you to draw on your experience as a pro skater?
I guess I’m a player/manager of sorts (laughs). Just generally looking after the team in the UK/Europe. We are slowly building in Europe, basically trying to get together teams in each country that we feel will help New Balance and fit in with guys we already have in those places. The UK team is solid and I know a lot of those guys well. We have had some teething issues early on with Numeric being relatively new to skateboarding, but everyone stuck with it and it’s finally coming together nicely. I just make sure they have shoes and try and assist with trips or if someone is shooting an interview we try and help with some flights or train tickets.
Me having previously been in the same position as a lot of the team has definitely helped me do this job. Someone like Charlie Munro for example is becoming more of a focus for NB but often he has had to hustle to get by and get out there, I know how that goes and I know it’s hard so we just try and support people as much as we can but we also don’t have huge budgets so we have to take everything into consideration so we can support as many people as possible in the right way. That goes for magazines and stores too, not just team riders, we want to do things in the right way.
"I guess I’m a player/manager of sorts."
You and I have talked a little about how some of the chat re: the pastoral role of a skateboard TM in Mondon’s interview resonated with you – specifically in the sense of there being a responsibility for people in roles like yours to extend their connection to riders beyond just posting out product – has that played a part in how you do this job?
Yeah for sure; like I said before I know it’s not always easy being a skateboarder. You’re presented with opportunities within skating, opportunities to travel and do all these exciting things but sometimes there’s no money to pay your phone bill. That can have a real effect on you mentally. I remember when Blueprint went south and in the space of a very short time I lost my WeSC pay too. Following that I didn’t get a new contract with DVS either. Almost overnight I lost my entire income but still had outgoings, it was stressful and it was really difficult to deal with by myself and I had no one advising me or seemingly giving a shit that I was at that point back then. Because of these experiences I know how it goes and where I can I will make sure we can help the riders as much as possible and if we can’t I’m straight up with them. I think as long as you’re honest about things then the relationship remains solid. They’re important to what we do with Numeric here so we treat them the best we can.
In many ways it’s a natural progression from pro skaters to ‘shoe guy’ and lots of your former Blueprint team mates are in similar positions – Vaughan, Shier, Colin etc – does it feel like a career progression for you?
Yeah for sure; I had many years of worry and anxiety about what I would do for a job after skateboarding. For a while I couldn’t even get shoes from anywhere and it seemed like that was it, there wasn’t any avenue for me to explore really. When I got on Numeric it was somewhat new so I have been there for a while now and it seemed a natural progression to move on to being a TM and I am grateful to Seb (Palmer) for hooking it up.
I’ve known him for a long time and he has always looked out for me so I owe him a lot that’s for sure, Mackey too. I think both me and Mackey have had to learn a lot along the way but I think we are getting there and thankfully it’s been a pretty organic process.
What’s the status of your current injury? Is it a recurring thing or a more recent injury?
It’s an old injury but not a repeat of the injury. Basically after I came back from America in 1999/2000 with a broken kneecap it took two or three years before I had an operation where they put a screw through the top of my knee to pin the knee cap back together. It worked and although I haven’t been pain free since it was much better and I could skate as much as I wanted really. About five or six years ago I was having some problems with the same knee so I went for an X-ray and when I went in to see the doctor to review the X-rays I walked in to two doctors laughing in disbelief. Basically the screw had snapped somehow and you could see it on the x-ray quite clearly, I posted it up on Insta ages ago now.
Anyhow fast forward to August 2019 and we were in Berlin on a New Balance trip, we’d cycled out to a spot that was probably 15km or so away and I was skating but I was in pain so stopped. I just sat down for a while. I went to stand up and my leg had just locked, I couldn’t straighten or bend it. It was so weird I didn’t know what to do but I was trying to play it down, as I didn’t want to ruin the day. Eventually I ground it free and managed to cycle back to the apartment we were staying at. I knew it was bad but when you’re on a trip you’re kind of stuck in a way.
Luckily it was the last night but I had to try and keep my knee bent at a certain angle to stop it locking. Each time it locked I had to grind it free, you could hear the grinding sound.
I remember waking Maxi Schaible up at about 4am trying to get up to go to the bathroom, my knee was fully locked, it was brutal. Next day was gnarly as I was at the airport by myself just trying to keep it from locking up. I went with Tom Karangelov and the crew super early so they could help me a little but I still had five hours to kill so I just laid out the front of the airport on some grass reading a book. It was actually enjoyable to have that time just relaxing.
Thankfully I got home without too many issues and went straight to the hospital. The swelling was gnarly and I had about two weeks before they could operate again, they said it would be four weeks but they brought it forward as I couldn’t walk pretty much. Basically the broken screw had moved behind my knee and caused it to lock up. I was told by the doctors that the broken piece was embedded in the bone so would never move but obviously it did. The comparison of the X-rays from when it was initially broken to after it had moved are pretty mad. I’m actually off to the specialist in a few days to see if they can do anything as it is still semi locking so it doesn’t feel right. I have a lot of cracking and popping going on so I’m hoping there’s something else they can do but we will see I guess.
How seriously do you take rehab these days – are you more health conscious in general now?
I’ve been pretty good with that. I’m by no means a fitness freak but for quite a while now I’ve tried to look after myself more so I can skate for longer, that’s the motivation. The frustrating part is that I went to the hospital in the US but they said it was just bruised. It’s frustrating to think they could have fixed me there and then but they basically fobbed me off. I try and do physio now if I get injured, I have been getting some good advice from Ben Rowles. I’d definitely recommend him if you’re dealing with an injury and need some rehab advice, he’s good and he skates so he knows from experience about a lot of injuries we get.
You’ve long had a love for cycling and bikes in general – has that provided you with an alternative to skating as well as an acceptable escape from lockdown boredom?
Yeah I love cycling. I love all the gear and the bikes as well. I have a few bikes, a couple of steel ones and a carbon one that is like my ‘best bike’ I guess you’d say. My uncle made the other two steel ones that I have as he was a frame builder with my granddad. They worked for Carlton Cycles in Worksop and later started their own bike shop called ‘Edison (Ed and his son) Cycles’. But yeah it’s definitely been filling a huge void that not being able to skate has left. I can ride pain free which is a blessing really, especially with the last year or so being in and out of these lockdowns. I would have been struggling without it I feel.
At the moment I just have a turbo set up in my basement that’s hooked to Zwift, which is an online app you can use that basically, it has virtual rides you can do. It controls the resistance on your turbo so it can replicate different gradients. There’s a bunch of workouts on there that are brutal. It’s good to keep fit but more so at the moment when it’s winter and outdoor riding is limited, I just have to use the turbo. Obviously it’s not anywhere near as good as getting out but it’s still enjoyable. When the weather is better I just head out to the Peak District. Depending on how long I want to go out for there are so many routes. I just moved so I’m looking at some routes from my new place, it’s still close to the Peak District, lucky really as it’s a sick place to live close to for cycling. I’ll ride by myself a lot as I don’t know loads of cyclists really, I have a few mates who don’t skate I’ll ride with and recently Jerome Campbell got into riding too so I’ve been out with him, Ben Smith, Snoop, Will ‘Silent Will’ Linford and a couple of other lads so it’s been good. Obviously when lockdown restrictions came in it was just riding with one other person but during the summer it was nice to have a crew to ride with after we were all shut off for a while and hopefully we can get some more in this summer.
Living the life you have has meant that you’ve travelled all over the world but obviously on skate trips you tend to only see cities and, quite often at least, some of the less pleasant parts. It seems to be the opposite with cycling in so far as it’s not urban at all and you’re exploring aspects of your immediate surroundings that are completely untouched by skateboarding. Is that refreshing?
I never really thought about it like that but that’s pretty spot on. I love being in the streets skating, you see so much that no one else from the UK would see in say Marseille or Barcelona. I remember being in some sketchy spots in Marseille, no go areas pretty much but we blend in as skaters. We’re out there getting dirty grafting so generally you get left to it. I know there are occasions where shit can kick off but mostly people in those areas are psyched on seeing skateboarding.
Cycling like you say is way different; I’m often on roads where you see barely any traffic or people for miles. It’s peaceful and the total opposite of the experience of skating in a city in that respect. I found more and more cycling has been good for me mentally as much as physically. Often if I’m bogged down with shit I’ll force myself out on the bike and when I get home I feel refreshed. But like I say, I love being out on the streets skating, that’s not changed. The last trip I went on was Portugal and I’d just had my operation so I couldn’t skate but I loved being amongst it all watching the lads kill it. The two are so different but I love them both equally.
I guess your travelling days are far from over (post Covid at least) and that with your NB role you’ll still be out and about even if you’re not the one in front of the camera any more, right? Are there places that you still want to see and if so where?
Yeah for sure; I’ve just been getting used to taking a step back, I’ve had to in the last year or so anyway. I’m used to going on a trip with a weight on my shoulders to get x amount of clips and x amount of photos. I don’t mind that, it’s something that pushes you and it’s part of being hooked up, but I think going forward there’s no need for me to be filming as much, it’s about the other guys now. I’m stoked I still get to be a part of this world and be around it. I love it and for years I missed the trips and the friendships that went along with being a part of Blueprint. I had a long period where I didn’t have that anymore so the fact I get to do it again now is amazing, I love it.
Of all the places that you have been to through skating so far in your life, which do you have the fondest memories of and why?
That’s so tough, I love Mallorca because that was like a yearly thing for us. Often it was like a boot camp for me to get back into skating after a few months off. We always had such a rad time, so productive but still a lot of fun.
I really enjoyed going to Italy; again this was with Blueprint – Lorenzo who did Blast Distribution would get us over to skate and hang out. He would take us to amazing places to swim or see some sights, then it would be food and spritz then maybe a skate, then more food and wine. I have really fond memories of him and Davide (ABG), Luca and all the Blast crew. They looked after us every time.
Then I would say China, we went twice. I was apprehensive about going because I suffered with bad anxiety for years and trips were often tough for me. But I went and it was the best. Total culture shock. I remember people staring at Leo Sharp because he was white, had blonde hair and was so tall. People were hyped to see us skate and generally super friendly towards us. You see so many people with very little and they’re smiling. It was just so different from what we are used to but it gave us all a good understanding of the place. We had two trips there and they were both amazing. One good memory was the day we all went and bought cameras because they were a lot cheaper there. Everyone bought Canons, or Nikon but not Smithy, go no he had to go and buy a Fujitac. A few hours later and he’s snapping away and all the buildings in his photos are like the leaning tower of Pisa times ten, nothing in focus just a total travesty. That was so funny.
Do you ever regret not staying in the USA and riding the Warner Ave thing like you could have done?
Not really no, as I was so unhappy towards the end of being in the US.
I was depressed and suffering with anxiety and no one could really help as I didn’t understand it and who wants to hear about your problems at times like that? No one really understood these things like they do now, especially not in the skateboard environment.
It was bad when I look back on it all, I was too anxious to even take a flight home. Mouly was a huge help out there, he got me through some tough times which I thank him for massively. But no I don’t regret leaving; I needed to get back to the UK. I wasn’t in a good place at all and all the drinking was making it ten times worse. Those guys are some of the best skateboarders ever and I saw so much heavy stuff go down but I wasn’t that comfortable with the PD marketing thing. I was more of the mindset of that being what you do when you’re done skating rather than the focus of your image. In my opinion no one else needs to see that stuff, but what do I know? When that lifestyle was packaged up and put out there to people it took off and they all deserve to get what they got out of it, it just wasn’t my way, and I wasn’t good enough.
They were like Man City; I’m more like Sheffield Wednesday, way down in the lower league. Reynolds, Ellington, Dollin, all those guys were gnarly, like another level. I have a lot of respect for them all and they were all super cool with me, I just wasn’t in the right headspace to capitalise on those opportunities maybe.
"They were like Man City; I’m more like Sheffield Wednesday, way down in the lower league."
From the perspective of somebody who has lived almost all aspects of the ‘skateboarder’s dream life’ – what advice would you have for any younger skaters with aspirations in the same direction?
I just tried to take all the opportunities that came my way. It’s different these days but before, it was just a case of getting out there shooting photos and filming your part. Just working hard basically; like anything in life, unless you’re super privileged, you have to work hard and skating is no different, especially if you want to make it your job.
I would hate to be trying to come up now though, I was never comfortable having to do those WeSC ad campaigns for example so having to create an image via Insta would kill me, but that’s what a lot of dudes feel they need and have to do now. I’m so thankful I came up at the time I did, as it was more about the skateboarding, whether that’s style or just talent it was generally just about skateboarding.
Just try and keep it about skateboarding would be my advice. And put the graft in – I think it always shines through.
What would you say are the biggest changes that skate culture has undergone since the point where you got involved in sponsorship and what kind of effects do you think those changes have on skating generally and more specifically on the opportunities for people making a living from skateboarding?
Like I said previously, it sometimes seems that it’s less about skateboarding nowadays but with that has come more opportunities for maybe a handful out of the hundreds of pros out there now. It does probably seem possible to make millions from skateboarding if you believe everything you see on Insta. A few are making that money for sure but I’m pretty sure 90-95% of pros aren’t making anywhere near that kind of money.
Obviously it’s becoming way more visible, on the one side you have governing bodies popping up helping get some parks and funding for various projects, you have the Olympics with countries providing training facilities for their athletes and then on the other side you have Lucien (Clarke) with an LV shoe, which goes way beyond skateboarding.
Lucien has grafted for years, the fact he put that last part out is testament to that. Some people might put their feet up at that point but he didn’t so he deserves all of it in my mind.
You have so many different takes on skateboarding now; female skateboarding is blowing up which is sick, it almost feels like they’re the underground part of skating in some ways. They get to come into a skateboarding environment with much fewer pros to look up to and be inspired by which means that they can all be a part of creating something almost unprecedented. It feels similar to skateboarding in the 90’s.
Then there are the kids who are down the parks training, posting everything on Insta – they really want it. It’s kind of sad to see, I’m down with the whole filming and posting stuff culture but it’s sad when that’s all kids want to do. It’s like they will never just go out and skate the curbs at B&Q, they need it to always be for Insta.
Skating is getting huge again, we’ve seen it a few times, it’s like the ten year cycle or whatever it is but this time there’s so many different parts of skating in the mix, you’ve got the Olympics, girls skating, fashion brands wanting a piece. It’s good for skating though and hopefully it helps the brand and stores. I think that’s how you’ve got to see it.
If the stores that, let’s be honest, have struggled for years, can make their businesses grow then that’s good for all of skateboarding because they will put back into the scenes they support.
The Olympics may seem pretty wack but if kids get into skating because of it they will eventually go find their local skate store and it all helps skateboarding. I think a lot of people really want to protect skateboarding and that can be done despite all these other aspects, people just need to embrace it and make sure the right people are getting these opportunities. As for making a living from skating, it’s still tough I would say, I know currently a lot of dudes are being let go by brands and will struggle to find another brand who will pay them so it’s not easier now, but maybe expectations of what can be made from skateboarding are higher so it’s difficult to judge really.
What do you have planned for 2021 or is it impossible to plan anything NB wise given the current circumstances?
It’s difficult right now, we made plans for last year which all had to be scrapped. We’ve just been trying to keep the riders and stores hyped on things. We want to do a few trips this year but it depends on Covid. It seems like the vaccine could have a positive effect on the situation, so let’s hope that’s the case and we can get back to something we are used to. Right now things are on hold until the summer at least. All the guys on NB have done as much as they can off their own backs which is sick, Dom made a little lockdown clip last year, Munro got two covers during lockdown when he was on low key missions. I think they’ve remained productive whilst not taking the piss and sacking off the rules completely.
Which five video sections would you show to somebody who knew nothing about skateboarding if you wanted them to understand it from your own perspective?
Guys Mariano in ‘Video Days’: I think as a kid when you see that video you’re watching someone your age doing all those tricks who looks amazing on a skateboard and you think ‘damn I want to do some of that’. He was super young in that video and to this day there’s some gnarly shit in there, even by today’s standards. That whole video could be on this, minus one part maybe. But yeah that part, if you remember watching it when it came out and you were the same age as Mariano the impact was huge and you could see how it helped get you hooked on skating, seeing some kid doing all that stuff left you with a sense of all these possibilities.
Mariano in ‘Mouse’: to show an example of what you can progress towards. That is basically the best part of all time. It’s a perfect part in my eyes, no one will better it.
Josh Kalis – Toy Machine ‘Heavy Metal’ part: Just to show some style and how skateboarding should look. The fact that a lot of it is in SF is sick too, culturally SF is so important to skateboarding from the brands who come from there to the skate spots and skaters that have passed through.
Daewon Song in ‘Lovechild’: Just to show where a lot of tech skating came from. And to see how fast he skates in that part too, it’s crazy. It has to be one of the best parts of all time and Daewon just got better and better, you could follow up showing his clips now just to reinforce how important Daewon is to skateboarding and how skateboarding is not just for kids like we’ve all had to explain thousands of times.
Gino and Keenan’s ‘Mouse’ part: Two guys with the best styles at that time. Keenan was so influential to me as a skateboarder, his trick selection was always on point. It also highlights how important people like Keenan are to skateboarding when he’s still remembered after passing away years ago. It highlights how rad skateboarders can be when they remember and celebrate people like Keenan.