What sparked your interest in woodwork? What inspires you to pursue it?
I don’t know if there was one specific thing that got me started in woodwork—even that “woodwork” label makes it kind of specific. It’s always changing. I do love trying to create things and objects, and I use wood a lot because I’m always trying to make furniture, but some days I try to use metal, paint, and other random materials. I have a studio to go to that allows me to play around with these ideas and not concentrate on one specific goal or trying to master every craft. Most men dedicate their whole lives to just one—that’s already complete commitment. I already devote most of my time to having one label, that being a ”professional skateboarder,” and that’s pretty much a 24-hours a day job in itself. The same goes for any professional woodworker, architect, etcetera. They don’t necessarily have to be behind a drafting table all day to do their job—they’re out there observing details that nobody would ever notice. Like a filmmaker scouting out locations for an upcoming project, the abstract painter who is truly working every minute he is awake, it might take him years to put it on a canvas, but what comes is not just some bullshit whiskey bender story about a fight he had with his wife, it’s the years of hell, shame, misery, good times, and good drunks, bad times, and even worse drunks—that’s the shit that comes out when he feels ready. It’s the same when you’re a professional skateboarder. The act of actually shredding around, maybe trying to shoot photos or film, may only be two days out of the week. You want to make a lot of money and make your sponsors happy? Go out everyday and try, but God, it fucking shows in the end. It’s not like my brain ever stops thinking about it—walking to get coffee in the morning, I could be looking for spots. When walking into new buildings, looking out taxi windows on the way home from dinner with my lady—there’s always a part of me doing it in one way or another, physically or mentally. But it does take a toll on you. You can force it, but it definitely translates as being forced.
When I need a break from all the hustle and bustle and just to get away for a couple of hours, or the body is a little broke off, I have that space. Just a room in Brooklyn with some nice lumber, a couple machines, and I just try to be creative in other ways. I enjoy everything about it.
Skaters are extremely creative and talented people with lots of free time on their hands and that’s the double-edged sword—it’s just as easy too use that free time to fuck up in creative ways, which is not that hard of a trap to fall into. It wasn’t like I woke up one morning and told myself, “I want to be a woodworker and go to school to learn the technicalities behind it, and that’s going to be my life.” It just seems like it never works out. That’s everything in life. I never wanted to be a pro skateboarder, but it just fell into place and to this day it’s the thing I’m most proud of and realized how hard I worked to get here. Hopefully I have something to offer, and just by not stressing all day, everyday, about a part, I can honestly say I haven’t skated this good in a long, long time. It feels amazing again, I ride for the three best companies in skating: Chocolate, Converse, and Elwood. If it weren’t for the people riding and running those companies, I think I would have to give up the “professional skateboarder” label and maybe become a “professional bricklayer” that still likes to shred when it feels right. I’m looking forward to trying to ride as long my body can handle it and as long as I have stuff that keeps me excited and that I want to be apart of like the new Chocolate video. I’m really looking forward to filming a part for that and that’s going to push me.
My Converse shoe is finally coming out, and that’s a huge achievement for me. Just watching Converse grow from the first phone call from Steve Luther asking to ride for a skate program they were potentially starting over there, when they didn’t have any shoe designs, logos, a team, and a couple of failures under the belt—that was the scariest decision to make. But I’ve gotten life-long friendships out of it, and I keep watching it rise and rise in the skateboard market. It really stokes me out to see it going well and to be part of it. When the time comes to tell Rick that I feel kind of lame with a board with my name on it and to stop sending the checks, or if he beats me to the talk, I couldn’t be happier ending my career with all the guys that made me want to live, sleep, and eat cereal in the morning with my skateboard on the kitchen table. Hopefully I can leave my little mark and get a group of kids to skate Midtown all night cause they watched some of my footage. I really couldn’t ask, or want much more than that.
I will leave it on this last note: Why skateboarding does it for me in a lot of ways that most other technical crafts don’t is that there’s still some room in skateboarding to be original, not much, but some. Watching Mark Gonzales try kickflips on a New York City street will always look fucking original. How Julien Stranger ollied that gap in the hills of S.F. to tail smack on the ledge was more fucking original than what most people will do with themselves in their whole fucking life. I have met many types of working tradesmen and a lot of them seem pretty bitter in general, and tend to have these tremendous egos for the most part. They tend to be skilled and original people, but it’s probably frustrating and hard to be original in a craft that was mastered way before their time, yet they act like they invented the wheel. I can understand the frustration, and have the utmost respect for their work ethic alone. If I’m fortunate one day to buy a house, I would just love to build most of the furniture in it. It’s like skateboarers have this selfish way or maybe they’re just plain scared to try other things. Like, it goes against some skater code or something. So it’s much easier to continue in that one-track mind of “trying to come up,” shooting shitty photos, or filming just to keep it so core, so real. But it seems somebody who has to repeat how core and how real they are—it just sounds so hypocritical to me.
How are the feelings from completing a wood project the same or different as getting a trick skateboarding?
At first, I was going to answer this in a completely different way, but the more I think about it, it’s actually the exact same feeling—they both release a creative euphoric feeling of accomplishment. I was almost going to insert some lame joke about how much harder skating is on your body and all that, but truthfully, daily nicks and scrapes, always fucking up my back from lifting stuff, being on your feet all day—it will wear you down pretty good. But skating, I think, is a little harder.
Who are your influences for this? Are they the same as your skateboarding influences?
Influences are influences—they are all the same. Sometimes it’s pro skateboarders and how they skate and carry themselves in a positive way. Sometimes it’s some other pro skaters on the complete opposite of that spectrum. Before filming for Fully Flared I would go to a lot of galleries and check out some paintings. I liked doing that. A lot of the time those were the days I skated or filmed the best, actually (sorry skate core, I’m the one that will lose 40 percent of board sales when this releases, Sorry, Rick). But it is the truth. It’s the same inspiration, the work ethic. Believe me, I think you can see the struggles and the toll it took out of people, but then the positives show tremendously in a project like that. Who wants to watch some flavor of the month video sweating in a shop doing all the tricks that were cool that year? Still seeing a fourteen year old kid skating by himself with rock salt on the ground is an influence. It could be an e-mail from Mic-E Reyes, talking to Rick Howard—people that are respectful, humble, and great at what they do, and getting there without anybody’s help.
How do you come up with ideas for your designs?
Fucking up and being able to accept fucking up—good old fashioned hard work most days, and some days just staring at a blank wall.
Some people won’t see the art to making a piece of furniture. Is it art? Why and how?
They totally don’t, but I can’t blame them at the same time. People are only used to furniture stamped out in factories by the thousands with nothing more than a push of a button. They’re used to all the perfect dimensions that some furniture bible probably says a coffee table needs to be this size, a chair is this size, etcetera. Sometimes you need the other half, being the person maybe interested in buying a piece to be somewhat original and figure out an interesting way a piece could be used.