When you’re around sponsored skateboarders a lot, you get the feeling that many of them think they’ve earned something they haven’t yet received. Maybe it’s respect, or money, or fancy cars and necklaces. But you get none of that when you talk to Erik Ellington. Born in Anchorage, Alaska and currently living day-to-day in Huntington Beach, California, the Zero team’s tallest member is putting in his time and trying not to jinx himself.
Tell me what it was like to grow up in Alaska.
Winters were nine months long, and the summers consisted of really good weather.
Was it possible to skate during winter?
We’d skate parking garages and just about anything we could find. There were no parks or anything up there.
How did you get good at skateboarding if you had such limited skate time?
During the summer, we would skate 24 hours a day. There’s the summer solstice up there, so we’d get the same amount of time as a normal season down here.
How did you end up moving from Alaska to California?
My mom got tired of the winters, so we moved to Arizona. I lived there for seven years before moving out to California two years ago.
Do you think moving to Southern California has helped your skateboarding?
No. The first year it destroyed my skateboarding.
Why is that?
I don’t know. Before I moved here, I was pretty good. Then, a year later, I sucked. California hit me weird.
Did it make you feel like you didn’t want to skateboard?
Yeah, and the pressure. Until I worked it all out, I couldn’t learn tricks; I couldn’t have fun skating. Then I found a pattern and worked it all out.
What’s your pattern?
I can’t really pinpoint it. I guess it’s just a mental pattern.
How did you hook up with Jamie Thomas and Zero?
Toy Machine came out to Arizona three or four years ago for a demo–Scott Copalman and I skated with them. Jamie said to come out to California and we’d have a place to stay. So we did.
You guys seem like a really tight team; what keeps the team together like that?
I guess we just clicked. We’re all good friends.
Is there anything bad about having a really tight team?
Yeah. When a team gets too close and one little business-related thing goes wrong, it can mess up the relationships inside the team. It’s like a friendship lost. That hasn’t really happened with us, though.
Does skateboarding support you, or do you have to have another job?
I don’t have another job. I just sell boards and stuff.
Do you eat every day?
Sometimes. Sometimes I barely make enough to buy the necessities. But I guess I do. I mean, I’ve always got a pack of cigarettes, food, and something to drink at night. I’m livin’. I can’t complain, that’s for sure.
Is it your goal to be pro and have your name on a board?
It used to be. I used to think it was a lot more important; now I just want to get some money. You see how everything works after the first couple years, then you start looking at how the whole industry works a different way.
Is it a turnoff?
Yeah, in a way.
What advice would you give kids who want to be pros?
I can look from the inside out, so I’d say, have all the fun you can with it now, because, if you do get sponsored, a lot changes.
What are you working on now?
It’s the last two weeks of filming for the video Misled Youth, so we’re waking up early to get it finished.
Have you been getting wrecked?
I’ve been putting more effort in than I ever have. I’m doing all right.
What do you have coming up in the future? Do you see anything long-term for yourself?
I’d like to pay rent easier, and I’d like to be pro. I think about it being pro a lot, but I try not to think about it too much or it’ll jinx me.
Erik rides for Zero skateboards, Spitfire wheels, and Furnace skate shop.