There’re reasons why Southern California produces more amazing skateboarders per capita than anywhere else on Earth (with the possible exception of Vancouver, British Columbia): it’s warm and dry 340-plus days of the year, it’s almost completely covered in concrete, and, because it’s the hub of the skateboarding industry, the skaters who grow up there are exposed to amazing talent at a young age. Anaheim resident James Craig is a perfect example. I called him at the skate shop where he works in Orange County, California to ask him about growing up around heroes.
Do you think growing up in Southern California has given you an advantage over other skateboarders who enter the world of sponsorship?
Yeah. I think I have a little advantage, because I’ve been around a lot of pros my whole life. I’ve seen their capabilities and how they push each other. But the way my style of skateboarding is, I feed off my friends more than anything.
What kind of access did you have to pros while you were growing up?
I grew up with Jeremy and Jonas Wray and Gideon Choi. I used to see Eric Koston and those dudes a lot in Santa Monica. Ronnie Creager is from Orange; I grew up with him, as well.
Is your ultimate goal to be a pro?
No, it’s not. Honestly, my ultimate goal in skateboarding right now is to influence kids in the right way. When I was a kid I would stand next to the pros, and a lot of them wouldn’t even look at me or say hi to me. I always wanted to be that pro who was like, “Oh hey, man, how ya doin’?” and make every little kid feel special. That happened to me a few times when I was a kid. But it didn’t happen too often.
What pros did you see being personable?
Ronnie and Jeremy. Once I actually saw Guy Mariano talking to some kid. Guy is my favorite skater, ever.
How far have you gone with school in your life?
I graduated from high school, and I honestly want to go on to college. At the end of high school I was really getting into being sponsored, and I was really into my skateboarding at the time, so I figured if I wasn’t going to try my hardest, it would be a waste of money. I decided I would wait until I could support myself and then go back to school.
What do your parents think about skateboarding as a career?
Actually, my parents are the biggest supporters of my skateboarding. Every other week, they used to pull me out of school so I could go to contests. Seriously.
Do you think entering contests is an important aspect of being a sponsored skater?
They’ve helped my skating a considerable amount. First off, they make you more well-rounded. Also, it makes you skate stuff you don’t skate on an average day.
Do you have a job outside of skateboarding?
Yeah, at a skateboard shop.
How long have you worked there?
For three and a half years. I was skating, going to school, and working at the same time. It actually worked out perfect, because I met a lot of people in the industry by working at this place.
When kids come into the shop, do they know who you are?
Sometimes. I have a little crew from around here–some kids who know who I am–and I skate with them.
What do you see yourself doing two years from now?
Hopefully working on a pro-model shoe, having my pro-model board out, and just skating as much as I can. Actually, I’ll probably be going to school by then–I’d like to take business classes and maybe open my own shop or skateboard company one day. I’ve always wanted to be a team manager, but there’s probably not too much money in that.
What’s attracted you to being a team manager?
Just to stoke people out. Something that an average team manager might not do is call you up every week and go, “What do you need?” Also, finding new kids and setting them up with new product–just helping them out like a lot of people have helped me out along the way.
James rides for Blind skateeboards, DVS shoes, Liberty Boardshop, Darkstar wheels, and Monkey Grip and Bolts.