Words by Kevin Duffel, photo courtesy Element.

Mark Appleyard’s unarguably one of the most looked up to and talked about skaters of recent years. So what happens when he suddenly leaves his decade-long tenure at Flip and opts to go sponsorless? Well, as you’d guess, people talk. Despite rumors, nobody truly knew where he would eventually call home, but yesterday, Element announced they enlisted a new pro. It’s been a few months in the making, but now it’s official–here’s what Mark’s got to say about enduring the Elements.

You were on Flip for years. Why’d you decide to call it quits?
I was over it [laughs]. I feel like I grew out of it and the team changed so much over the years that I was just like, “this shit ain’t for me anymore,” and I just needed to feel more stoked on the company I ride for, so I had to change it up.

Was it hard to leave all the homeys you’ve been traveling and skating with for so long?
Yeah it was hard to leave, but it’s a business move. Ya know? If someone’s gonna be your friend, it shouldn’t depend on what company you ride for. I just had to make a power move to benefit myself. I’m really stoked on the choice I made. It was difficult but it had to be done.

Yeah, it seems like people sometimes forget it’s a business and a career as well. You gotta do what’s in your best interest at the end of the day.
Hell yeah, and if they forget then they can f–k off anyways.

What inspired the move to Element? Had it been in the works for a while?
I mean, I had a lot of options and I just figured that Element best suits my vibe. It’s just a nice company and kinda earthy and nature-y and stuff. I just felt like, “Damn that’s where I wana be.” And then I met up with the guys and they were really cool and we just clicked. I’m down–it’s sick.

Yup, Appleyard’s officially on and here’s his welcome video filmed by Kirk Dianda.

For sure. Plus it never hurts that they’ve got budget to go on awesome trips and take care of you.
Oh for sure, they’re the biggest. They’re huge. It’s a professional move. I upgraded. Like, smart move. I’m stoked.

Any crazy signing bonus? I heard Monster bought Greg Lutzka a house–did Element buy Appleyard his third Rolex?
[Laughs.] No. I haven’t got any signing bonuses, but they’re taking care of me real good, so it’s all good.

Is there any bad blood between you and Geoff Rowley or any of the other Flip guys now? Is it all cool or are there kinda harsh feelings between you and them?
Everybody on the team, I’m cool with–but there are other people behind-the-scenes that are being difficult. Basically it comes down to this: my friends are cool with it and the people who are fakin’ being friends with me aren’t cool with it. I don’t give a shit because if they don’t appreciate my decisions then they ain’t my friends anyways. Sometimes you’ve gotta separate your friends from your acquaintances. Sometimes their colors come out when moves happen. But no, no bad blood. I still respect everyone over there.

So was the Element stuff all lined up when you quit? Or were you just totally over Flip one day and had to get away?
Mainly, I was just fed up. The shit changed so much and for a long time I wasn’t into it but I let it ride. One day I woke up and was like, “If I’m not backing it then I’m not hyped.” And so I went in there and told them really politely and really professionally–and I quit super nicely–and told them all thanks for helping me out and that it was a good ride. Just, when I quit, some of the guys over there got sour.

But it’s not like you didn’t put your time in.
Yeah, basically I put in ten years at that company and helped them become what they are. For a long time I was over it–“Nah shit ain’t me.” Their slogan was like “hate, kill, destroy.” First of all, that’s just opposite of what I want to represent. At the end of the day you’ve gotta do what’s best for you.

A year ago in a Thrasher interview, you said, “I’m always thinking of ways to live leisurely. Ways to, you know, get rich. I don’t ever want to have to work. After skateboarding I don’t think I could work.” Did that kinda inspire this move?
Yeah, this is a window of time and you’ve gotta get it while you can. No disrespect to [Flip], but it wasn’t clicking with my vibe or my style and I was just like, “I’m not into this.” I made the best move I could and I’m just really stoked. Element’s amazing. I’m super happy to be a part of it. Everyone’s real cool. I’m hyped to be a part of it. Now I feel like I’m in the perfect place.

So were you friends with anyone at Element before or was it a totally random move? Was it difficult adjusting to the new team?
No, I’ve been friends with Darrell Stanton for a long time–he’s a good friend of mine. And Levi [Brown] has been a good friend of mine. And I’ve known Chad Tim Tim and the Muska and Ray Barbee. I pretty much know all the guys who ride for them. I just like them. You should see my first graphic. It just suits me.

And plus, why not skate for a company that keeps it a bit mellow right? You can’t always go out and kill yourself.
Yeah, plus Element’s a great skateboard company. Beyond that, it’s also a great company. They own stores, they’ve got their shit together. It’s just a legit thing. You’ve gotta do what’s right for you.

How do you think the process of filming for an Element video will differ from that of a Flip video?
Well, that was a different place in my life for me. When I came out with those Sorry videos, it was different. Now I like to just go out. I don’t get in no van anymore. I get in my own car. I do my own thing. I film a video part on my own time. I find it just works a lot better that way. But back in the day I was like 19 for the first Flip video. Then I was like 23 for the second Flip video. The last one that just came out-a lot of that footage was kinda old. I’m really happy filming with Darrell and the Element guys. Those are my friends and I like to go skate with them. It feels right. It feels like less of a job, basically.

So it’s just back to the basics skateboarding?
Yeah. I just think Element represents my style a hell of a lot better. It just seems perfect for me.

Fellow Element rider Muska once said, “Money makes you thick.” Considering the new deal with Element, how thick should we expect you to get?
A little thicker than I am now, but not too thick.

More sushi dinners?
Yeah, some sushi dinners, but some more steak.

Just getting that Filet Mignon or what?
Yeah more Filet Mignon. [Laughs].

On a different note, what made you tattoo “one love” on your forearm instead of buying a Bob Marley poster like everyone else?
[Laughs.] True. Maybe I should have just bought the Bob Marley poster but I was in Finland and a friend of mine tattooed at his apartment. I guess I was just feelin’ it. I dunno, “One love” is just kinda rootsy or something. Or that’s what I was thinkin’ at the time. [Laughs].

Well maybe it’s a good thing–your one love is Element now.
Yeah, but for me it was just rootsy, ya know? But it kinda ties in with Element but I was never thinking about that when I got it. Maybe that’s why they put me on. [Laughs].

Anything in store for you and Element in the near future?
We’re just now gonna work on building a really tight team and maybe working on a video–just keeping it legit. Element’s been strong for so long, but I think this is a really good time for myself and Element–and the rest of the guys on Element. It’s just gonna be a good thing.

For sure. Any final words?
Nah, just respect to all. No hard feelings. I respect anybody who’s ever helped me out. I feel like the sponsors I have now will be the ones I’ll have for the rest of my career. I’m backing everything I ride. I’m stoked.