In the world of physics and mathematics, the third dimension is where energy congeals into a dark, dense pool of matter. This is the plane of thought or mind. In the world of skateboard brands, the third dimension is where a Serbian-born amateur replaces a long-since-departed Alexander Olson to put the third "D" back in 3D. This is the plane of Tom Karangelov, aka Tom K. Since winning One In A Million in '09, quitting Zero in May of 2014, and becoming the first am on 3D last July, Tom shares his thoughts on his multidimensional journey to date, along with his plans for a part in the next TWS video.-Mackenzie Eisenhour
PHOTOS BY Ryan Allan
Do you still live in Huntington Beach?
No. I grew up in Huntington Beach, but now I live in Long Beach.
How's it been?
Good. Just skating a bunch. I told you about it yesterday, but I got a ticket running a stop sign in the neighborhood. It's really weird because LA doesn't have any phone operators anymore when you call the court, so it's really hard to try and figure out this whole ticket thing. I missed my court date like an idiot, so now they add a little more money to it. I was trying to figure out if I could get rid of that, but I think I'm just going to pay it because I just don't want to deal with it. I surf like a couple of times a week. Other than that I'm just trying to shoot photos and stuff.
You're coming up on a year with 3D, right? How was year one?
Yeah. It's been crazy but cool at the same time. It's kind of trippy right now because Austyn [Gillette]'s doing a shoe with HUF, then Brian [Anderson]'s doing a part for Nike.
And then you're working on New Balance stuff.
Yeah. I've just been working on this part with my friend Matt. We've just been filming; I don't even know what we'll use it for yet, but I've been doing that. We haven't really done anything [video-wise] for 3D yet, so it's kind of just going off of Brian's part and I guess all of our skating.
It seems like Brian has been taking his time with developing 3D. Like slowly fine-tuning it. But it keeps you wanting more.
Dude, I love this company. The vibe that Brian is going for to me is just so rad. Like his first set of boards he had these montages that his friend made. I thought they were the sickest concepts. In the beginning it was just Brian's own thing. Eventually, we're going to put out something, whether that's a video or whatever, but it's going to take a little while.
Did you know BA and Austyn Gillette at all before getting on?
I knew Austyn through my friend Ryan [Allan] who shot this whole interview. He was good friends with Austyn through Dylan [Rieder] back when Gravis was still going. I knew Austyn, but I was just always really quiet around those dudes.
How has it been getting to know Brian?
He's seriously one of the coolest people I've ever met. He's just such a unique dude. They way he goes about everything from the way he dresses, to the way he skates, to his opinions are just so rad. It's great to be around somebody like that.
You kind of put the "3" back in the 3D, right? After Alex Olson left.
Yeah, I'm the third "D." I don't really know Alex. It wasn't like I was filling anyone's shoes. I think Alex was just really into doing his own thing.
"So really, you can kind of just do whatever you want nowadays. You'll probably have certain people talk shit on you regardless. But that's cool too."
I guess people were saying that you consciously don't really do flip tricks. Is that true? What's the reasoning behind that?
I think, honestly, I can tie it all back to when I was first starting. Ryan Allan always makes fun of me for not doing flip tricks. But I think when I was growing up at the skatepark I skated at, a lot of the dudes got really into Yeah Right! ['03] when it came out. All my friends wanted to skate like P-Rod. I just wanted to skate like Ed Templeton when I was little. Ed didn't really tre flip down eight-stairs or anything. He just kind of went fast and did feeble grinds. I always thought that was really cool, so that was just how I tried to skate. It wasn't until way later that I got into the industry that people started saying like, "Hey, this guy doesn't flip his board." And then when I hear that, it actually makes me want to flip my board even less [laughs]. I think it would be rad to do a line with just three ollies, just to piss people off.
It might be perfect timing for non-flip tricks since that whole wallie/no-comply side is sort of rebelling against the super tech stuff.
Yeah. I think it's so crazy right now because on one side you have Nyjah [Huston] doing the gnarliest tricks on huge rails, and then on the other side you have Pontus [Alv] who's stoked just doing wallrides. A lot of people like Nyjah and a lot of people like Pontus. So really, you can kind of just do whatever you want nowadays. You'll probably have certain people talk shit on you regardless. But that's cool too.
I like how people do full 50-50s too, like 180 fakie 50 versus going to five-0.
I think it's cool. Skating is so personal anyways. It's such a personal thing. If someone is hating on something you're doing, it's probably a good thing. It just means that it's just as personal to them. I think it's the same with clothing. I like when people wear weird stuff. It makes them stand out in photos. Like you remember it, like, "Oh, Heath Kirchart did that in an all-blue janitor suit." You just remember it.
I also heard you're officially filming a part for our next TransWorld video. What's the master plan for that?
Right now I'm finishing up a video with my friend. That's pretty much done, so I've been starting to skate with Chris [Thiessen].
He lives right down there in LBC.
Yeah, he's pretty much my neighbor, so that's perfect. I just started skating with him. It's cool in that beginning stage; you want to make that connection with someone that you've never really filmed with. I think we've started to make that connection pretty well. It's also going to be all VX too, which makes it even cooler.
What does all VX mean to you?
It means that it's just the two of you going skating together. There's no reflector in my face. There's no drone. That stuff is cool, don't get me wrong, but with the VX, it's just us skating down the street, crashing into each other, and having fun. It's like the videos you made when you were a kid.
Any favorites of the TWS videos past?
It's funny because I don't skate like this at all, but when I was little I really liked Shiloh Greathouse's part in First Love ['05] for some reason—just the tricks he was doing, and I also remember hearing he had been in jail and how he was sort of coming back. To see him come out of that and to film a part where he talks about how much he loves skating was so rad to me. Like he fakie hurricane'd an out rail in that too, and I just thought that was so cool. That song too [Echo and the Bunnymen, "The Killing Moon"] is just so classic. I'll be at a restaurant and that song comes on, and I just think "Shiloh Greathouse" and start singing along.
He lives down there in Long Beach. You should hit him up. He has a mini ramp in his backyard.
Oh, man. That would be so rad. I wasn't sure if he skated anymore. First Love though was such a sick video to me. I watched Leo [Romero]'s part probably a million times. That one and Time To Shine ['06] with the Cooper Wilt part. I think I watched those two the most when I was little. I think Jason [Hernandez] made both of those too maybe.
"He wants to grow his hair out because he was telling me that the longer your hair is they're like antennas. They reach out for energy."
That's right. He and Jon Holland made both of those. [Editor's note: Jason left after Let's Do This! ('07).]
I really liked Dylan's part in A Time To Shine too. He was like a street skater, but then he skated all this tranny in that. Then his last trick is like switch bigflip a nine-stair.
That's right. With those crazy rainbow-colored Nikes on.
[Laughs] Yeah. I'm trying not to say the cliché, "I like Heath [Kirchart]'s part [Sight Unseen ('01)]." That's the easy way out right there.
Have you ever been back to Serbia? How old were you when you moved away?
That one's kind of tricky. I was born there, but it was after my parents had already moved to America when they were really young. They went back over there when my grandpa passed away to go to his funeral and had me while they were there. This trips me out, but my mom tells me I was born there and then they left me there for three months with my grandmother. My mom came back and got me and brought me to the States when I was like four months old.
I didn't find your last name to be too hard to pronounce or anything. Who shortened it to Tom K? Was that your call?
Umm, no. I don't really know. Maybe Jamie [Thomas] started calling me that.
I hope not. I don't know. Whenever I hear someone else say my last name, like, "Karangelov," I feel like I'm back in P.E. class. My P.E. teacher would always yell it. I guess it's a good name to yell. "Karangelov!"
What's new with the NB program?
We just had that Sunland video come out. It was kind of like Birdman where Russell [Houghten] filmed everything in one shot. Otherwise, we all have colorways coming out, so we've all been doing that. That's been really fun. We get to work with this dude Kelly who did all of Arto and Dylan's stuff at Gravis. He works for New Balance now and skates too, which is rad.
Any news on the PJ Ladd front?
Oh dude, I skate with PJ a bunch. He's working on a part. I guess they want to put out a part just with him. He's super into vibes these days. He wants to grow his hair out because he was telling me that the longer your hair is they're like antennas. They reach out for energy. So his hair's pretty long. He's kind of got this mysterious vibe going. Not a lot of people know what he's up to, and I think that's cool.
Do you think the industry's going to continue to flip toward smaller upstart board brands?
I think the smaller companies will continue to do well. Because most of the bigger ones sort of try to look like they're just a small group of friends skating, but it doesn't always feel real. Then you see the stuff the little companies put out and it feels really natural. I think even kids see that and go like, "Hey, they're just like me skating with my friends." I think people just lean more toward that stuff than like, "Nyjah's lighting up a 30-stair rail by himself at night." Whether or not Chris Cole rides for Plan B is sort of irrelevant. It's not like he's out skating with those dudes every day anyways. Everything's like a solo part now. But then you look at like Polar's Manhattan Days ['14] and they're an actual team just skating together. I just think it's more appealing.
All-time favorite BA part?
Modus Operandi ['00].
Favorite Austyn part?
Austyn Unlimited ['12].
All-time favorite part, period?
Ed Templeton, Jump Off A Building ['98]. He skates past my seventh grade P.E. classroom. He boardslides this flat-and-down bump-to-rail that's right in front of the boys' locker room at Masuda Middle School. I still watch that part like once a week.