It’s no secret thus far in the blog that skateboarding played a huge part in who I am today. It’s not just actually riding around on those four wheels and that plank of wood that has influenced me though, it’s the people in the industry. It’s also not just about what these people do on a skateboard, but also what they inspire me to do outside of skateboarding that continues to play a role in my life – even now I don’t even think I could ride a skateboard.
I think if I was to bang on about Spike Jonze any more, I’d run the risk of this becoming a fan page dedicated to Jonze rather than an actual blog. However, it is with good reason that I talk so much about this man is that he has inspired me to take many of the life choices I have. From Video Days and How they Get There all the way through to Adaptation and Her – the works of this man have inspired me all the way from little skate rat to film student and will continue to do so.
It’s now been almost half a decade since I last touched a skateboard, a sad fact I realised recently. All those years ago, I didn’t really have an appreciation for Gonz’s skating as I was all about watching people landing their tricks bigger or faster. However, as I’ve grown older (that’s right, at 21 I am now an old motherfucker) I’ve gained a new appreciation for Gonz’s style. His art is always something I have enjoyed and has inspired me to pick up a brush and just give art a go too. Probably the biggest inspiration to take from Gonz is his outlook on life though, no matter what he does – skating, art, photography, and even just chilling – the Gonz is about doing what you love and having fun doing it.
Again, Ed Templeton is someone who inspired me less through skating but rather through their other ventures. Toy Machine was one of my favourite companies while I was skating, and as I’d previously mentioned their video Good and Evil was always one I would watch. However, it is Templeton’s photography and art that has gone on to inspire me most. He really has an eye for the other side of real life and is an incredible social documentarian, taking focus on various subjects from Teenage Smokers to Hairdos of Defiance. He’s such a talented photographer that even the man’s Instagram stories are incredible.
Jason Lee, like Mark Gonzalez, featured in the Spike Jonze-filmed Video Days Blind video, however, this section isn’t about Jonze, nor is it particularly about skateboarding itself. What inspires me about Lee is his diversity. The man left skateboarding to pursue acting, playing the title character in My Name Is Earl – the only sitcom on Channel 4 and E4 in the late 2000s that I could bear to watch. He also owns Stereo skateboards, appeared in a number of Kevin Smith films, is heavily involved in WeSC, and even has a son named after a Grandaddy song. Much like Templeton, it is Lee’s photography and ability to document the barren landscapes of rural America that I particularly take inspiration from.
This is probably the first person in this list who, at least initially, inspired me through their skating. In Pretty Sweet Will Arnett jokes to Olson that maybe he should try a trick that someone under 30 would appreciate. Well, Will Arnett (another hero of mine), I was someone well under 30 who was appreciating those tricks. The simple, effortless and laidback style to Olson’s skating always made me want to get out on a board. However, more than just his skating – through his brands Bianca Chandon and Call Me 917 Alex Olson made me listen up and begin to pay attention to fashion in a bigger way. Not only that but also through his disco-themed attire and regularly released mixes Olson well and truly got me into disco music and lit a fire inside of me. But now it’s Gwen McCrae that “Keeps the Fire Burning”.