Written by Xavier Lannes
Winter is definitely here and with winter comes the slow season for skateboarding. When it is not snowing, it is raining and when it is not raining it is too cold, and if you don’t have an indoor skatepark in your town, you are definitively stuck in your room. Even in sunny Southern California, the bad weather has taken its toll and less people are skating in the streets or in the hundreds of available skateparks, because they are mostly outdoor. So, it is definitely the season to take a forced break (hopefully short) from skateboard and focus on something else, for example, if not riding, reading… skateboard books.
This year, a plethora of excellent skateboarding books have hit the skateshop shelves and I am sure there will be at least one book you will like to browse in the following list.
Résumé: A Decade of Skateboarding in Europe (Relié)
About two months ago, I received in my inbox an email from Jérémie Daclin, the boss of the French Skateboard brand Cliché. The email was saying that, since Jérémie was about to take a one week Sabbath from his alienating Gypsy tour, marketing madness and demo frenzy, I could call him to realize the interview that I had been asking him. Because we are both French, the interview was first recorded in French and then translated into English.
You can find the French version here, and the American translation here.
The interview depicts Jérémie’s meager debuts in Lyon in his hometown as a penniless pro, his trips to le Trocadero and Les Bassins, the French Mecca of skateboarding in Paris, his enduring friendship with the Gonz who later designed a series of board for him and the rise of his own brand: Cliché Skateboards.
Then, this summer, Cliché finally closed a deal with the giant skateboard distributor : Dwindle. Now, it seems the news frenzy has not stopped for Cliché : a couple of weeks ago was released a new book «Résumé, A Decade Plus Deep » depicting almost 13 years of “galere” in roadtrips, demos, antiquated Polaroid pictures and old fuzzy VHS skate video. Narrated by Mackenzie Eisenhour from Transworld SKATEboard’s and edited by Leo Vernhet et Nicolas Malinowsky from ILL Studio, Résumé, showcases classic skate photography with crucial work from some of the industries' most renownedlens-men such as Mike O'Meally, Olivier Chassignole, Oliver Barton, Alexis Zavialoff, Benjamin Deberdt, Fred Mortagne and more. “Resumé" also chronicles the tactics of Jérémie Daclin, as he launches Cliché skateboards in France in 1997 and pours his heart and soul into a start-up with no money, investors, or even employees. The Cliché dream team story culminates with the Gypsy Tours, episode 1 & 2, a skateboard "Survivor" style challenge to team skaters, forced to test their mettle by traveling with no secured lodging on only 10 euros a day that has been broadcast on Fuel TV.
Résumé: A Decade of Skateboarding in Europe has been published by Gingko Press, the same editor as “The Disposable Skateboard Bible” by Sean Cliver or “Made For Skate: The Illustrated History of Skateboard Footwear” by Faux Amis and even if "Résumé" is a French book, it is written in English only.
Blabac Photo: The Art of Skateboard Photography
On August 28th, 2009 DC hosted an exclusive event at FTC in San Francisco to celebrate the release of Mike Blabac’s first book, “Blabac Photo: The Art of Skateboarding photography”. Mike Blabac, who has been documenting skate culture for 20 years, is one of the preeminent skateboard photographers of his generation. His career has been built on a tough work ethic, a small dose of good fortune, and an endless love for skateboards. His parents gave him his first camera at age 13, but he didn’t realize the full power of photography until he started browsing at the various skateboard magazines available at the time. So, in the early ’90s, Blabac began taking pictures of a rising skater named Josh Kalis and an image of the first roll he shot ran as a full page in TransWorld SKATEboarding magazine. Empowered by the achievement, Blabac finally moved to California in the ’90s, where his career eventually took off. He began shooting and placing spreads and covers for the best skateboard magazines, including Thrasher and Skateboarder, and eventually became staff photographer for Mad Circle and Girl Skateboards. In 1999, Blabac joined friends Ken Block and Damon Way and helped to mold the image of the then rapidly expanding skate company, DC Shoes.
“The Art of Skateboarding Photography” is a surprising chronicle of a rebel movement of young idealists featuring 224 pages of iconic skateboarding images in a beautifully designed, cloth-bound, large format hardcover book pulled from Blabac’s extensive collection of work.
Published by PowerHouse Books, “Blabac Photo” takes you on a visual journey from Blabac’s humble beginnings as a kid who was fascinated with still cameras to shooting some of the most legendary skateboarders of all time. Blabac’s book proves that, for millions of people around the world, skateboarding is more than a mere hobby or a sport; it is a way of life that has shaped everything we know: from fashion and music, to video, style, games and even art.
Filled with 300+ awe-inspiring images that communicate the stories and exploits of some of the most creative athletes to ever step on a skateboard including Eric Koston, Stevie Williams, Colin McKay, Rob Dyrdek and Danny Way, the book shows how skateboarding evolved over time, from a hobby on the Venice boardwalk that though they would not skate after reaching 20 years old into a global culture, were skate legends were born, records were broken, titans of industry materialized. And all that time, Mike Blabac was there to document the history of the movement as it unfolded before his fish eye lenses.
On top of that, coinciding with the release of “Blabac Photo” is the release of the Blabac Azure mid, the first DC signature shoe that has been made for a non-professional team member. This shoe was designed to compliment the book and pay homage to Blabac and his work with DC over the past 10 years.
The Skateboarder's Journal - Lives on Board 1949-2009 by Jack Smith
A piece of wood, two trucks, four wheels…a skateboard, you start by rolling down a sidewalk, and end up rolling through life. For some the ride stops at the end of the street, for others the ride never ends. This book was written by those for whom the ride is never-ending: by the 15-year-old groom who falls asleep dreaming of skateboarding; by the 40-something “pad dad” you see at the local skatepark; by the women whose stories have never been told; and by the 73-year-old architect who didn’t begin skateboarding until the age of 65.
Originally the book started out as a small collection of skateboarding stories Jack Smith had written over the past 30 years. As he began to edit the stories, it occurred to him that there were many more skateboarding stories out there, just waiting to be told…...needing to be told.
Jack’s bold move is that he decided to open up the book up to anyone who wanted to contribute a story about his or her skateboarding life. Not just the pros or the skaters you have seen in the magazines and videos over the last fifty years. He wanted to share the "everyman/everywoman" stories of skateboarding. After a few postings on various skateboarding websites, Facebook and a couple of e-mail blasts, the floodgates burst.
According to Jack: “The project seemed overwhelming at times. Luckily, I was able to recruit my friend and fellow skateboarder Jonathan Harms to assist with the editing process. JBH, as he is known in the skateboard world, has an incredible grasp of the English language and superb attention to detail, as well as 30-plus years of skate experience of his own. Long time skateboarder and designer, Adrian Pina, created the graphic design of the book.”
The book includes more than 180 stories and somewhere between 200-300 photographs. Along with the "everyman/everywoman" stories there will also be contributions from some "notable" skateboarders, and other personalities from the skateboard world that cross ways with Jack. Here are just a few: Britt Parrott, Bryan Ridgeway, Chris Yandall, Curt Kimbel, Dave Dash, D. David Morin, Dave Hackett, Dan Gesmer, Don Hoffman, Ellen Oneal, Di Dootson, Jim O'Mahoney, Jim Fitzpatrick, John Fudala, John O'Malley, John "Tex" Gibson, Keith Meek, Laura Thornhill, Mark Partain, Mike Weed, Roger Hickey, Tom Sims and Wentzle Ruml IV.
Some of the great skateboarding photographers have graciously contributed to the book, including Glen E. Friedman, Ted Terrebonne, Mofo, Wynn Miller, Jim Goodrich and Grant Brittain.
Finally, I am also thrilled to see Cindy Whitehead on the cover of the book. From age 17 to 22, Cindy was a professional skateboarder during the golden era of Pool Riding and second skate explosion. She is also my blog’s very own fairy and has her own blog called http://www.cindywhitehead.blogspot.com/
The Skateboarder's Journal - Lives on Board 1949-2009 by Jack Smith: 333 pages.
Introduction by Jack Smith
Foreword by Stacy Peralta
Edited by Jonathan Harms
Cover and Book Design by Adrian Pina
Vans, Birth of Icons
“Vans, Birth Of Icons” by Doug Palladini tells the story of the community of action sports legends, musicians, artists and trendsetters that helped defining the laid back California style of the 70’s and the California way of life as we know it now. This book is not only a written history of the making of the shoes and the formation of the Vans empire, but an insider accounting of stories from Vans originals including Tony Alva, Steve Caballero, John Cardiel, Shaun Palmer, Joel Tudor, Shepard Fairey, Sunny Garcia, Marc Jacobs, Stacy Peralta, Robert Williams, Oliver Peck and amazing images from CR Stecyk, R. Grant Brittain, Art Brewer, Bryce Kanights, Jeff Divine, and Trevor Graves, presented with an energetic design that evokes both antonymic punkzine aesthetic and California coastal cool attitude.
"Birth Of Icons" tells the multi-generational story of Vans' do-it-yourself community, which encompasses boards, bikes, art and music, as well as the one shoe keeping it all together. The oral stories provide an intimate, visually-stunning account of how the company changed the face of popular culture since its founding in 1966.
A lot of people think Vans is still a small company owned by a couple of hippies true to their core passion. That is not entirely false: according to Jeff Mintz, an analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities, “it is part of the brand's strategy that no one really realizes Vans is owned by basically the largest apparel company in the world." In marketing, perception is everything and the perception of the Vans brand name is that it is still owned by street marauders for street marauders, a perception that neither Vision or Airwalk, the two other big skate shoe companies of the 80’s could uphold when they tried to capitalize on theirt huge succeses and tried to go mainstream, alienating their core customers and totally destroying the brand by the same token. Actually, with Vans, there is still a family connection: Steve Van Doren, the 53-year-old son of co-founder Paul Van Doren, is still with the company, same with is his sister Cheryl and his daughter Kristy. But kickflip the board and you will find that the company has been sold several times, most recently for $396 million in 2004 to Greensboro, N.C.-based VF Corp., which counts John Varvatos, Wrangler and Reef among its vast stable of brands. In its 2008 annual report, VF cited Vans' 18% increase in revenue last year as one of the few bright spots in its portfolio. The company doesn't break out revenue by brand, but industry sources say last year's revenues probably topped $750 million.
This first run, 2009 edition 9" by 9 3/4" hardcover bound book is 208 pages and includes 365 full color illustrations.
The Disposable Skateboard Bible
I first met Sean Cliver at a book signing at Huf skate shop on Miracle Mile in West Hollywood for the release of Disposable: A History of Skateboard Art. That book was a brilliant attempt at artfully cataloging every important skateboard deck ever released. In the process, Sean created a classic, but was left feeling less than satisfied. Ever the completist, the gaping omissions in the first book gnawed at him and drove him to envision compiling the ultimate encyclopedia of Skateboard decks.
While Disposable: A History of Skateboard Art was beautiful, capturing the essence of the aesthetic, The Disposable Skateboard Bible sets out to be the ultimate guide. The author’s industry insider status (mesmerized by his first visit to a skate shop in 1986 he went all out and in 1989, landed his first job as a designer at Powell-Peralta) allows him to guide readers through the culture and experience, the art and the mania of the skate world with authority and expertise.
As the boards take center stage, fascinating vignettes and recollections by an A-list of skateboarding personalities from Tony Hawk to Mike Vallely, Mark Gonzales to Mark "Gator" Rogowski, Steve Caballero to Stacy Peralta and more, complete the book.
“Made for Skate; The Illustrated History of Skateboard Footwear”
For a skater, trashed shoes are like a war medal of honor, the evidence of how often you skate, how hard you skate, and how rad you are. Thrashed shoes are not something to be embarrassed about but to be proud about. After all, a skate shoe is somehow like a good wine: it gets better with the ages, the sole gets grinded and it forms around you feet until espousing it and with the amount of books being released on streetwear, sneakers, graffiti skateboards and the whole street scene, finding an extensively well-researched and genuine encyclopedia of the sole culture can seem like an endless mission. Even if you don't destroy your shoes or if you don’t skate, “Made For Skate” should please you.
But for those who have spent some time in the 80’s or 90’s shredding on the concrete you are sure to get a blurred vision by looking at the old Airwalk Prototypes, the Etnics, the Vans Caballeros and antique Vision Street Wear high tops. From the introduction of the first signature shoe with Natas Kaupas to limited edition collaborations and futuristic, lab-tested designs, this book covers every single development of the essential skate shoe: from duct tap, to goo gone to honeycomb soles to lace savers to fat tongues and puffy laces, everything is here.
Organized chronologically, "Made for Skate" reveals an astonishing pace of development and, not surprisingly, the glut of opportunistic ventures that appeared during the sport's more commercially fashionable days. With over 400 pages of every skate shoe available for shooting, the authors (Juergen Blumein and Daniel Schmid) have done the skate scene justice with a plethora of mouth watering vintage brands from Makaha to Hang Ten and Kid Power to Hobie. The evolution of the way skaters use and abuse their sneakers is just part of what makes this book so great: it offers a detailed and impressive view on the development of skateboard sneakers; on how companies such as Nike, Vans, Etnies or Converse got into producing special shoes "for skateboard use only", and how they created new designs to match the needs of pros like Tony Hawk or Paul Rodriguez. Add to that the historical text and luscious images, some of them coming from the Stuttgart’s museum's extensive collection, along with rare finds and one-of-a-kinds lent by generous collectors and professionals, and you will find that this is a definite must have for anyone remotely interested in the history of skateboarding. Early chapters capture the spirit of innovation inherent to skateboarding as a counterculture, while later chapters lay bare the less inspiring trends of a full-fledged industry. Filled with old advertisements, skate footage and pictures of busted up shoes, "Made for Skate" covers nearly five decades in the evolution of skateboarding. It systematically breaks down the history of skateboard shoes and takes the reader to a ride from the roots of skateboarding in the early 1950s when it was still just "sidewalk surfing" up to the eighties, nineties and the "new century" when skating became a popular sports. In the end, it's an emphatic testament to the endurance of skating as both sport and culture.
Made for skate is published by Faux Amis Exhibitions – Skateboard museum Stuttgart in association with Ginko Press and is available in skate shops and bookstores.
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