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Friday, October 5, 2012


Grosso Loveletters to Skateboarding: DIY

Grosso: just DIY
Loveletters to Skateboarding
Grosso Loveletters to Skateboarding: DIY

From Burnside to your local Jersey Barrier skaters have been throwing down concrete to make skate spots for years… Grosso sits down with the guys from the DIY Channel Street park in San Pedro, Ca to say thanks to everyone who gets dirty making new places to ride.

But Jeff Grosso is not the only skater to sing and ode to DIY. Amelia Brodka did it a couple of month ago already with a two hour documentary about girl skateboarding and Rich Gillagan, an Irish photographer just published his own book lifting the lid on the world of DIY skateboarding with pictures taken in Warsaw, Helsinki, Hamburg, Bray, Portland, Oregon, all over Europe and even North America.

In an recent interview with The Irish Times, Rich Gillagan described DIY as “a subculture within skateboarding where boarders build their own structures to skate on.” Those multiples structures spread across the world are “usually located on wasteland and made out of concrete and whatever other materials are at hand.” Usually, because most sites are totally illegals, skateboarders tend to keep the location secret. DIY skateboarding is a very social activity where skateboarders team up to built the structures and keep the non-locals out of the loop, especially because non-skateboarders “would start turning up and hanging out, doing drugs or drinking and writing graffiti.” The DIY structures have architectural and cultural significance. It’s a testimony and a message against the society and the establishment by itself.


Before doing “DIY”, Rich Gillagan considered himself to be first a photographer and then a skater, but in order be able to take pictures of the DIY scene, he had to blend in. he recalls that: “In every location I shot, I’d pitch in or hang out and skate a while before shooting.” After a while, he was not simply a witness of the happenings, but was actively participating in it. “Exactly.” He says. “These locations aren’t advertised on blogs. This is how I was able to get the access I did. Wherever I went, I was invisible. Whether it was a ghetto in Memphis, or a car park in Sheffield, I was just another skater there to help out.

Did he have negative experience? Yes, he recalls that “In New Orleans, I heard about a place called the Peach Orchard. One man said he’d bring me there, but he couldn’t say for sure when he’d be ready(…) I decided to drive to this place on my own. It was late in the evening in one of the most run-down areas in New Orleans. Ten scary-looking guys immediately appeared. I just put my camera down, got on the skateboard and started skating. As if I was meant to be there. As if I wasn’t scared. Later that night, I told some friends from the city where I had been and they were extremely shocked. They told me I was very lucky to have gotten out of there alive.

This pic by Rich Gilligan talks to any hard core skater like nothing else. Like the newfound nirvana...
An iconic picture for sure... 
After four years working on the “DIY” project, he feels he is part of the subculture of DIY within mainstream skateboarding: “Originally, I intended to get skateboarding out of my system and move on. I wanted to be a serious photographer and I didn’t think serious photographers were skateboard photographers. But now I think that’s bullshit. I have access to a world that no one else could get access to. Once I accepted that, and embraced that, everything else fell into place. It’s about trusting your gut and shooting what you know.

Click the link to purchase DIY from Rich Gillagan.
The original interview with Rich Gilligan was published in the Irish Times
All DIY pictures by Rich Gilligan

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posted by Xavier Lannes @ Friday, October 05, 2012 




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