You can feel the good vibes from the start. Mac Messenschmidt, 43 years, caught some morning waves at Praia do Areal, in Portugal’s west region, before meeting up with us. Life is to be lived and this german entrepreneur brought his mantra into business, providing a unique surf and skate experience to his guests. From Berlin to Lourinhã: The story behind Drop-In Surf and Skate Camp "Many of my surf and skate teachers were once my guests." DROP-IN SURF AND SKATE CAMP Could you describe the concept behind Drop in surf and skate camp? Altogether we have three houses, but we don’t allow more than 20 people to stay at the same time. They all take part of the experience as a single group and we treat our guests like family. You take people to surf and skate and people can roll at Drop-In as well? Yes. Most people want to surf, but skate has turned into a good part of our experience. We have a bowl and a mini ramp and that's not usual around here. Thanks to my son, skate is rising at my place. He’s nine years old (we also have a daughter who’s 11) and he is almost better than me [he laughs]. When it’s flat, we take our guests to skateparks in Lisbon, specially the one in Campolide [aka Bairro da Liberdade skatepark]. Recently we did a skate camp and it was a success, people loved it. Although someone broke a foot, but that comes with the job… How and when did you start this adventure? It was after my previous business went down. A bit before my thirties we created a clothing brand, called Fourasses (for Surf, Snow, Skate and Sex). Things exploded and, before we knew it, we also had a skate shop in Berlin. At some point we needed an investor to keep up our growth. That's when things started going wrong, and in 2006 the business was a disaster. I had to sell everything and pay back debts. That was quite a shock, I believe. And then you went to Portugal. Yeah, before our kids were born, fortunately. My wife and I always wanted to buy a house in Portugal, even when we were living in Berlin. We went there in 2007 and 2008. We looked at many surf spots, from North to South, but this region was always one of our favourites. So we decided to settle down in Lourinha and it didn't take long before we had our first house and that was the beginning of Drop-In. Where do your guests mainly come from? Old school man... When I closed FourAsses I had a lot of friends in the skate world in Berlin. Before I knew it the place was full of Germans who came to visit me.They create the buzz and that’s why I usually work only with german speaking guests. I don’t need to put Drop-In on Booking or other platforms. Since day one guests have been spreading the word. And they return. 15 years have passed and people who go back to Germany say ‘Vacations? Go to Mac’. People who come here are also educated, cool, and local economy likes them. Did any former guest turn into a good rider or surfer after receiving the Drop in ‘baptism’? Many of my employees are actually former guests who want to come and work here for a while, the same with several surf and skate teachers who work here. I’m not really a boss. We are one big family here. Describe living in Lourinhã? This village is definitely different than Berlin. I was used to living in a crazy city with a lot of parties and in the beginning we did have to adapt a bit to the rhythm of Lourinhã. This village offers you a different way of living. When I go to a local market, I must save half an hour extra because I know I will bump into people that want to talk a bit. It was weird at first, but now I like it. We have this slogan in our house: ‘There are good times and then there are good times’. We always must take the best of everything. Even if it’s shit. Visit Drop-In Visit Lourinhã Skatepark
It’s in Monsanto Park, almost three times bigger than Central Park in New York, in sunny Lisbon, that lies one of Tomás Borges’s preferred skateparks. Here he teaches and enlightens young and old. It’s where the fear goes away. At the age of 27, Tomás Borges is still building his dreams, whilst helping others achieve their ones on a skateboard. When did you start your skate school? Skateforeveryone was created back In 2019. I started alone but now we are a 5/6 people crew. How do you work with your students? We match students in groups and usually classes are held in Monsanto Skatepark or in Campolide, aka Bairro da Liberdade skatepark. We organize sessions by group, level and age. How have things been going? Things boomed at first. We received loads of requests while teaching people at the skateparks and it didn't take long before we were getting found online too. But our core is on the field, it’s where who wants to become a skater sees and understands what service we provide. Then Covid-19 hit us, but when the gates were open again many people from all different age groups started to skate because it's an open air and an individual sport (whilst many collective sports where still facing restrictions). What drove you to create a skate school? I didn’t want to create something ‘touchable’ because we humans produce a lot of waste and the planet’s sustainability is something I care deeply about. So I decided to create a service from people to people. Since childhood I love skate, worked in skate schools in the past and I have a sport’s academic background, so in 2019 I decided to create my own skate school. How challenging is it to work with so many different ages? We must be prepared to understand different levels of fear. A child has no fear of the consequences, whilst adults are afraid of the risks. So we definitely have to adapt our methodology to different age groups. I’m proud when an adult loses his fear on a coping thanks to my tips. Have you worked with some late beginners? Yes, indeed. A guy called Zé Pedro, who discovered skate when he was 43 years old. He would come to the skatepark, almost daily, and just try to do ollies. Then, one day, he saw me giving lessons, joined my classes and it didn´t take too much time to become a very good skater. Now he rips in the bowl. So, it’s never too late to start to skate. "I am proud when an adult looses his fear on a coping" VISIT SKATEFOREVERYONE
What they said back in the 90’s „Heaven is a Halfpipe“... This park is a stunning place to visit! In 2015 they transformed the 200 years old abandoned church into a skaters dream. It’s not just a miniramp in a church. It's the colorful graffiti artwork by Okuda that is breathtaking and makes this place worth a vist. My advise... take your time to check it closely if you are there! The open Bowl/Miniramp had it’s best days cause the surface of the ramp has some holes and cracks (Oct 2021) but it’s a well built ramp and loads of fun. A handful people just travel to that place to take some shots, so most of the time there are no skaters and you’re kind of „alone". An old Lady (the wife of the original owner of the church) opened the doors for us, she just speaks spanish, but she is a lovely soul and really liked to see us skating in that place. The entree for the church is free but we decided to donate 15€ to keep that place alive and hope that some day the ramps get a new surface. Copy and paste to keep such places alive! Project Name by Okuda: KAOS Temple Adress: C. A, 3, 102B, 33428 Coruño, Asturias, Spain Opening Times: 15:00 - 19:00 (on Saturdays closed) Involved: Red Bull / Okuda (Artist @okudart) / Skater: Danny León / Church Brigade Visit Skatepark Visit Pascal Lieleg
The Sagrada Familia hostel Barcelona is the Barcelona Skateboard Hostel. A designer hostel with top facilities and great location. It has a skateboard theme that reflects the vibrant urban culture and artistic creativity of Barcelona. We reached out to Gisela Mena, marketing manager of Sant Jordi hostels, to ask a couple of questions. Tell us a quick story about the early days of Sant Jordi Hostels Sagrada Familia. The Sant Jordi Group, dedicated to the temporary accommodation of guests and students, was founded in 1999 to provide personalized service of accommodation and welcome people of all ages who want to stay in the city of Barcelona, with good prices and customized service and attention. Initially, the Group focused on serving university students in shared apartments, but in 2003 decided to take a step forward and create the first hostel of the chain: Sant Jordi Alberg, to accommodate guests traveling alone or in small groups, with shorter stays in Barcelona and looking for affordable accommodation while getting high standard service and for whom socializing is a fundamental part of the travel experience. Why did you decide to integrate skate into your concept? Gradually we developed a concept of high-quality service and social atmosphere and we wanted to give an extra to the experience of our guests and we opted for the thematization of our hostels. Our guests are mostly young people with an adventurous spirit and many of them, besides partying, are lovers of sports, music, art... That is why we decided to dedicate our hostels to different themes. The first one in Barcelona was skateboarding and urban arts and in 2010 the first skate hostel in Europe was born: Sant Jordi Hostels Sagrada Familia. Its name comes from the location near the emblematic icon of Gaudi, but the essence of the hostel is far from the imaginary of the Catalan architect. Our skate hostel converted into a museum of unique vintage pieces of skate history, allows you to relive the golden years of skateboarding, in addition to practicing the sport inside the hostel itself on our mini ramp. All this is decorated with urban art that we periodically renew with artists from around the world. Our Sant Jordi Hostel Sagrada Familia was designed from the beginning to be a skater's paradise. Knowing that Barcelona is considered the European capital of street skating and probably the best city in Europe for skateboarders, we thought it was more than appropriate that Barcelona was the city with the first skate hostel in Europe. Our goal was to create a skate hostel that would be the ideal accommodation for skaters visiting Barcelona and, at the same time, a comfortable place for all other travelers looking for the best facilities and services of a hostel in Barcelona, all at a reasonable price. Also, our hostel has been visited by skateboarders such as Evan Smith or Luan de Oliveira. Tell us a bit more about the local skate scene in Barcelona. For years Barcelona has been among the best places to skate in the world and year after year skaters from all over the world come to our city to enjoy our spaces, beaches, landscapes, and social life with a multicultural atmosphere that makes this city unique in the world. In the 90's Barcelona was a kind of Mecca for skaters and this has led to the creation of emblematic spaces in our skate scene as the MACBA, in addition to the commitment of municipalities to create spaces dedicated to this sport such as municipal Skate Parks (in Barcelona there are 5 public skateparks). Maybe because of this, the city landscape itself has become skate-friendly in many aspects and its spaces invite to practice this sport. Visit Profile page Visit Sant Jordi Hostels website
The perfect vacation spot for adventurous people seeking thrilling experiences, mindfulness and tranquility. We reached out to Alexandra Freire at Bukubaki to ask a couple of questions. Tell us a quick story about the early days of Bukubaki. Before we talk about the early days of our little corner of heaven on earth, it's important to explain the ideology behind Bukubaki! Bukubaki grew out of the ideology that our whole life revolves around "living in the elements". The responsibles for this project have always lived in the mountains with snowboarding, mountaineering, skiing, and hiking to the sea with sailing, snorkeling, and surfing. Bukubaki is a little bit of everything. Here you can live in a forest, on the ground in a tent with all the comforts or suspended in a treehouse with visual perspectives. All experiences are intended to fill the hearts of those who know how to appreciate them. While navigating the world, they saw a "beautiful world", wounded by pollution but not dead. And here they tried to convey the love for this world that needs to be taken care of, with attention to the environment that not everyone understands. That said, we undoubtedly have a magical and enchanting concept. Not only because of the type of accommodation but because of our whole ideology. This brought us to our first fantastic days! We had a huge turnout, a lot of receptivity, a lot of curious people and this was the starting point for success! Why did you decide to integrate skate into your concept? Skateboarding has always been present since the beginning of the project, together with surfing, and yoga. We are privileged to have a bowl designed especially for us and it is one of our biggest attractions for travelling skateboarders. Skateboarding was chosen because, as explained above, the responsibles for the project have always had a lot of contact with adventure and fun, so... why not include skateboarding in such a personal and translucent project in their lives!! Tell us a bit more about the local skate scene in Peniche. Let's keep in mind that in Peniche what runs in its veins is surfing! Surf is the soul of Peniche! Still, for surfing, there's nothing better than training with a skateboard! So, everything is always interconnected! We have a lot of skating and a lot of skaters in Peniche, although it's not very rooted, it's something very appreciated and practiced. Visit Profile page Visit Bukubaki website
Noah Surf House lives in total respect and consonance with Mother Nature and was born and raised with its eyes towards the sea. This little gem consists of 8 rooms and 13 bungalows, all decorated in an original way. Once you step into Noah you instantly regret you didn't book more days. This week we reached out to Ângela Pereira, communication manager at Noah, and asked three short questions. Tell us a quick story about the early days of Noah Surf House. And why Santa Cruz? Marta and Gonçalo - the owners, were born and raised around Santa Cruz. The wild Atlantic ocean, the rocky cliffs and sand golden dunes were always their natural environment. If their dream was to build a “house” which could gather sea lovers from all the 4 corners of this world, then Santa Cruz should be the place. Santa Cruz, even though it’s a well-known beach destination among Portuguese people, it’s still very “non touristic”, unchanged and raw. Mostly due being located between 2 big surfing spots (Ericeira and Peniche) and its inconstant weather/sea. We, as locals, rather find it special. We love that it is (still) not crowded or overpriced and that we cannot count on sunny warm days every day of the Summer, we like to be surprised and accept whatever Poseidon feels like giving us that day. This being said, Santa Cruz presents its delicacies only to a few and not every day. It’s not the ordinary definition of paradise… there is no warm water, the northern breeze blows more frequently than we'd like, the sky is grey on most summer mornings, the waves can be rough and powerful… But when conditions are right… Santa Cruz can be overwhelming and one forgets the bad days right away. The good is really good! Somehow all these ingredients combined seemed perfect to open this house. Why did you decide to integrate skate into your concept? For those days when NEPTUNE wakes up in a bad mood, and we cannot go inside the ocean, we can still surf wood waves at the bowl. There's no excuse anymore! Surf, skate or die! Tell us a bit more about the local skate scene in Santa Cruz. In Santa Cruz, while skateboarding or longboarding, you will discover surprising characters and places and inspire dance moves and steps to the sound of the OCEAN in an intense sharing with the local community. Especially the longboard dancing community is growing stronger each year. The local association Sealand organizes several longboard meetings during Spring and Summer, with workshops, challenges and gigs. No need to say that you need to book in time. Do it now, you can thank us later. Visit Noah on trucksandfins Visit Noah website
There are many here among us who feel that life is but a joke. However, there aren’t as many who write books about skateboarding, adding to the already noble crafts of painter and photographer the duties of the historian. We asked Mark Lawer, better known as Trawler, to tell us a bit about his process and his book Snakes and Moguls, which has recently been updated and reissued. This is what he had to say Well how did I become a skateboarding book writer you ask me? This is hard to answer but I do believe everybody has got a book in them, about something they are passionate about and have a lot of knowledge about, or something that has been part of their life since they can remember. For me it’s skateboarding. Nobody else was going to write this book and our British history needed telling for everybody to remember, look back on and show their families. Show your kids and say this is how we used to do it. The skateparks were not as good as the modern ones but the fun factor and friendships we forged were the golden part of the seventies. More About Mark Lawer "Trawler" visit I am not a real writer, I am a painter and decorator but I did write for a UK skateboard magazine called Skateboard! for 3 or 4 years from 1988 to 1991. I have also written for Sidewalk Surfer mag and various biker magazines about my chopper motorcycles. In 2016 I started this book and finished it in 6 months. A lot of old friends got in contact via social media and helped and wrote memories of their local park. They gave me old photos to scan and trusted me to receive them in the post and send them back. A lot of these photos were the ones their dads took when they were driving them to the parks and waiting around for hours, so the old Kodak instamatic quality was variable. That was the beauty of it, back then we just skated and had fun, we didn’t self document everything like kids do today. I had some professional input and it was so cool that pro surf photographer Alex Williams, 70’s skateboard pro Ben Liddell, Trevor Hickey from the Home Counties and top professional northern photographer Darren Burdell gave me their amazing photos for free. It wouldn’t ‘ve worked without their generosity. The book is a concise scrapbook of most of the short lived paying skatepark businesses that popped up from 1977 to 1980 and were soon gone again because of a downturn in participation and an upturn in insurance costs that killed the parks off. It covers 35 parks from Watergate and Holywell Bay’s in Cornwall through the country, London, Wales, the Midlands and the North ending with Livingston in Scotland where skatepark builders finally started to get it right in the early 80’s. I also included pictures of all the ability level badges and stickers and original magazine adverts that accompanied the skateparks. It was a joy to do, I met a lot of old friends on the road and did some fun interviews and great reunions with people that I consider my long term friends for life. The skateboarding community is, was and always will be brilliant. I guess the book is a small success. I have had it reprinted in small numbers and self published it all the way through. Currently it is back by popular demand with 16 extra pages and hardback with gold leaf headings! This is my second book of four. I really have got the bug when it comes to documenting skateboarding. Now that I have recently learned how to take skateboard photos there is no way of stopping me. My books are available from www.ukskateboardbooks.bigcartel.com Header picture: Trawler doing a backside tail tap, courtesy of Paul Parsons
Interview with Samuel Lucas, Illustrator / Graphic Designer. | by Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira Samuel Lucas is a very busy graphic designer, but a happy one. Which makes talking to him a freaking pleasure . He took a little time to tell us his story and it’s basically the story of a dude who got to become involved in the work of some of his heroes. How do you beat that? I know you basically do freelance stuff, but I’ve learned that now you're piling up some official jobs on top of that? I know what you’re talking about but, well, to tell you the truth everything is pretty much freelance. Even with Thousand Islands Records [Canadian label], where I’m an art director, it’s still freelance, they pay me by the project. But it’s my choice. I worked briefly in an advertising agency but it just wasn’t my thing. No freedom, no artistic freedom. With Vazva, the spanish clothing brand, it’s the same type of arrangement. At one time, before the corona panic, I was doing four different collections or drops a year for them. I knew that throughout the year I’d be working for them during certain periods, which is cool for a freelancer, because it helped me fit the rest of my work around those dates. With the stuff I’m doing for Cruzade Skateboards it’s pretty similar. Speaking of Cruzade, it’s funny because those graphics caught my eye recently and I had no idea who was doing them. They sort of reminded me of some Creature graphics but maybe a little more cartoonish. Yeah, I’d been following their stuff pretty much since they started because they were working with a Spanish artist I thought was really good. I had thought more than once that I’d like to be able to work with them sometime and then one day they just sent me an email. We hit it off really quickly and got to work. But right now, man, the skateboard market is pretty insane. I just finished a collection for Cruzade in late April that’ll only be coming out in 2022. They don’t have enough raw material, enough wood to keep up with the demand. Samuel Lucas on instagram Follow Yeah, I’d heard similar stories. But going back, I’d like to ask you how you started. Were you always drawing a lot, was there any particular gig that made you realize that you could do illustration for a living? Well, I’d say I started when I was in high school, around 2009. We had this website for promoting punk shows and that’s when I began paying more attention to the bands I was listening to, learning about them and I remember noticing the Vans Warped Tour posters, how they looked. Then at about the same time I got into my school’s students’ union and there I was involved in actually organizing concerts. The first one we did was a Fonzie [Portuguese skate punk band] show. We had to draw a poster and there was no one else so I just thought I should give it a try. I still remember, the whole poster was done on Paint. But it must’ve worked, because just through word of mouth I started getting requests to design posters and other stuff for other Portuguese punk bands. Eventually I won this international contest to design a merchandising line for Etnies. The prize was simply them going through with it, like actually producing and distributing the line like they do all their product. That gave me quite a bit of visibility. And I used it to open some doors. I’d get in contact with bands and be like “hey, I did this, what do you say?” From 2010 to 2014, while I was in college, all the money I made I could just spend on partying and going out. After college, and especially after having worked with big names like NOFX, The Casualties or No Fun at All, I thought maybe I should hold on to this more seriously, because it was what I enjoyed doing and I had been doing fine so far. Your style definitely makes me think of a lot of 90s punk albums, and 80s skate graphics, Jim Phillips comes to mind... were you looking at the work of any particular artists or was it more a sort of vague influence from a whole era? No, you’re right there. Jim Phillips was for sure someone I paid a lot of attention to. Him and his son Jimbo were both probably my main inspirations. There were also some other guys I really liked, like Sean Cliver, Brandon Heart... then more on the punk music side Horsebites (Richard Minino), Dan Mumford, Godmachine... I mean they’re all different but it’s also useful to be able to adapt a little bit according to each client’s needs. I was looking at your stuff and thinking, this really is illustration. It’s not a drawing or painting that someone puts on a record cover or a skate deck, it illustrates an idea or tells a little story. How do you get to that? For example, for a record, do you talk with the band, do you get to listen to the album? Yeah, usually they’ll send me the album while it’s still in production. Most of the times I’m either in contact with someone in the band or with a manager or someone like that and they’ll give me a starting point, a basic idea that I’ll explore. It’s usually a simple process. After the initial briefing we send the design back and forth a couple of times until it’s done. For example, if there’s an album that’s going to have a big booklet with all the lyrics and a lot of pages, I try to imagine a graphic solution that’ll run through all of it, something that’ll make sense from the cover, through the booklet and the cd itself, to the back cover. Right now Thousand Islands is preparing a compilation album. And “thousand island” is the name of a well-known type of salad dressing. So we’re redoing the label’s logo to look like a bottle of salad dressing and I was telling them that the compilation will have to look like a restaurant menu, with different types of dressings and stuff like that. Particularly in the case of punk bands, where most of the times they have something they really want to get across, you can take that conceptual side and explore it to the limit. One example that I’m really happy with is the work I did for [Portuguese punk band] Artigo 21. Their album was going to be called Ilusão [Illusion] so I thought we should find a way to reveal every image as an illusion. The cover shows someone sitting at home, in a nice house, watching this smiling politician with a background of green trees on their smartphone. Then you open the cover and everything turns out to be complete shit. The dude is handcuffed to his phone, the trees behind the politician were a set, there’s a guy starving beside him, factories everywhere... Having the little cutout really increased the cover’s production costs, which for a Portuguese band, in the Portuguese market, could well mean that they’d have a hard time making their money back. But I’m glad they thought it was worth it anyhow. That’s cool. It already says a little bit about your process but I wanted to ask you about a particular project you did. I really liked the board design you made for Trucks and Fins, the one with the UFOs, I think you nailed the site’s spirit. I wanted to ask you: how did you come to that one? I’m also very happy with how that one turned out. The process, I mean, Haroun [T&F co-founder] just told me “you know what the site is about and you know our work so just do whatever you think is better” and, well, it was like you said, I just had to think about what the website was. I knew it had to be something pretty futuristic and then I thought it would be cool to refer to the website’s international scope, so I had the idea of including all these famous monuments. So yeah, I thought of these UFOs coming to steal all the skateparks and taking them to another dimension, which would be the dimension where Trucks and Fins is. When we do a new version we can continue the story and have the aliens skating the parks they stole on Mars or somewhere like that. Also, the central ship, which is taking a skatepark with a skater in it, is taking the Venice Beach skatepark, which for us is just as iconic as all the monuments that are lying about broken at the bottom. It’s a great idea and a great graphic, I hope they’ll go into production some time soon. Before we go, are you working on anything cool right now, is there anything you’d like to announce? There’s one thing that I’m really hyped on. Rastilho Records is doing a re-issue of Censurados Ao Vivo [classic Portuguese punk band live reunion album] and I’ll be doing the design for that. Also, I’m starting a collection for this American punk band that I’ve been a fan of for years. They’re called A Wilhelm Scream and they’ re huge in the States, and not just there of course. Their first t-shirts or posters were done by Jimbo Phillips and I was looking at them and thinking that I’d love to do something for those guys one day. Then about two months ago I got an email from their manager and I was ecstatic. I’m doing two designs for them. That’s what I call a happy-ending. Thanks a lot, Samuel. Check Trucks and Fins’ instagram for the chance of winning a Samuel Lucas custom-designed deck. TRUCKS AND FINS INSTAGRAM
On your next annual bike tour through Cornwall, you might want to ditch the old two-wheeler and exchange it for some pushwood. The new St Ives skatepark has just opened through the combined efforts of the St Ives Skatepark Project, the local council and Maverick Skateparks Introduce us to the park – tell us its name, where it is, what kind of park will it be (more street-oriented, just a bowl, a plaza...), its approximate dimensions, if it’s already open to the public, that sort of stuff. St Ives Skateparkis in Penbeagle Lane. It's a progressive mix of street and transitional terrain. It's huge! It's a free to use, public space. Is there any feature of the park that you’re particularly happy with, that came out really nice or is really fun to skate? The Vortex and the Pool came out so good. They are a joy to look at and a joy to ride! Any dream trick or line you’d like to see go down in any of the park’s features or areas? Seeing the local riders going upside down in the Vortex is awesome! Visit Skatepark Visit Maverick website
Interview with Pascal Lieleg, Photographer. | by Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira The man behind Official Bowlshit is one cool dude. Read on if you want to know the origins of the mysterious tribe of the SkateoFaris, the secret reason why people start skating transition, how to successfully mix beer with skating, and lots of other fun bowlshit. As one of the most active photographers in the Trucks and Fins community, there’s quite a few things I’d like to ask you. However, first of all, I was looking online and I was trying to figure out if you were a professional photographer, I mean, do you do photography for a living? Mmm... I don’t like to use that term. It’s hard to tell when that point comes when you’re a professional. Is it just because you earn money from it? I feel all the time like I have to learn a lot of things when it comes to photography, I’m not finished yet. I wouldn’t call myself a professional, just very ambitious. Plus, I don’t like the pressure. You know, when someone says “oh a professional photographer is coming”... I’m just hoping I can make them happy with my images, but you never know. Sometimes people like them, sometimes they don’t, photography as a lot to do with taste. So, yeah, I do it, but my normal profession is as creative art director for a hotel brand. In my semi-professional way I try to get better at photography and earn some money while I’m at it. One day I hope I can say I make a living from it. That would be the dream. Because I saw you have a whole different side to your photography, outside of skateboarding, like shooting real models and for brands like Adidas and some others... Yeah, I’d say it’s all about context. I do a lot of running and so I came to Adidas because they have a running group here in Hamburg and that’s how I got the connection, cause they said “hey, we need a photographer”. It’s always like that, that’s why I got to work for Men’s Health and Adidas and sometimes for other big brands. "In my semi-professional way I try to get better at photography and earn some money while I’m at it. One day I hope I can say I make a living from it. VISIT PASCAL PROFILE It’s always cool to be at the right place at the right time. But let’s get into skateboarding – I always like to ask people when and where did they start. I guess I was 12. Yeah. Now I'm 33, so I was 12, I was in school. One of my classmates had a board. We were at this school for the whole day, it was like nine hours and then you went home. And the school had great conditions, like big sports facilities, and we also had a little skatepark. It was one rail and two quarter pipes and the bank, that's it. But at least we had something back in the day. And, yeah, we shared this guy’s board because he was the only one who had one. I was so addicted from the first moment that I was wishing I could also get one. And then I got one for Christmas. Yeah. For Christmas, I got a complete. And it was not the typical first board you get when you tell your parents you want to start skateboarding. They’ll usually go to a big Walmart or something and buy a board. But my parents went to a good skate shop and bought me a really good board. So that was quite cool. Since then I had just a few breaks from skateboarding. In my hometown we didn’t have a skatepark, not a real skatepark, we had some quarters. But the city was always trying to put these quarters where we wouldn’t annoy other people, so it was hard for us, it would be like in some industrial parking lot somewhere. Until eventually this guy that was involved in looking out for the youth of the city decided to organize the community and we got our first real ramps and an official park. How old were you then? I guess I was 16 or 17. But before that sometimes we had the chance to go to this big skate hall. That’s one good thing about the area, a forty minute drive would take us to one of the biggest skate halls in Germany. It’s really huge, with 3,200 square meters of skate area. At first, when I was just starting, it was a pretty shitty park, they’d build ramps on pallets and everything was really DIY... but it had a lot of character. But then they got some support from the city and from some big companies and they started improving the ramps until it became a really good park. Nowadays it's called Playground Skatehall. One good thing about it was that, when they were starting, they had miniramps with different sizes, they had huge transition and a half-pipe. Now they have completely re-done the park about four times, I think it’s in its fourth version, but the cool thing is that they still kept some of those first features and my favourite one was the bowl. We didn’t have one in my hometown and so I was always eager to skate it when I went there. And the funny thing is none of the locals ever seemed interested in skating it, most of the times I’d be the only one in the bowl. Yeah, I didn’t have any type of transition around when I started skating, it was just street. So nowadays when I go to a skatepark I just suck at it. It's really funny. I love both. I also do some street stuff. But the main reason why I chose transition was I just had to drop in. Because, back in the day, I was pushing mongo. I wanted to hide it, and when I dropped in nobody saw that I pushed mongo. So I have the theory that most of the halfpipe and bowl skaters are secretely mongo pushers, that's the reason why they start. Mongo pushers are also good at fakie. But, yeah, actually it was just two or three years ago I decided I’d teach myself how to push normal. It was a hard pressure to put on myself but I kept at it and now, even though I’m not as fast as I am pushing mongo, at least it doesn’t look as stupid as in the beginning. It’s really tough. Especially when you’re older and you only have those precious moments to go skate and you know you can have so much fun doing it the way you’re used to. It’s a hard decision. But anyway, I wanted to talk about something else. More than once, when you sent us pictures of skateparks for Trucks and Fins you also sent us little articles about them that were really cool. It’s more than just information about the park, it helps us get an idea of its environment, the people who go there, and so on. Do you have any more of those planned? Yeah, unfortunately some of the parks are closed, and that’s kind of annoying. But when I send you any stuff I always try to ask myself what I would find interesting when I go to a park. And for me it's always the people who are in the park and, like, trying to get to know a little bit the community surrounding it. Because... I don't know, maybe it’s the same everywhere, but at least here in Germany every skatepark in every town is like a community thing. It's not just that some mayor of the city said “Oh, I want to have a skatepark.” It's never like that. It's just the community. In Jever, the town where I grew up, which is famous for its super bitter beer, when we first got our shitty ramps, we formed a group, we called ourselves the SkateoFaris, and we took care of the place. The city let us have a space where we could have the ramps and we wanted to make our little park grow. The city didn’t want to spend money on it so we had to earn it ourselves. We gave skate lessons to kids, we did demos whenever there was a public celebration in town and asked for donations, we sold SkateoFari t-shirts, we invested everything back into the skatepark, and that’s how it grew. And nowadays... it's really, really funny... The skate group still exists 12 years after we founded it. And they, the actual members of that group have no idea who it was that founded all that. They know Joshua Dings but they don't know me and Kevin Kellermann. They still call themselves SkateoFaris, but they have no idea about the history behind their crew. That's pretty funny. It’s a great story. Sometimes we hear about a community getting together in order to convince the local authorities that the town needs a skatepark, but it’s not everyday that people actually take it upon themselves to make money and invest it into their town’s skatepark. It’s pretty inspiring. Moving on, and since you mentioned beer, I really liked your “Beerics” video. I thought it really had some production values to it, and the rhythm is really well-managed. I wanted to ask you, did you shoot it and direct it all by yourself? Yeah! People have asked me that question a couple of times but, yeah, it was all very spontaneous. Tom [Tieste], the skater, has been working for some time as a trainee in this small brewery in Bremen, learning how to make beer. One day he asked his bosses if he could skate the brewery, you know, along the different parts of the process. It was quite funny, because he knows I do some video stuff and he told me about the idea and asked if I could be there to shoot two or three days later. I asked him how long he thought it would take to shoot and he said maybe one and a half to two hours. I have to say he was well organized, he had a good plan. But it was only when I got there that he told me exactly what his plan was and I was like... “ok... fuck.” I had to think about a lot of things. And I guess in the end we were there for four and a half or five hours. Which was okay, yeah. It was okay. But in my head I was always like “you have to remember when he comes from the left side where he goes to, so then the next cut he must come from this side...” Because otherwise you get confused, you know, when he comes from one side and next scene he’s coming from the wrong direction... I had that in mind all the time so the pressure was really high. Yeah, I'm still a little bit proud of that one. Well, you should be, because it looks like something that was made for a big skate brand by two or three photographers or filmers. Speaking of that, are you planning on doing more youtube stuff in the future? How should I put it... yes, I do plan to do more of that stuff. But in the end it's always the time. I love to edit a video but I hate it at the same time because it takes ages. For me the hardest part is to find the beginning and to find a way in which I would like to tell the story. When you have the raw material, you have a lot of options. I want to entertain the viewer and to find my style, but in video editing I don't feel like I've found it yet. I experiment a lot and I try to use new techniques or to adapt stuff I see on skate videos. But there's a lot of things I have to learn. That said, I want to do some artsy stuff, but it's hard to do artsy stuff that everybody understands. I want it to be artsy, but understandable at the same time. But actually I am working on some things right now. Last year I went to the DIY Sintra spot with Joshua [Dings] and I want to edit some video of that trip, I’d like to do it like a travel movie, because I took a lot of photos and I’d like to combine them with the video. Plus he also did some hard tricks there, he did a darkslide, we also have this one with another guy, Chris, who showed up at the spot and was a very good skater. Josh did a blunt to fakie on the quarter while Chris did a backside alley-oop wallride over him. I can’t wait to show that to people. The thing is, when you see it too small, like on instagram, you can’t feel the image. Can’t wait to see it. Now, we’ve recently prepared a short interview we do to every new photographer who joins Trucks and Fins, but since you were onboard before that, I’d like to ask you a couple of questions that we put on there. The first one is more of a request: choose a photo you took that you really like and tell us why. Ok, I have this one I really love [check photo number 4 in the gallery]. The thing is, when you see it too small, like on instagram, you can’t feel the image. You need to look at a big version in order to understand what’s going on. This circle is like a full-pipe, it’s an art object made by this artist called Karolina Halatek. It’s seven metres long, I guess, and it's five metres high and the surface, the inner surface is completely like a led stripe. It’s a plastic full-pipe and it’s completely lit up. It had been standing outside the art museum in Bremen for some weeks and it was completely unprotected, there was no security, I had seen people riding bikes through it. So I went there at night with a couple of friends from Bremen, Louis and Gino, and I asked them if they could do a double. I wanted them completely on the sides and I shot it straight from the front because I wanted the image to be as confusing as possible. It looks flat but then the skaters are not on the same plane. I left a little step that was in front of the sculpture just barely perceptible, but otherwise there are no clues, it’s completely dark. I thought when I dropped it on instagram every skate magazine would be like “What? What is this?”, but it never happened... [laughs] I’m sure it’s because there are not many magazines anymore and they must all be pretty busy. Anyhow, I’d seen that picture on your Trucks and Fins profile page and always thought it was really strange. It makes sense that it’s an art installation, you don’t just find that kind of stuff out there in the wild. Yeah, and you know what’s funny: I really liked the installation so I found Karolina Halatek on instagram and sent her the picture. I thought it was a good picture of her work. But she was really pissed, she was commenting on the post like if she was shouting “NO SKATING ALLOWED!” and I had to say “sorry, we didn’t know, there was no security, nothing...” And then what’s even better is that the Bremen museum organized a competition of the best photos taken at the installation and mine was considered one of the top ones. I also have another good one there where Louis is doing an ollie into it and it looks like he is falling into nothing, like that big wide hole is taking him. The only thing is that his ollie is not that perfect. That's why the shot is not that special but the idea is nice. Sounds cool. Now let me ask you another one from our short quiz: if you could choose a combo to shoot, like any skater doing any trick in any spot in the world, what would your dream combo be? Ooh, that’s a good one... It’s really hard... but there’s this new guy that no one had heard about until Thrasher put his part out, this super sick bowl skater, John Worthington. I know, I think he’s on Creature now. Watching his part I was like “what the hell?” I’d love to see him destroy our local bowl in Bremen. There are these really hard stairs, like in this tight pocket, it took me months to be able to get around them, I was super stoked. I actually met one of my best skate buddies there once. He’d come from Stuttgart and he had a to-do list – he wanted to do all the stairs in all the bowls he could find in Germany. He’d saved Bremen for last and it took him one hour of straight tries. He told me those had been the hardest he’d ever done, and he’s definitely more talented than me. But anyway, I’d love to see Worthington hit those stairs, he’s so skilled at doing hard transition and shallow ends that I imagine he could probably do a backside or frontside air over that pocket. I’d love to take a photo of that. I see you really know your bowlshit... You know, it’s a funny thing, there’s a cool side to not using my real name in my work as a skate photographer. First I can go to the skatepark incognito, people may know Bowlshit but they don’t know that I’m the guy who’s taking all the photos. Some people think Bowlshit is a company, I’ve gotten messages and emails wishing me and all my team the best of luck and stuff like that. It’s funny. You see, when I started doing photography in college I naturally started shooting skating, because that way I could go skating and still get work done for my courses. In my group of friends there was this Swiss guy who used “bullshit” a lot. Anytime he was pissed off he’d say everything was bullshit. Only with his accent it sounded like “bowlshit” and I just thought that was the perfect name for my photography projects. Then we had to build a website for another course and design a logo and I just made everything look like it’s a brand. It’s like one big joke. I can act like I’m this big company. Newspapers that have used my photos ask me for the copyright and I tell them the copyright is “bowlshit”. Having an official newspaper write that the copyright is “bowlshit” is just funny as hell. It’s a great joke. Before we wrap this up, is there anything you’d like to add? Any new stuff in the works? Yeah, there’s one thing I’m starting right now... it was planned for last year but because of the whole corona thing it got postponed... maybe for October or November of this year, anyway, I’m working on a photo book. I’m choosing the best photos from the past four or five years of skate photography and putting them in a book. I’ll probably try to do it through crowd funding or like a pre-sale. Just do one run, for the people who let me know they want it, and when it’s done, it’s done, no second edition. Sounds like a good idea. Be sure to let us know when you get that pre-sale going, we’ll help spread the word.
Interview with Daniel Yábar, Skatepark Architect. | by Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira Daniel Yábar’s skatepark designs have drawn much attention, revealing an unusual sensitivity to textures, colours, and surrounding spaces. In this interview he lets us know how his architectural ethos has more to do with giving the people what they need than necessarily creating masterpieces. I’ve had the chance to read about your process of becoming an architect and designing skateparks in other interviews you’ve done, but I haven’t found one where you tell the other side of that story, that is, how you became a skater. Where and when did you start? I started skating in Logroño, the capital of the Spanish region of La Rioja. I think I started when I was thirteen, more or less, after seeing the movie Thrashin’  with my friends. We decided we should see if we could get some skateboards. I found this Sancheski orange cruiser and that was my first step. Then we always went to the only place around that seemed skateable at all, the Plaza del Espolón. It’s a square in the centre of Logroño, where people still go to skate today. We didn’t do anything, we just cruised. Not much later we saw a guy there doing an ollie, just going up a little step, just jumping and landing and we were like “wow!” That was the beginning. Logroño is a small town but there was a big boom in skateboarding. Suddenly there were like three or four different crews of people skating on different routes. That meant like 50 or 60 people skating in Logroño. The city was pretty small so we hung out all over the city, I mean, we knew the city to the millimitre, we knew each spot, each little place... We’d go all around the city, to the industrial park, pretty much everywhere just finding places to skate. So you had a little skate scene in Logroño, that’s pretty cool. When was that, like the late 80s? I think I was thirteen so... I’d say around 91. But we were the first generation in Logroño that ever skated. People there didn’t understand it, they’d be like “what are you kids doing here with those things?” I’m still friends with some of the guys I started skating with and some of them haven’t stopped skating. I live in Madrid now, but when I go to Logroño to visit my parents I still get to hang out with them and with the new generations. "We knew the city to the millimitre, we knew each spot, each little place... VISIT WEBSITE I know you began designing skateparks as a trade after spending some years in another architect’s studio. That was some years ago, how long have you had your own studio? I finished college in 2004, I think, yeah I’m pretty sure. I spent four years in that studio in Bilbao. They did a lot of singular projects, like wineries, football stadiums, bullrings, etc. The head of the studio was an architect from Bilbao called Diego Garteiz and he knew I was a skateboarder so he told me that if I knew of any skate-related projects, any skateparks or anything, that he’d be open to work on them in the studio. I did three or four skateparks in the studio, but then I moved to Madrid, I’d say around 2008. So you’ve been on your own for over ten years now. I was looking at your website and all the projects you have there are of skateparks or skate plazas – do you still do typical architect stuff, like houses and offices and so on? Well... sometimes I get some different projects. I designed the offices for the football federation of La Rioja, I also did the project for a local medical centre in a small town near Logroño, but, I mean, when you go down the way of a certain specialization, you have to let go of some of the other stuff. In the beginning you try to work as much as you can, but now I’m more focused on skateparks. I don’t know how to express this idea of specialization better. I guess in architecture, when you know how to design skateparks or houses, it doesn’t mean that you know how to design hospitals or stuff like that. So nowadays if someone offered me a project for a house I’d probably have to refuse it or refer them to a friend. Then that means that you can have your studio running on skatepark projects, that must be a cool feeling. Well, most of the projects are about the skatepark, but many of them include compatible uses, landscaping, integration with city planning. Sometimes you design a skatepark but it has to include an outdoor gym or a fitness trail, sometimes it’s not just a skatepark but it has to be a bike park too, or a garden... but yeah, all things surrounding a skatepark. Many architects who have their own firms will say they only do their kind of singular designs, and maybe ten years from now I’ll be able to say something like that, but right now I think the skaters have to come first. Do you have a team working with you? I work on my own. In Spain we have a saying that helps me explain this: quien mucho abarca poco aprieta. [Don’t bite off more than you can chew.] Yeah, I guess we have a similar one in Portuguese. What about the building part, do you have anything to do with the people who end up building the parks you’ve designed? It depends on the management model. Many times the owner, the council, whoever is in charge only wants the design to begin with. Then they organize a public tender and the builders have to submit their proposals. That’s the most common model in Spain. Sometimes they say “ok, we want it designed and built”, and so the architects and engineers collaborate with the builders and submit joint proposals to the same tender. Looking at your portfolio, one could say you have both the more traditional kind of skatepark and then the ones that I understand have drawn more attention to your work, which are more integrated into the urban landscape. Which of your projects do you feel blends in better with its surroundings? I think a good example would be the one in Santa Cruz, in La Granja. Maybe also the skateplaza in Logroño or the Santa Lucia skatepark, in Vitoria. But it’s not that big of a deal for me. I’m not prejudiced in favour of the unique design, integrated kind of skatepark nor the more traditional, sports facility-type ones. It depends on the goals of the project. If the skaters or the council are asking you for a functional skatepark, it’s very egocentric of you to say “no no no, I don’t do traditional, I only make singular designs”, like you want to be the architect-designer. If they’re asking you for a traditional skatepark with a simple and functional design, then that’s what you have to give them. Many architects who have their own firms will say they only do their kind of singular designs, and maybe ten years from now I’ll be able to say something like that, but right now I think the skaters have to come first. Places like Macba or Love Park are huge, they’re massive. Five times larger than most skateparks. How can you compete with that? I get it. Actually I was thinking that it must be rare to get the opportunity to turn a regular city square into a skateplaza. How does that happen? Did you ever have to convince the people from city council, were they looking for that in the first place? At some point, as an architect, you have the obligation to give the best possible advice to the skaters and decision makers. As an architect and a skater I have to tell them what I think is best. Sometimes they’ll say “no, I know what I want, I want a traditional, concrete skatepark, with fences around it.” I may try to tell them that that’s not the way skateboarding and contemporary skateparks are going, but they have the final say. Sometimes the local skaters and the local authorities know about skateboarding and where it’s headed, so you don’t really have to give them much advice. It depends on the project. I remember the case in Santiago de Compostela. The skaters were skating this plaza for years that is not exactly in the centre but still in a good part of the city, behind the Galician Parliament. They had conflicts with the neighbours and people walking around with their kids and everything, so city hall wanted to take them out of there, build them a standard skatepark outside the city. The local skaters’ association tried to fight to stay in the plaza but the council wasn’t having it so they had to arrive at a compromise. The plaza was in this big park, inside of which we managed to find another plaza with granite floor that was completely abandoned. We did a little street course with rails and stuff, so in the end they had the same granite surface to skate and although they weren’t in the original plaza, which was skatestopped, they only had to move like 15 metres away from it. Do you think that in the near future there’ll be a bigger overall sensitivity towards the benefits of having skateparks in livelier parts of the city, instead of being confined to urban voids? I think there’s already some awareness and some sensitivity, as you say. Not only on the side of the skateboarding communities but also with the decision makers. When you are dealing with these decision makers, you find a little bit of everything. You find some people who are really well-informed and really know what the people want and then you find others that have no idea what we’re talking about. I think there is more awareness and, as time goes on, people learn about these things, also because of the olympics. People in general are more interested in skateboarding now that they’ve heard that it’s going to be an olympic sport, so they’re trying to figure out what it’s all about, what the skateboarding communities are looking for in terms of facilities and everything. I feel in general there is more and more knowledge about what skateboarders need. Well, one thing is for sure, I think your skatepark designs really help in bridging that gap. If I was going to meet with city council tomorrow to get a skatepark built I know I’d take some pictures of your designs to show them how architecturally and visually rich a skatepark can become. [Laughs] Thank you. Moving on, does it ever happen to you, when you’re just walking around a city, that you look at some place and you immediately think it would be a perfect spot to transform into a skatepark? Yeah, sure. It happens to me but I’m sure it happens to all the skatepark designers. It comes with the profession. Still, many times you see a really cool spot in the street and then, when you want to bring it into a skatepark design, you realize that this spot needs a lot of space. Nowadays skatepark design is going through a standardization, where every distance between features is really measured and so on. So when you see a cool spot that you’d like to adapt, often you find out you need a lot more space than you have, and if you need more space that means you won’t have room for all the standard features, you know, the hubba, the eurogap, the manual pad... You might have to sacrifice your whole design just because you found an amazing spot in some street in some city... it’s not as easy as it seems. For example, in the Santiago plaza I was telling you about I included a reproduction of a famous street spot, this handraill in Málaga. It’s like a long ramp, then you have three stairs and there’s a long rail alongside. So when you get to the three stairs you can slide the end of the rail. This spot is amazing, it’s near the sea, this long, blue rail. Lots of pros have skated it. The thing is the ramp is so long you really need space if you’re going to try to reproduce it. However, in this case, in Santiago, I was working with one stipulation: that the skateplaza would be pedestrian-friendly. In order to make it safe for pedestrians, I had to follow the Spanish accessibility laws. Of course that ramp in Málaga was built according to these norms, because it’s in a public street. That, plus the shape of the area we were working with, made it possible to reproduce the street spot. skateparks by Daniel Yábar La Granja Skatepark Skateplaza Logroño Santa Lucia skatepark Jerez skatepark Antoniutti skatepark See all skateparks I was wondering, if you could choose any place in any city, maybe even a famous skate spot like Love Park or Macba, to make a project for, which would it be? Well... the ones you’ve said are some of the more internationally recognized... but for example, the Macba plaza... you’re talking about 5000 square metres. The average skatepark will have an area closer to 1000 square metres, so the plaza is like five times bigger. It’s really difficult. But actually once I had this idea for the main space in Macba, where you have the long ledge and the gap, just by the entrance to the museum. I thought it would be pretty cool if it were a symmetrical spot. Because you have the ledge on one side and it determines what tricks you can do whether you’re regular or goofy, so it would be great if you had the same ledge on the other side. But anyway, places like Macba or Love Park are huge, they’re massive. Five times larger than most skateparks. How can you compete with that? Just that main area of Macba is 1000 square metres. If you design a whole skatepark with just a ledge, a gap, and a low-to-high... well, people want more stuff. Speaking of wanting more stuff, I have to ask you if there’s anything that you’re working on that we can know about, maybe something going into construction or about to open to the public? Right now I’m working on the design for a skatepark bowl, in Tenerife, near La Granja. The city organized an opinion poll and they asked me for two designs: one was a granite skateplaza, the other was a bowl. So they had this poll and the bowl won. Actually, I find that a little unexpected. I mean, here in Portugal the tendency is always more towards street skating. I’m pretty sure the street course would win here. In this case the bowl won but I think because in Tenerife you already have some good street plazas. And also because you have a lot of surfers, you get people there that are into surfing or longboarding and those guys will also get in the pool to skate. I guess it wasn’t just skaters, the surfers may have helped to tip the scale. Very well. Would you like to add anything to wrap this up? Well... I don’t know... maybe I’d just like to go back to that idea we were talking about: I really don’t feel that all skateparks need to be this special, singular design that blends in perfectly with the urban landscape, but I’m also not of the opinion that they should be a detached, enclosed sports facility kind of thing. Both options are ok if they serve the needs of that particular community. If you ask me, I’d say the direction skateboarding is taking leans more towards the integrated kind of skatepark that is a part of the city, that is built with the city. That’s the opinion I think most skateboarders have... but you need everything. The city needs everything: the sports facility for training and competitions and the olympics and Street League, but also the plaza in the town, integrated into the life of the city. The ideal would be to have everything. Yeah, I guess that would be perfect. Thank you very much, Daniel. Thank you.
We are in Germany, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. To be more precise, in Lankow, a suburb of the city of Schwerin, in which prefabricated buildings are lined up and slowly falling apart. The friends in the skate park call themselves Lankow Locals, their district "Lankow Demolition". Around 50 people make up the hard core, another 200 loosely belong to it. The Lankow skatepark is the most important meeting place for the group, they have been coming here for over 15 years. People who at first glance don't have much in common: doctors who want to escape everyday life; People who have served prison terms; Young people who live in the prefabricated buildings and do not notice much from their parents. The elders give them shirts and old skateboards, but they don't give them any rules. In 2019 the “old” park got an update by minus ramps and the local hero Florian “Flower” Fentzahn and a flowpark with all kinds of transitions was the result. Once a year they organize a skate contest, which is much more of a family get-together than a sporting competition. The skate park is everything, just not everyday life. Check out their website!
Skateboarding in Portugal Quandary in the Quarry - The Mystery of the Belmonte Bowl. It’s a kidney shaped bowl, wrapped around a half-pipe that leads to a fullpipe ending in a cradle BELMONTE SKATEPARK The village of Belmonte (population: ca. 3500) lies towards the northeastern part of Portugal. It’s head of a rural municipality where you can find about 54 people per square kilometre and where they’re highly likely to be advanced in years, as the ratio of elderly to young people is close to 3:1. Towards the northeastern part of the village, not far from the local Intermarché supermarket, there’s a small residential neighbourhood facing an abandoned quarry. Inside this quarry sits one of the biggest skate bowls in the world. It’s a kidney shaped bowl, wrapped around a half-pipe that leads to a fullpipe ending in a cradle. The pictures should help make this clearer. It’s close to 4 metres deep and has almost a full metre of vert all around. There are oververt extensions over a metre tall. It’s a beast of a thing, especially when you consider the standards of skateboarding and skateparks in Portugal. Anyone that sees it immediately asks himself “What the hell is this doing here?” And it seems to me to be a fair, reasonable question. Anyway, when faced with a Portuguese skate-related mystery, there’s always one thing you can do, and that’s call up Luís Paulo. This dude was the first Portuguese skater ever to get sponsored, one of the few to have met Tony Hawk and the only one to have done an aerial over him, so he’s been in the game for a bit and knows his shit. I thank him for giving us the lowdown on this one Apparently the whole idea came from the Belmonte Municipality. They are close to Serra da Estrela, the only ski resort in Portugal, where there’s also quite a bit of downhill biking and hang gliding going on in the summer, so they figured a skatepark would attract some of that crowd and get some more visitors to come to the village. Not a bad intuition other skateparks in Portugal See all SKATEPARKS However, as it often happens, they didn’t consult any skateboarders before diving into the project. At the time, the largest skatepark in the world had just been built in Shanghai (SMP Skatepark – it’s since been surpassed by the one in Guangzhou) and the architects hired to do the job in Belmonte decided to take inspiration from one of its sections. They did an impressive job: the bowl is nicely tucked inside the quarry walls, the transition is good and the full pipe and cradle look amazing. The only problem is that vert skaters in Portugal are thin on the ground. They did build a street section above the bowl, but unfortunately they didn’t study this subject as well as the transition bit, and it’s just unskateable. As it is, the Belmonte Skatepark, which was inaugurated in April of 2011, is about to celebrate its tenth anniversary with a still pristine coping. We have seen examples of what can go down at that bowl when the right people find it, but they’ve been few and far between. In 2012, Jake Phelps and the Thrasher crew (P-Stone, Rhino) came by and brought Peter Hewitt, Pedro Barros, and Grant Taylor for some serious ripping. One year later the Carve Wicked team (Sam Pulley, Alex Perelson, Sam Beckett, Rob Smith, etc.) also dropped some hammers. But the place can take it. In fact, it’s begging for it. If you’re into big walls, start planning that trip and type this into your GPS.
Interview with Glen Jones, Photographer. | by Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira Swamp Ramps in Mississippi, punk rock in Minnesota, Glen Jones’ camera has been along for the ride since the early 80s. Now he’s in Portugal and he’s starting up an elementary school. Go sign your kids up. Before we get into skate photography, which I know you do because you like it, would you let us know what you do for a living? I’m a school teacher. I’m in Lisbon right now starting a new school. I’m an elementary Montessori school teacher. I’ve been doing that for about twenty-five years now. Montessori is a teaching method, right? It is a teaching method. It’s a very empowering teaching method for kids, it looks at the individual versus, you know, trying to teach the masses. It’s an educational approach that jibes really well with how I think teachers should teach. When I look back to all the great teachers I had growing up they all had these mannerisms and these ways of really looking at me as a person and not just another pupil. With Montessori that kind of mindset is ingrained in the approaches. I could talk on and on, do a whole interview about why I chose this as my field of work but it is a really good fit. I’m also trained as an archeologist, I was going down the route of being a professor and I found out I enjoyed working with children more than publishing and all that. I love digging in the dirt, I do it every time I can, I enjoy the fieldwork but I wasn’t cut out for the harsh reality of academia. I prefer my academia working with and inspiring young people. So, yeah, that’s that... now, skateboarding! Yeah, let’s get into it. Of course the first question is: when did you start? This all goes hand in hand with the photography. I had a skateboard as a young kid, around seven or eight, in the seventies when they were in the same shelf with the yo-yos and other toys. I had a drugstore board and I cruised around my driveway and the whole block. The eighties rolled by and I had a BMX bike and one day, probably about 81-82, a friend of mine said “You have to see this ramp where these guys are riding.” I went there and I was blown away. In this little town I grew up in, in Mississippi, Ocean Springs, not too far from New Orleans, there was this brilliant vert half-pipe and a couple of guys who were kingpins in the scene and who were really good. They were also the coolest guys ever, Dana Buck and Lindsey Kuhn. They are still in the skateboard world [Kuhn owns Conspiracy Skateboards]. So of course the next day I was showing up with my skinny seventies board and kind of getting laughed at, because they had the big pig boards, but I jumped right in, me and a few buddies. We were just inspired, so we got the bigger boards, put up with the razzing and became a part of that crew. We had a kind of Deep South Gulf Coast skater network in the eighties, going from New Orleans to St. Petersburg, Florida. Skateboarding was kind of dead and it was all backyard vert ramps. We had a really strong community and part of that was doing zines and shooting photos, so that’s where the camera came in. I liked to play around with a camera when I was little. I had this cheap little 35mm and after my dad saw that I had real interest he gave me his Nikon F, which was a really well-made camera, and I still have it, I still use it. Then, my oldest sister was a photo journalist and for my thirteenth birthday she brought me her old darkroom. My birthday gift was her setting it up and teaching me how to use it. All that came together at the right time, when we were all skating and I wanted to document it. I love photography. I can’t draw very well but I can shoot photos and it’s always been an output, so I have documentation of everything, from seeing my friends’ crusty little punk rock bands to going to skate contests, writing for zines and shooting for zines, plus the road trips that we all took. I got to be known as the guy with the camera. I still have all these negative files and covid has allowed me some time to start scanning more of them. When I grew up all the cool kids’ films were set in the fifties but now I realize the eighties have become this sort of mythical era for punk rock and skateboarding and people want to see these things. My girlfriend says I ought to write a book and get a real website going instead of just facebook or instagram. That’s something I look forward to doing but I don’t want to keep looking back, that’s for sure. Right now, I love supporting Trucks and Fins because they help get me around to these spots, to meet other skaters, and I’m pleased to take photos and try to help out in documenting skateparks, it’s a cool thing. I always bring my camera when we ride, I skate for half the time and take photos for half the time, probably more photography if I’m having an off session. "In this little town I grew up in, in Mississippi, Ocean Springs, not too far from New Orleans, there was this brilliant vert half-pipe and a couple of guys who were kingpins in the scene and who were really good. SEE PROFILE Do you still have a darkroom set up? Right now I have my changing bag and my development tanks and I scan the negatives. It’s a hybrid work form. I would like to get to a point where I could have a darkroom again because I do miss watching the images appear on the paper. But, you know, photography is such a thing... I do have my artsy side and I love capturing a good visual. But I guess if I had a style it would be not having one, I just like documenting everything. I haven’t had much instruction, mostly self-taught and my sister. When I was in high school I took a night class at a community college and was taught by an old, crusty photo journalist from Mobile, Alabama. He was chain-smoking I think even in the darkroom and was a crotchety old bastard but he was really good about his technique, he was all about the mechanics of it, really practical. I’ve done a few shows with my work. The most fun I’ve had with that was just before moving to Portugal a year and a half ago, in an upstairs gallery above my friend’s skate shop back in Minneapolis. I’d been shooting all these images for years so I did a show with about one hundred and sixty prints but it was all meant to be left there. I gave instructions to the owner of the shop to keep the show up for a month and then give the photos to all the guys that were in those shots. That was my “thank you, Minnesota and skateboarding”. I had all these images and I just wanted to give back to a scene that was so good to me. I’m getting really curious to see your older stuff. Because the photos you have on Trucks and Fins and on your instagram account struck me as being different from the usual skate photos. I don’t know if you’ve read the little essay I wrote on one of your photos, but I feel like there’s many where the skatepark is empty or maybe there’s someone riding but they’re not the focus of the picture at all, you get this overview where you can see the whole setting. I was wondering if that had anything to do with that joy of searching for and finding a new spot? Well, of course. I’d also say that stepping back and putting a skatepark or a scene into a larger perspective might be a more recent thing I’m doing. And I wasn’t really aware of that until you pointed it out but it has to do with that visual thrill of exploration and trying to put it into a context. It’s cool to be able to look at a park and be able to go “so that’s where it sits”. Instead of that one skater, that one rad trick, maybe as we get older we get a little bit more introspective and we see the bigger connection. But also being in Portugal, with the ocean right here, I’m sure that’s affecting the light. When I’m out I’m always noticing the colours and the light. So whenever I see that and I’m skating I always try to step back and be like “whoa, look at these trees in the background and the way it all ties together and everything.” Also, I’ve never had a super wide lens, so I’d have to lurk back a bit for fear of cropping limbs off or something and that might have had an effect on it. I think also for Trucks and Fins I tend to do that a bit more, but skateparks are amazing architectural features with all the lines and the curves and just trying to play around with that is fun. I was planning on asking you whether seeing pictures in skate mags had had any influence on you wanting to take pictures or whether it had more to do with just wanting to document stuff. I get it from your story that it was mostly the documenting side of it. Goodness, I had a little 110 Kodak camera in the seventies. I loved to just sneak around and take shots of my friends when they weren’t looking, you know, like playing spy. Later it was probably skateboarding and wanting to document that. And also wanting to fit in with the skateboarding crew. I was a bit younger and so I wanted a good reason to be around. Of course even after I got over these insecurities and I was skating with them I’d still always have a camera with me. I had a friend that used to laugh at me at shows and he’d say “yeah, next to the band, the guy with the camera is the next interesting person.” I was never able to play that up to my advantage. Right now I’m really anxious to be able to go out and get lost in all of Portugal’s nooks and crannies, and to the eastern part of the country where it’s drier and rolling, and of course if there’s a bowl or a half-pipe or some place to skate I’ll shoot that as well. There’s this writer called Elijah Wald, he has some really good books on the blues and on rock n’ roll. On one of them he says that he used to go to these dances when he was a kid and the guys who could dance always got all the girls. And so, as he couldn’t dance, he learned to play the guitar, which made him the next interesting guy. It’s kind of the same thing. Of course, who doesn’t want to feel cool like “oh, I’m documenting this”. But now being older I’m just happy I did it. I just scanned some old band shots this past weekend and I had some of Babes in Toyland. And I know Lori [Barbero] and all of them and they love it when I post old shots. It’s good that we have those memories and it’s different, because that’s what everyone has now with their phones and everything. Doing it back then it was a little more select, maybe a little more special. I don’t know what’s going to happen to this generation when they’re my age and they have so much from their past to look at. It’s good to look back but also to keep going forward. There are some things I love about digital, it doesn’t seem as enduring. It gets done and stored into a digital file that could very well disappear, where film to me has this real physical permanence. So when I do go out and take skate shots today, I take my film camera with me but I wait ‘til the session is really happening, then I go back to my old film skills, where I just want to get two or three really good shots. I’m not a film-only elitist at all, I know what I like and I enjoy shooting both. Right now I’m really anxious to be able to go out and get lost in all of Portugal’s nooks and crannies, and to the eastern part of the country where it’s drier and rolling, and of course if there’s a bowl or a half-pipe or some place to skate I’ll shoot that as well. It’s a good excuse to get around, right? You plan a roadtrip to go skate and have fun and you get to see the rest of it. Yeah, it’s a little harder now, when you get older, but it was really the calling card back then, when skateboarding wasn’t as massive. You would roadtrip and connect, you’d get a hold of people and crash on couches and skate their ramps or bowls. I’d say every third weekend we’d go somewhere else just to meet up with friends and do that. Today it’s a little harder, not just because I’m older, but because back then you had such a small scene that you were really excited to meet another skater. I went to visit my sister in Minneapolis in 1983. I was at a mall and had my “Skate and Destroy” Thrasher t-shirt and this kid came up to me and asked me if I was skater then looked down and checked my shoes to kind of make sure. He was like “we got a half-pipe down the road” and gave me his number because he knew from my accent I was from out of town. He did exactly the same things we were doing down south. He had a skatezine and a backyard vert ramp, you know, the whole eighties skate kit you had back then, but it opened a door and I met people at that session the next day that I’m still friends with now. Today I don’t know if it’s as easy to make these connections, but it’s still exciting and vibrant. I go to the park down here in Estoril [Parque das Gerações] and despite some of the park design issues and the maintenance or whatever, it’s a really vibrant scene. You see whole families there watching and skating and it’s very different from when I grew up, where if you were a skater you might as well be an alien. Of course we also liked that because it made us rebels but I like that it’s now being seen as a viable thing to do. There’s the downside that it gets marketed more but I’ll take the good with the bad. I also really like to see so many girls riding because for so long, skateboarding was such a boys’ club. When you get a bunch of teenage boys together talking smack, it’s sometimes not the most respectful atmosphere, so it’s good that there’s this balancing factor coming forward. When I started skating back in 99-2000, I never got deep enough into the skate scene where I got to travel and meet other skaters, but I know some people in Portugal have similar stories to yours. Still, to European eyes, there’s something about America being the place where it really happened, so there’s this sort of authenticity about your story that fascinates me, it’s like I’m watching the Nine Club. The funny thing is I came from a really small town that was not tied into the scene but we had some guys that lived there that had been around. And we were about five, six hours from Texas, that really influenced southern skateboarding. I don’t know if you remember Zorlac Skateboards, Craig Johnson, John Gibson, but these guys would drop by our town whenever they went off towards the East coast. There was a small scene but when you showed up to other people’s ramps sometimes you’d see these pros you saw in the magazines, like Monty Nolder or John Gibson, and you learned really quickly they were skateboarders just like you, they were accessible. So some of my favourite memories have to do with befriending some of these pros and getting to go on roadtrips with them. We did feel cool but, still, I wouldn’t sell Portugal or Europe short. Even when the magazines were coming out back in the day, we’d read Transworld and they’d always seem to have some freestylist from Iceland, there was always some ditchy-looking skatepark in England. And we knew of the Swedish [Eurocana] skate camp where the Mctwist was figured out on one of the first big transition ramps. Then Spain too. I had a friend from the States who moved to Barcelona and that’s all he could talk about – street skating in Barcelona in the early 2000’s, how everyone was showing up there to ride. So, you know, I’d say Europe is a player, it might not get in the limelight but the stories are there, and I’m sure Portugal stories are there too. I bet there are some guys around that can really tell what it was like. Because I come from Mississippi in what we called a backwater scene there was safety in numbers, we all hung out together in a tight community and I can only imagine Portugal has a similar story. As it wasn’t that mainstream I’m sure the people who did it were probably more dedicated, so, yeah, find those people, I want to hear those stories. I do have my artsy side and I love capturing a good visual. But I guess if I had a style it would be not having one, I just like documenting everything. Yeah, it’s true, I’ve recently interviewed the skatepark builder João Sales and he sort of told me a similar story to yours, set here in Portugal. Speaking of skateparks, I’d like to go into your punk rock photography, but first I have to ask you about this skatepark you shot. It’s the weirdest skatepark I’ve seen, it’s fascinating and it just looks unskateable. Do you remember the Samora Correia skatepark? Oh that one! It is unskateable. I don’t know if [T&F co-founder] Haroun told you my idea: in doing this tour we found some skateparks that are completely unskateable and that is the top one. What we need to do is have a Triple Crown Event over a couple of weekends, invite all the skaters over to ride these bad skateparks, and that one would be the crown jewel. Whoever designed that skatepark had no idea, no clue, and if you can do anything on it, you’re a great skater. It really is amazing. I’m thinking Salvador Dali designed it. Because you get to recognize the features that you’d think naturally belong in a skatepark, like rails and stairs, but they’re all in the wrong places. It’s a surrealist skatepark. I thought it was meant to be ironic. We just sat there for fifteen minutes looking at all the lines that could never happen. It was funny, but it’s also a sad commentary. Obviously that town had good intentions, I don’t want to be insulting nor mock people, but maybe next time they could talk with some skateboarders first. That park is so humorously wrong that you kind of have to go there just to get a good laugh. Yeah, I think it would be hilarious to throw a contest there to see what anyone could do. It would be fun, and it would also bring attention to better skatepark design. Any more questions? Yeah, I’d like to get into the rock n’ roll part now. I saw some gear shots on your instagram page. Are you in a band? Oh man, I used to be in a lot of bands. Once again, back in the eighties that was part of the whole skatepunk kit. You either got a bass or a guitar, I happened to be handed a bass. That was part of the image, I guess. In 1985 I was in a little punk rock band called Spastic Fury. I played with other things off and on, throughout the nineties, and I think my last gig with any sort of semblance of a group was about five years ago. I still play, I have a studio right here, with my amps and my instruments. Music for me is like a model train, I do it for my enjoyment and if I can pull it together and play something out live and people like it, great. One thing that excites me is that there are some really great musicians in Portugal. I’ve been following Tó Trips and I got to see the Dead Combo on what was going to be one of their last tours and then I saw his new band [Club Makumba]. His solo stuff – I love the dusty guitar, I love what he’s doing with all the variations... it’s Iberian, there’s some spaghetti western in there but there’s also a Portuguese sound. And then his new project, that drummer, wow, there’s something like these old Portuguese colonies sounds creeping in, these polyrhythms... it’s an interesting melting pot. So, yeah, I do look forward to meeting some musicians and throw some ideas around. I was lucky to have some great musicians back home that I played with over the years. Those music scenes in the eighties and nineties were much like the skate scene, there was a community there. Again, with the camera I could have a foot in the door and then they’d find out I played bass as well and the next thing you know I got set up in a band or two. I probably have as much music stuff and band shots from that era as I do skateboarding. I was lucky to have some great musicians back home that I played with over the years. Those music scenes in the eighties and nineties were much like the skate scene, there was a community there. Did you get to shoot any bands you really really liked? Oh yeah... I mean, who didn’t love Fugazi? I caught their first tour camera in hand. But the funny thing is, when I first moved to Minnesota, after high school, I was living in this punk rock house and bands were always crashing on our couch. Once there was a band coming from California and they were having a hard time getting a gig in town. They ended up playing in my friends Chad and Josh’s basement for about twenty of us, and that was Green Day. And that’s actually where the singer met his future wife Adrienne. She was this cool, punk rock... well, goddess, if you will. Small world, her brother is Steve Nesser, the old Birdhouse pro, and that’s how close these scenes are. Lots of overlap. But yeah, I do have some band shots like that. I’m trying to think of bands I like... I’ve got a couple of good, crusty shots of Mark E. Smith in one of his many reincarnations of The Fall. Phenomenal... There’s a club in Minneapolis called the 7th Street entry, it’s an institution, and there’s a corner next to the stage where there’s a little bit of brick sticking out and you can stand on that with your heels and lean up against one of the bass monitors in the ceiling and kind of wedge yourself in there. For about three or four years when I was first living there and going to shows religiously, that was my corner and so I have many shots from that tight corner, looking out at bands. So yeah, I guess I love music too. And maybe if I did one thing, I could catch up and actually finish one thing. Of course my main work has been my profession, which is teaching. The skateboarding I love, I still do, not as much as I’d like to. The bass playing I enjoy, I plug in about every other day, occasionally I write my own melodies and songs. And yes there’s the photography. Maybe if I quit three of those and just focus on one I could finish something. I’m sure when the time comes and I kick the bucket I’m gonna have fifty unfinished projects and that’ll be my epitaph “almost got it done but...” I’m sure that won’t happen. But it’s a cheery note to wrap this up on. Is there anything you’d like to add? I covered a lot of ground, thank you for the opportunity, because I haven’t talked about this stuff in a long time. But I’m happy to share and if after seeing my photos you have any more questions, just let me know. Thanks, Glen.
Interview with João Sales, Wasteland Skateparks. | by Sebastião Belfort Cerqueira A skater since the late 80s, João Sales grew up deeply rooted in the Portuguese skate scene. Check out what he has to tell us about DIY spots, how to get a skatepark built in your town, some of the cool parks he has built along the way, and a bunch of other stuff. Let’s start from the beginning: When did you start skating? I started in ’89, when I was thirteen. My next door neighbour had a board that had belonged to his cousin who didn’t use it anymore, so we both shared that same board. I loved the experience of riding it, so I convinced my mother to get me a board for christmas. From that point on it was just meeting new people, finding out what we had in common and following the skateboarding adventure. I still haven’t stopped. And where was this? In Leiria, I’m from Leiria. I’m assuming that back then there would be nothing close to a skatepark around your area. There were already some ramps around here. Some guys had already built a couple of ramps around the town. There was one in a neighbourhood kind of far away from my house that I didn’t even know of [until later] and there were these guys who lived next to a school who also had some small ramps. That’s where we started to get together and to get to know each other. "That really inspired me and that was how I grew up. VISIT WASTELAND WEBSITE How about your first skatepark experience, where did you first find one? Skatepark... I would say probably Pedrouços. Yeah, I’d say a proper skatepark, for the first time, Pedrouços. Though here in Leiria they eventually brought the mini ramp from the other neighbourhood over to a more central part of town, close to the city swimming pools, and the city council got a half-pipe built, so from that point on we had like a ramp compound. Let’s call it our skatepark, which was made up exclusively of quarterpipes and mini ramps. This was around 1990-91. Maybe I should add that one of the things that influenced me the most was watching these older skaters who were so active. They got inspiration from what little skate scene there was in Portugal at the time - there was hardly any national coverage of skateboarding - but whatever they saw they brought back to Leiria and they would just get to work. That really inspired me and that was how I grew up. That reminds me of something I had planned to ask you later on, but I might as well just ask you now: what tips would you give to someone who really wanted to get a skatepark built in his or her area? Should they go directly to city council, should they first talk to a skatepark builder and get a cost estimate, where do you start? I’d say the first thing to do is to join efforts, to get a working team together. So if someone doesn’t have a skatepark in their city, the first thing is to find other people that share that same need. And then you try to look for people who may not be skaters or bmxers or whatever but who hold the same views, people who feel that the skatepark would be positive for their community and who are able to explain the benefits such a venue would bring to the community. Then, once you’ve put all this together, you try to reach the decision makers. It’s usually the city council, but it might be another entity, a private one for example. Then you ask for their help in assembling the conditions for building a skatepark and later, yeah, you can provide them with some skatepark specialists’ names for the building part. I mean, before that comes the designing part, because it’s important to understand exactly who you’re making a skatepark for before building it. We can’t build a skatepark like the one in Belmonte where there is no one in the community to ride that sort of thing. Of course. Now, getting back on track and following what you were telling me about the ramps when you were a kid, how did you get into building skateparks and when was Wasteland Skateparks born? That was a long process. We never stopped building things in Leiria. City council was barely helping at all. We knew there was this Powell-Peralta tour coming through Portugal, there would be a demo in Lisboa and one in Porto and a couple of days in between with nothing scheduled, so we convinced the council to build a half-pipe inside this pavillion to hold a demo. There we had quite a bit of support and help and we got the demo to happen. When the half-pipe was dismantled we planned to put it back together by the city pools, where we had all the mini ramps. Unfortunately someone stole our sheets of plywood and we never got past the structure. Then with no kind of warning the council just had everything destroyed overnight, even the mini ramps which were fine, so we were left with nothing to skate. We didn’t really resign ourselves to that and we kept skating and building small ramps here and there, and eventually we got a chance to take the ramps into this pavillion and share it with other sports, like with a schedule and everything. From there we went to this other pavillion that had no walls, we had some help from Radical Skate Clube, who donated some ramps they didn’t use. From there we went to another one, owned by this local association, who took us in, and we founded Vidigal, which was the only indoor skatepark in Portugal at the time, in the early 2000s. We would build and mend ramps but eventually there was no one left to look over the venue and it was closed down. We kept building ramps and by this time we were making them in concrete, I had learned how to mix concrete and we built like a jersey barrier. We built it in this dead end road where there was an abandoned construction site we knew would be there for some years. It was under a bridge, we used the barrier between the lanes and made a little cement run-up. We built some bumps and created an access to the inclined planes under the bridge so we kind of had our own little skatepark, far from everyone’s sight. Then this Emerica Europe tour came by, with Ricardo Fonseca, Ed (Helder Lima), Pontus Alv and some others and they really liked skating our spot. Pontus Alv told me I had to watch their video because they were doing the same kind of thing in Sweden but already on a different scale, and I watched it, and that’s when I realized I could build skateparks with my own hands. All you had to do was get the community together and it could happen, and that’s when Cerâmica came about. It was an abandoned brick factory, and all that’s left standing is the kiln, which is lined with bricks and sand so all we needed was to buy the cement to mix everything and make concrete ramps. We built it on the weekends, among friends, and while we were doing it I lost my job - I had worked for sixteen years on car parts. Around that time came a call from Lisboa inviting us to build a bowl in Alvalade, which we did, still without any real expertise and kind of winging it. I did it with my friend Nuno Cainço who still works with me and who started skating with me in the early 90s. I’d rather feel that someone is just skating, with no plan, and we’re being shown an excerpt of that, like the feeling you got from watching Tommy Guerrero skating street in the late 80s. That spot, Cerâmica, can it still be skated? Yes, to this day. It started around 2009. I still go there every now and then to fix some holes and roll around a bit. I might add that Cerâmica has been featured on the cover of a magazine and in various ads, even in American magazines. Now, on to different things. There’s this idea that I find interesting when people talk about skateparks and that’s that there are some that “flow” better than others. If you had to try and explain this idea of a skatepark having a particular flow, what would you say? It’s a tough question. It depends. I think skateparks are like street spots. It has to do with how you interpret that space. I’d say here in Portugal we may still have to get used to riding different types of skateparks in order to get to the level that we see elsewhere. Because one of the main things about skateboarding that was left behind for many years is knowing how to roll on a skateboard, not just doing tricks and lines, but adapting yourself to the terrain you’re on, whether it be a downhill street or a flat sidewalk, the way your body rolls on that type of terrain. In Portugal for many years most skaters were trying to compete and land tricks and get scores and kind of left the basics behind. That confidence of being able to go fast on a skateboard down a street was lost along the way. And that’s the kind of skill you have to take into a skatepark in order to interpret it differently, maybe leave aside the difficult flip tricks and just roll around the park, trying not to push and using the ramps in order to flow through the park. I really agree with that. It has to do with different types of skaters. I’m most interested in watching skaters that are not just doing single tricks and not even lines. A line is like a sequence with beginning and end. I’d rather feel that someone is just skating, with no plan, and we’re being shown an excerpt of that, like the feeling you got from watching Tommy Guerrero skating street in the late 80s. You kind of feel that the magic of skateboarding has to do with how you explore your surroundings and inscribe yourself into all of their shapes and patterns. Yeah and obviously some skateparks call for that sort of skating more than others but it really has to do with the type of skater that’s going to use the park. We usually build skateparks with quite a bit of transition and there are skaters that don’t even use the ramps, they just skate flat. The park has its potentialities but it’s up to each one to decide if they’re going to make the most of them. I’d say usually older skaters will develop a tendency to leave the technical tricks aside and go for a more fluid approach. It’s more fun than trying a really hard trick for hours and leaving frustrated. But it has to do with what you want and how you want to spend that moment you have for skating. I’d say the essence of skateboarding is carving and many people don’t realize that. They don’t even loosen their trucks enough to be able to carve. Of course, because it’s way easier to kickflip when your board isn’t tipping all over the place. Moving on to your working process: how does it go, do you have everything figured out in your plans or do you leave stuff to be decided on the spot and as you’re building? It varies according to each project. Some we start and everything is already settled, the budget is final, and we know there’s practically no room for changing anything. Others we walk into with a blank sheet and we can do whatever we feel like. It has to do with the client, the location, the budget too, usually. We did Boobie Trap in Barreiro and the first time we worked there we had a fixed budget but no plan whatsoever as to what we were going to do, so it was just skater talk at the spot that defined what was going to be built, and that’s really satisfying. And how about that thing we all kind of have, as skaters, of reading the city in terms of skate spots, like looking at stuff and thinking that some skater we know could probably do a trick there, do you get that? Like looking at stuff and thinking “this would make for a cool feature in this park I’m designing”? Oh yeah. And not just in the city. I go for walks in these woods close to where I live and I see all sorts of organic shapes, like enbankments and inclines, that I think would be great for a skatepark. And when we’re given the freedom to build those things out of concrete it’s just magical. Yeah, I had sort of figured from your website that you liked building stuff that flowed organically along continuous lines. But I’ve only skated one park built by you guys, the one in Santo André, and that one is a bit different. I was there yesterday. They asked us to do a little work there, a couple of improvements. We’re soon giving the city council a cost estimate. The central feature of that skatepark is a perfect example of what we were talking about. It was the only thing we designed in that skatepark because the overall design was done by Luís Fortes. There was some free space in the centre and so we took inspiration from a sand dune and built this unique object that has a kind of transition on one side and a pyramid spine on the other. They skate it a lot and they really like it, which makes us very proud, because we really enjoyed building it. I can tell you I took some pretty good slams trying to figure out how to skate it some years ago. And what about imagining a certain skater using the stuff you’re creating? Does that happen to you when you’re building a skatepark? Yeah, of course. Sometimes we’re looking at a certain transfer and we’re thinking “this guy is going to come here and is sure to hit this” and sometimes we’re surprised. People we wouldn’t even dream about come to our parks and just come up with stuff that is completely out of the box. That must be a cool feeling. It’s a really good feeling. When we were working on Boobie Trap there was this transfer that we used to talk about and be like “nah, I don’t think anyone is going to try this” and then Danny León came by to film a little video for Red Bull and on the first day he was there he did the transfer, which means going from this spine onto this other ramp that kind of looks like a sausage lying down. That brings me to another question, which is linked to that idea we touched on earlier of a skater knowing how to adapt to his surroundings: I think this feeling that adapting plays a central role in skateboarding is behind that sort of unwritten philosophy among skateboarders that a skatepark is a place to learn and warm-up but the streets are where it really counts. What do you think? I don’t know. I think people should skate wherever they feel like. Skateboarding came from the streets and I don’t feel like we should take it out of the streets. Plus it’s more visible on the streets and if you’re filming or shooting photos it’s more challenging to do it in that sort of natural environment we call street. As skaters we tend to give more props to something that’s done on the streets. That being said, if you can land some really hard trick in the park you can probably do it on the streets and vice versa. Only, there are features that you don’t really find too often outside of skateparks. At least here in Portugal. I’m thinking of pools for example. We don’t build bowl-shaped swimming pools so if you want to get good at skating pools you have to know someone who has a skate bowl in their backyard or go to a public skatepark. But I feel what’s most important is just skating, anything goes. Sure. At the same time, I get the feeling that we’re currently going through this sort of technical boom, with people doing harder and gnarlier things on a skateboard than ever, because we’re watching a generation that had more access to skateparks than previous ones. Would you agree? I would. Skateparks are safe places and meeting points where you can just have a session and be sure there will be someone there to hype you up or help you out with a hard trick. You can take a couple of friends on a street session but there that’s all you have. At a skatepark you progress quickly and safely, on the streets it’s harder. You have timings, you may get kicked out or there may be a car parked in the way, there are many things that can stop you from progressing out on the streets. But yeah, I feel that kids today have it easier when it comes to progressing. Also because there’s a lot more information than there used to be. Yeah. And nowadays with all the videos you can find online... I remember looking at the trick tips section in some magazine as a kid and it was just a photo sequence with captions that I felt told me next to nothing. There’s nothing like learning a trick in person, from someone who’s doing it. The level of skating went up in Portugal, particularly since around 2000, because you could finally find someone who was already pro skating there in front of you. When you went into a pavillion for a contest and those people were in front of you you picked up all sorts of things. I remember this contest where Ed, who was like six at the time, asked me how to do a front board. He learned it right then, I just told him to align his shoulders with the rail and look to where he was going to come off the rail and he got it and used it in his run. He knew how to keep in touch with people who could skate and give him the right hints, like Ricardo Fonseca and others, and he grew as a skateboarder. "we got to develop strong ties with the people involved and that doesn’t have anything to do with what ramps we built there, those are links we’ll keep for life." Now, coming back to the relation between skatepark and city streets, I was looking at the work of this skatepark designer called Daniel Yábar and most of his stuff is way more integrated into the city planning than what we have here. Most of our skateparks are usually in some corner where they’re not in the way of the average citizen and there are well-defined boundaries between them and the rest of the city. Do you think the approach of blending the skatepark with the cityscape is a newer tendency? And is it a good thing? I think it’s good. I think that happens in his case because Daniel Yábar is a skater. He wanted to bring street elements into the skatepark, even in terms of the type of materials you can use, so that he comes to the point of camouflaging the skatepark. So if no one is skating it, the place just looks like a normal city square, but everything is built with the proper dimensions and all the characteristics that make skateparks perfect for progressing. I think that’s really interesting. Me too. But unfortunately I feel like that’s the kind of thing that would be very hard to do here. I feel like most city councils would rather have the skatepark and skateboarders out of the way than in a really central and live part of the town. The toughest part is getting people to join your cause. If you need that place to exist you have to convince the decision makers that it is a worthy enterprise. Nowadays we need that kind of space closer to where people live. I’m not talking about small cities like Leiria, but in places like Lisboa and Porto there are people who spend hours in traffic just trying to get out of town to go skate a public skatepark in the suburbs. If that park was more central, even kids would be able to frequent it more while at the same time being closer to other people, to the area’s residents. They would eventually learn to respect each other, because it would be easier for skaters to interact with non-skaters. In public squares there are usually dead spots, areas nobody uses. If those areas are given life by skaters they’ll not only drive away people with less noble intentions but also attract other people that just enjoy watching the skaters and hanging out. I think that’s good for the cities and you need to let the local authorities know that, and also that there are people who can do that type of work: not just building skate ramps, but building obstacles or sculptures that are good for skating but may be enjoyed by any passerby. skateparks by wasteland ramps São Pedro da Cadeira São Pedro do Sul Trinitat Boobie Trap Navarcles See all skateparks Yeah, I definitely feel like the tendency in Portugal has been towards the more ghettoized skatepark. But then there are places where the opposite happens and a really cool atmosphere develops, I’m thinking about Parque das Gerações, which is not only in a cool place with a nice view but also has the conditions for non-skaters and skaters’ families to hang out and feel comfortable. Yeah, but Parque das Gerações is different. There you have private enterprise alongside the public investment. The council payed for the ramps and the access roads but then you have a private shop and a cafe that manage the place. When that happens you have the perfect conditions for people to hang out and skate and progress. On the other hand, when all you have is an empty skatepark, like the one in Expo, where there have been some attempts at getting a concession going but it just never happened... there was no private enterprise there and when that happens the place will eventually die out and be forgotten. We should be wrapping this up but I’d still like to ask you if you have a favourite Wasteland project and why? Well, each project has its particular charms. On many we got to develop strong ties with the people involved and that doesn’t have anything to do with what ramps we built there, those are links we’ll keep for life. One of the projects that was really meaningful for us was this bowl we built at [Portuguese skater] Guelas’ place. We teamed up with these Belgian builders to make it and they taught us how to polish concrete. Everything that happened there opened many doors and new opportunities for us. From there we moved on to the Boobie Trap, where this skater set aside some money he got from one of his sponsors in order to be able to build ramps with his friends. That was really special, we were taken in by this local skate and surf association with whom we’ve remained good friends. Another cool one was at Clive [Chadwick]’s house. He’d been wanting to get a bowl in his backyard for some time and he got many people who build skateparks around Europe to meet up at his place and build it. It was great for us because we made all these new acquaintances and learned a lot. There are many examples, but the friendships you develop are definitely what matters the most. What about the future, do you have many plans, anything that you’re particularly hyped on? We have some projects on paper that are already going through what you might call the official motions. Also some proposals to make and two small bowls that we’ll begin building pretty soon. I can’t really say too much about the projects we have on paper because we still haven’t gotten the final thumbs-up, so we’re not sure the parks are going to be built, but I’m thinking they’ll go from paper to reality sooner rather than later. Those are good news. I hope you start building as soon as possible, so that we’ll have some more pins to add to Trucks and Fins, which means somewhere somebody has a new spot to skate. Thanks a lot, João. Anything you’d like to add? I’d like to thank all my team, all of them skaters. I don’t have enough words to thank them for their continuous efforts, designing, building, but also when we have to stay home because there’s no work and they manage to stay positive and push through. I can’t find the words to thank them enough for that. I’d also like to thank my familly, who’s always supported me, all our clients and friends, who have made so many projects possible, and you and the Trucks and Fins team, for the work you’re doing. Thank you, João.
The day I decided to skate every skate park in Portugal, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. About a year ago I started visiting different skateparks during the weekends. After a short while I found it was difficult to find new skateparks and was surprised to find out that there was not one website with all the skateparks and miniramps in the country. So I, with the help of a friend, decided to make a website for the skater community in Portugal. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. Before we knew it we had 128 skateparks, mini ramps and hotels with bowls in continental Portugal on our bucket list. One year later we scratched 54 spots off our skate list. Skateparks have been popping up like mushrooms the last couple of years and the district of Lisbon now has a total of 32 skateparks. And today we want to share with you our favourite 10 bucket list spots in and near the city of Lisbon. Chelas skatepark Parque das Gerações skatepark Expo skatepark (under construction) Monsanto skatepark Ameixoeira skatepark Vila Franca de Xira skatepark Caxias skatepark Pedrouços skatepark São Sebastião skatepark Odivelas skatepark
Malaga is a special place and absolutely rocks if you are a skater. The streets are packed with hidden spots and people who like transition have so many quality parks.