This group of artists are documenting skateboarding culture around the world
By CHARLES MCQUAID | Art | 23 March 2017

Image by Reid Allen

Top image by Reid Allen.

Collating works by global artists, independent publisher Project Upcoming‘s new exhibition, RIPPER, is spotlighting emerging talents who are documenting the changing face of today’s skateboarding scene.

Skateboarding is an common thread for these artists, intersecting it with personal notions: communities, their homes, their travels, their society and politics. Their obsession with the sport has facilitated creativity on a number of levels.

With the intention of creating a 360-degree vision of skate culture, curator – and founder of Project Upcoming – Sadie Bailey looked to a variety of international artists working across multiple disciplines. From photographers, to illustrators and skate collectives, they all contribute their own distinct nuances, creating a diverse hub at Shoreditch’s Parlour Presents. Bailey has translated her DIY publishing approach to curation, choosing to opt out of frames and high quality prints in order to emphasise that candid and guttural ethos the skate scene thrives on. “I don’t want some snooty event where everyone is standing around making small talk for the sake of being socially accepted,” Bailey explains. “I just want to drink a shit ton of beer with some cool people, surrounded by some crazy artwork.”   

Ahead of the exhibition’s opening party today, we get to know some of the featured photographers and illustrators involved.




Jordan Michels, photographer, Sydney

Charles: How did you get into photography and who has influenced you along the way?
Jordan: Ever since I started filming skateboarding around the age of thirteen, I have always been interested in capturing everything around me. Around that time, I bought a few cheap film cameras from thrift stores and a few disposable cameras and since then I have been trying to take as many photos as I can. One of the main influencers for my style has always been Fred Mortagne (French Fred).

“There are always people skating around Sydney city” – Jordan Michels

Charles: How would you describe the Sydney skate scene?
Jordan: The Sydney skate scene is perfect! It can be a bit cliquey at times but all in all, everyone sort of knows each other even if they haven’t met. There are always people skating around Sydney city. You can usually find someone at Waterloo skatepark to go into the city with or you can always try your luck at a few of the main city spots, chances are you’ll find a crew.

Follow Jordan on Instagram: @michelsjordan.

Harry Wyld, Illustrator, Bristol

Charles: Like skateboarding, illustration can be a tough business. How do you keep things in perspective?
Harry: With a healthy dose of crippling self-doubt [laughs]. Not really, but you do have to persevere and practice as much as you can.

What do you like about being based in Bristol?
Harry: There’s a really strong art and music scene which is really cool. Everyone is busy getting on with their own thing and it’s nice that it doesn’t really feel like a city a lot of the time too (except for the endless Hen dos).

Follow Harry on Instagram: @harrywyldillustration

Ollie Murphy, photographer and Illustrator, London

Charles: Do you draw similar influences for your photography and illustrations?
Ollie: Yeah, definitely. All my photos and illustrations are usually portraits or are figurative in some way. Most of my drawings are references from my photos and the more I’m getting into studio photography, the more I’m sketching out plans for possible shoots. They both go hand in hand.

Charles: What are your thoughts on working in the capital, does it help being close to so many creative communities and scenes?
Ollie: It’s the best but also the worst. It’s information overload, and can be a sea of shit, but also there’s some great stuff. I love London but often I think there’s more to life than being constantly poor, insane and tired. My dream is to move to the middle of nowhere and have enough money to just paint and shoot portraits. I don’t know, it’s the endless question. London is the best but also the worst. 

Follow Ollie on Instagram: @ollie.murphy

Rafael Gonzalez, photographer, Barcelona

Charles: What attracted you to being involved in this group exhibition?
Rafael: The idea of showcasing a group of work focused on skate culture made me want to be part of this. The location also was a big plus, London photography and skateboarding movements seem to be on fire these days.

Charles: In a few words, how would you describe your work?
Rafael: Part documentarian and part narrative; I try to capture and express what I see on the streets in my daily life. It’s inspired by both the skateboarding and the city itself.

Charles: How did you get into photography and who has influenced you along the way?
Rafael: I started shooting photos as a way to document my travels and everyday life scenarios. Travel, street life, music and skateboarding itself are some of the aspects I focus on. I just carry my cameras everywhere I go, whether I’m skating or not.

“People like Fred Mortagne, Ed Templeton and Scott Pommier have moulded and inspired my style” – Rafael Gonzalez

Image by Rafael Gonzalez

Follow Rafael on Instagram: @rafagonzalezphoto.

Yentl Touboul, photographer, Hossegor

Charles: How did you get into photography?
Yentl: Growing up surfing, I always had cameras around me. I started by just filming my friends – we had a little blog/Vimeo channel where we would upload surf edits every now and then. I always had this thing where I wanted to film or shoot photos from an early age, but at the time I lived in Guadeloupe, had no internet, and was away from any artistic scene. I never really had the opportunity to get into it properly. It’s only when I moved to France four years ago that I started getting stuck in. My old boss gave me a 35mm Olympus point and shoot, and I started from there, shooting my friends and my surroundings.

Charles: There are a lot of similarities between skate culture and surf culture but what are some differences that you’ve noticed?
Yentl: The thing is, surfing is really different from skating in regards to the fact that you can go out and skate pretty much every single day. You have outdoor and indoor parks in most cities nowadays, and you’ll always find a little flat ground where you can skate only with your friends. With surfing, you’re depending on nature way more, and there’s so many variables that need to be aligned, that when it does, everybody wants a share of the pie and shit usually goes crazy.

“I got into surfing before skating… but I’ve been hanging out with skaters more and more in the past two years as I think the vibe is way easier” – Yentl Touboul

To me, surfing was still raw 20–30 years ago, when dudes didn’t really care about what other people were doing, but it’s not the case anymore. There’s some exceptions like Dane Reynolds, Craig Anderson or Ozzie Wright who do stuff their own ways. I feel like skaters are less afraid to express their personalities through what they wear and the way they skate compared to people who surf. It’s this aspect that I find more interesting to capture as a photographer.

Follow Yentl on Instagram: @yentl

Image by Yentl Touboul

Reid Allen, photographer, Cardiff

Charles: What do you like about being based in Cardiff?
Reid: I’m a big fan of Cardiff as a city. It’s big enough that there’s plenty going on, in music, skating and arts. But at the same time, it’s small enough to be a tight community and easy to get to know everyone you want to. The skateboarding scene here is brilliant – everyone meets up and skates street together, rather than having separate cliques or never leaving the skatepark. It’s also a really cheap place to live.

Charles: Cardiff is well known for its music scene, has this affected your photography?
Reid: Cardiff music scene isn’t always great but it has some periods where it’s thriving. In terms of photography, I got bored of taking photos of bands in dull looking venues a couple of years ago, but house shows happen regularly here and they really got me back into shooting bands. 

See more of Reid’s work and read our recent interview with him, here

Follow Reid on Instagram: @reids_world

Image by Reid Allen

Ripper by Project Upcoming debuts at the Parlour Presents gallery space, 59 Hackney Road E2 7NX, at 8pm on the 23rd March and runs until 30th March.


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