BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT - PART 3Read Now
BACK IN THE SPOTLIGHT - PART 3
Most kids dreams of being sponsored start about twenty minutes after discovering their first skateboard. When you have found something that is so much fun that it's all you can think about, what could be better than getting free stuff to skate on? Maybe even getting your name on a board, fuck - imagine if skateboarding was your job! That must be the best thing in the world, right?
The reality is though, however good you are, there is always some little bastard coming up that is better than you, has a better image or simply played the game better and sucked up to/sucked off the right team manager... Regardless of how long your time in the sun is, most people don't ever get there, so sponsored skaters are put on a pedestal for all the kids to look up to. Some thrive on this, others crumble under the pressure and some just start to fucking hate the thing they once loved. We hit up some skaters that were a staple fixture in the skate world not so long ago to see exactly where they disappeared to and what they are up to now. We have had such an overwhelming response that we've had to split this article into a few parts or it'd end up being longer than the bible.
We asked everyone the same simple three questions:
1. When and why did you decide to throw in the towel on being sponsored, or did someone throw it in for you?
2. Do you miss it at all? How is post-skating / real life treating you?
3. How much are you skating these days? Any chance of a comeback?
Probably around 2000. I got injured and a couple situations took place that allowed me to see the true disposable hero side of corporate skateboarding. Who I thought was my family wasn't true to my reality, so I decided to bounce and explore life the way skateboarding had taught me to.
Miss professional skateboarding? No. Miss the freedom it provided? Yes.
Skateboarding is better than ever now. It's been a part of who I am as a person for the last 30 years. I just chose to go down a temporary professional route with it. Been there. Done that. Now let's get back to why we originally started riding.. Fun and solace. Rather fame and fortune.
How much I skate depends on the weather, free time, and motivation. Once a professional, always a professional. Coming back into competition professionally? No way.
I never 'threw in the towel', I chose to work with smaller companies in order to still have product out to build/fund my own brand. I watched enough people take loans and ended up making decisions that they believed they would not have to. I learned a lot of things being in the industry, but most of it was what not to do...
I do not miss the fake smiles and condolences, people tend to be more honest when they do not think someone has more to offer. I'm better now (just not pushed by money), I'll leave it up to you or whoever reads this to do research, the label is The oBtuseconcept and I post - Gershon Mosley's The Park Ranger Series up once a month since 2008 and random edits from time to time. Being in control of what I do is much better than the past that people think of, being able to choose who I work with has great advantages. I'm not 'rich' and things could always be stepped up, but I am happy with my present.
I skate when I desire. A comeback? I never actually left (the 'followers' did), but when a person chooses to be more than just an 'entertainer', 'fans' (the market) are/is fickle... If I did, it would not be for just skateboarding, I rather do something with it positively, rather than be a name lost in other people's memories...
ALAN 'OLLIE' GELFAND
I stopped skating when the competitions demanded specific synchronized tricks, plus my knees were shot.
I moved onto racing Go Karts, VW's & Porsches which I also loved. Real life is challenging, I own a repair shop that works on VW's, Audi's and Porsches but I can't see working for someone else.
I skate for fun these days and do not see a 'comeback' in my future. Although I will be getting my ollieair website up to date soon.
First off, thank you for reaching out. It’s very flattering because I feel that I was a small flash in the pan in a decade of skateboarding that was going through a lot of the changes quickly. To answer the first question, I guess it was a mutual towel throw from both sides. It was probably around 1996 when I felt like I lost my love and passion for skateboarding. I was also playing in 3 bands at the time that were all gaining momentum, putting out records and touring. Things looked promising so I was pushing myself more musically. Once that happened, my drive to push my skateboarding diminished. I just wasn’t having fun on my board anymore. I lost that innocence and soul that made me a skateboarder. The skate industry was on a down cycle and companies were going under left and right. My board sponsor at the time finally decided to pull it’s plug. I felt the time was right to find my new path in life. I always felt that my success in skateboarding had to do with timing and being around the right people. Growing up skating with Willy Santos and Jason Carney paved they way for me to connect with people like Grant Brittain, Dave Swift, Chris Ortiz, and Dan Sturt. My very first photo published in Transworld happened when I was tagging along with Carney shooting with Sturt. I was just skating trying to stay out of the way and Sturt comes up to me in a very intimidating way and says something like, ” I’ve got 12 frames left in my camera, make something happen“. I dipped out of skating for couple years and then started doing these circus type demos with bmx and inline skaters for Got Milk. Basically going up and down Cali doing demos at state fairs. 4-5 demos a day. It was a blast and I was loving skateboarding again. I guess getting paid didn’t hurt either but regardless, I found the passion and love for it again.
What I miss most about it is traveling the world with friends. Skating new spots around Europe with some of my best friends is something I will always cherish and remember. I also miss seeing the skaters that I would only see at contests and ASR. I miss the endless summer and being on my board everyday. Post skating real life is going really well and that has everything to do with what skateboarding has given me. After my last pro skate check I had to get a real job in the real word. I worked at starbucks for about 8 months and it was reality check. I’ve always held a part time job but they were skate related, skateshops and team managing. I remember Dave Mayhew coming in to the starbucks I worked at during ASR and being so embarassed. Luckily that didn’t last very long and got an opportunity to learn graphic design from my former team manager, Ray Underhill. Rest in paradise Ray, I miss you man! He was going to be leaving to North Carolina to work for Eastern Distribution. I was to work under him for a few weeks and take over his current job. He then gave me a crash course in Illustrator, Photoshop, and Quark Express. Soon I was laying out skate ads, catalogs, and graphics. I always had a lot of input when it came to board graphics and ads so it was a pretty natural transition for me. A few years later I was helping Alphonzo Rawls set up his new computer at his pad. At the time he was doing footwear design for DC. I had always been enamored with footwear, then had a lightbulb moment and realized what I wanted to do next. Seeing what Alf was doing was so inspiring. Thanks Alf! Wasn’t quite sure how I was going to get there but knew that’s what I wanted to do. Few years later, I answered an ad in craigslist and got a job as a production artist at Adidas. From there I was a sponge soaking in the ins and outs of footwear which eventually led me to becoming a footwear designer, designing golf shoes for Adidas.
If there were more hours in a day I’d definitely be skating more! I’ve got an amazing wife and two young boys, so I spend a lot of my free time with them. I’m still playing music, my band “i*wish*i” released an LP last year so we’ve been playing shows to support the record. So not a lot free time to ride - trying to balance family, work life, and music. At the very least I try to get out every other week. Comeback? Have you seen the calibur of skating these days? Insane. Love seeing guys from my generation like Koston, Daewon, Marc Johnson, and Guy still killing it! If anything, I do have a personal comeback, to put a little footage together. My friend James Lapuyade has started a company called 'Preservation' out of Louisiana. He’s got a little veterans division with me and Duane Pitre. So I’m trying to get some clips out for that along with a limited edition board. Check em out http://www.preservationboardco.com/ Thanks for your time and love your site!
KIEN LIEU - DONGER
I have Gratefully been sponsored to this present day and am very thankful to all my past sponsors for allowing me to represent them and enabling me to keep skating. My current sponsors are; Assault Skateboards, Independent Trucks, OJ Wheels, Puma Shoes and Slappy's Garage Skate Shop. I currently work full time and skate on the weekends or whenever I have time. I skate for fun and the amazing physical attributes that skateboarding provides (Martial Arts shit). This shit ain't easy, along with that comes a great work out like no other. Skateboarding has shaped my life and I will never stop. I'd like to say thank you to all my close friends, fellow skateboarders, skateboard magazines/Industry and Pros that I've looked up to throughout the years. So much Incredible Skating these days, old and new, how could you not want to join in the Fun! Sponsorship doesn't make you good, proven by the countless underdogs and talent I've seen out there. If you’re a skateboarder, keep skating for the sake of the Art. Thanks for this interview Alex, Much Respect!
I never threw in the towel, but about 6 years ago I tore a ligament in my knee. Since then I bought my own backhoe and dig for different contractors everyday - it doesn't hurt to run the backhoe, but it hurts to skate more than one day, so I just ride here and there, once in while. Also I work every day and wake up at 3.30am and don't get home till between 4:30 to 6pm every day, so I don't have to much time to skate. I have 3 kids that I spend the rest of my time with, but if I didn't have to work every day I would love to enter some contests. Any way have fun, Late, Wade.
Well, when I got kicked off Blind for trying to express my thoughts about what we could do better down there. So I guess Blind through the towel in for me, hahah. I tried to skate for a few other companies and it wasn't working out. Then I started to learn some trades, and that was that. Working life had arrived.
I still skate when I can, but I do miss the days and life I had made for myself in Cali. All my friends, food etc. Real life is great. I started a headwear brand called Vivo with some of the illest skaters to date; Appleyard, Wade Desarmo and Spencer Hamilton to name a few. Then recently I started a masonry company Mod Rock Stone and Tile. I love my new life just as much as my last. I work 4 hours a day max and make a great living while having more free time to do what I choose to do; art, skate and video games, haha. Yup life’s good.
I skate as much as I can when I can in the summer, Vancouver is beautiful but rainy as hell in the winter months. Wish i could skate more. Comeback is not even possible for me now. Running two companies takes a toll on the brain and body, but I am gonna film a 1 min part for this art project I'm doing this year. So stay tuned for an old man part dropping shortly this year.
I had 3 lots of surgery on my ankles which took 2 years to fully recover from so that was basically game over.
I don’t miss it at all, life’s good at the moment, I’m still hyped on skating and I've been getting into photography and filming for a little while now too.
I've been getting out as much as possible, usually once or twice a week depending on the weather. There’s not going to be any sort of comeback, just going to take it easy and keep rolling for as long as my body will let me.
I wouldn’t say I threw in the towel, but I for sure wasn’t as motivated and as driven as I would have liked to be, nor was I having as much fun on my skateboard as I wanted and I felt like it was a direct result of the relationship between me and my main sponsor at the time - ultimately, I just had to get outta there.
Oddly enough, I kind of miss the pressure and deadlines of it all - I really miss working on collective projects and that sort of thing.
I’m still filming and skating all the time - It actually feels like I skate more now than I did, or at least skating is more meaningful now than it was when I was super sponsored. If the right opportunity presented itself, I would definitely jump on it.
I injured my knee in 2002 and continued to skate on it, it worsened my injury to the extent that I couldn't even walk at one point. I couldn't afford knee surgery at that time, so I decided to stop skateboarding. The pain was unbearable and I couldn't skate anymore, so I stopped skateboarding a year or so after my injury.
Yes, I definitely miss skateboarding. I miss skating like I used to back in the day, it was an all day, everyday thing for me. I do skateboard once in a while, whenever I feel like doing so, but it's not the same. Skateboarding will definitely be a part of my life forever, it was my dream for many years, and I will always have a connection to it.
I wouldn't return to being a professional skateboarder now because it has been about 10 years since I last skated on a professional level. At this time the level of skateboarding and competition is very tough and on a higher scale. Skateboarding nowadays is very advanced and it would be very hard for me to go back to that level.
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