How are you involved with Traffic?
Basically just make sure Ricky is happy. Come up with graphic ideas etc. with our artist, figure out what makes the cut and what doesn’t. Decide which line we’re going to go with, show it to the riders and then start production on it. Make sure the team has boards and are out skating… just basically if anyone needs anything they hit me up.
So kind of like a team manager role?
Yeah that’s the easier answer.
And how are you involved with Theories?
I do pretty much all the graphics for the lines, luckily with Josh and Mike’s input as well. Then once we figure out what’s gonna stay or go I create the tech packs / line sheets and start sending stuff in for production. I pretty much handle whatever comes across my plate whether it’s updating the website or Instagram or other bigger projects like the TOA Times or doing the package design for Static IV.
Did you design the assassination deck?
Yeah I did the deck and ad. Those are real photos from the Warren Commission. Basically illustrating the fact that if you believe in the lone gunman theory then why wouldn’t you take him out right there on Houston Street. You have all the time in the world on a straight street with a perfect view. Instead you wait till Elm Street which is now curved with a tree in your shot. Why wait until your target is so hard to hit even the country’s best shooters couldn’t recreate it? It doesn’t make sense.
Do you and Josh talk conspiracy theories a lot?
Yeah every day in subtle ways, some days out of nowhere he’ll go on a 15 minute rant about whatever theory he happens to be excited about and I’m basically bouncing what ifs or dissenting scenarios to try to figure it all out. I’m like the Scully to his Mulder in the sense that I am a bit more skeptical sometimes, but I still believe fucked up shit’s happening. The truth is out there.
Do you think that younger kids, who support Theories because they like the skating, might not necessarily comprehend this wider context?
Umm maybe. Actually, I have no idea what kids think anymore. It’s still just skateboarding so that wider context is there if they want it. If you’re a kid who supports Theories just on that level already and then later on realizes like the reference or backstory to a certain graphic I imagine that would be a really cool feeling.
Does Theories ever get any flack for its views?
Nah, not really. If there was any “flack” it was back in the day on the comments section on the old website. It would get pretty crazy in there with all sorts of opinions and arguments. Mainly because it was the only spot where everyone could debate. Now all those comments and views get lost in Instagram and spread out over all the other social media outlets. Honestly most of the time it’s more like presenting a different idea, just investigate it yourself. Don’t believe everything you read.
Are you going to do more boards on this theme?
Yeah probably, maybe lay off the JFK a bit… Usually there will always be some underlying theme with most of our graphics or at least an attempt to, but we aren’t just a conspiracy brand so we gotta put out some random stuff here and there too.
What kind of stuff? Traffic is “big in Japan” – will you do Japanese focused product?
Just like pop culture stuff we’re into or just clean designs in general, basically whatever we’re inspired by at the moment. Yeah Woodbrain a Japanese artist did a series with Traffic that is exclusively available in Japan.
Do you have Japanese riders?
Yes two, Deshi and Hiroki Muraoka. Rich Adler from Philly also lives out there too.
Were you looking for Japanese riders?
Ricky set all that up with the distributor back in the day. But yeah Japan has always supported Traffic. So we knew we needed to hook up some Japan rippers.
In Ricky Oyola’s Epicly Later’d, Josh says that older people who we would expect to support brands like Traffic have often figured out how to get free/cheap boards, through being in the scene for longer.
I mean, I would have to rewatch it, to see the context of what he said. My guess would be by “older people” he means guys who have been skating so long they know the ins and outs of the industry and once you’ve been around you kind of just expect free shit that’s just how skateboarding is.
Yeah, people haven’t quite got that if you like something you need to support it.
Yeah skateboarding is weird like that, everyone thinks it’s bigger than it is. I know for us we make just enough to keep it going and the money goes right back to the brand which is just us, skaters. I mean traffic isn’t “cool”. It’s just like a brand that does what it’s gonna do it’s not a trend. It’s never gonna be in a boutique or deemed cool by like the trendy crowd, we just skate and put out the skating we like, no gimmicks. I don’t think that’s enough for kids these days.
Is that a quality that unites all the brands distributed by Theories? It’s a pretty dream roster.
Oh yeah. Ricky (Traffic), Jahmal (Hopps), Vivien & Soy (Magenta), Pontus (Polar), Shier (Isle), Josh and I (Theories) and we all skate and will always skate.
Do you think a new brand will ever be added to this list?
The idea has been kicked around a bit but we will see. We wouldn’t work with anyone unless they were a skater we respected on the same caliber as the other brands we do.
Well, those people have been in Static vids – and now work in the industry at a different level.
Yeah pretty much except Pontus, that all kinda happened organically. They were just filming and working on the videos and in that time, as things progressed, those skaters wanted to do their own thing and start their own brands. Josh was selling the video on his website and was like we might as well throw some of your boards on here too and see if they sell then it kinda just evolved from that.
How do you see Theories developing?
We’re working on a promo now. Eventually maybe an official team list. Plus we just dropped that Theories article and video piece with Transworld. But we have more video stuff coming, as does Traffic as well.
I liked the Theories newspaper.
Thanks, yeah the second edition will be sick I’m working on some new ideas now.
Have you got a background in graphic design?
Yeah well I was always into it as a kid subconsciously. Just like holding on to certain skate ads, album covers, or even basketball cards that I thought looked cool. My friends and I would sand boards down and stencil our own graphics over them. Then you just move on to printing stickers, zines, t-shirts you know all the typical stuff. The next step was like well… I guess I should go to school, graphic design seemed like the most logical choice.
It’s cool that Theories supports a lot of smaller zines and vids.
Yeah we really try to put out as many zines and vids we can. There are so many out there it’s cool to have an outlet for those scenes all around the world.
What’s lined up for Traffic and Theories in 2016?
Video projects from both…