‘I am trying to be here for the guys and girls who are out there tearing up their local scene.’
How do you come up with the idea to start a brand new printed skatemag?
It all started with a kidney-shaped bowl and a dream in 2021. Due to some major issues, the pool in my backyard had to be replastered and repaired. After begging for cash at the bank to fix it, I asked the construction company to give me two weeks after draining it before starting their work. A major bucket list item, to drain and skate my own swimming pool was happening! I was gonna skate that F**ker if it killed me.
I decided to reach out to some skateboard magazines and see if anyone, anywhere would be interested in sending riders over to just thrash the shit out of my pool since I was just going to tear it apart anyway. I reached out to as many of their publishing people as I could. Crickets. I mean, they used to do shit like this all the time right? And now here is a guy offering a perfect bowl for two weeks straight, no strings attached, and no takers. I could have even pushed the timelines back had they responded. Nothing. Needless to say, I was disappointed.
I did have a publisher for a small skateboarding magazine respond. And while we could not ultimately put something together, we somehow got on the subject of the current state of skateboarding publications. After some talking, he invited me to lay out and design a print issue of his mag (free of charge of course). A couple of issues later, I was helping him build his publishing up and working through ad and press deadlines, etc. When he could no longer afford to run books, we parted ways.
After his print magazine shut down, I stayed involved as a mod with the Facebook group. I was talked into starting a new magazine by a couple of the photographers/skaters I met on there who submitted pics regularly. They convinced me that there was still room out there for a nationally distributed magazine that featured amateur “local” riders who shred, and not just the select few PRO riders whose sponsors pay to put them in there. I agreed and began trying to generate the support needed to spread a magazine the hard way. I gave it a shot and here we are.
In your Vol1 Issue 2 intro you referred your reader as ‘you real honest to god dirtbags.’ Which audience are you targeting specifically (if any at all)?
(Laughing) Look, I am kinda old school. I don’t think there is much to read into, guys who ride dirty, know what I mean. We snuck into backyard pools, skated behind stores or downtown buildings while smoking or drinking, ran from security or fought them, rode ditches, and built hella sketchy ramps using wood stolen from construction sites. We got dirty, stayed dirty, and did dirty shit. It was fun and still is fun being a dirtbag skateboarder. In some ways, I improved my life enough to do stuff like this magazine. But I remain loyal to my dirtbag brethren. I will ride, drink, smoke, or party with ANY of them at any time. Nothing against the clean-cut, polished, high brand look mainstream skateboarding is trying for these days, but the roots have always been and will always be in the blood and concrete of the streets. I am not really targeting any particular audience or group. I don’t gatekeep, I don’t force skateboarders into predictable patterns I can sell to large mega companies. That’s not my style. I didn’t get into this to make a profit, become a fashion icon, or sell out. I got into this to hopefully give back to a sport and a great community of people who have given so much to me over my life. There are a lot of facets to skateboarding, my goal is to try to feature them all.
As you feature amateur riders, is it therefore challenging to convince companies to place paying ads?
Hell Yeah, it is (laughing). My phone isn’t ringing off the hook. I don’t have Powell Peralta begging to put riders or ads in my mag. I am not getting invited to the pro-level or championship events. Most of these people probably don’t even know/care who I am. We are now on our second year and have over 17,500 printed issues currently in circulation around the US and Australia, but I am still pretty much invisible. I have had “professional” photographers turn down sending me pictures of their “local” am riders because I don’t have the right advertisers in my magazine or have big enough print distribution numbers. I have been shown some disrespect. Until they see the magazine of course. Then they find out that I am capable of doing something most of them have never seen before. That is putting out a high-quality professional magazine on par with the big boys. Albeit smaller, with far cheaper ad rates, and with much less page count. Look, there is a TON of talented riders out there. The Pros have other magazines to showcase their abilities and market their brands. I am kinda bridging the gap between a local zine and a national magazine. I want to feature the riders who you see absolutely killing it at your local skatepark and wonder “Why the hell isn’t that guy in a magazine, ANY magazine?” Those are the people who I am trying to show to the entire country. There are people young and old riding hard like that every day. They sent me pictures. If I like their pics, I put them in the magazine. It’s really that simple. No one has to pay to be in my mag. If BIG skateboarding doesn’t want to support the amateur riders anymore, that’s on them. I am trying to be here for the guys and girls who are out there tearing up their local scene.
‘SK8 Magazine is for the riders FIRST and advertisers second.’
Where are you guys based and is there a geographical scope you set yourself?
I am based out of Arizona. SK8 is currently distributed across the USA. We are anywhere a skater owned business wants to become more involved in the skateboarding community as a whole. My distribution really depends on them. So, we can be everywhere. If a shop or a business stays in, I keep sending them magazines. They keep spreading them around in their communities or to their customers. We also are spread across the Gold Coast of Australia in small surf and skate shops along the coast. I have heard the mags are starting to appear in small shops in Sydney as well. Considering how few are distributed out there right now by geographical size, that’s pretty amazing. Mostly, we are found wherever a rider gets an issue and shares the books I send them with their friends. I would like to eventually have books in every state in the USA consistently. I want to keep showing my Australian friends love as well. The world will follow (laughs maniacally and twitters fingers like Montgomery Burns).
How do you distribute the mag across the US?
Well, I ship directly from my printer to a few select people and advertisers who distribute my magazines in their regions. Cowtown Skateboards shares my magazines across Arizona in their shops. Deck builder AZ Laminates sends them to Mortal Skateshop in Tucson and people who order decks from them. Amy and Pat at Brand X/Toxic share my magazine with everyone who orders boards, or anything cool from them as well as distributes me through their shop in Oceanside, California. Shado Clothing.com sends them out with every order until they are gone. I have Eric Wilson, my skate DJ and music writer, and Vincent Wilson with Grackle Skateboards distributing across Texas as of now. The Daggerwolf crew out in North Carolina(Whatup Josh!), the Vommit Grommet Pod cast crew always on set, and RHIP Clip owner Buzz Berry sends them around the Carolinas and the Virginias as of now. You can find us in small surf and skate shops and contests up and down the coast. You can get us when you order from Brandon Fields and his team out at Old Bones Therapy. Jamie Nichols of PYRO Skateboards, just started sending us out with his deck orders, and Michigan based CKA Clothing (CKAClothingco.com) sends them out throughout the country with their orders. My buddy Jimmy Hoots is busting them out around Florida and Dale Bonnell of DB Skate Designs fame handles the Colorado skate shops for me. I basically have magazines scattered all over the place (laughing). Ezra and Brett distribute my magazines in Australia as well. They are my Straya boys.
Other than that, I send EVERY person who sends me photographs, writes, or riders that appear in the magazine, a handful of books. They get rewarded with FREE mags for sending the photos and getting in the magazine. They in turn spread the mags to all of their friends and family. They also take them to their local shops to brag who in turn reach out to me to either be in the magazine or carry my books. I love spreading mags via the underground. I get more love this way.
‘I love spreading mags via the underground. I get more love this way.’
Any proud moments you have experienced since the launch of your mag?
The first issue. The wife and I were at the Beach Life Festival in Redondo Beach, CA when we met the Life Rolls On people. I knew right away we needed to help spread their message. They are the creators of adaptive surf and skate events for people with disabilities. Check them out at LifeRollsOn.org. In the same issue I covered an am rider by the name of Josh Weathers. Now, many locals in the Abbottsburg, NC area know who he is, but the world doesn’t. After Chris Oughton, an amazing photographer, sent me photos of him tearing up the streets of North Carolina, I knew I had to do a feature on him. So, Chris wrote the review. Josh didn’t know I was going to give him a large feature AND the cover. The guy was so stoked. He is a young skate Dad. He told the photographer that he may never go pro, but now his kids will grow up knowing their Dad shreds (laughing). We sent him a ton of magazines for him to save for him and his kids when they get older. That’s what this magazine is about.
Any funny stories along the way as well?
I was shooting Arik Griggs, a well-known Arizona skate local, at the downtown courthouse building for issue 03. He had decided he was going to ollie a four foot fence on the boundary edge over a 5 foot drop to the street below. Dude hit this thing over and over, bailing every time. Sometimes he looked close, sometimes he hung it hard. I just kept hitting the shutter. On his last try he goes for it and he clears the fence and the two feet of landscaping at the bottom of the drop, but he did not clear me. He gives it up in midair slamming the ground HARD, I take the board head on cracking my smartwatch and knocking my camera out of my hands. The sequences that came out of those shots were hilarious. Even more so considering how little Arik loses it when the camera is on him. While some of those shots looked badass, honor would dictate they never printed as he never landed them. But it was a great day with some awesome riders. Issue 04 Volume 01 I shot pics of this little 9-year-old girl dropping in on vert. While the trick itself was insignificant, it was how she spent the time hustling her Mom out of $20 to do it that we had to credit. She not only dropped in but 5/0’d the other side. She was a park regular, Mom had never gone and seen her skate before. Mom was out $20 (Laughing). Best hustle I have ever seen.
Last question. If you could interview one person, who would it be and why?
I always wanted to interview Mark Gonzales. I dig the guy’s riding style and how he has brought his own artwork and life into skateboarding. My second choice would be Jason Lee or Steve Caballero, both of whom were huge influences in my skateboarding.
‘And now here is a guy offering a perfect bowl for two weeks straight, no strings attached, and no takers.’