Skate Media Nerd

‘And even the images that I had seen on the Internet before felt so much more meaningful while I was physically holding them in my hands.’

Skate Media Nerd
Skateboarding Magazine Scans

September 2022

How come you started this project?
The Skateboarding Magazine Scans blog project I recently started is the culmination of about two years of me slowly figuring out how I wanted to share my appreciation of skateboarding magazines with others. I have been subscribed to at least one of the major skate magazines since 2007 and have held onto virtually every issue that I have ever gotten, and regularly go and look back through old issues and reread parts of them.

In February 2020, I visited Freedom Skate Shop in Madison, WI during a short vacation, and one of the staff members there showed me their skate magazine display, which was a collection of past magazines provided to them by the Look Back Library. I was so enamored with looking through all of the older issues and seeing all of the awesome photos and interesting articles that I’d never seen before; it was like walking into a gold mine that had hardly been touched. Even with all of the digitized older magazine images I’d seen through blogs like The Chrome Ball Incident and Vert Is Dead, and on various Instagram pages, there was still so much that was new to me. And even the images that I had seen on the Internet before felt so much more meaningful while I was physically holding them in my hands. Shortly after that visit, I contacted Look Back Library and started selectively ordering magazines from him.

While I was starting to slowly grow and backfill my collection, I also started going through all of the magazines I already owned and taking pictures of photos and articles that I liked, and posting them to my Instagram account. For a little bit I was just using my camera on my phone, but then started using the Micosoft Office Lens app, which helped give the images a little more clarity. After doing this for about a year, I started to gain a small but dedicated group of followers on Instagram, and it really encouraged me to keep digging for cooler stuff in my collection.

Fast forward to spring of 2021, about a year ago. By this time, I’d piecemealed a good amount of “classic” magazine issues into my collection, and my Instagram was loaded with images mostly from past issues of Skateboarder, which has always been my favorite of all of the magazines. One day, Kevin from Look Back Library offered to sell me all of the issues necessary to complete my Skateboarder collection, and I was so down! It was shortly after this that I started thinking about how cool it would be to archive Skateboarder somehow, because there was so much quality content in all of the issues that I wanted to make available to others. But after thinking about it for a while, I decided that I didn’t want to limit myself to just one magazine, because all of the magazines in my collection had value and were worth sharing as well (I’m glad that I made that choice, because I recently completed my The Skateboard Mag collection, and the early issues of that magazine are absolute goldmines!) So, I decided to keep it open to any magazine I felt like posting from. I still might make a separate Skateboarder archive blog; we’ll see. I decided to start a blog for my scans primarily because I would be able to upload much higher quality images (important for reading text), to have more freedom in how many images I could post, have the ability for people to use a search function, etc. which I can’t do on Instagram, and because I want these scans to live in a more permanent place rather than getting lost in an Instagram feed.

Mike Carroll - gap to tailslide SOTY cover
March 1995 Thrasher, photo by Bryce Kanights
‘I love this cover because Mike Carroll is my favorite Skater of the Year, and also because it's so San Francisco-centric: an important SF skater skating a popular SF spot on the cover of a magazine based out of SF. And he even has an FTC San Francisco graphic on his board.’

What are some of the highlights since you started this project?
There have been so many highlights already, big and small. I think the biggest one has been all of the positive feedback that I have received from people who follow my Instagram page, where I still upload scans in addition to the Skateboarding Magazine Scans blog. To see how many people enjoy looking back at all of the magazine articles and photos just as much as I do is really rewarding. Another big highlight is all of the stories that skateboarders, photographers, writers & other magazine employees have shared about some of the things I’ve posted. There is so much skateboarding history and culture sitting in these magazines, but there is also so much history and knowledge within these peoples’ stories and experiences, and I think it is really meaningful when they choose to share them.

Tell us something about yourself.
I’ve lived in the Twin Cities metro area in Minnesota for my entire life, and have an unabashed sense of pride for being from a place that has such a large and thriving skate scene. Part of my skate magazine archiving project is to also scan and post anything about Minnesota or skateboarders from Minnesota.

When you look at those past issues and compare them with the one(s) left today, what has changed in terms of content, design, pictures, advertising etc.?
It’s hard to say exactly how things have changed because Thrasher is the only major print magazine left in the US, and it has always been different from the other magazines. That being said, I think what has changed from the magazines of the past compared to the print skate media that exists now is that there is more representation and diversity in the skating & skateboarders that get coverage in them. Company ads were also generally more artistically driven 15-20 years ago compared to now.

In those older issues did you come across stuff that you would never expect to see in today’s skatemag?
Just like with other media in the world, some of the things you could get away with saying & printing 10-20 years ago would not be printed today. I have come across and will continue to come across articles and interviews that use offensive & derogatory language, which is part of the reality of revisiting pretty much anything from the past.

If you could bring back one mag, which one would it be and why?
Skateboarder, no question. They put out interesting content all the way up to their last issue, and Jonathan Mehring put together the best tour articles.

‘Company ads were also generally more artistically driven 15-20 years ago compared to now.’

Jamie Thomas
backside 50-50
Big Brother Issue #20
photo credit is "we can't say"
Jamie Thomas has always been one of my favorite skaters to watch, and his part in Toy Machine's Welcome To Hell video is my favorite of his. This trick is from that part, and to me it shows how he was really going for it at that time and pushing the limits of his handrail skating and handrail skating in general.

What are some of DMs do you get from people? Is there a fun one you can share?
The majority of DMs I get are from followers commenting how much they love a certain scan I posted, and usually that they had it hanging on their bedroom wall as a kid. Some people will also send me pictures of their own magazine collections, which is cool. Any feedback I get that lets me know that someone is stoked on something I post is always appreciated.

The most memorable DM I have gotten is one from the former Editor In Chief of Skateboarder and Transworld, Jaime Owens. I sent him a picture of the November 2009 cover of Skateboarder, which is a great photo of Lance Mountain doing a handplant on a pool railing. I asked him if he knew if it was taken at Lance’s former backyard pool. Jaime responded back, “Yeah. Lance Dawes who shot it called me and said ‘so, I got a photo for you. And…it’s either gonna be a cover or you can’t have it. I’ll run [it] as [an] ad.’ I knew it was [a] cover instantly when he sent it.” I think it’s memorable because it reinforces how great that cover photo is and it gave me a quick snapshot into how special it must have been to be working for the magazine and see iconic photos like that for the first time before anyone else in the world.

What other projects are you working on?
As of right now, my main focus is to keep going through all of these older magazines I’ve acquired over the past two years and unearthing all of the great things inside of them. I’m also in the process of applying for graduate school to get a Library Media Specialist Certificate. Methodically going through these magazines has made me realize how much I love engaging with the media of the past and learning from it. Hopefully getting the certificate will help put me in an employment field aligned with that type of work. At the very least, my goal is to use the education to help me improve how I scan and post my skate magazines.

If you could interview one person, who would it be and why?
This is a little awkward because I do talk a little via Instagram DM with some of these people, so I don’t want them to feel like they’re being put on the spot, but it would be interesting to sit down with some of the older guys from the Minnesota skate scene in order to fill in the cracks of the knowledge I already have about it. Especially the people who didn’t go pro or who weren’t sponsored by big companies with a lot of exposure, but who were kinda behind the scenes of everything. I feel like they would have the best stories.

‘Another big highlight is all of the stories that skateboarders, photographers, writers & other magazine employees have shared about some of the things I’ve posted.’

Steve Bailey - ollie over the ladder
December 2001 Thrasher, photo by Luke Ogden
I don't remember exactly the first time I saw this image. It might have been on Chrome Ball Incident, the SLAP messageboards, or some other skateboarding website. But the second I saw it, it immediately became my favorite magazine cover of all-time. Everything about it is epic.