Wandering Magazine

Asia wide skateboard magazine

Eric Lai

October 2023

What is the story behind the name Wandering Magazine?
Well, we always Wandering on the street, looking for spots, or being on a skate tour traveling around the world with friends, that’s the story behind it.

Tell us something about yourself.
I ran a skate mag, an advertising agency, and an indoor skate park. I have been working in the skateboarding industry for nearly 2 decades. I’m 41 years old now, still skating almost every day with my son.

How did you get involved in skateboarding two decades ago?
I got a shop sponsor very quickly, probably in less than 2 years after I first started skating. In the 3rd year, I opened my skate shop when I was 21, but the business was not going well. My sponsor at the time asked me if I want to work for them as a sales rep. I was the only skateboarder in that company at that time. It was a manufacturer company, which they really needed some skate knowledge. Very soon I was involved with everything like marketing, team managing, reposition all their brands, create skate team. We started touring the country with the team, making videos, startec our own mag. It was a fun 4 years with that company.

‘The multi languages and positioning the mag to focus on Asia skateboarding is our highlight.’

Eric Lai • Nosegrind • Shenzhen  © Leong Zhang

What triggered the idea to come up with a printed skatemag now that everything is digital?
Skate mags had influenced me so much. It’s sad to see they are gone. You know, the smells and the texture of the paper are special, also photo looks better when they printed on a larger paper compared to the digital devices in my opinion. Those stories behind the photo are special too, telling the stories through words and each mag had their own designer to make it look good. All of these combined make the magazine look really good. Like I said earlier, I’ve been in the industry for a while now, I have the connections with skate companies, photographers, and I believe building a skate mag that focus on Asia skateboarding should be able to survive.

Your distribution network which I looked up on your website is impressive. You are all across China, Taiwan, Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia. Where is Wandering Magazine’s headquarter though?
We are based in Shenzhen China, which is right next to Hong Kong. It makes it really easy to travel around the world.

What language(s) do you use for the editorial?
English, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

This is really cool that you include other countries in your skatemag and adapt to their language which I can imagine creates a lot of extra work. You could easily fill pages just on China alone.
Oh man, truly a lot of work. Luckily, we have the right people to work with, that make things much easier and quicker. But to be honest, is really hard to collect enough content. I mean photos. Because of covid, just not enough trips and events for the skater to collect quality content, just hoping everything will get better soon.

Eric Lai • Kickflip • Shenzhen  © Leong Zhang

I am expecting brands to line up to put ads in your mag as you are the only printed skatemag that covers so many countries in Asia.
Actually no! That’s unfortunate. We do get some support in the beginning. But then so hard to keep it going. Everything is online now, especially in China. We don’t really use actual money anymore, we buy everything through our phone, everything is digital. Only some old dogs still care about print mags, but hopefully things will change. I realize film photography is coming back and getting more popular. Maybe that will happen to print mag too.

If you have to pick one highlight around Wandering Magazine, what would it be and why?
The multi languages and positioning the mag to focus on Asia skateboarding is our highlight.

In an interview I found on youtube, you said that when people think of Asian skateboarding scene, they will think of Wandering Magazine. Do you think this is already the case? If not, what else are you working on to get there?
Man, still working on it. Still a long way to go, but we are getting the words out. People start noticing us and sending their videos to us, especially in Japan. Pretty much every month we have some people send us their video.

‘Only some old dogs still care about print mags, but hopefully things will change.’

Which are or were some of the skatemags (printed or digital) that you like reading and why?
If I have to pick one it will be Transworld. Man, I love their writing and photos. I like all skate mags. They are all unique and special.

What other projects are you working on?
This is exciting news as we have opened two indoor skateparks, which allow us to do events, create contents etc.

How were you able to open up your own indoor skatepark?
Since covid, we are not able to travel outside of the country freely. We did attend a lot of skate events around South East Asia before covid. That’s how we collected content. We therefore realized we need to find another way to survive, which is doing business locally. We do skate clinics, events, and create content for our social media. On the opening day of our first park in August 2022, I believe we held a pretty good party. Very quickly, many business centers and malls saw what we are doing, they want to have the same thing in their malls. One of the malls is at Houhai Harbour. They gave us a pretty good deal and plenty of space. The whole park is 1400 square meters. We can do some really cool stuff here.

Last question. If you could interview one person, who would it be and why?
Hm, I think it will be Yuto, who is Asian and winning Olympics. Great content for the mag, you know.

‘A Converse Chian skate trip to Vladivostok, Russia. The ocean was still frozen in April.’   © Leong Zhang