ISLE Skateboards just released the rough cut of Tom Knox’ Vase Video part and took over the last Bright Tradeshow Awards with Tom Knox >video part, Jacob Harris >videographer, Vase >video and Isle >brand of the year. Congrats!
Nick, are painting and skateboarding in any way comparable for you? Or do they come from entirely different places?
They are comparable in many ways. In the sense that ideas form in similar ways in your head, however, the application of these ideas are obviously quite different. Both painting and skateboarding have their own rules. In many ways though you could quite easily compare the effortless and confident style of Gino to a painter like Frans Hals.
Does one help you with the other?
I would definitely say so. They help balance motivation, as you get stoked on one and then feel a desire to go and do the other. They compliment each other by providing different sources of satisfaction.
Which came first anyway, boards or blank canvases?
So when did blank canvases enter your life then?
I started painting quite late really, at about 16 or something like that.
Who are your painter heroes? What do you love about them?
I like Picasso, Matisse, Gerhard Richter, Martin Kippenberger, and Ansel Krut, to name a few. I like their various approaches to the medium of paint, it’s fascinating to look at the contrast and similarities between the strict and scientific approach of Richter vs. the all-encompassing approach of Kippenberger.
Talking to someone like M. Borremans I learned what a struggle painting can be sometimes; have you been struggling sometimes?
It’s a struggle when you start to realize what constitutes or what makes a “successful” painting. If you’re concerned with contributing something significant, in light of what other artists or painters have previously presented, then it’s tough. However I have learned that the more you see this problem as a potential resolution, then things start to get much more interesting. Richter is the key post-modern artist who dealt so intelligently with this “problem.”
Since skateboarding is such an urban thing, especially in London, describe how you find topics and inspiration both for Isle board designs and your own works…
Probably the idea of escape, ha. It’s a nice idea to think of Isle as a self-contained world that has its own rules, a nice diversion from the reality of the daily grind. But I would say the main inspirations and topics come from looking and thinking about what it is to skateboard. The re-appropriation of space. Artistically, we have chosen to use a reductive style, which is more pared down, looking at more subtle forms of presenting information.
Seeing a new possible spot for the first time, something unused, is that comparable to having a new idea for a painting?
It is, however skateboarding is younger and less neurotic about “what’s come before,” the logic for my paintings is much more considered, my skateboarding is more free and spur of the moment.
What’s it like to launch Isle with Chris and Paul – how long have you been buddies anyway?
I have known Shier for well over ten years, and Chris I have met more recently. Many emails and Skype calls with Shier and local meet ups with Chris, which allows a good balance between structure and creativity.
Every company sort of has its place in the international skateboard landscape – there are all these polar opposites: local/international, hype/understated, arty/non-arty, hi-tech/style, and so on; did you have a clear idea where you want Isle to be when you first came up with the idea?
Isle was always about encompassing good skateboarding, whether it be technical or more simple. It’s a confident display of what we believe is important in skateboarding. We are not anti anything, we want to make connections with all aspects of skateboarding.