Useless Wooden Toys with David Mackey

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Last winter I was given a university assignment to produce a three minute audio interview covering any subject. The same week I was given this task also saw Lost Art reopen it’s doors as The Useless Wooden Toys Society. Eager to get David Mackey’s account of the troubles that Lost Art had experienced over the previous months – this was a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. 

As this interview was going to soar past the three minute limit outlined in my assessment brief and into an hour long conversation; the plan was to condense it and then put the following longform piece out after the Christmas holidays. Weeks later and on the day before submission, as I stared at Adobe Audition, listening to Mackey’s voice over and over and chain-drinking coffee – it seemed I was slightly in over my head…

Now without the uni-deadline monkey on my back, it couldn’t be a more appropriate time to dust this interview off as this week mark’s Lost Art’s 18th anniversary.

Every visit I’ve had to Liverpool has guaranteed great memories, places to skate and people to skate with thanks to Mackey, Olly Birch, Luke Fletcher, Fred Lambert, Ash Wilson and the whole community that rallied around Lost Art. Since my first visit, Liverpool has felt like a home away from home and the most welcoming skate scene I’ve experienced so when I heard that Lost Art had ‘closed’ last year I was genuinely saddened.

Some of the issues Mackey encountered with the shop have already been touched on however there’s much more skateboard shops face than corporate footwear-giants. Rising rent, gentrification, a competitive online market – these are issues opposing independent business in general and not just skateboard shops. But in Dave’s own words: “Out of the worst times comes the best of times,” so without further rambling, let’s hand it over to our mate Mackey…

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Let’s go from the very beginning – how many skateboard companies have you been involved with and to what level? Can you summarise that transition from each of them to where you are now?

Timeline wise, the tail end of 1997 would have been 5Boro who I got on after my visit to New York and came back here. Steve Rodriguez had seen me skating in New York and told the distributor to hook me up and at the same time John Dalton was getting hooked up as well. From 5Boro – 1999 was the next step when I got on Zoo York through New Deal. It went to Warrior/New Deal Distribution then being on a Warrior/New Deal backed brand I was approached to ride for Lakai in ’99 and became one of their first riders in Europe. I started Lost Art in June of the same year.

East Skateboards came a little after Zoo. East was my board brand which I started in 2003 and still rode for Lakai at the time. Then in 2004 I was approached by Seb [Palmer] who was starting to get together a team for Nike SB’s European team and I was the first European rider for that too.

I’m trying to think what was after that… Blueprint was when East ended in 2007 or 2008. We had a trip to China with the Blueprint team – when I still had East and my guest board was out. When East folded [Dan] Magee asked me to ride for Blueprint then when Blueprint folded in 2010…

That’s when I had spoke with Rye [Gray]. I remember being at Camp in Furness and him telling me about The National Skateboard Co. and me that saying I would love to ride for something and he was just like: “No way, you’re definitely riding for it!”

In November 2015 I parted ways with Nike and started to ride for New Balance Numeric, became their team manager and started to help them with marketing in Europe.

Finally, in 2016 we closed Lost Art and started The Useless Wooden Toys Society last week, [laughs].

David Mackey crooked grind The National Skateboard Co advert photo Ash Wilson Speedway Skateboarding Magazine

Opening a store seems to be more common for sponsored skateboarders who want to pursue other options as they get older. However, you opened Lost Art in 1999, during the early days of your skateboarding career, why was it during that period you decided to open Lost Art?

I was a lot older when I first got sponsored, twenty-three or twenty-four, which is really quite late in the day. I had already worked an awful lot of jobs before then: in a factory, at Morrison’s – all the standard jobs that we do so skateboarding was never a career choice for me.

I was laid off in the January of 1999 from the factory I worked in so me and my friend went to Europe for three months, travelled around, slept in a car, stayed at his uncle’s house and just skated the whole time.

There was no skate shop back in in Liverpool at the time. The Fleapit had closed a year previous. There was another store but it wasn’t what I wouldn’t call a skate shop, certainly not a core skate shop. I came back with the thought of: “You know what? I’m going to try and open a skate shop!” It took two or three months for me to go through The Prince’s Trust, and various other proceedings, to get the funding together to do that.

Then in the tail-end of the summer in 1999 was when I opened the shop. Skateboarding wasn’t the career, it was just I got some free stuff and was afforded to skate, not as a living, but obviously I didn’t have to pay for boards and shoes.

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Do you feel that anything might have been different if had you opened Lost Art a few years after becoming sponsored and maybe with more familiarity of skateboarding as an industry?

Maybe if I had started to travel and was fortunate enough to get paid then yeah it may well have been different. Obviously Blueprint was just taking off at the same time, maybe the year previous, and those guys were getting paid really well for European skateboarders. Had that happened for me, not saying I would have of got on Blueprint at that point – I certainly wasn’t that good, [laughs]. But yeah it may have been different.

David Mackey frontside rock and roll photo Leo Sharp Sidewalk Magazine Issue 150 March 2009 Speedway Skateboarding MagazineMackey front rock caption

Liverpool won the European Capital of Culture award in 2008 – how did that affect the city in more general terms alongside the skate scene and Lost Art?

I guess it’s a great award for a city to have. It brings a lot of money into the city and regenerates areas that haven’t had any funding or regeneration for a long time. But what we found directly affected us was that Quiggins, which was our home since we started, was in the centre of what was to be the new shopping quarter, ‘L1’.

For us it was a double-edged sword. It obviously brings tourism to the city to spend those valuable pounds but the money stays in L1 which is traditionally large retail outlets and no independents, so to speak. Basically, the council were closing our home and we were all being forced to the outskirts of the city – Bold Street being one of those areas that coffee shops and smaller retailers popularized because we couldn’t afford to be anywhere else.

A lot of the smaller stalls from Quiggins moved to what is coined as the ‘new’ Quiggins in Grand Central but it was nowhere near the same home that we had so we decided to go it alone and find our own space, sharing with a tattoo parlour and club culture fashion store. And the Lost Art stickers are still on the building to this day, [laughs].

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Over the years Lost Art has been awarded ‘Shop of The Year’, been lapped up by the swoosh for a collaboration, has one of the best teams there is and remained respected in the UK scene, and further afield. I won’t sugar-coat it – how do things turn so bad in such a short space of time to the point where you had to close the store down?

That’s a big question, innit? Fucking hell, [laughs]. Various things, it wasn’t just one reason. The kind of direct problems with the area that the store was in I alluded to before – that when we were forced to this part of town those smaller retailers couldn’t afford to be here now as the rates and rent have gone up. Over the past few years units have become empty and instantly taken by bars and restaurants so Bold Street, and the surrounding area like Slater Street where the shop was, became more known for food and less for shopping.

We saw a drastic change and the footfall we had really fell off. We would see a few people around lunchtime and towards the end of the day before they went to a bar. The rest of the time we wouldn’t see anybody.

That’s one direct issue but another was the rise in rates for the store. For the years previous we were protected by a local government rates reduction scheme because we were a small independent shop. They cancelled that scheme for the previous year, 2015, so we saw our rates increase by 25% which was hard.

We also had a rent increase and inevitably those increases coupled with falling footfall and the downturn in skateboard footwear popularity, due to it ether falling out of fashion or being available to multiple larger retailers, caused our sales to decrease year on year until we weren’t making enough money to survive in the location and the bills were mounting. Even putting my own and my family’s money into the business didn’t make a dent and the inevitable was closure.

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I remember coming over one summer and the Size? shop on Bold Street had a massive window display of Sage Elsesser. A stone’s throw away from Lost Art – not only selling the same Converse shoes you were but they were pushing it harder through that shop by the look of it too. How quickly did it become redundant for you to stock the bigger brands because so many other stores had them?

It was almost overnight. We found that the skateboarders who wore those brands because they were exclusive to skate stores stopped wearing them and the people that were coming in and picking them up because they felt they had found this little shop just started buying them in the traditional sports stores.

Size? wasn’t the main problem for us, we had quite a decent relationship with that store – they would send people to us, we would send people to them. It was more of a problem when JD Sports, Footlocker, Office, Shuch and Foot Asylum started selling them. Suddenly you’re in a competitive marketplace that’s governed by overheads. They deal in large units and if they don’t sell they inevitably sale them off.

Unfortunately for us skate shops are part of the problem and part of the solution as well. For a long time, certainly speaking from Lost Art’s point of view, we facilitated those brands. We had our egos massaged and listened to what they were saying. When they tell you: “It’s never going to be stocked anywhere else and is exclusive to you. We’ll put window displays in and send all the traffic to you” – you believe it.

Suddenly you go from having twenty Nike shoes on the wall to seventy. Inevitably the smaller brands like Lakai, Emerica, éS, etnies and HUF get pushed to the wayside because you suddenly start thinking I need to get the brands that are going to generate the quickest amount of money for the store. You stop ordering from the smaller brands and put all your money into the Janoski or Busenitz. I’ve gone off the point a little but we certainly were our own worst enemy in many ways and when that realization came to me it was a bitter pill to swallow. You feel like: “Ah, Consolidated warned us about this years ago…”

But if it wasn’t for Nike SB and that popularity a lot skate shops would have closed many years ago. There isn’t really one brand to blame and I certainly wouldn’t throw shit at one brand, but definitely the larger footwear brands are to blame for the sudden problems that skateboard stores are experiencing. Stores are closing left, right and centre so something is definitely wrong.

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Could you talk me through the day that you actually had to close the shop? 

I had discussions with our landlord about helping us with the rent and rates. They were fine at first then it suddenly took a more legal turn after everything seemed fine. We were just trying to catch up and it got to the point where there was absolutely no money left in the bank. People had gone without wages, people had sacrificed everything almost working for free. I’d worked for free for almost six months. My partner, who was the business secretary hadn’t taken a wage since February and she was on maternity leave so I wasn’t able to pay her maternity pay.

It really caused huge issues for me and there was really only one solution. Unfortunately that solution was to go into liquidation and bankruptcy. It was the hardest decision that I’ve ever had to make knowing that the scene would lose it’s shop, my friends would lose their job and I would lose the business that I had spent seventeen years of my life building and had so much love for. It wasn’t a retail shop as such, it meant a lot more than that to me and to a lot of people.

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Was there always an intention to keep it going in some form? You never announced that the shop had actually ‘closed’.

We had discussed various things because we already had the New Balance shoe in the pipeline that was on a timeline to come out in December. I had discussions with New Balance after the shop had closed saying: “You’re doing a shoe with Lost Art but I’ve now closed Lost Art. How we can make this work?” There was dialogue but I didn’t really have a plan. The thought was that we would do pop-up events, start small again and build it back into something but the truth is I just didn’t know.

The reason I kept the social media side alive was probably clinging to the fact that the store was still there as long as I had the social media going and I could actively talk about things that were happening in skateboarding.

There wasn’t a structure and it only became apparent that we could do this after a certain amount of time speaking with my friends Pad and Mick, who are the owners of The Useless Wooden Toys Society, which bought back the name Lost Art and also my partner, Kelly who own the business now. Because, unfortunately, I’ve had to go personally bankrupt as well which is a huge issue. It means I can’t do an awful lot of stuff and I don’t know how long that will last for. Talking to them and knowing how much love people had for the shop gave me the confidence that we could do something else.

Dave Mackey office The Useless Wooden Toys Society Speedway Skateboarding Magazine Lost Art Interview

So, how did you come across this cosy little spot then?

We happened to be looking for an office because I work for New Balance and thought I’d need an office away from home to work. Paddy also needed an office for his events stuff so we got talking to the owners of The Merchant. They showed us this upstairs and instantly we knew this could be the shop.

It’s in a bar, it’s got a pizza parlour, a Cuban food restaurant – it just seemed to fit. We could have the office space, which you see here, and it would have those low overheads. Most importantly it would be the facilitator for a core skate shop just selling hardware and more about the community and a place for skateboarders especially to feel a part of.

New Balance x Lost Art beanies The Useless Wooden Toys Society Speedway Skateboarding Magazine David Mackey Interview

Was it intentional that the ‘Have You Seen Him’ t-shirt happened alongside all of this?

Have You Seen Him? by Sam Barratt The Useless Wooden Toys Society graphic David Mackey Lost Art interview Speedway Skateboarding MagazineNot at all, we’d drafted up the crocodile skull shirt and I was in Berlin with Sam Barrett, who ended up designing the ‘Have You Seen Him?’ shirt. Playing off the same brand we had done the croc skull shirt from he thought it would be a fucking ace addition. It just so happened that it came out after the shop had closed. If the shop was there it would have come out whilst the shop was there. But it instantly became an unbelievably perfect reference point for the shop disappearing.

Afterwards we realized this was a great advert for the store coming back because we then started to talk about it. We started to play on the ‘Have You Seen Him?’ thing. Being included in Sidewalk’s ‘Store Wars’ and Core Sto – there’s too many store things, [laughs]. It meant that we were able to tell the story visually and we tried some interesting ways of doing that. Also, it was a great way of remaining a part of the skateboarding community and keeping our name out there because you are forgotten very quickly when you disappear.

This place provides other reasons skateboarders would want to hang out here as you mentioned earlier. I can’t think of another skate shop that has and pizza and pints on tap, [laughs]. How do feel this approach to a traditional skate store will work in the long-run?

The Useless Wooden Toys Society pint and food 1 Speedway Skateboarding Magazine David Mackey InterviewWe looked at a few other places and had a vision we would start on our own and be that place which had a bar, coffee shop and so on but space in Liverpool is at a premium and there’s very little free space at the moment. This was a fantastic way of us getting back and also has that sense of community we were looking for through businesses with like-minded individuals and gives you a reason for people to come see you.

What we found with the old shop was that traditional ‘ten until six’ retailing is archaic now. People shop online, in their lunch hour, at work when they’re bored and have it delivered to their home. Generally, people don’t go into shops anymore whether that be a skate shop or any other type of retailer so you have to provide another reason for them to be there. For us, having the bar, the pizza place and being in relatively the same local as the old shop is an absolutely perfect location for us.

How would you have felt if someone started up a new shop in Liverpool during Lost Art’s absence?

It’s a difficult question because I thought someone would but I think that’s testament to how respected and loved Lost Art is. It’s a really tough act to follow. I had a tough act to follow from the Fleapit and it was difficult for me to even attempt to open a store so for someone to come in after us – they’re huge shoes to fill. Like you alluded to before: the team, the ‘shop of the year’ award, the collaborations and all of this other stuff combined – it’s a massive undertaking to open a store and do it better than the store before you.

At the same time had it been somebody I respected and they were doing it for the right reasons then I would have got behind them one-hundred percent and helped them do it in anyway that I could.

Had it have been one of my friends then it would’ve been even more incredible. I did try and push Ollie [Birch] and Luke [Fletcher] to do something, Luke will back me up on that. They both had seen how difficult it was and didn’t want to attempt it. The only other store that could have come here would’ve been a Route One I guess and then it wouldn’t have done anything for the scene.

Luke Fletcher David Mackey cashing up The Useless Wooden Toys Society Speedway Skateboarding Magazine Lost Art Interview

As you said, the New Balance X Lost Art shoe was already planned before all of this. Aside from the launching that shoe on the day you reopened, you aren’t planning on carrying. Do you feel that pulls away a lot of the ‘politics’ around skateboarding retail? 

Yep. For us most definitely. Once the store had closed and I was able to reflect on the things that were good and the things that were bad about it, it always came down to footwear brands being the problem for me. Not least the amount of time you have to dedicate to having those footwear brands in your store; be it ordering, paying for the stock, looking after that stock, putting it online, selling it, returns of the stock and what you talk about on social media.

Your whole day is dedicated to the larger footwear brands. I realized that most of my time was not spent caring for the one thing that I actually cared about and that was skateboarding and skateboard brands. I wanted to do the exact opposite of what the shop had turned into.

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I felt in the latter years we had become a pawn in those big brand’s game and were basically bowing to their every whim just talking about their products and not about our products and the good stuff that was going on in skateboarding. All our time was taken up talking about the latest shoe that we had to sell because we had to make the money back to pay for that shoe.

So yeah, I felt footwear brands were the problem for me, not for everyone, but I’m sure a lot of stores will agree. For this store I wanted to strip it back to basics and concentrate on our Lost Art brand, which we will be doing a lot more with next year, and having a core store which just looked after skateboards, hardware and our friends smaller brands. And that’s what we’ll talk about.

Liverpool’s skate scene has a strong sense of community and inclusion. This location for the shop is fairly inconspicuous and it feels like those that need to know – will know. With how much skateboarding is being pulled into the mainstream was that to help reclaim skateboarding as ‘our thing’, so to speak?

A hundred percent. Moving away from the high street and taking yourself up a flight of stairs, only alluding to it’s location from Instagram and small teasers like the ‘Los Tart’ phone number – making sure the people that know, know and the people that don’t… If they don’t find out they’ll never know. There’s no signage outside and we’re not trying to say, “Everyone, this is where we are!”. It really has got that sense of having to be in the know.

Los Tart t shirt The Useless Wooden Toys Society Speedway Skateboarding Magazine

When you explained what the shop was going to be, I instantly pictured that scene in Goodfellas where Ray Liotta strolls into a nightclub through the back entrance and kitchen.

[Laughs], there you go. Did it live up to your expectations? It’s great. What I wanted it to be was the exact opposite of what the old shop was – it was clean, very bright, open, three huge windows, you could see from outside in. It was very… Intimidating is the wrong word, because you could stand outside and see what was going on, but for skateboarders it felt like we were in a fishbowl. This is the complete opposite – you come up an old stairway, we’ve not done anything to the walls, we’ve just put stuff on bare bricks. It’s very much in keeping with the aesthetic of the bar but it’s also very much how we wanted it to look. It’s not bright white, it’s all about skateboarding for want of a better word.

Where does the name ‘The Useless Wooden Toys Society’ from and why is that the title of this incarnation rather than Lost Art?

That comes from a video from maybe 1991 or ’92. Ben [Powell] will kill me if I’ve got it completely wrong, [laughs]. But it was a New Deal video called Useless Wooden Toys.

I was thinking of a name for our video night that we were putting together for the old Lost Art where we would show videos so people would come down and we would more often than not go for a skate or for a beer. Just keeping that sense of community alive in the winter when traditionally people don’t skate as much. I always thought Useless Wooden Toys was a great name and it just so happened that I thought The Useless Wooden Toys Society was a great name for a video night. Obviously, it’s a page on the SLAP forum but I’m sure they’ll agree, [laughs].

The Useless Wooden Toys Society is more about that community that I was talking about, it’s more of an umbrella for everything else that we do; the events we put on, the space itself, our office, it’s going to be more of an events and marketing company as well. Obviously, we’re just doing skateboarders which is where the ‘useless wooden toys’ comes in and we will focus on ‘Lost Art’ as our brand. Inevitably it will still get called Lost Art as a skate shop because that’s what it is. The two go hand in hand.

I’m going to be the devil’s advocate here… Although you place some of the blame for everything that happened on those bigger corporate brands but you also work for New Balance and just did this collaboration. How are they different to the other companies that you’ve been involved with which you feel had such a negative effect on things in the long run?

I can see how people would perceive it as that as it is a large sportswear brand. It’s a privately owned company but it is a large sportswear brand. Obviously they could be seen as just cashing in on skateboarding but knowing the people that are involved in it and having met many of the people who own and work within New Balance – they are one hundred percent behind every sport that they back. They saw skateboarding as real, for what it was – a culture. And they wanted to nurture it the same way they nurtured running – by looking after those core stores that have in depth knowledge for their customers and by producing the best product they possible can for the job it was designed to do.

Also, seeing the team that they were building; PJ Ladd, Arto Saari, Jordan Trahan, Jordan Taylor, Tyler Surrey, Tom Knox, the list goes on… They were putting together a team of, not your go-to podium ‘athletes’, but incredibly underrated and talented skateboarders.

Seeing them build that team and then visiting the Long Beach office to see Seb, Nick Pappas, Bama who used to work for Black Box, Jason Rothmyer – they’re all skateboarders or have been within skateboarding for many years. Seb was the guy that got me on Nike, he’s one of my oldest friends that I respect dearly, he had a skate shop in the UK, called SUMO, which was way ahead of it’s time and probably one of the most respected stores that isn’t there any more. Those people involved in it – when you see their involvement in it you know that from its very core what they’re trying to do is look after skateboarding.

Yeah of course people sat on the fence but I feel that over the past few years all of the video output and everything they have ever done is credible and you can’t knock anything they have done thus far within skateboarding – from the videos they put out to the team they’ve put on or the tours they’ve done or the shops they’ve looked after or the people involved in it. Myself in Europe, Anthony Claravall in Asia, he’s pretty much single-handedly filmed the whole of skateboarding for the past fifteen/twenty years from 411 right through to some stuff for Rodrigo TX in the adidas video. He is one of the most respected people in skateboarding, hands down, so when they put people like that as figureheads you know they’re doing the right thing for skateboarding. Hopefully people will give them a chance and stores will give them a chance but as I said, it’s hard for stores to stock footwear brands now because it is a real tough marketplace for them. Hopefully the larger ones will lose sales and the smaller ones, eS, Emerica, etnies, HUF, Lakai and New Balance will gain numbers from that and hopefully be able to look after skateboarding

I think with our project it’s not a skate shoe. It’s a football shoe, made in the UK, a 150 miles from here in the Flimby factory and it’s not designed to skate in but you can skateboard in it if you wish. It’s not the cheapest shoe but it is made unbelievable. When you see something like that made in the UK, it makes you see things different for sure.

New Balance Lost Art collaboration shoe Speedway Skateboarding Magazine

After having to declare bankruptcy did it seem that the legalities around the Lost Art name would affect the New Balance collaboration you had in the works?

It was a real worry. When I first went back to the New Balance office, probably two weeks after the shop had closes, I was embarrassed because they had seen me as a kind of ‘marketing guy’ and to me having my business fail was a mark against my name. Stupidly as that absolutely wasn’t the case.

Everyone had the utmost respect for what I’d done and it was a business move. There was a point where we would maybe have to discuss maybe not doing the project but thankfully, as I say, I was able to work with friends and concept this new way of building the store back, have Lost Art as a brand and launch this collaboration as the Lost Art collab and not just the Lost Art Shop collab. Because as they had said, Lost Art was a lot more than just a retail space. It was about community and skateboarding and that was the most important part of the project and the reason they wanted to do the collaboration in the first place.

New Balance x Lost Art shoes beer The Useless Wooden Toys Society Speedway Skateboarding Magazine David Mackey Interview

Yeah, a skate shop is as a much a banner to draw people under as it is a store and I would guess Lost Art represents that even more for you now. So, ten years ago you were above a shop on Bold Street, then you moved to Slater Street, and now once again you’re tucked away above another business in the same locale. Does it feel like things have gone full circle?

[Laughs], yeah. And no lie – I was at my happiest when we were hard to find and skateboarding hadn’t reached that popularity yet. The Janoski model hadn’t blown up and we weren’t all running around in a frenzy trying to help Nike sell loads of them. It feels that it has come back to thing I wanted the shop to be about in the first place. It’s the reason I called the shop Lost Art because in 1999 I felt that the type of skate shop I wanted to open was a lost art.

Thankfully, during that period of 1998 to 2005, a lot of skateboarders opened shops of similar ilk to Lost Art. They had the same vision as I did. Some of them are still here, some of them are gone but it rings even truer now – the words ‘lost art’ as a skate store. Those stores are closing all the time. When City Surf, which has been there for thirty years, closes its doors it’s a very sad day for British skateboarding.

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David Mackey serving customers The Useless Wooden Toys Society Speedway Skateboarding Magazine Lost Art Interview

Despite going through all this, you don’t seem jaded whatsoever. Is that because skateboarding itself and its industry will always be separate things for you?

It’s very easy to get negative, it’s very easy to see the bad in everything, but all of these experiences that I’ve been through – there are positives in the whole thing. Out of the worst times come the best times. I feel that skateboarding now is the best it has ever been. Everything is acceptable, you can do anything, skate anything, skate anywhere, wear anything you want – i’s a great time to be a skateboarder.

I feel skate shops are so caught up with the negative for the obvious reasons. Times are tough, they’ve got bills to pay and feel hard done to by brands but by focusing on the negative is a vicious cycle. Until you break that cycle and actually see the positives you’re always going to feel… I don’t know what I’m trying to say. For me, I am a positive person and yeah for sure, a lot of shit happened, but from that shit is now without a shadow of a doubt, the best incarnation of Lost Art we’ve had.

It’s with great people and I can honestly say that the future for this store is better than it has ever been at any time. We’ve got collaborations with lots of people, hardware brands, footwear brands, and other things down the line that we’ve not really talked about but have alluded to with friends that we’re going to try and do. I’m really excited and there’s definitely no reason to feel jaded or hard done by.

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Luke Fletcher The Useless Wooden Toys Society Speedway Skateboarding Magazine Lost Art InterviewLuke caption 1

 

Who can we expect to find running the shop?

You’ll probably see Luke an awful lot. The old store had Ollie, Luke, Ash and Fred [Lambert] at its centre and those were the people that I was worried about when the store closed. Thankfully, Luke didn’t stick to the job he got in the meantime, [laughs]. Once it became apparent we were doing something new he wanted to wait for that because he has a lot of respect for me and I have a lot of respect for him. I know that he would want to be a part of this because this is the kind of skate store that Luke will thrive in. It’s about skateboarding he’s the one person I know that has more heart for skateboarding than a lot of other people and certainly in an depth knowledge and cares about it as much as I do.

Ollie, I knew would be sound because he always will be. He’s gone on to be a postman but he’ll be doing stuff for us next year. Filming, hopefully, for projects that we’re going to do.

Ash, who has been with Lost Art since 2001, he’s my oldest friend, and is doing stuff he really cares about now. It’s hard for him to see me go through that and he didn’t want me to get back involved in it because of how hard it was but he’s doing good for himself. And Fred moved to London and got a job in Slam City Skates straight away because who isn’t going employ someone that worked in Lost Art? [Laughs].

Luke Fletcher Crailslide Scaff banks Liverpool photo Chris JohnsonLuke caption 2Finally, is ‘Beef Stew’ still on the agenda?

I believe it is yeah. It’s pencilled in. Oliver is having a torrid time finding music that he likes and I think he’s thinking too hard about it and just needs to put it to bed and get it out. Then let’s start on something new, but yes, it is most certainly coming out in 2017.

Anything you want to end on this on?

I just wanted to thank our friends and family who have been there for us through some of the worst times, all of the staff that have been with me the whole journey and all of the people that have looked out for us.

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Dave Mackey We Are Lost Art banner The Useless Wooden Toys Society opening day

Thanks to Mackey, Ash Wilson, Chris Johnson, Leo Sharp and the whole Lost Art crew. – FG

Josh Stewart talks Life After ‘Static IV’ & Theories of Atlantis

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Photo: Pep Kim

Since giving a fond farewell to the ‘Static’ series in 2014, Josh Stewart has been devoted to his esteemed distribution company, Theories of Atlantis. Operating out of his apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn – the lack of a full length monkey (and camera bag) on his back has allowed Josh more time to focus on the Theories brand itself.

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Our Friends On The Mersey: Kevin Banks & John Dalton

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Photo: Ash Wilson. All other photography courtesy of Kev unless credited otherwise.

Skateboard scenes are microcosmic, filled with their own rich history and folklore passed down from generation to generation. Thankfully, every period produces at least one person who picks up a camera and, in the process of capturing those around them, unintentionally becomes one of the most important figures of their epoch.

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Nick Jensen on Art, Isle & ‘Vase’

Anticipating an upcoming Isle Skateboards section in TransWorld’s ‘The Cinematographer Project World View’, a series of interviews conducted in the lead up to ‘Vase’ will be uploaded throughout this week! Here’s the final instalment with Nick Jensen and featuring Jacob Harris, originally published December 2015.

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Due to having not seen ‘Vase’ at the time the following conversation took place, I invited Jacob Harris along to fill in for any absent information on my part. It also seemed deserving for Jake to spend some time on the other side of an interview…

As an integral part of Isle Skateboards, Nick Jensen has been unique in the process  of creating ‘Vase’, experiencing it from  the perspective of both a skateboarder and film maker through assisting Jake with the 16mm camera work and developing the video’s art direction. 

With opinions on skateboarding are just as interesting as his actions when riding a board alongside consistently releasing video parts, many of which are regarded as classics; it was a real privilege to talk all things Isle and ‘Vase’ with Nick.

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London, Long Live Southbank & Isle with Casper Brooker

With great anticipation and excitement towards an upcoming Isle Skateboards section in TransWorld’s ‘The Cinematographer Project World View’, a series of interviews conducted in the lead up to ‘Vase’ will be uploaded throughout this week! Here’s part two featuring Casper Brooker, originally published November 2015.

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casper-brooker-portrait-photo-james-griffiths-isle-skateboards-vase-interview-speedway-skateboarding-magazineThere is a good chance that you haven’t seen a great deal of footage from Casper Brooker since his appearance in the 2012 Slam City Skates video ‘City of Rats’. However, if you attended a premiere of Isle Skateboards’ ‘Vase’ then you will no a doubt be looking forward to whatever comes next. Casper’s skating has matured over the last few years, which is evident from his first few tricks in the video and cemented by the time you reach his ridiculous ender. With ‘Vase’ due in skate shops soon, I got in touch for a few words from Casper about how his year has been so far and what is next now that this project has come to an end.

photo – James Griffiths courtesy of Rock Solid Distribution.

Continue reading “London, Long Live Southbank & Isle with Casper Brooker”

An Interview about ‘Vase’ with Jacob Harris

With great anticipation and excitement towards an upcoming Isle Skateboards section in TransWorld’s ‘The Cinematographer Project, World View’, a series of interviews conducted in the lead up to ‘Vase’ will be uploaded throughout this week! Here’s the first, originally published in November 2015.

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portrait – Finn Andres

With full length skateboard videos becoming a rarer commodity, those that do surface are celebrated dearly. Combine that with a group of skateboarders, most of whom a part of the Blueprint legacy, and you can start to understand the excitement and anticipation surrounding Isle Skateboards’ first video production ‘Vase’.

The man behind the video is Jacob Harris. Whilst Jake currently spends most of his time behind the lens or in the editing studio, he is also an incredibly talented skater himself (being sponsored by Slam and flowed by HUF should be proof enough of this). With the countdown for ‘Vase’ ticking away I sat down for a discussion with Jake about his creative process, the upcoming Isle video, ‘Eleventh Hour’ and more.

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Black Sheep, Manchester & New Balance Numeric with Paul Harrison & Tez Robinson

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“Do you know there is a Black Sheep in America?”

“Yeah, we’re doing a shoe with them.”

Continue reading “Black Sheep, Manchester & New Balance Numeric with Paul Harrison & Tez Robinson”