Nick Jensen has ridden for Slam City Skates for the last fourteen years. His output as a professional skateboarder has been phenomenal and his progression a constant. Nick has managed to maintain his pro career whilst producing a considerable amount of work as an artist as well as running his own gallery. With the many changes which have taken place over at the Blueprint camp recently and Nick’s skills as an artist integral to the phoenix which will rise from the ashes, it seemed like a good time to pick his brains. Enjoy this candid interview where we find out a little more about Nick’s future…
Words and interview by Jacob Sawyer. Photo: Sam Ashley
Yes Nick! You’re currently on a trip in Valencia, how is that going?
It’s going well except someone has fucked their ankle, the camera light doesn’t have a bulb, otherwise its amazing as the spots are good and the sun is out.
We understand it’s an exciting time right now with a new company on the horizon is your trip there with the people involved?
Yeah. We are all out here.
Is it true that a large amount of the creative side of things will be down to you? What is your new role within the company?
It’s split between me and Chris Aylen. I enjoy coming up with ideas and doing art direction.
Your process with your personal painting is very involved, months creating paintings until your happy with them, will the work you have to do for the company and the different constraints be liberating and possibly a bit less nerve racking?
Yes certainly. It’s great because it’s thinking of different kinds of images and the process of conceiving them and actually having them screened on boards is much less time consuming. It’s been an education working out images that suit the company and that just generally look good on boards.
Will you be in charge of all the decisions graphically with boards, clothing and ads. Who is Chris Aylen and what is his involvement?
Yeah I will be, it will be pretty much 50 50, although Chris does all of the formatting as I am not that good at that shit. He is an old friend of Shier’s from Fairfields. He used to skate down there and film too. His involvement is in graphics, design… everything really.
Why will Magee no longer be involved? What is he up to now?
I know Magee is working with John Fisher – they do their own freelance editing and directing, and from what I hear they are doing really well.He stopped working for Blueprint a while back when he realised he had less control over its vision; he wanted to maintain his integrity and I totally understand that.Magee is not involved because I don’t think he would have the time as he is focusing on his new direction with Fisher.
There are a handful of companies around who have a distinct vision/ language, do you feel the new company will stand out in this way?
Yeah, this is important for us. There is still space for companies so long as they do things in an interesting way and shed a new light on skating.
Who are your influences and who do you respect the most in the industry today design wise?
I look at a lot of different things, from fashion design, clean crisp presentation such as CÉLINE. Then I look at board companies – my favourite is Alien. I really like Polar and Krooked and I have always been a fan of Girl and Chocolate. I also look at the way good art galleries present information on their websites and on printed material.
With many existing companies in the UK, some new and some old, some good and some terrible do you feel there is a gap in the market to be filled?
Yeah i think there is a gap in the market anywhere as long as it has quality control, and good skaters behind it.
Ollie in Portsmouth. Photo: Mark Jackson
How did the idea for the new company come about? What prompted it?
Blueprint was slowly sinking, it was time to move on.
You’re going to be working closely with Shier now you’re in business together, how is that relationship? He must be a good motivator.
Yeah he is a great motivator. It’s just right, the relationship has naturally evolved into this. I am really lucky to have this opportunity.
Coming up with a name must be one of the hardest challenges a new company faces. Was it difficult or did it come about easily? When will find out what it’s called?
I spent so long considering names, I had Post- at one point, in the end we were playing around with a longer name and Rob Mathieson just picked something out of it and… boom! It was set, both Shier and I were stoked on it. You know with a name you just need to keep going until you just have it perfect. You should know in March.
I understand the new team will be significantly smaller than the Blueprint team as it was before the exodus. Culling people from the team was inevitable, was this a difficult thing to do?
We couldn’t keep everyone, It was really hard
Are you excited with your position and the immediate future?
Yeah, it’s new to me, the immediate future is exciting, just wanna get it out there and see what people think about it.
What elements of the structure and output Blueprint had do you wish to change and what are the strengths you feel it had that you would like to emulate?
Blueprint had an amazing consistency, it was mainly Magee’s craft. In the way ‘Build and Destroy‘, ‘First Broadcast, ‘Waiting for the World‘, ‘LAF’ and ‘Make Friends with the Colour Blue‘ all showed this. To be part of Blueprint back then was very inspiring. Blueprint started to turn to shit when it got bought by a silent investor, less emphasis was placed on trips, and quality control, it was fragmented and this is something I am very aware of not creating in the new thing.
Will your new creative role interfere with your output independently as an artist or are you keen to keep up your work ethic?
I will enjoy the relationship with both things. Thinking of a board graphic also helps to inform my thinking about artwork. It’s very interesting to think about the different environments in which design and art exist and the different audiences that see and appreciate it.
What can we look out for footage wise from you personally in the future? Do you have filming projects on the boil?
Yeah the Grey video man, it’s looking great, Knox is my favourite !
Thanks for taking time out of your trip to answer these questions Nick! See you next week. We look forward to seeing what the future holds for you
Thanks to Nick for this interview discussing the begining of Isle Skateboards.