Nick Jensen has always greeted whatever the task is at hand with enthusiasm and focus. Whether crafting a video part or finishing a painting his immersion is guaranteed. It is this approach and attention to detail which has made every piece of output from Isle skateboards something memorable. To coincide with a delivery of new boards from Isle we sat down to pick Nick’s brains about the design process, inspiration and more…
Hello Nick, what’s new in your world?
A lot the same as my old world, but I am really enjoying working on this new isle video.
What is your current schedule like, do you clock a certain amount of hours each week doing your own work or are you looser about that?
I try and go to my studio 4/5 days a week and work on my paintings. As I am so fortunate to have so much time I am mindful about not wasting it.
Is a lot of your time now dedicated to Isle related design?
I focus on Isle stuff in chunks with Chris Aylen, it can be 4 days of stockpiling ideas and then a couple of days photographing them. And then Aylen works his magic on them and formats / tidies everything up.
All of the board graphics so far have a work ethic behind them, whilst being clean and understated they involve great consideration. This is refreshing and the boards look amazing on the wall. Are you pleased so far with the results?
Thanks, yeah I am really proud if them. It’s very satisfying to see them hanging in shop walls or under skaters arms.
Frontside noseslide pop over. Photo – Sam Ashley
Are you finding this new canvas as it were more challenging? Has it affected the way you design images or do you come up with something that could exist independently of being on a skateboard then factor that in afterwards?
Having created a few key concepts about how we approach our ideas, we have come to realise this has in fact opened up our possibilities in terms of design and disarmed some of the more challenging elements. We will always think of ideas through a skateboarding perspective and it’s nice to discover interesting crossovers between design and function. I was speaking to Fergus the other night and he was saying how skateboard graphics are so interesting because they’re so temporary in the way that they’re here today and scratched off tomorrow. So I guess the images we make are never going to exist outside of the way they are used, I don’t think I will ever see them as being separate.
We enjoyed Lee Marshall’s artist series. Do you have a list of people you would like to contribute ideas in the future?
Definitely man. We just finished a series of T-shirts with this amazing artist James Harrison . We are always looking to work with artists.
How did the editions series come about?
The Editions series came out of a long-time fascination with the Puffin and Pelican classic book covers. I like the way that a book cover is responsible for representing the vibe of a book in such a small space. Chris Aylen and I selected some original titles from a huge archive of covers and then connected them to the skaters. Sylvain studied sociology and so I found a title and then we created an artwork to correspond with this. Shier’s graphic relates to how much he travels and how these experiences have expanded his world. And my board is about my love of table tennis.We built the different scenes in my studio and then photographed them from a variety of angles, before laying everything out with typography and other design elements later on.
Tell us the thought process behind the new Curiosities series…
The idea was to find a visually appealing way to show different objects that relate to the pros featured. To begin with, we looked at creating compartments to host different items that would reflect each person’s interests. The clean white structure of the shelving units seemed like the best way to do this. We made the shelves 1:1 ratio and spent a lot of time moving objects and the shelves around to get balance of the final image right. The individual boards were also designed so that they work as a tryptic when hanging next to each other on the wall.
The boards look amazing, were you sure the concept would work as well as it has?
Thanks Jake – I appreciate it. Chris and I kind of knew as soon as we got the shelves made and painted them white that it was going to work well. Even without objects, it looks striking. I kind of want to make one like that as a limited board, ha…
What has turned out to be your favourite run of boards so far?
The Curiosities series and the marble plinth and the palm tree from the first season’s graphics.
There has been a steady output of footage from everyone on the team ever since the company was announced. You had a stand out part in Eleventh Hour. Is filming still part of your weekly regime?
Yes it is. I meet Jake 2 to 3 times a week usually, if you get on a roll and film 1 good thing a week this is a good amount and what I strive for.
You were involved in directing that series of Dazed videos. What resulted was interesting and different from so many disposable web clips. Did you enjoy that side of things? Who came up with the concepts?
I enjoyed having to deal with the challenges of working with people outside of skateboarding. I developed the concepts with the help of Chris Aylen, Paul Shier, Jake Harris and Dan Magee. I had to factor in Dazed’s intentions for the films and equally they wanted me to make films that appealed to a wider audience. It’s great having budget and friends with skills, however I quickly learned how easy it is to spend money on things like this, a lot of the production side of was tough and I have a new found respect for people in production.
Who is in the driving seat as far as the Vase video?
Jake is Nigel Mansell on this video.
Well I like what the Wikipedia entry says: ‘The vase is often decorated and thus used to extend the beauty of its contents.’ ￼
Can you tell us more about it?
You will have to wait and see. Some really good shit in there so far!
Do you have creative input into how the video is going to look?
Well Jake Harris has a specific style that we really like, we will just let that do the talking. But I am involved in the other stuff which were using super 8 and some 16 mm cameras for.
What is on the cards for you over the next six months?
Skate & paint #hardlife