We are excited to bring you an Offerings interview with Beatrice Domond. We caught up with her while she was busy filming a video for her new Vans capsule. She kindly put aside time to talk about a skate video, album, film, and book that have earned a place in her heart. Learn more about Beatrice via some things that are special to her and check out her latest creations for Vans…
Words and interview by Jacob Sawyer. Photo by Michael Burnett
Beatrice Domond is a legend, one of the most interesting skateboarders out there to watch, and also to follow. Her presence on Instagram is positive, enriching, and thought-provoking. She gifts us footage of course, but alongside skateboarding, are snapshots of her artwork, her writing, and views of New York City through her own lens. Her work is personal and soul-baring, her life unique and compelling, and she has invited us all in to share it. This generous and open approach to her followers is intertwined with a reverence for the past she often uses to communicate her love of skateboarding. Her inspiration-filled feed abounds with recommendations that could spark many hours of YouTube investigation for the right receptive eyeballs. All of this contributes to her being a strong role model, a privilege she doesn’t take lightly. Her excitement to share the things which bring her joy made her the perfect candidate for an Offerings interview.
Skateboarding helped shape who Beatrice is and gave her purpose. It was great to speak to her about the skate video which played a fundamental part in empowering her to forge her own path and trajectory. Having acknowledged the significance of that we also explored an album and a film, which are two constants that have impacted her life – and even her life course. Her book selection was also a fitting choice, as this new publication is an influential read which further reinforces her creative process, way of thinking, and disregard for the rules. Speaking to Beatrice was enlightening, and dipping into anything she has selected for you is sure to enhance the time you dedicate to it.
We closed out the interview by discussing her recent endeavours. Back in front of the camera having recently recovered from injury she has been working on something for Vans, to support a new capsule she carefully designed in the healing downtime of last year. We are proud to be stocking the new shoes she has created, two designs which were informed by New York City’s seasons, and represent growth and change in her own life – two things Beatrice is a proponent of for others. Enjoy the following insights from one of skateboarding’s most inspiring individuals…
Mind field – Alien Workshop (2009)
What was happening when you first saw this?
I was fourteen years old when I saw Mind Field. It was a different time. There was no Instagram, and hardly any YouTube videos, everything was still on DVD. You would see the magazines and there would be “coming soon” adverts for the videos. When you’re a kid you have your three niche things that you’re into. I wasn’t really into the Workshop until a little while later, I think I actually watched the video a year or two later than when it came out. I was super into Bam Margera and Element, that was my thing. I wanted to be on Element, I wanted to be like Bam, and travel the world like Vanessa Torres, that was just what I was into.
It’s funny, there was a kid in my hometown and he used to dress up like Dill, and try to skate like him. I saw a comment on one of his posts saying “this kid wants to be Jason Dill so bad”. When I read that I already liked this guys skating so I wanted to find out who the pro was this kid was talking about. When I typed his name into the internet Mind Field was already online. It changed my whole skateboarding trajectory. I went from that stage of loving Bam to wanting to be serious skateboarder. I loved art and wanted to combine my art with my skateboarding. I became a different skater, it changed who I was, and the trajectory of where I was going with skateboarding. Every kid has this shift that contributed to who they are today.
What appealed to you about the video?
I loved the music they used, all the weird imagery, Dill wearing a crop top, there was a lot of art involved, and it was very New York. My shit just changed, and that’s why Mind Field is one of my favourite videos, because it completely changed my trajectory, who I am as a person and a skateboarder.
Is it still something you revisit often?
I’m not gonna lie, it’s probably the only full length video besides Photosynthesis that I will watch from start to finish without stopping. I will watch the whole thing because it’s so good.
Where does this rank as far as your favourite Jason Dill parts? You have mentioned Skate More in interviews before.
It’s kind of crazy but I’m gonna say his part in this is my second favourite because I just watched Cherry, it used to be first. It’s not really about the technicality of the skating because Photosynthesis was probably his best part ever. It’s more down to the feeling it gave me so for me his part in Cherry is first because it was all about him coming back. Then his Mind Field part, I loved everything about it, it was just cool, and I liked it a lot.
“that’s why Mind Field is one of my favourite videos, because it completely changed my trajectory, who I am as a person and a skateboarder”
You have also mentioned Jake Johnson’s appearance in here in your Five Favourite Parts for Quartersnacks. What makes that a standout part for you?
Of course, at the time he was the rookie, it was New York, so again it goes back to New York City. Then also the song is so good, a part for me is all about the music and the skating, it’s just how it is. It’s amazing when you hear that Animal Collective song start playing. If you hear a song on the way to the grocery store and it makes you think of someone’s part then they did a damn good job, you know what I mean? I think of Jake Johnson every time I hear that song, all the tricks start playing in my head, that’s a fucking video part! That’s what it’s about, leaving an impression on people’s minds.
What trick immediately comes to mind when you think of this video?
For some reason Aarto [Saari]’s back board down that long kinked handrail when that Battles song is going crazy. That is something that lives in my head rent free which is kind of crazy, hahaha.
When you first started visiting New York, were there certain spots you pilgrimaged to because of Mind Field?
Oh for sure, I did the whole tour, I wanted to see all of those spots. There was even a point when I moved here and lived on Delancey and Chrystie Street. That line at night where he does the backside 180 manual on the cellar, and then the nosegrind across the median. I lived right in front of that and I would look downstairs every morning and see that spot. Something I had seen so much and now I lived right in front of it.
What other Greg Hunt work has influenced you?
I’m a big fan of his photography books. I really like what he did with his recent film Alright, OK, that’s something that sticks in my head. I’m a really big fan of Gilbert Crockett and I feel like that was a great part. Greg Hunt is a genius, he makes people look cool but it’s realistic. What he puts out there, that’s what a skate video should look like, I like the more serious side of things. Some people look to what a company like enjoi put out there and gravitate to that because it’s more silly and fun. I like the seriousness, something in between that communicates that skateboarding is hard. Right now there is so much visual content out there that if you can make something that sticks in people’s minds you’re doing a great job.
Many people aren’t looking towards themselves, they want to do what’s hot right now. People react to what’s trending or whatever and emulate it, that’s how people operate. It takes a real gutsy person to just do what they want to do, to do what they like, and be in their own space. Blocking out what’s around them so they can create something beautiful and impactful.
The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill – Lauryn Hill (1998)
When did this album enter your life and what does it mean to you?
My mother would play this when I was a kid, we had this massive stereo in a chest. She would play this album on repeat, as well as Kelly Price. It was the first album I remember where I liked the beats, and my mum liked it so it was good. As I grew older I realised more and more why my mum was listening to it. The words are so powerful, and about who Lauryn is as a woman, and a black woman. That stuff is so important to me now, whereas when I was a kid it just sounded good to me and my mum liked it.
It’s a really great album. I just watched a mini documentary about Lauryn Hill where she talks about that being her only solo album, which is crazy because she is so talented. That just shows you the struggles of being someone like her in the industry. It’s like having one video part, but it’s a fucking good video part and people still watch it today. If you can put out a video part in 1998 and it still holds up in 2023 well shit, just put out that one video.
Like the video before is this still something you will listen to in it’s entirety?
For sure, I’ll listen to the whole thing. I have the CD so I can play that or I’ll find the album on YouTube and let it play through all of the songs.
“It’s like having one video part, but it’s a fucking good video part and people still watch it today”
This is a very unique album, have you ever got to see her play live?
I haven’t, maybe I will get to one day, maybe I’ll get to meet her too. I’m doing this new thing where I don’t want to meet people I look up to any more. It’s nice to keep them away, and then you have that allure, and fantasy about how they would be, or act. Sometimes you meet people and think damn they suck, hahaha. Your imagination will always be ten times better, when you expect something it will rarely live up to that. If I ever came across her, or got to see her play, it would be an honour.
What’s your most played song on the album?
Lately it’s been “Ex-Factor” just because of where I was in my life but I would say “To Zion” is the track my mum would play the most and is still one I listen to a lot. That one or “Everything is Everything”.
Who has inspired the biggest chunk of your musical discoveries?
My mother for sure, she had no limitations when it came to music, so definitely her. Then second I would say for pure value would be MTV.
How would your mum play music, would it have been CDs?
Yeah she was so into CDs, she would burn her own CDs and make mixes. She would have a car playlist that would be Johnny Cash one minute, and Lauryn Hill the next. She was into a vast array of music that was very eclectic. She loved making her own CDs. I think at the time you don’t really have taste as a kid you just like what your parents listen to until you grow out of that. That was the foundation of my music taste though. I liked a lot of alternative rock, I’m a child of the 2000’s, so a lot of MTV came along with skateboarding.
The Prince of Egypt (1998)
This film came out the same year as that Lauryn Hill album so if that was on the stereo was this in the video player?
I actually first watched this film at summer camp, I went to a Christian summer camp probably in 2002, so a little while after it first came out. It just changed my life, once again, changed my trajectory. It shifted something in me, that’s when I first started caring about the musical score in a film even though it was a cartoon. My mother’s favourite film at the time was The Ten Commandments which is like the live, adult version of The Prince of Egypt. It was just so correct, the characters were black because it takes place in Egypt and American productions never really portrayed it like that. It was just right, I watched it a few days ago and this movie is still good. I love the soundtrack, and I love the message, it’s a beautiful film, one of my favourites.
So this is another constant?
Yeah, I will watch this once a year and that isn’t an exaggeration.
This film passed me by, I’m older and this wouldn’t have been on my radar. Thanks for getting me to watch it, it’s pretty epic.
It really is epic. When I would first watch it I was in a different frame of mind, I couldn’t believe that Moses would want to leave the privilege, everything he has at home in Egypt, to go out into the desert. They weren’t his family but they still loved him, I thought he should just stay and couldn’t understand why he would leave all of that. That was just me being materialistic and idealistic. As I grew older I recognised that he did the right thing and that sometimes you have to leave something that seems great to achieve something greater. You can’t always know the outcome, you just have to trust your gut. Just because something looks great, beautiful, and vast, that doesn’t mean that’s your destination in life. That always really stuck with me.
“As I grew older I recognised that he did the right thing and that sometimes you have to leave something that seems great to achieve something greater”
Did bible stories in general play a part in your childhood?
Very much so, I appreciate them. They are a basis for all lessons, they may not be completely accurate in terms of things today but they have a foundation. They will never steer you wrong or have any ill intention.
You have studied Hebrew too, is that in any way linked to this movie?
This movie changed my life and I went to college for three years, I studied Hebrew for two of them. That movie got me super into it and that followed me to college. I was learning a whole bunch of Hebrew, and took American Jewish studies as a minor while my major was film. I was still skating all the time. Becoming a professional skateboarder is hard work and unrealistic, especially where I was from. So I was trying to find other interests, I learned a lot about Hebrew, Jewish studies, and the Holocaust.
If you could crystallise the message of this story what do you think it would be?
That there is a purpose for everybody and everything. You need to have faith, I think that faith is the main thing. It’s hard to say that but faith is a real thing. The main character believed in something so strongly that he approached people who could kill him, in order to try and help them. Faith can be so strong that you are willing to die for it.
The Creative Act: A way of being – Rick Rubin (2023)
Is this a book you have read recently?
I’m just finishing this up now, I’ve been reading a book a month this year, and this is my book for May. I’m nearly done reading this and it’s really good. It’s a great book and it’s a big one too. It’s hardcover and I’ve been lugging it around with me trying to finish it. It basically teaches you to unlearn what you have learned and that creativity is not always what you are used to. Once you know the rules you can break the rules. I feel like I needed to hear that especially in skating. Skateboarding can be so full of itself and claim that it doesn’t have any rules, but it will be the first thing to give you a list of them. This isn’t what I signed up for, if it was I wouldn’t have joined. There’s a video saying there’s no rules and now I have a list of things I should be doing?
This book came along at a good time in my life, it teaches you that people who are great don’t follow the rules, they know them but they don’t follow them. I’m not saying I’m anything special but I’m sure as hell not going to waste my one life trying to be part of a group, and trying to do what other people have done. That wouldn’t be me, I’m not doing that.
So you feel you read this when you needed to?
Yeah it’s become one of my favourite books and came at the perfect time. I needed to hear it and se it in writing. This man is great and does nothing that your typical music producer does, we know him. Anyone who does anything by the rules is able to create, whether that’s an album or a video part, but they won’t stick out. It’s the people who know the rules but don’t follow them who stick out and are memorable.
You’ve got a Heath [Kirchart], you’ve got a [Jason] Dill, you’ve got a Mark Gonzales. They’re the people I’m looking to, who have made an impact on skateboarding. I’m not with the rules, stop telling people there aren’t any and then giving them a long list. Don’t push switch mongo is an example, but some people can and some people can’t? I don’t want to hear that.
“I’m not with the rules, stop telling people there aren’t any and then giving them a long list”
How do you feel this book will inform your creative process?
By allowing me to be myself and to see things from different perspectives, while not caring at all what other people think of me. When you’re creative it’s important to have that freedom. Things might not stick in my lifetime but look at people like [Jean-Michel] Basquiat or Keith Haring, their work is everywhere now. It goes back to an old saying, when you plant a tree you may not get the shade from it but the people after you will. That’s something I’m okay with knowing.
What is your current relationship with the creative act, are you inspired right now?
I’m inspired right now, I’m skating, I’m filming this video, I have a quick video part to put together and a short time to film it. I’m working on a zine, I’m making clothes. I’m constantly inspired. This book has made me realise I need to do what I want to do. I’m going to do what I like and if people don’t like it they will do eventually.
Do you have a favourite Rick Rubin produced album?
The Beastie Boys are tight although that may sound like a generic answer. He did a lot for rap music and I like what he did with them, it’s cool. I was actually listening to Rick Rubin’s podcast, he has a podcast named after the book. He talks about Johnny Cash and his process of making music. He talks about having to completely break that down to recreate it, and they made those beautiful albums together, he is a genius.
You have been reading a book a month, what have been some positive effects of that discipline?
There have been some changes, I’m spending less time looking at my phone. I’m on Instagram a lot less which is nice. My vocabulary is growing, it’s always good to have some new words to express how I’m feeling because I feel a lot of things. It’s nice to have the correct word besides a curse word for self expression so that’s a beautiful thing. I’m home more, and I’m spending quality time by myself.
Beatrice puts her Zahba Mid creation to the test with a Canadian crooked grind. PH: Anthony Acosta
You said you’ve been skating a lot recently, what have you got coming up that you’re excited about?
I’m super excited, I’ve been filming a Vans part from January, so I’ve had six months to film. I’m coming back from an ACL surgery but I’ve been doing my best. I’m proud of what I have, there are a lot of tricks in there for someone who just got back out there after surgery. I’ve enjoyed working on this one.
Tell us about your new Vans collaboration, how did you gravitate towards the Zahba Mid?
At the time we were first speaking about this I had been given the very first sample of the Zahba. Since then you will have seen the Alltimers one and Zion [Wright]’s one, it was completely different to that. I had been skating in Half Cabs a lot a this point. We have our different eras, I had a Slip-On era, I skated in Authentics only for a bit, and that winter I was really into Half Cabs. Stephen [Mullen] sent me the Zahba. I remember speaking to him when I was first transferring to Vans from another company and explaining to him that tech shoes were what I was into.
After six years on Vans I realised that I like how the more technical shoes performed but also wanted the classic look of a Vans shoe. I spoke to Stephen about elevating the Zahba to a mid and opting for an old school look but with the technology of the Zahba. It was a collective group effort involving my opinions and thoughts and they came back with that silhouette, I’m super into the design process, I already had colours picked out, inspiration and designs for it. We went through a whole process that winter and I was injured so I had lots of time to come up with lots of things.
So there were very particular design elements you had a hand in?
I had already worked on things before and I’m super involved with everything I do, down to the colour. I’m very particular about how I want things to be. If it’s bad I’ll take the criticism but if it’s good I want all the glory as well. That’s just how I am as a person. I was probably more annoying during this process because I had a lot more downtime from skating. I’d be sending photos and ideas over at 2am in the morning.
Were there any specific colourway inspirations?
The inspiration for that olive, military green colour, came from walking around the streets of New York. It was winter time and the trees were turning a greenish gold and brown. I had collected some of the leaves from the trees and taken them home. I wanted a colour to represent that. I’m super romantic and I guess you could describe me as sensitive. The leaves were changing, I had a lot of changes going on in my life at the time too, both good and inconvenient. It just seemed like such a good representation of where I was at. I was getting a colourway of a shoe that’s completely new to the line, I was changing and becoming a different person. The shoe came to represent change and growth in my life and I knew I would feel the same way when they came out a year down the line.
“It was winter time and the trees were turning a greenish gold and brown. I had collected some of the leaves from the trees and taken them home. I wanted a colour to represent that”
The Vans Zahba Mid and Style 53 designed by Beatrice Domond
I’m always aware of the time it takes for these things to come out. Sometimes I will be in a phase where there is something I really like but will hate a few months later. When I pick colourways I like to attach them to a meaning that is timeless. That way when I look back at things I have made, I still like them. Maybe there will be room for improvement but I know that represents where I was then and I’m able to appreciate that.
I’m right in thinking that it’s Nefertiti intertwined with you on the illustration on the insole?
You’re right, that is Nefertiti, I did that drawing. We had used that logo on my previous colourway. That’s me upgraded, that was me putting my foot in the door. I drew that out and one of the designers cleaned up my hand drawn illustration. I’m hyped on it, even without my name on the shoe you would still know it’s mine.
Does that imagery link up with your film choice?
It probably does subconsciously, I think that’s maybe what that is.
You got to make a penny loafer again too with a Vans penny.
I did, obviously the Style 53 has been my baby. It existed but not in the skate line and I had the first opportunity to put it into the skate line, that was the black leather one from 2021. This time they let me do another one which I’m psyched about. It’s nubuck suede and I got to put a coin in there which has the face on it which is cool. That shoe skates so well, I want people to try it. Last time some people found the leather to be too tight across the forefoot. We took that into consideration and now it is expanded and fits differently. I’m so happy with how it came out. With the apparel I wanted to make something people would want to keep as part of their wardrobe.
You have a good crew of friends in the UK now, do you have any further trips to the UK planned?
They’re the best, I was actually trying to come this week but my filming schedule is jammed up because I want to film some last tricks. Next month I’m going to Korea for two weeks, then I’m going to Paris. From there I’ll probably take a little solo mission to London, skate with the girls, and hang out in Brixton. I just love that place, I’d like to be there all the time.
Any last words?
Thanks so much for the interview and letting me share my thoughts, I really appreciate it.
We would like to thank Beatrice for taking the time to talk to us for this interview, and for the recommendations that we have enjoyed. Please shop with us for a pair of the shoes she has designed. The Zahba MId and Styles 53 from Vans Skate are available from us from the 13th July.