Mike Avery, The Idea Shed’s art director, has spent the last few months escaping in the middle of the night to reconnect with his first love – his skateboard. He shares why he loves it, and why the return.
When did you first start skating, and what made you come back to it?
I’m not sure how old I was; I’m guessing I was around 10 or 12 because it was before I was in High School. I don’t remember the brand of the deck, but it was a cheapy from K-Mart, and I do remember it had a graphic of a Viking on the bottom of it. My next deck would be the iconic Rob Roskopp model from Santa Cruz with ghoulish graphics of faces adorning the underside of the deck. As a kid, you were almost sad to skate these decks as it meant scratching away the graphics that really did play a big part in why you chose it.
Why the return, well it’s something that I really enjoyed when I was younger and I guess in some ways I’ve always missed it. In all honesty, it was my brother that coaxed me to get back on the board. He had recently started again and was sending me pictures of the fun he was having.
I love it, but I don’t know if it will last. It’s pretty taxing on the body and i’ve already done some damage to my achilles tendon and have constant shin dings from missing my flip tricks. I don’t know if it was the new pictures of my brother skating or nostalgia kicking in, but the number 1 reason I got back on the board is because I just wanted to see if I could still do it. I figure I won’t be able to do it ten years so why not give it one last blast before it’s too late.
Skateboarding was about going where you weren’t supposed to.
What does skating mean to you?
It basically means a whole lotta fun.
When I was kid, and I’m talking my teens to early twenties, it was everything that went with it – not just the skateboarding. I guess it was kind of a scene. We didn’t just skate together, we went to gigs and partied together (though I didn’t drink back then). Skating was an unruly, unorganised and free sport that could be enjoyed solo or with friends.
Unless you were riding in skate parks, spending a lot of time getting busted by security guards and cops was not uncommon. There was one guy I skated with back in the day who was such a shit to one security guard that we we’re chased through David Jones in the city. It sounds lame, and probably is, but I do think skateboarding was founded in rebellion and creativity, which I think go hand-in-hand. You can’t surf on concrete? Um, yes you can. Skateboarding was about going where you weren’t supposed to.
What it means to me now? Now it’s something I wind down with. It makes me feel, for just a small while, that I have no responsibilities – the world around me fades away for a bit and I just have fun.
When do you skate, who is your favourite skater and can you tell us a bit about your favourite board?
I skate mostly at night when my little girl has gone to sleep and everything else on the list for that day is ticked off. I occasionally go for a roll in the morning before work, but I rarely get up early enough.
As for pros, I don’t know who the pros are now, but way back when, I loved the Plan B Pro Skaters (Colin Mckay and Danny Way). I also thought Rodney Mullen was great. At the time he was responsible for some pretty progressive tricks. The most memorable was the casper slide or dark slide, where instead of using the underside of the board to slide along a rail or ledge he’d flip the board to use the top side of the board. It doesn’t sound that amazing, but your board is grip taped on top, (grip tape stops your feet from sliding off the board) so when you flip the board the other way, you have no grip to help your feet stay on the deck and you’re also dealing with the truck and wheels: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2axIDTYy9yM
I don’t have a favourite board but at the moment I’m riding a ‘Slave’. It’s a wider deck which makes it a little more stable for an old man like me. The downside is that it makes flip tricks harder.
Preferred shoes to skate in?
At the moment, my vans.
They’re fairly durable and have a sole that isn’t too thin, but still lets you feel the board. Also I like their style – especially the half cabs (just above ankle height).
And why the evening?
The evening is the only chance I have – by the time the work day is over and everything else is ticked off the list, it’s well and truly night time. Second, my local park has its lights on late, and third there’s not as many people around, which is a good thing because when I first got back into it, I felt really silly starting it again at my age.
Mike Avery is The Idea Shed’s art director – you can learn more about him, here.