This week's Dazed Visionaries, Isle Skateboards, are a new skate/art collective exploring the middle ground of the two. Born from the ashes of a company in decline in early 2013, Isle's Nick Jensen and Paul Shier branched off on their own to create a skate brand, and now, less than a year later, they're here with a series of films that prove once and for all that skating can be an art form unto itself.
The work in this series primarily focuses on the idea of reflections and opposites, and what makes skating the streets of London so appealing, before heading to a studio in Peckham for the stylish, bold and innovative finale, Together/Apart, which you can see as part of their Dazed takeover here. You can find out more about their intentions below.
Dazed Digital: How did you approach the films in this series?
Nick Jensen: The idea was to extend the themes present in our first series of board graphics based on simple opposites and antonyms – Left/Right, Stop/Start, etc. In addition to this, we split our name into its individual characters and reproduced them as objects we could skate: a different letter was featured in each of the films, culminating in the final film with the whole set of letters shown as a complete piece, revealing our brand identity.
“We had to consider the two types of audience: one core skate and the other more mainstream – and it’s always tough to straddle the two"
DD: With so many skate films around, how do you make your work stand out?
Nick Jensen: We had to consider the two types of audience: one core skate and the other more mainstream – and it’s always tough to straddle the two. We took an experimental approach and considered both the creative concepts and the actual skateboarding as equally important, and I think we succeeded – largely due to the efforts of Jacob Harris, Mark Jackson and Dan Magee.
DD: Skate videos are as much about documenting a culture as they are about skating. As a skater and a filmmaker, is this something you consider?
Nick Jensen: The more you think about documenting culture, the more chance you will produce something contrived and detached. I would say, in time, when we look back at skateboard films, we should be able to see and experience the culture more vividly.
DD: In Stop/Start, somebody says "the real charm of London is skating the streets. There's so much to skate here". How important is location to your work?
Nick Jensen: Location is always important. I love London and I like to be mindful of all the great places it has to offer when shooting something. Music is also crucial, particularly for skate films, because it completely tailors the audience’s response. I guess we were lucky working specifically with one artist, Chris Hopkins, who was very involved in the creative process - thanks, Hops!
Nick Jensen describes the four Visionaries films in his own words:
"Isle’s main film, Together/Apart, strips back the workings of a studio shoot, exposing an interplay between skateboarding and representation."
"Light/Dark was made over two evenings and features the Isle team skating after dark. The film focuses on the atmospheric experience of night with an addition of fireworks to add a stark contrast."
"Stop/Start features Chris Jones and was filmed over two days in Wales and London. The film uses Super 8 film to convey the actions of Chris’s skateboarding as well as his recent relocation from his hometown to London."
"Left/Right was filmed over two days in London. It shows Tom Knox and I skating in synchronicity. Our opposing stances allow for some very interesting mirrored imagery."
Follow Matt Mansfield on Twitter here @mattmansfield_