Andreas Laszlo Konrath: Back to Mystery City

The New York-based photographer takes a trip to Finland for his latest book on skateboarding crews

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If you’re not already familiar with Andreas Laszlo Konrath’s work, then that should soon change. An Englishman in New York, Konrath’s introduction to the New York photo scene came in 2008 with his inclusion on PDN’s list of 30 emerging photographers. Since then he’s been commissioned to shoot for a host of leading publications, working his way through a wish list of subjects that include musicians, artists, actors as well as full scale fashion portfolios. In the midst of all this, Konrath never strayed too far from his roots in street culture and anyone who’s delved into his back catalogue knows that these roots come in the form of a skateboard and a youth spent doing kick flips and grinding rails.

He used his 35mm to document the triumphs and battle scars and neither skateboard or camera have left his hand since. ‘Back to Mystery City’, his latest book published by hip photo-book publisher David Strettel of Dashwood books, revisits his passion and sees him traveling to Finland to hang out with the Perus crew; a local band of brothers who roam Helsinki’s concrete turf from dawn to dusk in search of the perfect skate spot. Dazed caught up with Andreas to find out more about his Finnish adventure...

Dazed Digital: Your new book is the latest in a line of independently published books of your work. How did the collaboration with Dashwood come about?
Andreas Laszlo Konrath: This is the seventh independent zine of my work that’s been published - the first six were all released under the publishing umbrella that myself and my good friend Brian Paul Lamotte run, called Pau Wau Publications. We started off experimenting with making zines and artist books two or three years ago - from low budget and small run photocopied pages stitched with a sewing machine, to other various printing and binding methods all made by hand.

This is how we formed a relationship with David Strettell at Dashwood books - we showed him the first zine we made and after a few weeks he'd pretty much sold all 50. David allowed Brian and myself to do all the layout and design work, and he kindly produced the final product.

DD: You've photographed a lot of skate crews - why go all the way to Finland to document the Perus crew?
Andreas Laszlo Konrath: Growing up in England I documented elements of my life as a skateboarder there, and Iater in New York too. I really enjoyed what I had produced but felt I needed to work somewhere less familiar. Skateboarders generally have a very similar mind set no matter where they're from - it's an inherent part of what being a skateboarder means and what attracts you to it in the first place. I wanted to shoot a skateboard story which also had a layer of another culture, just the simple idea of being in a country where English isn't the first language, and where traditions and customs are unique to that place.

DD: You've been commissioned to shoot Hollywood celebrities, fashion icons, artists, musicians....the list is endless. Do you have a favorite subject?
Andreas Laszlo Konrath: I enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to meet and work with interesting people, but it was never an ambition of mine to work within that industry. I do get excited if I am going to photograph someone whom I really admire, but truth be told I am much more interested in shooting my personal projects. My favourite subjects up to this point have all been related to skateboarding and music. I also like visiting artists' studios; it's inspiring to see someone in their working habitat.

DD: You've lived in New York for seven years. What do you miss most about the UK?
Andreas Laszlo Konrath: The comedy, and having the piss taken out of me relentlessly by my friends! Not that New Yorkers don't have a good sense of humour - there's just that dryness and wit in England that's like no other. I suppose New York is now my home, but if I wasn't here working I wouldn't live here. Someday I think you have to leave!

DD: What's next on your horizon?
Andreas Laszlo Konrath: Pau Wau Publications are starting to expand and produce projects with many other artists. This Christmas we're releasing a set of 6 mini fold out poster zines including my work alongside that of Brian Paul Lamotte, iO Tillet Wright, Niall O'Brian, Todd Jordan and Thomas Giddings - with more to come in the new year. I'm also trying to secure an exhibition of the Finland project to accompany the book. Other than that, just taking each day as it comes!

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