As an artist and longboarder from Brooklyn, the connection between the art of painting and the art of skating seemed clear to me. Your board should be an extension of your personality, your style, and your needs and desires. There is one longboard company that understands this concept- Toronto based Longboard Living is the ideal fusion of art longboarding, and I recently sat down with owner and founder Ryan Rubin to answer a few questions…..
J.- What makes Longboard Living different from other comapnies?
Longboard Living offers the market extreme customization as we carve our niche as the largest supplier of hand painted longboards. Our boards are designed for the city and the art reflects the environment we ride in. When people see what we are up to, they get it. When a new rider wants a board, they can choose from the ongoing collection of hand-painted one-off decks by their favorite artist or choose a Longboard Living artist to design something custom for them. We offer a service and an experience.
J.- What kind of boards do you offer?
Our boards are designed for an easy push and a sweet carve and are improving constantly. Decks are purchased in small batches, made to specifications by Independent board builders in Ontario, Canada. We are supporting the growing number of Roarockit builders who are using the locally designed Thin Air Press. From there, blanks are distributed to our expanding network of artists, designated for signature artist series or remain available for a custom commission.
LL has a 35” and 42” drop through decks in stock, will soon be launching a W-Concave freeride board as a collab with Ambitious boards and a line dancer’s via DKLB. Since the gallery launched we have been approached by many emerging builders with something new for the market, let the collaborations continue!
J.-Can people request certain themes or colors for a personalized board?
Yes, we help the rider come up with a concept. Asking them about themes, symbols, concepts and colors and go from there. We find the artist most appropriate for the job and connect the client with them to take design to the next stage. It is a very hands-on process and memorable experience for the client. Below is a photo of a board designed for one of our first clients, Samantha Rosen. Her request was for mountains and angel wings. The artist, Dov Gray took the design to the next level by turning the wings into bird feathers with the mountain sunset inside, a sun and a moon (in glow and the dark paint) that double as owl eyeballs and finished with owl eyebrows and a beak. The design flows with the shape of the board designed by Charlie Dunnham. It is always fun to see how the design evolves from the riders’ original idea, through the artists creativity and into a final product.
J.- Is the artwork protected with some kind of varnish?
We apply a coat to protect the art and another exterior gloss clear coat to protect from the urban elements. Some varnish will cause the ink or paint to run, but it is a process we have now mastered.
J.- What is the relationship between art and skating?
When the idea for Longboard Living was born in 2008, the idea was to be a provider of longboards to help build the culture in Toronto. My summer was spent skating and observing what was going on around town. One thing was clear, there was a surplus of artists that love to paint. So I turned to the street artists, the festival vendors and the students, who were familiar with painting Toronto themes and had a visibly recognizable style. I began providing artists a “Mobile Canvas” building collaborative relationships and a roster of Longboard Living artists.
As many riders know, there is a personal connection to their board. Longboard Living is multiplying that connection exponentially through our custom art services. We are also custom painting existing longboards, helmets.
J.- What new projects are you working on?
We recently opened a gallery to showcase our hand-painted completes. It has been a lot of fun bringing this project to life, it beginning to take LL to new heights. A ton of signature artist collections are lined up for the next 6 months. We are taking it one day at a time and the time has been flying by. Super stoked for Summer 2010.
LL has been working closely with BOZ Boards and begun a joint sponsor ship with New York Rider Steven Sanchez and will soon be sponsoring Natheniel Cohen as well. BOZ Boards are available in the Bustin Boards shop and we look forward to having a larger presence in the NYC longboard market.
Another project with is about to wrap up with Matthew Napier, a master carbon fiber board builder. He is building a DH drop deck out of an extremely rare carbon fiber that is used to line the inside of Rolls Royse Jet Engines. “Napes” is making the board for a collab with Longboard Living artist Jimmy Chiale who will paint an abstract design through the carbon. Some might call it unpractical but it is only an example of how we want to push art and board design in the longboard industry while building strong relations with other Toronto builders.
Other projects include collaborations with University art classes and ad agency Art Directors. We are taking the no limit mentality and our end goal is to have artists (and builders) with a style for every unique rider.
J.- What is the skating vibe/aesthetic in Toronto?
Toronto has a strong set of freeride / downhill riders. Push culture has some growth to do, and that is the purpose of Longboard Living. The Toronto Board Meeting (every September) has been bringing out 350+ riders to this one-day event over the last few years. It is a good way to gauge who is riding in this city. We are stoked to be part of the Push Culture movement, striving to create one rider at a time, Longboard Living will be leading city rides from the new Gallery every Wednesday.