We spoke to Fabric pro and gentleman Mark Baines about leaving Blueprint, Camp WeSC, the differences between U.K and U.S skating and inspiration. Enjoy –
How is Fabric going for you? – Have you been enjoying the new direction you have taken and how are you finding the new team?
Fabric is going well. People seem to be into the brand. We’re working on some video stuff right now with a view to release a video further down then. Paul has a part dropping really soon and Manny just dropped a dope part. Everything is looking positive so we’re just trying to keep the ball rolling. Hopefully a couple trips coming up as well, we’re just finalising where and when now. On a personal level I am happy to be riding for company that’s based on British soil. It’s something I can relate to and I like to be as involved as I can be – which I can be with Fabric, as it’s easy to keep in contact.
How was the trip to Madrid?
The trip to Madrid went really well. The locals were so friendly and hooked up so much. Both the store there were so helpful and they really made the trip work out for us. I would love to go back next year and skate with the locals and hit up some of the amazing spots. Recommend it to anyone.
Can you tell us about your involvement with Camp WeSC?
Well basically Camp WeSC was something that Ricky Sandstrom and Mark Pulman from Stockholm created. I was involved in the camp as a sort of coach. I thought about it and did a lot of research to see if it would be possible to bring it to the UK. This year was the second year and it’s been a huge success so far. WeSC have given me the opportunity to run with it over here and it’s down to them it’s happened. I basically run the camp here, deal with parents, sponsors, accommodation, food suppliers and all the other little things that need taking care of. I have a bunch of people help me during the week of camp and without them it wouldn’t happen. Pete Turvey who works for WeSC has been a huge help we’re hoping to keep it growing. Next year we have an Easter camp and two weeks of summer camp so it’s growing which is nice.
What’s it like coaching? Was it a strange concept to begin with?
I think with skating it’s hard to teach. All I try to do is guide them or offer tips here or there. Like a tre flip is in the back foot so you try and explain that but so much of skating is on feeling – you need to figure a lot out for yourself. You can give a little tip that can help the kid figure it out because obviously we’ve spent the time figuring the little things out. Every skater is different so it’s not always going to work so you just try and give tips and maybe show a different way to try something than what they are doing. Most of the kids have skated for at least a year so they can ollie and do some basic stuff so it’s just a case of skating with them and suggesting little things to help them progress. Maybe other people have a magic way to teach kids a trick but I feel this way works. The idea skating can be taught is a strange one, it’s more guiding or suggesting little techniques here and there. Obviously if a kid can’t ollie or drop in then you can teach these basics but once they’ve got this down they’re on their way.
So what goes on at the camp?
Our camp is basically about kids skating together and enjoying being around so many like-minded people. They get to skate with some amazing skaters, people like Jensen and Brady, Benny Fairfax, Joey Crack, Nicky Howells, the list goes on. They get a little insight into the way pros go about things and I think that’s pretty unique. The kids love it, they’re not overwhelmed to the point they just sit and watch because it’s their week and everyone revolves around them.
What skating facilities are available?
We use the plaza in Truro and take a trip to Mount Hawke as well. The plaza is perfect. It’s spacious and has a variety of stuff to skate. The locals are really cool considering we kind of take over the park and that says a lot about the scene in Truro. This year I tried to hook a bunch of them up with some stuff just to show we appreciated them being so cool, of course they don’t own the plaza but it’s their local place.
Tell us about the highlights of year two -
This year was really fun, the highlights were the games of skate. Some heavy games went down. It was amazing as a lot of the kids came back from the year before and to see how much they’d progressed was amazing. This kid Max Golfer won the main game of S.K.A.T.E. He was hyped as he got some of the RZA headphones, which are pretty nice. I got beat by another kid Brooker, he pulled some crazy stuff out, double tre flip got me. I enjoy that part; they love playing you at S.K.A.T.E, especially when they beat you.
Do you still keep in touch with the Blueprint team? Can you tell us about some of the relationships you built with those guys over the years?
Sadly I don’t speak with them so much. It’s quite sad that once you don’t ride for a company you almost lose the ties. At the end of the day everyone is doing their own thing and we are all close as friends even if we don’t speak so much now. We all went through a lot together, good and bad and you don’t forget those people and all those memories are there. Hard decision for me to leave but one I had to make for my own sake. I get sad when I think of trips we never get to go on now that as a team we always did but there’s new places to see.
Having said that, what trips make you feel nostalgic about the Blueprint days?
It’s hard to kind of express what Blueprint means to me and I am sure to the others. It’s more than just a company or business, it’s a huge chunk of my life. From when it started it was our thing. I got the first pro board for Blueprint, which means a lot. This was a time when no one really cared for British brands or British Skateboarding. We built it up by putting in some serious graft. A lot of trips to shitty comps, a lot of tours and filming missions. Eventually we were taken seriously and considered a legit brand. It’s easy now to appear legit, doesn’t mean that you are, back then no one gave two shits. It’s just something to be proud of for all involved. Things happened lately where certain people just wanted to see Blueprint go but these people were the ones who couldn’t get a look in before because they didn’t have anything to offer. As sad as it sounds there’s a lot of people enjoying the fact Blueprint has suffered and they’d be happy to see it die off, that’s fair enough but one day it might be them on the way down. It shouldn’t be like that but money talks etc. It may sound weird hearing me say this as I left Blueprint – but for me Blueprint changed when it left these shores and I wasn’t happy with that and wasn’t in a position where I could make myself heard to the right people. I was maybe trying to keep it how it was. There’s more to it but it isn’t something that needs discussing in public really. Just because I left, it doesn’t change anything, I still crave for the Mallorca trips because they were amazing every time with amazing people. It’s the crew and everyone in it together that was special.
Filming for ‘First Broadcast’ must have been an amazing time –
With First Broadcast it was really fun filming. It was the time when we were on a mission making things skateable. I remember tipping over the shoe box bins at the recycle part of the Tesco car park. We got some wood and boom we had a kicker to a perfect ledge. I would drag everyone to one of the worst spots in Sheffield called the Woodyard. It’s a rough, very slight kicker. That’s it. We put plastic barriers out of it and skated for hours. It really is a shit spot but when you don’t have much you make do… For me a lot of that video is making do with what you have in terms of spots.
We’ve noticed shuv-it flips appeared quite a lot in the video compared to perhaps how much they would appear in U.S videos, why do you think it is that so many dislike the trick?
The shuv-it flip thing is weird. I don’t think there are many tricks that look bad all the time. Gino can do heelflips and make them look like the best trick ever. It’s how it’s done not what it is. I wouldn’t say my shuv-it flips were that good though. The fakie varial flip in First Broadcast is the best thing I ever filmed though. People basically hear or read something on a forum then feel they gotta hate it I suppose. I don’t really know. Like I say a lot of the time with tricks it’s how it’s done.
Where are you living now? How long ago were you living in Berlin for?
I live in Sheffield now. It’s been somewhere I have always had a base. I moved back here a couple of years ago after spending a year in Berlin. I loved Berlin. I would have loved to stay but without a steady income it’s difficult and although the companies wanted me to stay it was very difficult living day to day. I could have stuck it out and got a job but I decided to come back here and make something happen for myself. It’s kind of getting blown out a little now as all good places do. Miss it a lot.
Ever go to a club called the Berghain when you were there?
I never went to this club but I know the place haha. Not really my cup of tea but each to their own. I think a couple of friends I met out there went to this place. Madness. Just sounds like a version of the bar in the film ‘From Dusk Till Dawn’.
Having mentioned financial concerns, can you tell us about some of the common misconceptions of being a professional UK skater?
Being a UK pro is tough. You battle to get accepted as a legit pro then you get grief as people think you’re getting above your station or they think you’re making a lot of money or they just don’t like to see you do well. We did OK with Blueprint financially but it’s not like if we were working a regular job. You make your money up if you’re lucky from two or three sponsors. You make that choice to do it proper which means you travel; you make sacrifices so you can get out there and earn your bread. I was never home really from 15 years old onwards. I just travelled everywhere to make sure I was doing enough to justify what I got. Obviously it means you can skate all the time, which is great, but it’s not like you have a Lexus in your double garage. It’s amazing for sure but it’s not something that’s going to earn you a lot of money unless you get a good deal with a shoe sponsor or get a green card hook up to go to the States.
I always resented people who ran companies or wanted to be involved in the industry saying skaters are lazy when at the same time they want to run a skateboard company and make money from these guy’s characters and image. It reeks of mad jealousy I guess, these people shouldn’t really be running skate brands if they don’t respect the work and sacrifice some skaters make to create the brand’s image. Living day-to-day worrying about making rent, it can be tough. A lot of guys I know have this when they shouldn’t because they’re talented decent dudes. If you think of skating in football terms you have the Premiership which would consist of the dudes involved in the Street League stuff, then you have the Championship which is dudes who make good money but maybe not million dollar deals then there’s everyone else feeding on the scraps. I think I’m in the Unibond league right now, fighting relegation haha. But seriously there are dudes who you may be shocked to hear the money they get given to live on and travel, not just here but in America too.
What are your experiences of skating in the U.S?
I lived in the U.S for about 18 months. Living on Warner Ave with Mouly and Boulala. Skating around those dudes was an eye opener. Seeing that level of skating was something I had only seen in small doses back home. It was quite competitive I felt. I remember skating some spot and having some tricks in 411VM, after it came out Chad Fernandez came up to me and he seemed pretty annoyed I had been shown this spot and had shit out in the video, maybe because he wasted his stuff to come out first I don’t know. I just got taken to a spot and skated and a filmer who was there asked if he could film me so it was pretty odd to me. He was cool afterwards but I realised these people were taking it all little more seriously. To get stuff done you have to be trying to one up people and try and protect spots etc. I didn’t really like it being like that but at least I got taken to all these amazing spots by Geoff Rowley and Mouly and they had my back and tried helping me get some stuff done when they didn’t need to. Geoff would take me to a spot and film stuff for me. To look back now he never had to do that as he was in big demand for his skating be he was cool with stuff like that. He did tell me one day when we were skating his picnic bench I wasn’t allowed to do switch crooks though and I am sure he would say the same now haha.
What are the differences between skating the U.S and the U.K?
It is completely different. Different spots, different standard back then and a different way of going about it really. It took me a while to get used to it but looking back I can see this was a job to them and they didn’t mess around when it came to skateboarding. Although people saw a lot of guys from that time portraying this party guy image, a lot of the partying wasn’t done until they earned it. I remember Ali’s switch tail and switch lip down UCI and that night everyone partied and everyone was so hyped for Ali because they new that was something that people were going to be like ‘woah’ NBD’s and all that. Everyone got hyped for each other when shit went down like that. It was always just really different and maybe had an influence on how I treated skateboarding. Without taking it all too serious if you want to try and make money from it then you have to make sure you get shit done. Out there if you’re not seen repping your sponsors or not out filming and shooting then you’re out the door basically. There’s plenty more people who are willing to put in the time. I think the main thing is here if a dude does one decent part then he’s suddenly the next big thing and he tends to get bigged up and hooked up and they start believing it themselves where as there it takes a lot to be the next big thing and you got to earn it. Does that make sense?
You spent some time in The Berrics too -
The Berrics was amazing. Just having the park pretty much to ourselves for a week was incredible. It’s like all these amazing street spots in one place but you get no hassle. We had an amazing time. Looking back on how much we skated that week it was pretty intense. It’s a different world out there though and you have all these skaters trying to make a living from skating and the Berrics helps them to do that nowadays. That’s how it was for Blueprint being there. It was a good way to get the brand out there to the massive amount of people who check things like the Berrics.
How did you hook up with Chico Brenes, Jeron Wilson, Torey Pudwill, Getz and the rest? -How was it skating with the team?
Meeting the DVS dudes was down to the Euro tours they would do. It was only in the last year of being on them that I was on the proper team. Before that it was the Euro team. We did the Euro tour and met them all then. They were all super cool. It wasn’t like we were the Euro team and got looked down upon. Everyone pretty much clicked. After the main tour we then did a couple trips to Malaga and Mallorca. It was just like being on a trip with your mates. Banter and stupid jokes. Kerry is an amazing dude. He is so funny and would crack up at some of the stuff me and Shier would say. Being from the East Coast I think he liked the way we were being British. It’s a little more down to earth. Chico was someone I watched growing up, so meeting and getting to skate with him was amazing, Jeron’s the same. We all just got along and had an amazing time and shared a lot of funny experiences and skate some amazing spots together.
What’s Reda’s obsession with the Queen about?
He’s a funny guy. I like him a lot, he is a bit much sometimes but at least he brings something to the day. Too much caffeine mainly. It was rad for us because we got to go on a lot of trips with these dudes and I think they liked being on the trips with us. It wasn’t like us and them if you know what I mean.
Where do you spend most of your time skating?
Now I spend a lot of time skating in Sheffield although it’s difficult sometimes, hard to get some motivation. You need to be around like-minded people if you’re trying to be productive I think in anything you do. It’s a great city though and there are some decent skaters and spots here.
How you overcome the difficulties with regards to motivation?
I have struggled with motivation when it comes to skating for years on and off. I am either 24/7 lets go skate or I can leave it for a while, ask Colin, he knows me so well when it comes to this.. I get so bummed on it I don’t even want to do it. It’s never the act of skating it’s the other stuff skating can throw at you. But I have never considered giving it up, as I love it too much and it’s in my blood to stay now. I sometimes do wish I had taken a different route and just had skating as a hobby rather than getting involved deeper but I never regret it as it has given me so much in terms of experiences and meeting a lot of amazing people from around the world. It’s just sometimes I have found it difficult to get motivated to go out and skate.
– and when will we see your next video part?
I put out a couple video parts earlier this year so now I think I will hold of for the Fabric video, there’s no deadline or anything so it’s just a case of racking up the footage now.
What tricks are you learning?
There are a couple tricks I want to get but I’m making no claims. I am just enjoying being on my board. It’s nice to just skate sometimes and not think of filming or feeling like you have to be pushing yourself to the limit everyday.
Can you tell us about the newest addition to the Fabric team, Manny Lopez?
Manny is amazing. I only met him recently; he was at the camp this year – really nice guy and a really good skater. His ad was dope, the 50-50 up the rail. He just seems like a good dude who wants to travel and get stuff done which is what you need for a company finding it’s legs. I think he will keep progressing and pushing himself which is good. He is going about it all in a good way and I think people will see that.
What skateboarders and videos have inspired you since you began skating and up until now?
‘1281’ the New Deal video was one of the first videos I saw where I was inspired by a skater. John Montessi was my favorite. I got to meet him weirdly in a hotel room in San Diego I think it was. Me and Ali ended up in a room with Marcus McBride, Stevie some other dudes and then Montessi, I was stoked to meet him. I think I probably did the drunken thing of telling him how much I rated him. Anyway Blind ‘Video Days’ is just incredible, to this day it’s so inspiring. Mariano is one of my favorite skaters and this video started that. I got to meet and skate with him and that was pretty special as he is a rad dude. Then there’s Plan B ‘Questionable’. That was a game changer, I remember all the skaters took over the video room at our youth club and watched this. It was incredible then and is still incredible now. ‘Eastern Exposure’ was amazing, seeing East Coast skating and the spots were so different from everything else. Then there are the 101 videos and the Blind videos. I love watching the skaters skating the schoolyards and all the tricks they were doing, how they dressed and how they skated. Polo was the shit back then, everyone wanted to rock some Polo gear. ‘Mouse’ is probably the best skateboard video ever made for me.
Mariano in that video does stuff that was way ahead of everyone and done in an untouchable way. Koston was and is incredible but he never had that extra edge for me. All the little skits the music everything about it is just perfect. Videos kind of never really interested me so much after this. There are a few gems here and there of course. The Lakai video I like a lot but that’s probably because it’s a lot of those guys I respected so much, then you have dude like Lucas who’s incredible. I like Pontus’ last video a lot. I love all the Blueprint videos for the memories. ‘Through the Eyes of Ruby’, the Sumo video. Before Neil moved to London. This is a really good video thinking about it. He did such a good job. I’d probably get a little sentimental watching that now. Me and Ches used to be really good friends. Videos aren’t really the same as before because there’s so much skating put out on a daily basis. It’s become throwaway. Nothing’s that special now. Hit for a week then forgotten.
What do you like to do when you aren’t skating?
When I am not skating nowadays I will be either in the peak district on my bike, in my cellar fixing bikes to sell on, doing some work on the skate camp or working on some story ideas. It’s good to be busy and I am at a point in my life where I have to consider my future whilst still taking care of what I need to with skating.
Let’s finish up with some long term goals –
I have learned to not count on anything long-term especially in the world of skateboarding. Ten years ago I would have said I would hope to be working for Blueprint, five years ago I was involved in a shop and soon after that I was getting a call one day saying I was not wanted in the business I was a director of and then the next day getting a call that Blueprint was done for. You never know what’s around the corner. If I have a roof above my head and food on my table then that’s OK. Appreciating little things is the way forward.
Follow Mark Baines on Twitter: @bainzito
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