We all know about Paul Shier’s recent departure from Blueprint. With sad endings, come great beginnings. And of course, good things come to those who wait. We recently talked to Paul about the recent changes to his life, cycling with Colin Kennedy and playing the narrator. Enjoy –
Interview by Stephen Cox
Photos: Sam Ashley, Mark Baines
Can you tell us the story of where you’re from and how you started skating?
I was born in Croydon some years ago and set foot on a board for the first time when I was thirteen. All it took was seeing a friend of mine in my school with a Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp board and that was it. Everyone around me gave up one by one but I just carried on. After that I met a whole new group of people outside of my school and that is what became my crew for years to follow. I got sponsored pretty late at twenty-one at which time I was working a job in the airport as a check in agent, I continued to do that for a little while as I was not getting paid at first but as soon as the money started coming in – although it was small – I left my job and just skated. The rest is history.
How did you your family feel about your career choice?
My family still trip on what I do and have never really understood it. I guess at the beginning they thought it was just a craze I was going through but still to this day when I see my Mum in Croydon she still asks me every time when I am going to get a “real” job. I can still remember when I was younger and I sold insurance for Direct Line in Croydon my parents could not have been happier. That did not last long.
Good job it didn’t. Still big news. Tell us about your fondest memories of Blueprint.
The fondest memories of Blueprint to me are what it was between us all, who was involved from the beginning until it changed into what it is now. I had the most amazing time over the past sixteen years with my mates, the brand, meeting new people and even though the past couple of years were hard between some of us, I have are incredible memories of what we built, where we went, who we met and I will never forget that. Blueprint was way more that just riding for a skateboard company, it was my life.
It was a hard decision in some ways but always the right one and I am real happy to have it behind me now. I tried to make it work to my best ability over the past years but I was always taking two steps forward only to have to take ten back. I reached a point where I just could not work with the people who owned Blueprint. I did not see a positive future for myself or the team with the direction it was heading. The positivity Blueprint once carried with it had gone and without that you have nothing. I follow up every now and then since I left to see what has been going on with Blueprint and it looks to me like everyone made the right decision by leaving. I try to keep away from responding to any message boards or Facebook threads regarding Blueprint but I was so stoked to see that so many people had our backs with everyone who was involved in Blueprint before, to me that says so much and I thank anyone out there who ever bought a Blueprint board over the years and supported what we were doing.
Sounds fair. You mentioned when announcing the news of your excitement of things to come .
I am currently working alongside Nick Jensen and an old friend I grew up skating with on a new project that will be coming to you over the next couple of weeks. We have been dropping small viral ads with different riders over the past four weeks that have been well received and will be releasing all brand details this month on the 22nd followed by product in a shop near you.
Can you tell us anything about the new project and how it feels to be starting afresh? What does Nick Jensen bring to the table in terms of a working relationship for you?
It feels amazing to be working with Nick and also my old friend Chris Aylen who I have known with since my old days at Fairfield. We have found a great place where we all know and are aware of what we want to do, see and put out with the brand. Nick has a great visual sense, from his art to his skateboarding. He is and has always been someone I respect and I could not be happier standing side by side with him going forward with the new brand.
How were your recent travels to Detroit?
Detroit was incredible, such a rad city to skate and explore. I had the idea of going out there with the team and shooting a catalog for DVS as I had heard great things about the city and Marty had friends out there that were down to help us out. I went there knowing nothing about the spots but was treated to some of the best city skating I have ever witnessed. Some days it can just look like a ghost town, security is lacking there and the street just turns into your playground. I met some of the kindest most humble people out there and their scene is really thriving.
Is there time to take in a city like Detroit when on a skate trip in terms of the sights and culture? Is this something that you consider or is there a busy schedule?
We had a friend of Marty’s showing us around the spots out there. He had a great knowledge of the history and future of the city. I could not have asked for a better guide as he was a fountain of information and we got to experience lots of parts of the city which some other people may not get to see. It is always hard on a skate trip to make stops to see certain things but by just skating you get to see a whole other type of life and archictecture that others don’t get to experience.
Anyone in particular stand out on the trip?
Everyone on DVS is killing it but it has to go to just watching Daewon skate in person, he is incredible and I feel always creating something new. Witnessing him skate this crazy halfpipe in Detroit was one of the most impressive things I have ever seen. I am so stoked to be a part of it all and look forward to a really bright future for the brand
Sounds a bit crazy.
It was above the entrance to a disused building on the outskirts of Detroit. It had been in the East Coast magazine Focus before with someone doing a pivot fakie on it which is amazing too. It was pretty high up too but Daewon just climbed up there and got to work. I think he did about 5 blunt kickflips in a row.
Let’s jump to Tokyo. What’s the place like for skating? Looks very hectic.
Japan was incredible. The most amazing scene, food, skaters. The crew we had was amazing and everyone smashed it, Dan Magee still has a grip of footage from the trip that we have to do something with as it obviously will never be a Blueprint edit. We had a blast out there and were treated so well by our distributor, everyone is just so respectful and kind that all I have is positive feeling about it.
Good to know there’s some footage waiting. How do you think this will become a realization? Anytime soon?
We shall see, some may make it into the upcoming Grey video hopefully but one way or another it will make it out there.
What’s the skating scene like out there anyway?
The skating scene in Japan is incredible, so many amazing skaters out there.
Did you just straight up explore when you get there?
We got a lot of help from our distributor out there and I already knew some people out there from times before. It is always good to just go discovering too but sometimes you do need a little help when you are dealing with a city the size of Tokyo.
Give us the certified list of cities.
London, New York, Barcelona, Berlin, Detroit. The obvious reasons that they contain the best spots, atmosphere, people.
How have you got on in the injury department over the years?
My most painful injury was when I fractured my hip whilst filming for Waiting for the World. I could not walk for about a month and there was nothing I could do but rest. No cast to fix it, just insane pain and meds. Once fixed though it was all good even though if I fall on it sometimes it messes up again. I have had trouble with my ankle for so many years now it seems like I have always had it. I fractured that too many years ago, had surgery but it never got better. Now I have chronic arthritis in my left ankle which makes skating harder than it should be but over the years I have just learned to know what works and what doesn’t.
Does this mean avoiding certain tricks or anything?
I have just learned to deal with the pain over the years, the main problem is that I do not have much flexibility which makes it hard to skate straight away and when it is cold it makes it even harder. This is one of the reasons amongst others that I left the U.K when I did some years ago moving to Spain and now Los Angeles. Cold and old would not allow me to skate how I want to. A lot of things keep me motivated, I am so thankful to have been able to live this life and will never forget it.
What’s keeping the fire burning?
How could I not be motivated when I am able to still skate, travel and get paid to do what I love?
True. Who’s inspiring and killing it?
There are so many skaters I am into and have been over the years. It was Matt Hensley followed by Mike Carrol followed by Kalis in the Love Park era. These days I am really hyped on a lot of my friends such as Nick Jensen, Sylvain Tognelli, Lucien Clarke, Chewy. The U.K scene is smashing it at the moment. I am also a big fan of Vincent Alvarez as I think he embodies what a skater should be like in style, attitude and skill. It has never been about just being good, you need to have a lot of other shit going on.
I Love Chewy’s skating.
Chewy is super good, he is just gifted at what he does and skates like no one else. Seeing him skate in person is no joke.
What do you do when you aren’t skating?
Skating and working takes up a lot of my time. When I am not engulfed in emails or out skating my life is my lady and dog Bernard. I travel so much with skating that when everything stops all I want to do is relax and be with them.
Colin Kennedy. You must have some stories.
There are so many but one that springs to mind may not sound too funny but at the time was fucking hilarious. One time, a long time ago we were in Rotterdam on some trip and we were out drinking having a great old time. Once the bar decided that they were not serving us anymore we went outside to where we were greeted by a big rain storm. With not much sense between us we started on our drunk crawl back to the hotel – which seemed to be a lot further that we had remembered. After around fifteen minutes of walking we decided it would be a great time to try and steal a bike. We searched and searched but everything was chained up except this one bike with no handle bars. It seemed like a fine plan to try and ride it with just a vertical bar to steer with for the couple of miles back to the hotel in the pissing rain. We spent the next hour or so trying to drunk maneuver this bike back with Colin sat on the back, we ate shit so many times on the road it was insane. I can remember we were just lying in a huge puddle in the middle of the road laughing wondering what the fuck we were doing. We made it back in the end but whenever Colin and I talk about that time it’s tears of laughter every time.
[Laughs]. Can you tell us about how you became involved with narrating Future Nature?
When we were filming our Transworld Skate and Create a friend of mine Mark Stewart – who works for Element – helped us out with the filming and editing for free so when he approached me about helping them out with the video, I was happy to do it. It was a pretty strange uncomfortable experience at the time and something I had never done before. I don’t know how I feel about it still as I don’t like hearing my voice so I only actually watched it once. It seemed to confuse a lot of people why I did it but the bottom line is I did it to help out a couple of mates.
Great idea and video too. Did it take long to put the whole narration thing together?
All I had to do was go into their offices and read the lines, they wanted me to change my voice expressions which proved to be pretty hard but mostly it was all set up. It may have been easier to do it if I could have seen the video but they had it all under wraps so I had to just speak to nothing.
Any personal favorite board graphics?
With Blueprint, it was the investigation series. Also an old Panic board I had with a pool player on it.
What’s your personal favorite video part?
My favorite was actually my last one in Make friends. I put everything I had into that and was really stoked how Dan Magee put everything together.
Was a great part for sure. When will we see another one and when should we expect a video?
We will be dropping some new footage soon and yes I would like to start working on another video part, I have some footage already and hope to work on something this year.
Looking forward to it. Thanks Paul.
Follow Paul on Twitter: @shiermate
Follow Stephen Cox on Twitter: @stephen_coxy