Interview by Grant Yansura / Photos by Brent O’Donnell
Alex Schmidt used to do this series for us called ‘Side Streets’, where he’d profile a skateboarder by taking photos of them and then asking them a couple questions. Today, the tables have turned, and the profiler has become profilee. Grant Yansura sat down with the WKND skateboarder to talk about work, his photography, women, and claims to fame. Alex also mentions he likes to write personal notes in the packages sent from WKND’s online shop. Mention you read this article and he might even send you his number.
GY: Where do you work?
AS: I work in downtown Los Angeles at the Ace hotel. Am I allowed to give out that information? They’re corporate.
What do you tell the ladies it is you do?
Uh, technically I’m a “Food Runner” but I say “Servers Assistant.” Nice ring to that don’t you think?
How do you balance work skating and photography? What’s your schedule looking like?
With work, it’s basically I either open or I close. If I close I’ll probably skate before work but sometimes that’s too much, I’ll stumble into work with 8 hours of running around ahead of me. If I open, I’ll meet up with the crew after work if they’re out and about skating after hours. I mean, working that much actually makes me more motivated to try and get something done. I have to make shit work out with the free time that I have. With photography, I always carry my camera around with me. If I go skating and I see something that I think is interesting or worthwhile, I’ll take a photo of it.
So with work, skating, and photography, if you added a girlfriend to that, you’re done.
I’m married to the streets. You know this.
Have you ever been late to work from trying a trick?
I’ve had to rush from the scene to work a few times. If I rush to work with a make it’s worth being late. If I’m running to work with an almost that means I’ve got a long depressing shift ahead of me. Either way I’m going in tired and sore as shit, I guess that just motivates me to land what I’m trying as fast as possible.
You’re from SD right? What made you move up to LA?
Mainly cause it’s close to home but not home. Far enough away where I could still be close to my family but also experience some different things then what I grew up around.
What skate video frequented your VCR growing up?
First video I ever saw was the Uno Transworld video. Uno was the first one I’ll always remember that. Etnies High Five, Baker2G—I remember watching those a lot too.
I know you like a more east coast approach to skating—where did that come from being that you grew up in the land of yellow edged stairs and schoolyard handrails?
Considering that I’ve been around that type of skating for so long, I just wanted to change it up personally and the kind of skating I want to watch is more in that realm. I think I was just burnt out on everything else that you see more of in southern California. Down there it seems to be more about old spot new tricks. That’s cool if you can do it but for me searching for your own spots is fun. I don’t know is that an east coast approach? For me, it’s just the more enjoyable approach.
Until last month you lived in a house with WKND bros Taylor and Maalouf. How’d that all come together?
When I moved to LA the spot I was supposed to get fell through so Clint Peterson knew of a room opening up. I moved in there and Laiban Theatis was the landlord, Chris Lambert lived upstairs and Chris Marchovich lived upstairs for a while, too. Awesome place, a big ass house in Echo Park with a large yard. I lived there for a while and then Taylor moved in. I didn’t know Taylor at all when he moved in. So from living together we just became good friends. Maalouf coincidentally started dating this girl Amber that was about to move in. That basically just fell into place. For the record, they moved into my place. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Amber.
What do you like about skating for a small company like WKND?
Well for one, it’s all my friends involved. There’s no one random, like, ‘oh this guys on the team now?’ I think that’s my favorite part about it. You’re free to do whatever you want, skate how you want, everyone has a say about what goes into the company for the most part. When we’re not out skating together, it’s still the same guys I’ll call to hang out.
What chores do you have aside from skating for WKND?
For a while the warehouse was out of our living room, so when Grant was busy or out of town I would help with the orders. Drive to UPS if needed. Now there is a WKND office but I’ll still help if needed. We put notes or little funny things in all the orders, I like helping out with that.
Photo by Rob Wootton
What’s your claim to fame?
I got run over by a car and survived. Look me up.
Is it true you got nice with Emrata?
Was that her name? Just kidding, next question.
What do you like to shoot photos of?
Some people might say it’s corny, but I shoot street photography. Preferably somewhere that looks cool already and you kind of just wait around for the image to present itself. It’s basically making something out of what people walking by take for granted.
Why do you mostly stick to B&W photos?
That’s a question I ask myself a lot. I feel like I can’t give color justice. I think B&W is timeless and it’s bold. As for color, of course there are situations that call for it but I think it’s harder, to be honest.
Who’s your favorite photographer?
Right now I’d have to say this guy Josef Koudelka. I just went to the Getty twice last week to check out the exhibit he had.
Who’s your favorite skater?
I’m really inspired by a lot of people. I really like watching those Magenta videos but I don’t know, let’s go with Stefan Janoski.
So what if Goudelca shot an interview of Stefan?
Oh I think it’d be cool. Seems like Stefan is a creative person so they’d probably come up with something interesting.
Oh wait can you make Montoya my favorite skater?
I can do that.
Do you want to go skate tonight?
Just kidding, I can’t.