A Portrait on Jamie Thomas

Video by Jordan Lovelis. Photography by Ryan Allan. Presented by OTIS.

The skate legend opens up in our new film.

From the outside looking in, it would appear as though Jamie Thomas always had his shit together. Notoriously disciplined and driven, few have left an indelible mark in skateboarding like the Chief. As a pro skater, filmer, editor, brand builder, entrepreneur, and designer, Jamie has built a legacy on being meticulous, laser focused, and detail-oriented that hasn’t been matched since his meteoric rise to the top. If you grew up skating in the ’90s or 2000s, there’s a very solid chance that Jamie was your favorite skater and Zero was your favorite brand. Hell, even Graham Coxon, guitarist of Blur, wrote a song called “Jamie Thomas” at the height of their collective fame.

Now approaching 50 with a new perspective on balance and life, Jamie reflects on his decades of experience, acknowledging that his obsessiveness was actually a self-destructive coping mechanism—a fatal flaw preventing him from being the well rounded family man he’s become today. That’s isn’t to say he’s not still completely obsessed with everything he does. It’s just that he’s learned to compartmentalize his time in order to live a more balanced and fulfilled life.

Don’t think you’ll see him slow down anytime soon, though. As he says, “I don’t really think about retirement. I don’t want to just sit somewhere. That sounds like purgatory. I just want to keep learning and growing.” Without further ado, we’re proud to present A Portrait on Jamie Thomas, a short film about Jamie in 2022. The good, the bad, the Chief.

“My plan was very basic. Move to California, make a life in skateboarding. Growing up in Alabama, I never could have imagined… I mean, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a pro skateboarder, but I don’t know if I was able to fathom the reality of it.”

“Looking back, I was very regimented, really young. Like 12 or 13, where people are playing on their skateboards, I’m skating to school because I feel like I’m training for something and I don’t even know what I’m training for… Thinking that if I spent more time on my board, I would get better, and that would give me a better chance of making a life in skateboarding. So even though I wasn’t thinking about this long term goal, I was always working on it. But I never thought of it as discipline. I thought of it as dedication. I’m dedicated to what I want to do. I’m dedicated to the goals I have. I’m dedicated to executing whatever it is I’m dreaming about in a certain way. And I didn’t really have discipline when I was young. It was all based on my desire. And I think coming back from injuries was how I discovered being disciplined in a consistent manner, outside of doing something that you love to do. The more disciplined I got, the more free I felt and I thought that was so interesting. I always felt the opposite and I always fought discipline because of that.”

“If I take identity in something, then I’m very passionate about doing it as good as I possibly can. I think that that identity is the piece that drives the desire to do things really well. I take identity in being in good shape, and I see myself as fit in my mind, and that’s how I want to be. And so I just kind of do whatever I need to do in order to stay fit so I can continue to skate. I see myself as a skateboarder, and if I get out of shape and I can’t skate, then I’m not a skateboarder… I never thought about how other people would see any of the things I was doing. It was just really about trying to push myself to see what I was capable of.”

“I am getting older and I realize my skateboarding legacy, my time to make new things, is not coming to an end but is slowing down. I feel in some ways, I see the deadline of life. I know where I need to allocate my time in order to live a full life and just appreciate things for what they are.”

“When I know that a product is going to represent me personally, I have a checklist of things that I want to accomplish. I want it to be authentic. I want there to be quality. I want it to be unique. I want it to be special. With OTIS, designing eyewear is new for me and that’s kind of what I love about it. I’m able to push myself and explore designing in a new medium and learn more about product development in different areas. I feel like everything comes back to learning and growing. Like, how can I evolve? How can I push myself?”

Shop the OTIS x Jamie Thomas Overkill collection here.

Directed by Jordan Lovelis
Shot and edited by Jordan Lovelis and Max Junk
Still Photography by Ryan Allan
AC – Taha Sobhani
Gaffer – Beau Trembly
Sound Recordist – Joel Jasper
Color – Connor Bailey
Sound Design – Thom Pringle
Last song – “You & I” by Francisco The Man

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