Greg Hunt on his Visual Ode to Iconic Skater Jason Dill

Photos by Greg Hunt

Greg Hunt has published a book of photos that sketch the life and career of Jason Dill—and if you know anything about Dill, you’ll know that his is one of the more interesting and arduous journeys ever taken in skateboarding.

From his early pro years in the 90s, all the way to his present-day icon status, Dill has had his fair share of storms and sunshine, and Hunt’s Ninety-Six Dreams, Two Thousand Memories documents it beautifully. Monster Children chatted with Greg about the book, his decades-long friendship with Dill and the importance of being true to yourself.

In one word, how would you describe your relationship with Dill?

I’d say a good word would be “consistent”. Dill has been one of the most solid friends I’ve had. But I’m always careful not to give the impression that we are the closest of friends, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. There’s a lot to Dill’s life that I’ve never been privy to, and there have been huge blocks of time where we didn’t really see each other. But, with that said, we are good friends and old friends. Our relationship has had a lot of different phases from just casual to a more serious working relationship with a lot of pressure, but throughout all that he’s always been consistent with me and a friend above all. I think that says a lot about his character. If there’s one thing I know about Dill it’s that he holds his friends in the highest regard. If anything happens to anyone close to Jason, he’ll be the first one there. So yeah, consistent is a good word.

How did the book come about, and how long did it take to edit the images?

I started shooting Dill in 2000, but it wasn’t until a visit to New York in 2005 that it sort of clicked that I wanted to start documenting him in a more traditional way. Dill is fascinating and really open and easy to shoot, but the idea got me excited because that type of thing doesn’t really happen in skateboarding, where someone is documented over a long period of time. So, in the years that followed, I started shooting Jason a lot. Eventually I had a folder full of postcards and mail from him, plus all kinds of random shit I’d save. But it wasn’t until last year that I really started thinking about actually turning it into something. It was a slow year for me, and my son was born, so I was spending a lot of time at home. But it also just felt like the right time. I spent about a year editing everything down. It was a lot of work.

How involved was Dill in piecing the book together? Was it a collaborative effort?

Jason was super involved. I’m sure it would’ve been a different book if I’d done it by myself. Actually, there would be no book! But throughout the process, Jason was so generous with what I was doing, and towards the end he only had minor suggestions. We’d meet from time to time during the year and I’d show him where I was at, and he’d tell me what he thought. I also went up on an FA trip with him and visited him in Miami, where he was hiding out for a while. So we’d talk about the book during those times as well. Definitely a collaboration.

What’s the meaning of the title?

I had that title floating in my head for years, not really for anything specific. But as I was working on the book it kept coming back to me, especially once I started seeing what it was shaping into. The title is definitely more about my trip than it is Dill’s. Dill and I met as teenagers in the early 90s when we were both amateur skaters. We were peers, and we quickly became friends. But, in the years that followed, I was the one who sort of wavered and took a different path. Dill stuck with it. So, when I moved to LA to make skate films in 2000, we reconnected, but I felt like a different person. I mean, we both were different people, but, in a way, I felt a bit lost. Maybe lost is a bit extreme; I was happy, but I had gone through such a major switch-up in my life that I think it was hard for me to process. Imagine being a pro skater, and then suddenly you’re a media guy with a camera. It was a bit surreal, and to a degree I think I really longed for the life I’d had before. And only when editing this book down did I realise that photography was something I was using at the time to process everything. So, that’s where the title comes from. It’s about our friendship, but it’s also about my life over those two decades. 1996 is when I turned pro, and 2000 is when I moved to LA. That’s also the year I started shooting Dill.

As much as the book traces Dill’s life, in what way does it document yours and your practice?

When Dill and I first started talking about doing the book, it was actually going to be more of a loose thing with each of our photos, but then pretty early on it seemed clear to me that it was more of my story. I started to see what I was shooting and kind of realising why I was shooting it. So it made sense to me that it would be from my perspective, and Jason was really cool to let it go to that. Also, there are only a few other people in the book, primarily Anthony Van Engelen, Dylan Rieder and Bill Strobeck. I wanted to keep it that way on purpose. Those are some of the most significant people in my life as well during that time.

What do you hope young people will come away with after seeing your book and learning about Dill’s story?

I’m not sure. It’s a photo book, so it’s sort of designed to be open for interpretation. Each image is significant, and there’s a reason why it’s all edited a certain way, but to each person who’s flipping through I’m sure it’s a totally different experience. If anything, I’d say the book shows this incredible full circle in Dill’s life: you see him at the beginning of the book as this young pro skater at the top of his game, then at the end, 17 years later, after going through so much shit, there he is sitting with the FA kids who are at the exact same age and point in their careers as he was at the start. Despite what Dill might have been going through at certain points in his life, he’s always stuck to what he believes in. He’s never wavered. The book is a testament to that.

To read more from MC #59, get yourself a copy here.

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