The Amazing Grace of Beatrice Domond


Photos by Andrew Arthur and Jared Sherbert unless otherwise noted.

It is very easy to get away with being awful.

The very thing that makes skateboarding great—the ease of acceptance, the openness—is also the thing that often pulls it down. Extremely talented, horrible people switch back tail their way to success in an industry that makes a point of taking in all who apply. This is not a complaint so much as an identification of a problem, and the cost of doing business. This problem is so pervasive, that when you meet someone like Beatrice Domond, a skateboarder so genuinely, effortlessly kind, it’s worth committing some pages to.

Beatrice Domond is a filmmaker, photographer, collector, zine maker, and model; the most polite, the least demanding. She’s a dog sitter and a fun decorator. She’s a joke maker and a skateboarder. Her approach to her career as a professional athlete is one of humility, grace, and commitment, and in a cultural climate like skating—where these values are largely lost on kids who count followers and demand free product—this approach has set her apart, and we appreciate her for it.

Delightedly, and with very little background research done on my part (sorry), she invited me to her East Village apartment to hang with some pups, talk some shit, and hear her story from Cherry to today.

Who are you?
Beatrice Domond.

What do you do?
I skate.

How long have you been doin’ that?
I’ve been skating since I was five, but I only started to actually try when I was 14.

What’d you do before that?
School, soccer, basketball, tennis. I did tennis for five years every summer—I just grew up super active. My mom wanted us to be well rounded and have options, and when I stumbled onto skating, it stuck.

Why’d it stick?
Well, around then is when I went to high school. I started having to decide who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. When you’re a kid, everything is so severe and intense.

That seems like a bit much for a 14-year-old.
I agree! But when you’re a kid, that’s just how you think. The people around you hype up these four years that are supposed to shape your life and make you into the person you’re going to be for the rest of your life. I decided I wanted to be a skateboarder. It all feels very permanent and important.

What shaped you when you were coming into skating?
I was part of the YouTube generation of skating. I just typed in skateboarding and watched people. Anyone on there was a pro to me. I would watch what they did and go practise outside.

 

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Were there any early YouTube stars that really got you?
Yeah, I was really into these random YouTube kids. Now that I have a little more time, I’ve been trying to search for them but I think they deleted all of their stuff. You know how when you hit 16 and you’re like, ‘Damn, everything I did at 14 was wack!’ so you go back and clean up your accounts? I think that’s what happened.

Naquan Rollins did that! He went back and sanitized his YouTube channel when he started filming more seriously. He’s also a part of that Dyrdek-YouTube generation.
Oh yeah, Dyrdek! I figured out who he was because I love the history of things, and I’d try to connect things to people. Like a trickle effect.

What do you mean?
Like, I got this magazine in 2007, and it had Stevie Williams, Bam Margera, Jamie Thomas, and Andrew Reynolds on the cover. I searched their names and found out who they rode for and who was connected to what brands and which skaters were into the same shit that I was into, and I’d learn about skating that way.

Oh, you’d piece together a family tree!
Exactly! I still have that magazine. Now kids just go on Instagram and there’s a roadmap for them.

How do you feel about Instagram superseding YouTube, which superseded the full-length?
I appreciate skating so much that I think sometimes it takes away from the experience. When I was growing up, I didn’t care about sponsorship. I just wanted to learn new tricks and skate as much as I could, and I think kids have a different agenda today through the access they get on the internet. I don’t want to sound like the old person complaining about the new generation.

You’re 26!
Yeah, but there’s still a huge difference! The internet changed everything and I watched it change. There’s so much brand hopping now, whereas when I was growing up, people would be with the same company for 15 years. I think the internet changed expectations for a lot of kids. It’s crazy. I mean, I get it. The beauty of being a kid is being able to wear whatever you want and try out all of these products and see what you like so that when you get to the point of being able to be sponsored, you’ll be stoked on your company, instead of being 12 and being put full on to adidas and discovering years later that you don’t actually like the shoes. Your 12-year-old brain isn’t your 15-year-old brain. I just wish kids would enjoy their moment more instead of diving into a career or whatever.

Are you into your sponsors now?
Oh yeah, so stoked. I am grateful. It took me a long time but I’ve been with the same people for nine years and I am proud of that and happy with who I’ve gotten to ride for.

How’d you get sponsored? Did you make a tape?
Yeah, that is very of our era. I made a tape, found out who my favourite was and who I connected to the most, and that happened to be Alien Workshop. They became my favourite company. I saw a name in the credits of Mind Field and it was Bill [Strobeck] and it looked like a cool name, so I was like, ‘Whoa, he filmed this whole video.’ I realised later that he only contributed a couple of clips, but I emailed him my tape and didn’t hear back for a while. One day he wrote back, like, ‘So sick! Keep skating!’ and that’s all I really needed. I didn’t care about the boards or whatever, just that someone thought my skating was cool was enough. I guess he passed on my footage to Dill, and I got an email from him saying he thought my tape was sick and he wanted to send me some boards, and he did! He sent me two boards and some Reflex griptape. I still have the email saved. Later on, I entered a contest and asked Dill if it was cool for me to say I was flow for Alien and he emailed back with his blessing. I got second. Things just went slowly from there.

Damn, I love a good ‘sponsor me’ story. How’d that escalate to FA and Supreme?
A little later, Bill reached out to me and asked me to contribute a clip for the video he was working on, which turned out to be Cherry. I filmed a trick at home in Florida and sent it up to him, and then later on I got an email cordially inviting me to the Cherry premiere. Me and my mom took the Amtrak up here for the first time. Met up with Bill, the Supreme guys, it was just magical. My first time going to Supreme on Bowery, the line is down the block and it’s March, so it’s brick cold outside—skip the line and just walk right in. We go skate the Vans park on Franklin, went to the premiere. It was fucking sick. I go back to Florida, nobody knew what Supreme was back then so nobody cared, and things just went back to normal.

Didn’t Dill leave Alien right around then?
Yeah, and that was scary! Dill and Bill left and I was like, ‘I ride Alien boards through these dudes, they left, I don’t know what that means for me.’ I was 18, in Florida, just stressing. I got a letter from Bill…

A letter? A handwritten letter?
Yeah, from Bill that said, ‘B, only had these two boards to send, will send more later, Strobeck,’ and it was two AVE FA boards before they even came out. I skated that board for so long. So fucking long. Things moved from there. I was just so grateful that they remembered me. I’m still grateful that they remember me. I was never one to ask for anything—I never wanted to bother them for boards, I just felt bad. So, when they sent me anything I was just so happy. I met Sean [Pablo] and Sage [Elsesser] when they came to Tampa and they brought me a bunch of boards and shirts, I got on Converse through Kevin [Rodrigues] around then too. Shout out to them.

I think that level of humility and patience is a dying art.
Dude! Kids these days will be like, ‘I can switch back tail! I need a box now!’

‘I can switch back tail! I need a box!’ should be on a t-shirt. You’re nursing an injury at the moment, what have you been doing to occupy your time? What do you do outside of skateboarding?
I make zines, take photos. I love taking walks, valuing my time, I try to stay busy.

How’d you get into all that stuff? What’s the inspiration behind making all these things?
My favourite skaters are the ones that make art: Gonz, Dill, the people who have something outside of skateboarding to explore. I think this stuff specifically came from back when I was in college. I took an analogue photography class where I learned how to use a manual camera, develop film, print in a darkroom, and then we’d hang them up for a grade. I just enjoyed it and got really into it, not knowing what I would do with the photos.

What have you been shooting lately?
Well, I have been travelling all summer, so a lot of Milan, Berlin. I just have a little point-and-shoot I carry around. I’ll shoot portraits on my other camera sometimes, but I’m really into shooting life.

 

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New York City is a good place for that sort of thing. Street photography gold.
Yeah! And that’s where the idea came for a book. I just shot those photos in college and didn’t really know what to do with them. While I was in college, I was coming up here a lot and would see someone had a photo show, or a photo book coming out, and I didn’t realise that you could do all of these things with your photography. I thought it was such a cool idea, and when I had enough photos or a collection that felt right, I put together a book, Fly on The Wall, and had a little show at Token.

When do you find yourself shooting the most? Do you ever go out specifically to shoot?
Yeah, I try to set aside days where I am only a photographer and I go out to take photos, but on those days, I hardly ever see anything that I think is worth taking a photo of. All of my favourite photos come from going skating or going out with friends with a camera in my pocket and seeing the right thing at the right time. I think it’s about catching things when you aren’t expecting it.

Photos by Beatrice Domond

How has your adjustment been to being a pro athlete?
I’m a Capricorn, I like to have things planned out. I don’t make a move unless I have a plan, or at least I try to be stable and secure and comfortable. With skating, it’s so unstable and eventful and unexpected, that it fucks with the chemicals in my brain and stimulates and keeps me sort of balanced. It’s a welcome sort of opposite of who I normally am by nature. If I didn’t have it, I think I’d be too comfortable. You need some uneasiness in life. At least, that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.

Yeah, you got up today to have this chat with me! You’re welcome!
I could barely get up this morning. I usually get up at around 6 am. I enjoy seeing the city before anybody else can see it. I’m just there with my thoughts. It’s nice.

What advice might you give to a kid in this new economy of skateboarding?
I think just be true to yourself and don’t stress about getting sponsored. It’ll come to you. Pros used to tell me that and I thought they were trying to gatekeep, but they are sort of right. If you really love skateboarding and want to pursue the professional route, it’ll come your way. With my story, there was a lot of work put in, but it was sort of effortless at the same time. Things came to me and I’m grateful for that. I’m glad things came to me, but I’m also really glad that I had to work for them.

To see more from the 2021 Monster Children Annual, grab a copy here.

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