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Exclusive Interview: Kelly D. Williams x Ed Templeton

Juxtapoz // Thursday, 20 Aug 2009

Ed is a professional skater and founder of Toy Machine Skateboards, world traveler, artist, photographer, and personal fav of a lot of us here at Jux His work was recently featured in Juxtapoz’ Photo Issue (Juxtapoz # 88). Check out Part One of this Juxtapoz exclusive, in depth interview that artist Kelly D. Williams conducted with Ed Templeton to gain insight into the world of this artistic skater-boy all grown up.



Interview by Kelly D. Williams

Kelly D. Williams: Hi, Ed. Where are you at right now?


Ed Templeton: Technically I’m in Huntington Beach, California, but I just got back from Europe, actually flew in yesterday from London. I was there for 4 days and in Paris before that. I think you sent this interview to me while I was in Berlin, but I was not able to sit down and work on it until just now. It sucks to sit in a hotel room and do an interview when you are in London or Paris, you know? There is too much out there to see and do.


Definitely, you gotta log off and enjoy where you’re at in the present. RVCA has been travelling a lot lately right? Have you been on tour with them?


Unfortunately, no. All the trips have overlapped with some other travel plans I had. I either have to work on Toy Machine or for an art exhibition, and that has really put a damper on my RVCA trips.


What are some of your responsibilities in the Artist Network Program, etc? Are you involved on the day-to-day side of things?


Well, I help edit the ANP Quarterly magazine, so on that I am involved on a day to day basis, but for artwork on T-Shirts and stuff I just get them artwork when they ask for it. If Pat has an idea he wants me to work on, I’ll do that for him, or if a new line is being worked on, I will contribute artwork. I do whatever they want me to. They are such a great group of people that it is a real pleasure to work with them.

You’ve got all the important ones already marked off the list, but what’s the most recent trick you just learned?


Tricks? I’m 36 years old, I don’t learn tricks anymore! What I focus on now is re-learning tricks I once learned, or even mastered, and then lost over time.


That is a trick, isn’t it? It’s pretty much what I have been doing, too. Or I can spend hours just putting my own stink to a simplified version of a new trick, like a half pop shove. Tight.


I spent a whole day not too long ago trying to get my 360 flips back in action. I don’t obsess about learning new things. I don’t want to learn or do nollie tre-flips for example. I would rather do a regular tail slide on a nice bank to ledge. I’m not delusional. I realize that the readers of magazines could care less about seeing me do that, but that is where I am.


I don’t know about that- I think that most mag readers would agree that it’s a pleasure watching you skate, regardless of the trick being performed. You’re a fun skater to watch. Besides the asking of this question, what’s the worst trend in skateboarding right now?


There is always something ridiculous going on, but it depends on where you view it from I guess. For instance I might answer your question by saying Face Tattoos. But there are literally scores of kids out there right now who can’t wait to get their face tattooed like their favorite skate hero. And hundreds more who may never do it, but think it’s super cool. So who am I to say? But I would say Face Tattoos are a bad idea, they might not be a trend, but that takes a serious commitment. Doesn’t anybody think they are gonna live past 30 these days? Do they think they will be a pro skater at 40?

I’m guessing that since the most common face tattoo is usually something akin to “die young”, these dudes aren’t really thinking that far in advance. Personally I couldn’t ink the face.  I always have these weird dreams about getting a bad tattoo, regretting it, and then trying to scrub it off in the shower, but it won’t come off, so I keep franticly scrubbing and scrubbing. bloodcurdling. What about the worst trend in art?


Calling someone a “Skate Artist.” Is there a certain thing that can alert you to who is a skate artist? Whoa, I just walked right into that one, painting on a skateboard! But aside from that, what does that mean? That is like saying “Bicycle artists” anyone who rides a bike and does art is one now a “Bike Artist” People who have a flannel shirt on make art in a certain way, lets call them the “Flannel Shirtists” People who skate and make art do so in a wide variety of ways, so you can’t categorize them into some sort of group that implies that they are making art that is similar in any way. But there are people who don’t skate, and love to paint on skateboards for “street cred” they think it might give them. If you are trying to be called a “Skate Artist” you already blew it at life.


[Laughs] Even car companies have now fostered the notion of “Car Artists”, like folks who get paid to paint on a new car model or something. I drive a car sometimes, but I also don’t get the vehicular and vernacular connection with an artist and such pigeonhole labels. What’s the best skate video you’ve seen this year?


I would say the Alien video. And I loved Nick Trapasso in the TWS video.


Who had your favorite part in Mind Field?


Well, different parts have different meaning for me. Number one, I have a long history with Arto Saari. I have been friends with him since he was a boy. So seeing him go through all sorts of injuries, become a fully gnarled man, and change sponsors all had a factor in the buildup to his part. It is something really great to see someone you know succeed in such an awesome way. So I was really excited to see Arto’s part, and it delivered all the gnar I was expecting. Then Heath Kirchart. I really like Heath, he is a strange man, and I don’t know him as well as I know Arto, but I know him well enough to want to see him do well. I wish him well. I had spoken with him about his part and I could tell that he really put a lot of heart and blood into making it so I was also amped to see what he was going to unveil, he is so secretive. It was his best part yet, and that is not a light statement, because the guy has laid down some legendary parts already. But as a straight fan, the part I fanned out on was Van Engelen’s. I don’t really know him at all, and I was fully charged to hear his music choice and see his fast as fuck skating.

AVE’s part was serious. Everything from the song to the gruesomeness of his skating. It blew me away. Heath’s, of course, was rad too. When you were putting Welcome To Hell together, did you have any idea that it would stand the test of time as one of the best videos ever made?


Not really. We just wanted to put out the best thing we could at the time. I say we because it was mostly Jamie Thomas’ direction that made it what it was. The only kudos I can give myself is that I recognized his zest and drive for making a great video, and even though it is my company, I gave him all the control. I don’t regret that at all. Of course it was a team effort, and everybody’s input at the time was crucial to making it what it was.


Being a devotee of Sonic Youth, I was always excited to watch your video parts because you quite often used their tunage.


I’m glad you liked the parts, I think using them helped open some people up to different music hopefully, and I thought it was music that really fit with what my skating was like, at least in my head.

Did you see them play that little show at OCMA a couple of years ago? I think it was for the California Biennale- I thought I would see you there.


No. I found out about it later and was bummed. I never hear about anything until after it happens.


How have your music tastes changed since then, or have they?


They have changed slightly. I still listen to Sonic Youth and Fugazi a lot, but I also like all sorts of folk music and am trying to learn about jazz more. I don’t spend a lot of time searching for new music, so it is hard for me to get into anything new unless it is especially pure. And by that I mean direct in a way where you can instantly discern the truth of what the music is doing. I can’t explain it really.


There is not a lot of new music that is pure. People are in and out of it in a flash. When you were first considering starting a skateboard company, what were some of the other names you were toying around with? Anything similar to Toy Machine like Boy Machine or anything?

We call it Boy Machine for fun sometimes, I mean with all our mega-handsome studs like Austin Stephens and Josh Harmony how can you not? I was gonna call it Toy Skateboards at one point, and then Machine at another. It was Ethan Fowler who suggested combining them. The first name was “Oggie’s Dead” I was fully serious about calling it that for a few weeks. My friend Justin Regan’s dog Oggie had died, and that was gonna be the name at first.

You do all the ads, right? When you sit down to design a Toy Machine ad, do you already have ideas about the text you want to include, or does it just pop onto the page randomly?


Yes, I do all the ads. I have done every one in the history of Toy Machine except three I think. The first was done by Ted Newsome maybe? The second Thomas Campbell. And Ron Cameron did one of Jamie Thomas once. Aside from that I did all of them. Once in a while I know what I want to say, but mostly it just pops in my head when I start doing it. Or comes from looking at the photo or thinking about the person who’s ad it is.


Maybe it really does work. All of your subliminal messaging has made me a loyal pawn to the bloodsucking company. So if I get in a mag blasting a buster on a monster, can I get a photo incentive check?


In this economy?


Good point. Even in a healthy economy it would probably be wise to avoid giving me any type of endorsement money: I’m a mediocre skater and an even worse artist.
As far as I know, you’re not into drugs, yet you always have a lot of syringes and pills in your graphics. What gives?


I’m not straight edge; I just don’t smoke or drink. I am not anti drinking or drugs however. I would vote today for the legalization of Weed. Alcohol kills way more that pot ever could. I am not even against having a sip of wine here and there. I just hate the taste of beer. The drug imagery is powerful, and I always liked the idea of people be inoculated with certain diseases or antidotes, or becoming addicted to something like skateboarding instead of drugs. It’s the old bait and switch.


Stay tuned for tomorrow for Part 2 of this interview. For more on Ed Templeton, check out his site here...




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