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I procured my first copy of Thrasher Magazine in the winter of 1988… in the pro shop of a Hockey rink. Throughout the 1980s in New England, bicycle shops were the defacto skate shops, carrying decks seasonally and discounting old stock in the summer. This meant if you were cheap and patient, you could score a deck after a snowstorm for $35 dollars and with graphics staying around for years, it didn’t even feel that shitty. And while BMX mags were stocked in convenience stores and supermarket aisles, skate magazines were elusive, hence coming across one in a place that sold ice skates as well as a selection of boards and hardgoods.
Scott Oster was doing a g-turn on the cover. The magazine cost $2.00 and included a Tommy Guerrero interview where he mentions not being able to skate the past Sunday because “the weather gods pissed on our hairdos.” My hands were inky black from the mag’s newsprint and TG became my favorite skater by the end of the car ride home. Raw, DIY, and unfiltered, and independent Thrasher was very much zine as much as it was a “magazine.” It echoed the spirit of the cut-and-paste tomes that kept skating alive during its crash in the ‘80s and often championed their creators. In the ‘80s and ‘90s zines were about necessity not vanity. They didn’t come with a limited pair of sneakers or were sold at art fairs for a 5000% mark up. Instead, they documented what was happening with the intention of showing anyone your scene.
Richard Hart is a photographer, visual artist, writer, and publisher of Push Periodical, shot exclusively on film, whose unique framing and style of image taking was featured in Slap Magazine before it ceased being a physical thing. Push is an independent skate mag that also feels like a zine in that the layouts feel touched by a human and not a mouse and the images are chosen by feel not fame. With the state of skateboarding in flux and ad budgets in jeopardy, you have to wonder if this will spark or stifle independent publications.
I spoke with Richard over email and the answer is… maybe?
Growing up in the UK in the ‘80s, what role did skate zines play for you?
I used to BMX and I started to become interested in skating from seeing it appear, gradually, in BMX Action Bike magazine. The ﬁrst skate picture I remember is a Gonz (Mark Gonzales) boneless; I recently saw it again on Insta after 35 years, quite a trip. But anyway, that magazine quickly morphed into R.A.D. magazine, with a much more subversive attitude and visually borrowing a lot from the punk/zine aesthetic. So it was, in a way, the ﬁrst ‘zine’ I saw because actual zines were very much the realm of insiders and, as a clueless kid, I wasn’t there yet.
As for the importance of print in the pre-internet age, especially when you are in love with something so niche and obscure; well, getting this capsule of information once a month was hugely signiﬁcant. I grew up in a little village and I didn’t know any skaters (yet). American magazines were too expensive for my pocket money, so the signiﬁcance of R.A.D. to me cannot be understated. , I would add that American magazines were quite alien to most English kids—inspiring, yes, but California seemed like a whole different world. So seeing people skate terrible rough UK carparks and bus stations in R.A.D. was relatable, and that too is very signiﬁcant in retrospect. As a footnote to all that, when I eventually moved to California, the first person I ended up living with was actually Nick Philip (Anarchic Adjustment), who was largely the one responsible for R.A.D’s graphic design.
What inspired you to start Push Periodical?
When Slap folded and the internet was taking over, I felt pretty burnt and didn’t really care for the direction skating seemed to be going in. I had already felt out of place because I didn’t want to shoot those generic medium format/three ﬂash ﬁsheye pictures that all looked the same or digital sequences of tricks that should’ve been ﬁlmed not shot. The last thing I did was an interview with Karma (Tsocheff) for the penultimate Slap. We both thought it was the last thing we’d do, in skating. And it nearly was.
I drew and painted more and didn’t shoot a skate photo for ﬁve years. I always missed it, but it took ﬁnding a welcoming, like-minded crew to make me start again. I think Matt Field was having the same experience, with the same crew. We both felt re-energized and ended up getting quite a few photos that I thought were interesting and unusual and would make a good interview. However, no magazines seemed to agree. Not that I really liked most of my options at that time, anyway. So the idea to make something started to germinate.
After ﬂoating this to a few friends, I immediately had offers for ads from Carhartt WIP and FTC, so that was encouraging. I bought my ﬁrst new computer, ‘borrowed’ some design software and learned how to use it, and I was away. PP1 came out in September 2015. I wasn’t sure if there’d be another issue but by then I was sitting on a lot of photos from a GX1000 trip to Japan/Taiwan, and that ended up being PP2.. and so on, and on.
With rumors of budgets being cut for advertising across the industry but with hardgoods sales reportedly steady, do you think this will be an opportunity for smaller brands to take out more print ads or is it going to cause more publications to go under?
That’s a very ‘glass half full’ way of looking at it, but I think the glass is actually pretty much empty. It’s a situation a bit like the late ’80s when a handful of companies were controlling the industry—the difference being that then, they were skate companies that had to support their own media, and now they are huge sports manufacturers for whom skateboarding is a small side project—one that doesn’t really make much money but is worth it for the ‘cool factor’. Which is ﬁne, skating is cool but with ad budgets for print now disappearing from these big companies, it is making things impossible. Most board companies don’t have any money. Most magazines don’t either (unless your T-shirt becomes mainstream-fashionable). Things look bad.
What's the biggest thing you've learned by making your own publications and why would you encourage younger generations to do so?
Who said I’d encourage them to? Just kidding. Sort of. I think tangible things are nice, and have more impact than things on a screen. They mean more, somehow. I like records, I like books, magazines… And I’ve learned I hate admin and that I have really very talented friends.
I’ll tell you what’s weird, I’ve been pretty down about all this lately, this battle to make a magazine, is it worth it? But I just took a break from typing this and checked my email. I had one new message from a 15-year-old who picked up PP17 today in a shop and read it on the train on the way home and they said ‘after reading the interviews I got really excited, inspired and proud to be a skateboarder.’
Issues of Push Periodical can be purchased on their website: http://www.pushperiodical.com
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