A Funky Ride
Illustrated by Ori Fox
The following interview was conducted by Tina Barbusci with skateboard maker Alex Marini.
What technique would you like to master and why?
A: When I first began carving and painting skateboards, I had no idea what I was doing and I still learn something new with each one. Even now, after having made 7 boards, I’m still always experimenting with different tools, painting techniques, and materials. If I had all the time in the world, it might be nice to master all the techniques, but I know that’s not practical. At the end of the day, my goal is to be able to communicate my thoughts and feelings with others more effectively.
How do you plan on achieving this goal?
A: Communication is a two-way game. I believe the best way to develop this skill is through practice, not just by sharing my experiences and thoughts through my words and art but by also listening and fostering relationships with people from all walks of life. I don't just make skateboards. I draw, design, animate, make music, sculpt, paint, sew, and more. Perhaps I'm not the best person to interview about mastering techniques, because I really couldn't care less about that. I see more value in being a jack of all trades.
Are you anticipating any challenges? What kinds of challenges?
A: The only challenge I can anticipate is fighting with myself to stay motivated on certain days. I am my own worst enemy, but I try not to beat myself up over it if I don't feel like doing anything for a whole day or even a week. I've learned a lot over the last few years about taking better care of myself and being aware of the cyclical nature of my moods.
Who are your biggest influences?
A: My biggest influences are the people in my life and the experiences we share. Friends, family, lovers, enemies. My experiences growing up with my father have really influenced me to follow my heart, work hard, and never settle, even if things were difficult.
What are the details that you pay the closest attention when you’re working on a board?
A: There’s so much that goes into each board that it’s easy to either get bogged down in details or to get impatient and cut corners. I try my best not to rush. The most time-consuming and detail oriented part of any board is the sanding after carving. Since carving is a rough process, it leaves a lot of little imperfections in the wood. It’s very important to go in and sand each little crevice with tiny squares of sandpaper. This step is definitely the most important to make sure everything looks smooth and it can take up to 10 hours to sand just one board.
What motivates you in your craft?
A: When I'm at a low point and feeling depressed, I make art as a way to process my emotions. These skateboards I've been working on are no exception. I'm motivated by the thought that someday I will emerge from my funk feeling better with a body of work to show for it.
What is your greatest source of satisfaction in what you do?
A: I’m a generally very reserved person, but when I meet someone who’s genuinely interested in my work enough to go out of their way to let me know how it has affected them, that feeling can’t be beat. There’s some darkness in all of my pieces, and I don’t shy away from talking about them in depth if prodded. I think it’s also very therapeutic in a way, connecting on a darker note. A lot of people keep their problems and negative emotions to themselves. To acknowledge the bad, the sad, and the ugly parts of life, that’s important too. To know that we're not alone in feeling sad sometimes, that's really nice.
What impact do you hope your work will have?
A: I don't really care if my work achieves any kind of widespread recognition. At the end of the day, I'm just trying to sort myself out and be a better me and connect with people however I can. I hope that my work affords me many opportunities to meet some interesting people and develop meaningful relationships with them.