Street Skateboarding as Art: Transcending City Space

The Art Still Thrives
The concept of reinterpreting, transforming, and utilizing our surroundings is as old as art itself.   Not only is this process a healthy creative exercise, it’s also a sure way of heightening consciousness and awareness of our everyday surroundings.  The goal of street skateboarding is to find hidden potential within the physical space around us, areas of cities outside the comfort of our homes that are too easily written off as useless—or worse—labeled wasteful eyesores.  What was once a forgotten staircase behind a boarded-up building, an abandoned refrigerator in a parking lot choked with weeds, or an uneven bump in a cracked sidewalk, attributes typically associated with the fallouts of urban decay, can be imagined into a sparkling blank canvas through the act of street skateboarding.
Open Your Eyes
When I first picked up a skateboard as a ten-year-old kid, my goal was to amass a laundry list of “cool tricks.”  I wanted to possess complete dominance over my board, with the ability to flip it, spin it, and manipulate it in any way I pleased, not unlike the performance ability of a professional yo-yo master.  It was only after years of experience meeting older skateboarders, traveling to spots in San Francisco and abandoning my dream of becoming a pro skater when my perspective began to change.  My reason to skateboard became less about my coolness and more about this community of artists trying something new, a revolutionary creative union between physical and environmental worlds.
The Realization
My focus now turned to finding “spots.”  Before, on my way to work or school, I would look out the window of my car as the master over my surroundings.  Cities existed on their own terms and I was a passive observer with no identifiable relationship with the places around me.  Yet, after my realization of street skateboarding’s true nature, I was utterly dependent on the environment.  If every surface capable of allowing a skateboard to roll on it was truly a blank canvas, the surge of creative possibility was then overwhelming.  Every odd architectural mistake could be fully utilized and reinterpreted as a success: gaps in walkways could be ollied, benches too low or too high for sitting could be slid, curved roofs could be used as half pipes, slanted walls could be ridden, crooked poles could be grinded.  The irregularities of cities suddenly metamorphosed into gifts offered to my imagination from the universe.
Life Where no Life Exists
Putting street skateboarding’s potential into action fostered a new type of creativity within me.  Skateboarding forced me to reevaluate the elements of cities that I had always taken for granted.  Since there are no rules in skateboarding, the ways I could interact with something as simple as an empty trashcan or an old fire hydrant were almost endless.  In the same vain of artists who scour dumps searching out found objects for sculptures or street artists who paint murals on the walls of outhouses, street skateboarding breathes life into areas of perceived uselessness.  What was once a disposable object is now transformed into an essential partner in a relationship with the artist’s (a.k.a. the skater’s) imagination.


  1. mallory

    you’ve always told me that you thought of skate boarding as an art form, but it wasn’t until just now when i read this that i completely understand what you mean by that. this is beautiful.

    make another skate video now.

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