C.R. Stecyk III è una leggenda vivente. Un originale, un innovatore, un pioniere, un artista a tutto tondo indissolubilmente legato all’arte – “di strada” e non – e alla cultura più autentica dello skateboard. Fotografo, giornalista, designer, regista, videomaker…insomma un “multimedia artist” che ha influenzato e continua a influenzare creativi di ogni sorta.
Poco più che ventenne, nei primi anni ’70 Craig si unì a Jeff Ho e Skip Engblom con il leggendario Zephyr Surfboard Shop di Santa Monica, contribuendo nello shaping delle tavole ma soprattutto nella loro customizzazione attraverso grafiche originali e assolutamente inedite per il tempo. Poi, verso il 1974, quando un gruppetto di giovanissimi surfers chiamati Jay Adams, Tony Alva e Stacy Peralta inziò a costruire dei rudimentali skateboards per girare sull’asfalto nei giorni di piatta, Craig, Ho e Engblom decisero di iniziare a produrre tavole e costituire un vero e proprio team. Attraverso foto e articoli sulle riviste del tempo, Craig creò il tema di Dog Town, da lì lo Zephyr Competition Team, gli Z-Boys e il resto è Storia. La storia dello skateboarding per come lo conosciamo oggi, una storia scritta e illustrata proprio grazie a Craig.
Recentemente il nostro ha collaborato con Hurley per un progetto artistico chiamato FIN, un corto di 10 minuti circa sulla più autentica cultura DIY: quella degli shapers delle tavole da surf, quella delle moto e delle macchine custom, dello skate, della musica, dell’arte etc. Un mix di immagini e suoni, sapientemente mescolati e armonizzati con quello stile fotografico e inaspettato che caratterizza da sempre le produzioni video di CR. Stecyk III.
In occasione del lancio di FIN Hurley ci ha dato la possibilità più unica che rara di scambiare due chiacchiere con Craig e Craig è stato così gentile da rispondere alla grande, con dovizia di particolari. Qui sopra FIN, nelle prossime pagine l’intervista e all’ultima pagina Luxuria, video-autobiografia dell’artista. ENJOY!!
It’s hard for us to ask something to an authentic living legend like you. So let’s do it simple and let’s start from the beginning: photography, I guess.
You are being overly generous in according me the legend appellation. But I sincerely thank you for the compliment anyhow. Ask me anything.
When and how did you start to take pictures?
I was always in the vicinity of cameras as my father had both a darkroom and the predelection to record the events around him. His course of practice, which he imparted to me via example, was to have mastery of the basic skills and then to use them to document his surroundings.
What about your first cameras and your first subjects?
The initial units were borrowed. My first owned device was a 1957 Asahi Pentax. First subjects were maritime views, bears in the woods (literally), urban landscapes and surfing.
What are your first memories about surfing?
I grew up around the beach so surfing was always very much in evidence.
There were boards all around on the beach, so I just started borrowing them. Soon I owned one, and then two and then more. Steve Hawk who was the editor of Surfer magazine, claimed in print that he counted over 100 boards in my studio. As a trained newspaper correspondent, I don’t think Steve was prone to exaggeration. But personally I never totaled them up. They were merely tools to me, how many hammers and nails do you need to do any conceivable job that might come up? I never viewed myself as a collector. My conception was to accumulate raw materials and devices that were relevant to my active inquiry.
When did you see for the first time a skateboard?
There are documented examples of people sidewalk surfing that go back to Indian Jack Quigg in 1932 stand up riding a small door with skate wheels down 26th Street hill in Santa Monica and surf turning it. Dr. Don James, Joe Quigg and Tulie Clark all verified this for me. As they are all recognized early surfing practitioners this is indeed significant. In La Jolla Buster Wilson also rode skateboards in the thirties. Carl Ekstrom , Jim Fitzpatrick, Butch Van Artsdalen, Mike Hynson and others carried it forth down there. The Malibu cartel had heads like Miki Dora, Danny Bearer, Torger Johnson, Ned Wynn and Art Lake all pushing things forward. So there are two lineages there that I interacted with that influenced me. I much like everyone else, started in 1956 on a 2×4 with steeled wheels and a fruit crate nailed to it. One day the box broke off and there it was. It was downhill from there on.
What were your early thoughts about it?
From about 1960 on skating has obsessed me. I occasionally still like to roll out on an old school steel wheeled Union ball bearing unit. Steel wheels re-instill that feeling of awe-inspiring powerlessness and vulnerability. No pain, no gain.
When did you meet Skip Engblom and Jeff Ho?
We all grew up in the same general area on Santa Monica Bay and were all involved with the building of surfboards and we each skated. It was inevitable that we become partners due to these commonalities. Jeff worked for Robert Milner (Roberts Surfboards) and for Dewey Weber who had a big skate team. Skip was associated with Flaherty Surfboards and also toiled at Makaha Skateboards branding Phil Edwards models. I labored at Dave Sweet Surfboards and had an informal sponsorship from Larry Stevenson at Makaha.