One thing that I find amazing about skateboarding is that it transcends cultural barriers. It’s amazing that a fascination over a wooden “toy” could instantly spark a good conversation over two individuals oceans apart. This was exactly the case when I got assigned to interview DOZE Collective’s newest member, Ryan Clarke. No awkwardness, just two skaters chewing the proverbial fat… talking about what we love the most. Here’s our little skate talk. Enjoy.
Hey Ryan tell us a bit about yourself. And what was it like growing up?
I was born on May 5th 1991 at Torrance Memorial Hospital in Torrance, California. My family and I lived in Culver City, CA which is about 20 minutes from Torrance for about 3 years and from there we moved about an hour away to the desert in Lancaster. I currently reside in Palmdale which is about 10 minutes away from Lancaster. Growing up I was always a good student in school, I only got in trouble for talking because I would finish my assignments early and I’d be bored. I wasn’t much of a troublemaker either.
When did you first start to skate? How did you get into skateboarding?
I think I first got on a skateboard at 5 years old. My older brother Brad had an old board in the garage and one day I picked it up and started to roll around on my hands and knees. I eventually progressed to standing up on it. I also played basketball so I didn’t really get into skateboarding until about age 11. I think what sparked it was playing Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, watching the pro’s videos amazed me because I didn’t know any of those tricks were possible. From then on I got a skateboard from WalMart at about 11 or 12 years old and I haven’t stopped since.
Who were your favorite skaters when you were just starting out?
When I first started skating my all time favorite skateboarder was, without a doubt, Tony Hawk. I also liked watching Kareem Campbell, Andrew Reynolds, Daewon Song, Rodney Mullen, Jamie Thomas, and Eric Koston.
What’s more important to you, tech or style?
I personally think they’re both important. But your style of skating isn’t really something that you can change a whole lot. It’s what makes each skateboarder an individual. But you also want the tricks to look good while you’re doing them. So with that said I would have to say that your bag of tricks and skating style are equally important in my book.
What’s your favorite thing to skate?
I like to skate all kinds of things; stairs, gaps, ledges, manual pads, etc. I like stairs because you can take a simple flatground trick like a 360 flip or a nollie flip and take it down some stairs or a gap and make it an amazing trick. Ledges and manual pads are really fun to get tech on, flip-in and flip-out variations are fun to experiment with. I’m just terrified of handrails.
Perfect skate session would be when you don’t get kicked out of any spots, everyone lands their tricks, perfect weather (no Antelope Valley wind), and good food afterwards. That hasn’t happened quite yet.
What aspect of skateboarding do you like the most?
I like the individuality of skateboarding. No two skaters skate exactly the same. I also like how united skateboarders are, you can instantly relate to one another even if you’ve never met before. You always get hyped up watching your friends do new tricks.
May sound a bit cheesy but how has skateboarding changed you? (‘cause I’m pretty sure it did… haha… I think skateboarding does that to people)
Skateboarding has changed me in so many ways. You can’t walk down the street and see everyday objects and look at them the same. An elderly person might look at a bench and want to sit down but a skateboarder would look at it and think of all the possibilities of tricks he/she could do on it. People will see a flight of stairs as something they have to walk up but skaters see them as things we want to jump down. I honestly don’t know what I’d be doing if I wasn’t skateboarding. Nothing else has impacted my life as much as skateboarding. Once you’re a skater, you’ll always be a skateboarder. What people don’t realize is that skateboarding is a lifestyle.
Do you think skateboarding has a positive influence on people?
My answer is biased but I definitely believe skateboarding is a positive influence. So many kids would be out troublemaking if they weren’t skating. Some other people don’t feel the same way. They don’t care if you do a switch flip back tail on a ledge, they just see it as you’re destroying their property and that you’re vandalizing. They’re right, but I think that graffiti, drug dealing, and other things are way worse than just grinding a ledge.
So what else are you into besides skateboarding?
I’m probably one of the biggest Los Angeles Lakers fans ever. Basketball was my first sport I loved so there’s a special spot for it in my heart. I try to watch every Lakers game, and when I miss one I have automatic updates on my phone.
What keeps you pushing forward?
The feeling of rolling away from a trick is indescribable. You work hard trying new tricks and when you finally land it it’s amazing. That’s why every skateboarder does it. You push yourself and your friends to better each other.