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Anecdotes: Craig Questions


All photography: Rob Whiston.


I’ve always found Craig a little bit fascinating, from watching him in Heroin videos and seeing his exploits with the Blokes crew. I didn’t intend to start shooting photos with him, I didn’t go seeking him out, I was in Brixton to shoot photos with Amanda Perez and Jake Snelling, and Craig happened to be there. He was really nice and polite; he came over really inquisitive - I guess that is where the nickname ‘Questions’ comes from. I was wearing a Dogpiss Magazine t-shirt and it had a lino print design on it; he was really stoked on it and we started talking about art, music and film. I learnt quickly that he was a really interesting guy, not quite what I was anticipating. From what you see in the videos, he seems like this over the top, zany character; you don’t expect him to have all of these other passions. He’s well read, and not just in your usual material, he loves traditional literature. He’s into poetry, he can play the banjo, he’s an incredible artist, he was living in the woods…he is the type of person that I would want to shoot because he’s not just a skateboarder, he’s not two dimensional, he’s multifaceted. Craig’s not just the clown that you might be expecting, he’s intelligent, well travelled and he’s got some stories to tell, regardless of whether you want to hear them or not.

 

When it comes to shooting skateboarding, Craig literally just wants to replicate everything that he saw as a kid, the things that he loves and holds dear. He’s always sending me reference material, photos of Tim Jackson and his other favourites from the bygone era which he longs for; he just wants to imitate what they’re doing, and emulate the way that they’re shot. We’ll go out and find the spot that will help the photo look the way that he wants to see it. Sometimes we have to compromise, and if a spot or a trick isn’t working out exactly the way it was planned, it will be all of the toys out of the pram. He builds up the act of shooting a photo so much that if he’s not able to fully realise his expectations, if he’s not pulling the right shape or the photo doesn’t look like his favourite image from 35 years ago, it takes him a while to relax and accept some words of support. He has very high standards when it comes to skateboarding; he’s hard on himself and never feels good enough, but he doesn’t see what I and many others do see - that his style is full of energy, colour and powerful flavours. I could watch his skating on a daily basis and still enjoy every spontaneous second of it.

 

My favourite photo we shot for this Anecdotes interview is the kidvert. It was so bizarre; the kid’s granddad was just standing by, watching. I think he does landscape photography, so he stood on the side taking his own photo of it. The kid was over the moon as well, because he loves Craig. Every other go, Craig was shoving his hand in the kid’s face. In a couple of the photos, he was dragging the kid’s hat down over his face, or bouncing him to one side, and this all seemed perfectly acceptable to the onlooking granddad. He was more concerned about the kid’s posture: “think about this, your mum is going to see this photo, stand up straight!”

 

To be honest, I love everything that I’ve shot with Craig; I think each of the photos are special in their own ways. I would have enjoyed the opportunity to shoot more long lens photos, but you try telling Craig that not everything needs to be shot fisheye and see where it gets you.


- Rob Whiston


Good buddy from flat, The Grove DIY, London.

The hat and shirt remind me of The Adventures of Pete and Pete, one of the most beautiful and inspiring TV shows I have ever seen. Set in fictional Wellsvile, it follows two brothers, Pete and Pete, and all of the zany adventures they have. The show has an extraordinary sense of nostalgia and innocence; it ran for three series which was perfect as it never had the chance to become too rinsed.


One foot nosestall to fakie, Coventry.

The great dish…over the 40 years of skateboard abuse it’s received, just think how many trucks have scraped that superior cornucopia. It’s sent from the skate gods.

I read about the great Neil Blender doing nosestalls and spinning 360 on his toe, coming back in to fakie on mini ramps, and seeing the one crazy hang-10 nosestall on a ramp always stuck in my mind, so I did this trick with the aim of pushing completely straight and falling back in, all in one motion. The trick is called ‘Engelbert Jumperdink’s Lost Left Slipper to Fakie’. Now say it out loud to yourself.


Frontside kidvert, Whitstable.

Is it an air? Is it a frontside invert? Is it a frontside kidvert? I always wanted to do this trick without the grab; without that, you can send the ollie into serious Steve Claar territory!

This was a fun day and a super rad session. Note the McDonald’s stickers on my board. If you have never heard of it, you need to check it out; it’s a great restaurant. As Dick Curless said: “Shine up that pick up truck, we’re firing to McDonald’s”.


Switch frontside wallwalk, Bristol.

The wallwalk to me sums up the true essence of skateboarding! The ‘skate and destroy’ attitude, jamming up anything in front of you, full speed, smashing your wheels up with hellfire, pushing everything you’ve got on one arm. It is the whole ‘make the most of what you’ve got’ ethic that got me hooked on skateboarding, and when you see people like Jesse ‘The Mess’ Martinez smash up a wall like he was going into war, what’s not to love? This one is switch, so you’re going up the wall backwards and contorting over yourself.

Aggression Session!


Hand down blunt rag, Birmingham.

Again, talking The Mess, this one takes you back to the 1980s sunny seaside slums of Venice Beach, Southern California. One of my biggest influences in skating was the wall master Tim Jackson; nobody skated like him…well, except maybe Fernandinho ‘Batman’ Thronn, the Lifestyle Skates pro from Brazil. What Tim Jackson did was mind-blowing to see, being a 13 year old little skate rat from the seaside town of Whitstable, Kent. Seeing (the 1990 Speed Wheels video) Risk It filled me with the skate lust that keeps you up at night!

I have tried this trick on and off over the years and never could really do them, but this time it just clicked and I was stoked! When you go to Venice Beach and see how high the walls are that Tim Jackson did all those crazy tricks on, it’s unbelievable. You then realise the pure power and aggression all the Venice Beach wall jammers had!


Hellaspin, Birmingham.

Venice inspired again. I had the Thrasher: Insane Terrain book as a young skater, and the photo of Jesse Martinez doing the hellaspin in a schoolyard packed with skate rat kids was mind-blowing to me. Everything that was going on in the photo…how his board is on his foot, what is he doing? How did it get into that shape? How the hell is he going to land? Everything about it was just amazing. All of the kids in the background with their fucked boards, coloured wheels, wrecked shoes, it’s just incredible! The decade of neon!

A few years later I saw the 1986 Action East video Along the Eastern Edge, where a young Mike Vallely is doing all the street plants, he does the hellaspin and it’s jaw dropping. It’s so smooth and perfect, and I might be wrong but I’m pretty sure he’s wearing a yellow Warzone shirt. I love Mike V from that era.


Frigid air, Whistable.

I always loved the frigid air over the judo as it’s done a little less and looks more powerful. Monty Nolder was the man for them, and the double kick-through to judo was pretty crazy and not to be messed with! Everyone knows if you do the lien air one foot to tail it’s called a Madonna, but done backside as a bodyjar one foot, it’s called a Sean Penn, because at the time when everyone was doing them, those two kookazoids were dating. Rad!


Layback pivot fakie, Wernside, Leeds.

This trick is whatever; the day was a bit shitty, I was pretty tired and I couldn’t be bothered, but I once did the same trick on a flat wall in my favourite place in the whole world - the American Midwest, the land of the prairies. The word ‘prairie’ is French for ‘meadow’, as when the French settlers came to that part of the world they described it as just miles and miles of meadows. Oceans of grass and wildflower all swaying in the gentle breeze for as far as the eye could see. Also, in my opinion, the most delicate and beautiful books ever written are set in this region - such as Willa Cather’s The Great Plains trilogy - and I relate them to the memories I have when I think about the Midwest.

It’s funny how you can relate music, landscapes, history, literature and culture with the memories you have of skateboarding in different parts of this world, so in hindsight, this trick should be called the Ántonia Shimerda to fakie.


Jump jump jump, Stafford.

Heading back to being a young naive skater at the local car park, your main focus and aim is to get off the kerb in any way you can, and the jump ramp is the extension of that.

Boost, kick, spin, pull up, push out! The jump ramp makes the possibilities endless. If I think back to being 14, all of my favourite memories from skating are always autumnal; the crisp cold air, the golden leaves under foot, the hazy light, everything about my sacred beautiful October, spending all day flying out of jump ramps and kickers with people I haven’t seen since then.

Some of the memories of my early days of skateboarding feel almost lonely in a still way, the same feeling I get from looking at an Edward Hooper or Andrew Wyeth painting, adrift in a transient place. A wonderful memory I have is of a jump ramp session in a small dusty town in the middle of nowhere America, a lonely barren landscape, the feeling of a drab Sunday, my friend Logan Devlin blasting one foot airs, his whole leg held and straight, and double pulling methods.

One of my favourite jump ramp clips is in the Life’s a Beach BBC Skaters from Uranus videos, the elusive San Diego ripper Jim Gingery doing a mute tailgrab back foot kickout, almost like a Texas plant air. Radical moves!


Follow Craig - @theprocessofnothing_

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