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Ed Templeton interview

19.05.2010 - ExclusiveArticle

Portrait Scott Pommier

We were lucky enough to catch up with professional skateboarder and artist Ed Templeton for a quick chat. Ed was in London for his Drinking The Kool-Aid exhibition at Elms Lester Painting Rooms, presented by Emerica and Slam City Skates.

You and Deanna seem to visit London quite often. How do you find the city?
We love London! Deanna hates to fly, so we always fly to London first, then take the train wherever we are going. We love to walk and take photos of people. We get a kick out of all the girls with long legs walking around at night. And of course there is plenty of vegan food in London. Oh, and free museums. This place rules.

Are there any places you always come back to?
The Tate of course, The Photographers Gallery, Claire de Rouen bookshop, Mildred’s restaurant, Manna restaurant and 222 restaurant.

Are you still skating regularly? Do you still shoot photos/film?
I skate whenever I can, Toy Machine and art stuff keeps me busy, but I’m on tour with the guys and I need to be able to lay down the law in person. I have not filmed or been out to shoot a photo in a long time.

What is your level of involvement with Toy Machine these days?
100%, every single choice is still mine. I do every ad and every graphic. And I choose every rider. Everything comes through me.

Can you talk a little about the moment of transition you are presently experiencing, with your skate career perhaps slowing down and your career as an artist gathering serious momentum.
You are right, this is a transition time for me, but I couldn’t be happier. What a great circumstance to be in going from pro skater to pro artist. Both of these ‘jobs’ let me be creative and call my own shots. Both of them I love. I feel like a life goal of every teenager should be to find a way to make a living doing what they love to do, and for me I have been able to do this my whole life. I have no complaints. When I’m too crusty to skate anymore I can look back and be satisfied with what I have done in skateboarding.

Much of your past photographic work seems to have been informed by your direct involvement in professional skating. Do you find the less involvement you have, the more you have to make a conscious effort to search out new inspiration/subject matter? Could you talk a little about this process, for example how you came up with the idea for your book, The Seconds Pass?

Even The Seconds Pass stems from skating in some ways. I have always shot everything and asked questions later. So while I am shooting the skateboard culture I am taking part in, I am also shooting street photos, my own life – basically everything – even out of the car window. So this comes from skate trips as much as a photo of some street protest in Barcelona comes from me being there as a skater.

Do you still paint as much as you used to, or is your practice these days predominantly photographic? If so, was this a conscious decision?
I have been actually painting more. Photos are so quick and easy that I’m much more prolific with them than painting, which is slow for me.

You currently have what has been described as a mid-career retrospective at S.M.A.K. in Ghent, Belgium. Tell us a little about how that came about.
I work with a gallery in Antwerp Belgium called Tim Van Laere Gallery and have done two shows with them. Both shows were very well received. After the second show apparently every big museum in Belgium offered me a show. My gallerist advised me to do the best one, and that one is the S.M.A.K. in Ghent. So that is the short story of how it came about. We have been planning it for a very long time, maybe like four years now. I have been working hard on it since last July.

You must have had a busy few months – three fairly major shows, two of them 1000s of miles from home. How do you cope with the workload?
Just do it. Every time I want to whine about all the stuff I have to do I put it all in perspective. People would kill to be in the position I’m in, running Toy, doing art shows, skating with awesome dudes all the time. This makes me take it all very seriously, with great opportunity comes great responsibility. I’m honoured to be where I am. I’m basically always juggling a bunch of stuff at the same time. I need to slow it down a bit really.