When the name of the world’s most prevalent skateboarding magazine invokes an ethos of chaotic destruction for anything in the path of the skateboarding’s rebellious elite, readers are left to assume that the culture surrounding a publication like Thrasher is focused on ruination rather than growth. And that every skater with some degree of relation to the culture is believed to be in alignment with that stance. However, an ever-expanding population of willing participants have been seen to be more interested in belonging to skateboarding groups who are building their communities up, rather than thrashing them down.
When considered in the realm of modern skateboarding media, this idea is further amplified by a new wave of independent publications who believe that the giants in skateboard publishing are ignoring the representation of valued subcultural niches and movements. Though myself and the crew at Stoked HQ thoroughly respect and endorse publications like Thrasher, there still exists a responsibility to highlight the new faces of independent media that are looking at the culture in ways that traditional media outlets seldom have. That being said, we present our premier Staff Pick: Skateism.
Fresh off the recent release of Issue #2, our next selection hails from the Europe after years of planning and development. To fill the voids left by major skateboarding publications, Skateism has uniquely branded themselves “The Diversity Skateboarding Magazine” with a dedicated emphasis on covering topics ranging including LGBTQ+ issues, women in skateboarding, DIY efforts, arts and culture movements, skate-centric nonprofits and other new projects within skateboarding. In reference to the subjects of the mag’s focus, Editor in Chief, Oisin “Osh” Tammas remarked,
“We take seriously what other people are doing in their lives and it just so happens that all of those people are skateboarders because that's what we do with our time.”
Taking that a step further, Tammas asserted that the aim of the mag is to diversify skating in a way that levels the playing field of inclusivity for as many people as possible.
In addition to existing as an alternative to larger media outlets, Skateism challenges the issues that internet-based sources of media consumption perpetuate for the underrepresented groups of the magazine’s scope. This is something that Tammas credits to the occurrence of skaters feeling tethered to a binary identity and their struggle to distance themselves from the bounds of the labels that society associates with their decisions.
Whether it be street-oriented skaters that do not fully associate with the hardcore side of the culture because they also skate downhill, or the minority of queer skaters who do not feel inclined to serve as a spokesperson for all other skaters who identify as they do, the parallels are evident.
In response, Skateism seeks to explore the stories of skateboarders affected by these overarching social issues to instill a sense of awareness in readers who might cross paths with them in the skateparks, streets and beyond. Speaking on the importance of education in addressing these topics, Tammas added,
“If everyone, no matter how they identified, was educated about gender politics, racism, homophobia and all of these things, I believe that we would be in a situation whereby everyone would feel comfortable individually deciding what it is that they can do and talking to each other individually about it…”
This way, the skateboarding community as a whole can move further from shunning those who approach the culture differently than they do and work towards and celebrating those differences.
To properly do their mission justice, Skateism has elected to treat skateboarding seriously, in a way that others have previously disregarded by passing off conversations regarding the legitimate social implications of skateboarding. In specific example, they have made efforts in articles, such as their feature on new Photo Editor, Sam McGuire, to use titles like “How Do I Be Gay Now” instead of ones like “An Interview With Skateboarder’s Gayest Photographer.”
By framing content this way, Skateism is able to explore situations that beset skaters but that appeal not only to those directly involved in the culture. Instead, they can properly reach their aspirations of, “[reaching] people on a human level, not on a skateboarding level” as Tammas put it.
As far as Skateism’s ambitions to elevate skateboarding for the better, their early success has left them poised for future growth. With their work cut out for them, the team is planning for a January 2019 release date for Issue #3 in addition to advancements in their development as an all-encompassing media outlet. With plans for expansion into film, events, brand collaborations and connections with local governments, the volunteer-supported crew has a full plate.
However, for a magazine aiming to integrate perfect acceptance in skateboarding, their ultimate goal is to grow to a point of obsolescence. As Tammas summed it up, “Our aim is to diversify skateboarding and the moment in which we’re no longer necessary, i.e, the moment in which all skateboarding is diverse, then I would happily walk away from the project.”