Hans Wouters steering clear of traffic and popping through the city with style.
At a time when longboard dancing and freestyle are taking off like never before, it takes something special to be at the top of the game. In the case of one of the most followed skaters out there, Hans Wouters has amassed a massive collection of well deserved of supporters through his years of quality progression on the board and proper production quality behind the camera lens.
Between linking together NBDs in schoolyard lines and going to University for engineering, Wouters somehow finds time to create some of the most aesthetically pleasing videos out there on a weekly basis. Even better, he found the time to chat with us about his inspiration, creative outlook and the importance of maintaining authenticity.
Somewhere between the water and grass, Hans launches a fakie bigflip.
Stoked Ride Shop: You’ve said that your one wish would be to inspire others in the way that others inspire you. Why is this flow of giving and receiving inspiration important in longboarding?
Hans Wouters: It sounds super cheesy and obvious but people can grow a lot more collectively when you work together so that’s where inspiring and getting inspired comes in for me. At first, when I would learn a trick, for example, I would be protective about it and try to keep a step ahead of people by not really explaining it too much. Then, after doing some trick tips and explaining some dancing steps I had found out, I would see people doing it better than me or in a whole different way a couple weeks later. Just like that, I’ve learned so much just by making trick tips or explaining tricks where that person can then teach me something new a couple days later.
You also see it in the freestyle communities nowadays - there are so many communities that are growing rapidly like the Netherlands or the Paris communities and it’s all because they’re sharing tricks and challenging each other in a way that wasn’t really the case when I started freestyling - so that’s cool to see.
Also, through social media, there are people growing outside of their own local communities so you see new styles emerging. Everyone has their own style and there are mixes of different styles so I think that’s why it’s so important in the freestyle community. It’s really easy to just copy someone else’s style but not really about copying anymore. People are just saying ‘Oh I like that about that guy and I’d like to try this thing that he does.’ I think that’s a good way to grow and it’s really interesting to see.
Though classes might be out of session, empty schoolyards like this one are the perfect space for Wouters to get to work on some cross steps.
It’s ironic that such technical dancers/freestylers like you and Abou Seck are both pursuing careers in engineering. Is there some sort of similarity between complex skating and technical career interests?
The technical studies and dancing aren’t really the same but still, for me and I think for Abou, when we are able to skate, we’re just enjoying it because it’s freedom and escapism. When I have to study for two months straight not leaving my room, standing on my board makes me so happy. I think that’s a correlation with our studies because we study and work a lot so we appreciate it more and we just do it for ourselves.
The perfect tool kit: camera in hand with a board underneath.
You mentioned that your passion for longboarding and filmmaking goes hand in hand. What is it about freestyle specifically that complimented your interests so well?
I think there are two things I can correlate between freestyle and filmmaking. First, it’s really a personal challenge because there’s no one telling you what to do or how to do it. I got into editing on Premier Pro six years ago and it was this whole new world. For the past few years I’ve been editing every day for my weekly videos and I still feel like I don’t know anything about the program. It’s the same with freestyle. You can learn one trick and then there are five new ones that you’ll want to try. You’re never done and you always learn new stuff.
Also, it’s a really creative outlet and form of self expression. When I start editing, I just have a blank timeline where I can choose the music, the order of the tricks and do whatever I want with the video. I can make people feel a certain way or make a trick look cool or make people laugh or whatever. With freestyle, I also have empty school yards or wherever where I can create lines with tricks that people haven’t done or that I’ve never tried before that look a certain way. There are so many possibilities and there are so many ways you can express yourself through it.
Before and after Hans put a crispy set of Blood Orange Jammerz to the test.
A lot of people don’t take anywhere near as much care as you do to curate their aesthetic on social media. What do you feel is the importance of creating quality content around your personal brand?
I don’t think it’s super important to make things super aesthetic. Don’t get me wrong, the quality of content is important to stand out but I think it’s more about you personally. Being authentic is more important than being aesthetic and I think that’s something that a lot of people are not doing right. They see all these people being successful on Instagram or YouTube and they think ‘Oh That’s how I get famous too.’ They don’t see that it’s just about being yourself. Your personality is already enough to stand out from other people so the aesthetics behind my content is really just something I like to do.
Bringing the leaves on his socks and the flowers on his board into the forest with a nose manny.
What’s the most common question about longboarding that beginners ask you and how would you answer it?
There’s always a lot of questions about how to start longboarding. A lot of people are afraid to just start because they don’t know anything about it and it’s scary. I just tell them not to mind anyone’s opinion about it and to just have fun, skate and enjoy it.
Do you have any questions for Hans about his work in front of or behind the lens? If so, feel free to leave them below or shoot any other comments, questions or concerns over to us here.
All photos shot by Magali Merzougui authorized to use by Hans Wouters.