Meeting… Richard Hart!

 Benjamin Deberdt
Richard Hart, window portrait. Ph.: Benjamin Deberdt
Richard hart - the elusive. OG Contributing photographer to the likes of slap magazine or sugar as far as twenty years ago, now the mastermind behind push periodical and recently relocated in europe (antwerp, to be less vague) after many years spent in san francisco, exploring far beyond his plaitford upbringing, one has never been more likely to run into him anytime whilst wandering in between spots - or vegetarian restaurants. throughout the years and despite his exposure to the u.s., rich never really strayed away from his typically british sensitivity, thereby maintaining and constantly cultivating an accurate idea of the essential quality of things, as well as a taste for manners, and a sharp eye. upon the release of the ninth issue of push, live skateboard media caught up with him for some skate- and life-related banter.
Richard Hart: Why don't you send me one question and I'll reply and then we'll go from there - like a conversation. Because I'm frazzled and I have too many things I'm trying to do right now.
LIVE Skateboard Media: You do look busy - producing a quality, quarterly skate mag in itself is quite a feat, let alone as a one-man operation. Not to mention you’ve been dropping one-off publications on the side, as well as soft goods on your e-shop and that’s besides your main activity of gathering material for the contents of the mag - more often than not on trips, is that right?

RH: Well, this latest issue - Push Periodical issue 9 - is a reflection of a few months of non-stop traveling; it unintentionally turned into even more of a ‘travel issue’ than normal.
There’s a State trip to Madrid (see ‘Liberados’ edit), a Northern Co. Japan trip (see ‘SF to Japan’), a feature on the Vladimir skate film festival in Croatia (see ‘Vladimir’); and pictures from various other trips to New York, Marseille, London, etc.
Christian Maalouf - b/s kickflip in Madrid as seen in PP9. Ph.: Richard Hart
Christian Maalouf - b/s kickflip in Madrid as seen in PP9. Ph.: Richard Hart
As usual, I got some quality contributions from talented friends, too. It’s still limited edition so people should ask at (good, proper) skate shops about getting a copy. I also have some new shirts and stickers and stuff coming out.
And yes, I hope to make more one-off zines and things when inspiration and opportunity allow. So on we go.
LSM: How did you design the cover?
RH: As for the cover embossing, that’s kind of an oblique Beatles reference.
You know there’s that sound collage on the ‘white album’ where the voice keeps repeating “Number nine, number nine, number nine...”? I think it was Lennon’s house number as a kid or something; but anyway, I think that was running through my head when I was thinking of something visually for the cover for Push number nine.

Push Periodical Issue Nine cover by Richard Hart
So I thought that having the embossing, like on the white album cover, might be cool; tone on tone. Makes it more of a tactile object too. And then the photo echoes the 8”x10” prints that came with the record originally.
Then I added the magenta rectangle to give it a bit of punch. TMI?
LSM: So what it is you're up to now? Done sending out truck loads of the new issue yet?
RH: So many boxes. This is the only major bummer about being a one-man operation: lugging boxes up to the third floor, repackaging them and lugging them to the post office on the bus.
And then spending hundreds sending them out. Still getting the finances figured out here, but it's coming… Moving (back) to Europe kind of made me realize I had to make the mag free.

"I'm not really into the idea of having huge piles of mags sitting at the skateshops just to have bigger circulation figures to impress advertisers"

It's really hard to sell a magazine here; most shops have trouble selling Thrasher even. And there are so many quality free skate magazines now: Solo, Grey, etc.
So while I'm uneasy about people 'expecting' things to be free these days (a symptom of the Internet I think), it seemed like the only way to actually get the magazine seen. But I'm still keeping it very limited edition in the hope that the people who really want it will make the effort to find it.
I believe in objects. But I'm not really into the idea of having huge piles of mags sitting at the skateshops just to have bigger circulation figures to impress advertisers.
That and the fact that I can't deal with carrying any more of those damn boxes to the post office. Anyone want to intern?
 Richard Hart as seen in PP9
James Sayres - Osaka ollie as seen in PP9. Ph.: Richard Hart
LSM: I guess that's a modern paradox with objects: they're what will historically remain, eventually - or at least, they're destined to stand the test of time better than most things digital, but people are now used to everything being practical and everything but cumbersome. « Give me convenience or give me death ». People no longer even know what to do with physical objects, to the point where we occasionally forget why they take up so much space, let alone the importance of them circulating.
RH: Nothing will "remain, eventually"; it doesn’t really matter, but growing up unintentionally collecting RAD Magazine and intentionally collecting records gave me an appreciation of well-made objects I think. Nowadays most people don’t really think in terms of objects, of finished things/works/whatever. It’s just different. More bitty.
For years, I was around the other extreme of object fetishism, working at a record shop; obsession which can drift into the unhealthy (but, in the spectrum of addictions, a pretty harmless one).

"I choose not to pay attention to what I don't care for"

The thing is I don’t feel any satisfaction or sense of ownership of non-physical things.
A coherent object, be it a magazine or a record or whatever else, has more gravitas and substance than the literally endless disjointed Insta images or YouTube videos or whatever; they’re anchorless, ephemeral.
Or at least, it seems that way to me but I’m old fashioned and probably mildly delusional.
 Aymeric Nocus
Richard in Bordeaux, 2014. Ph.: Aymeric Nocus
I actually just got an email from Josh Stewart about the Partial World Tour II video (article was in Push Periodical issue 8) - we both agree it’s the best thing Zach [Chamberlin] has done - but as he says: ‘He fucking killed it. It's just a bummer how these online edits come and go because that edit deserves to last longer and get some more extended life span.’
LSM: Side note regarding said Push Periodical issue 8 - those Lisbon spots are all impossible to skate. Did you know what you were getting yourself into, organizing a trip there?
RH: Hmm… kind of; a couple of people warned me about the mosaic pavements. Antwerp has a lot of spots that are pretty rough too, or some ‘fool’s gold’ ones such as perfect marble ledges on cobblestones. But yeah, can’t believe Bob [Worrest] and [Ryan] Barlow did what they did on that rugged tit spot in Lisbon.
There were smooth spots too, but to be honest, we never would’ve found most of those things without our gracious guide Pedro from Surge Skate Mag, and his boys Telmo and Addiction. They rule, apart from playing that terrible song all the time, which Zach then put in the edit, thus ensuring it is stuck in my brain for what feels like eternity.
Bobby Worrest, switch b/s nosebluntslide in Lisbon as seen in PP9. Ph.: Richard Hart
Bobby Worrest, switch b/s nosebluntslide in Lisbon as seen in PP8. Ph.: Richard Hart
LSM: Surge Mag Pedro sounds like a very passionate and useful local indeed, he's been brought up in several other Live interviews before, always for helping people out in different ways.

So, PP8 marked the two-year anniversary of Push. As far back as working on the first issue, did you even have any plans? How certain were you about its success (PP1 was printed in less copies than the subsequent issues, right?), did you envision it would last for so long, you would end up organizing (partial) world tours and it would grow organically like it did?

Also, you've been hyperactive ever since you started shooting skate photos again, I guess it's a side effect of being around people like Ben [Gore] or Zach [Chamberlin] - say, 10 years ago, did you even think you would still be out there shooting skateboarding in 2018?
RH: No. I remember seeing the fat, middle-aged photographers at contests, jostling for position under the handrail, ‘still dressed like teenagers’ as Alex Klein once remarked to me, and it seemed depressing. Still does, actually.
I didn’t shoot a skate photo for five years, except I think for one of Pontus when I was visiting Malmö once. But I always missed it and you’re right - it took Ben and Zach welcoming me into their crew to get me shooting again.
I’m still passionate about ‘real’, creative street-skating and I hope I shoot it well and I’m happy to help document that for a bit longer at least.
And you’re also right - I’ve been more productive this time around. I suppose I appreciate it more and the life experience (and skate experience) garnered in the interim made me more focused (no pun intended) on the skating I like and the ways I’d like to capture it. No concessions to anyone else.
Fuck it - it doesn’t matter anyway; it’s just skateboarding. Everyone should do their part of it however they want to. That used to be the point, didn’t it? I choose not to pay attention to what I don’t care for.

"A (first) cover is a big deal [...] I didn't want a skate photo, and did want something a bit intriguing"

As far as the longevity of PP; no, I wasn’t planning beyond one issue, even though I knew I had enough material for two ‘cos I’d just got back from a trip to Asia with the GX boys, and the most productive trip I ever had to New York. Half of the NY photos ended up in a zine which came with my Krooked guest board, and half of them in PP2.
The cover of PP1 was from the GX trip. A (first) cover is a big deal, and I wanted someone on the cover who I was confident would stand the test of time. I also didn’t want a skate photo, and did want something that was a bit intriguing. The Jake [Johnson] photo fit the bill. It’s funny - I rescanned it recently for a T-shirt, and I was reminded that I shot it immediately after shooting Stevie [Perez] doing a four or five kink handrail which is exactly what you would think of as traditional ‘cover material’.
LSM: Speaking of covers, with Push, you really look like you're trying to restore their significance as full-on objects - or at least, the face of one - and make them valuable as such again, as opposed to just another mindless display for commercial stunts. What is your thought process regarding designing them every time, with each new issue?
RH: Well.

"Logo colours to pay tribute to RAD Magazine"

PP2 had two photos on the cover (although a lot of people didn’t realize it). Diptych of [Brad] Cromer in New York. One of those skaters that is amazing to watch in real life.
PP3: right before deadline, I shot this picture which was completely unplanned and spontaneous, and when I saw it I had no choice but to make it the cover. In fact, when I shot it, I was only trying to shoot Ryan Barlow ollieing over Matt [Field]; Zach came cruising through and I thought he’d messed up my photo so I made Ryan do the ollie again (!), but when I got the roll processed the first one was obviously way more epic. Love this photo, love all these guys. Good friends having fun. There’s even Jesse Narvaez’ hand at the edge, if you look close. 

PP4 was just nice and clean, good light, good form. Logo colours to pay tribute to RAD Magazine.

Every single Push cover (thus far).
PP5 may look faked but wasn’t at all. One of the Rios guys in Budapest had a brand new board that snapped on a wallie and this was the result - perfect sticker placement. I pretty much only shoot B/W these days, but I always carry a colour roll, just in case; and I knew this would make a perfect cover. Also kind of an homage to what I regard as the best skate mag cover of all time: the Slap with the truck holes.
PP6: [Zach] Lyons, fisheye, scribble, pink, big fuck-off-size number. Done.
PP7: I asked my friend Mat O’Brien if he’d be down to make some art for a cover and I sent him a few photos that would be in the issue, in case he wanted to work from/with any of them. I had no idea what he would do, and I gave him no instruction at all. It arrived right at deadline but I knew he’d come through. Love this one; cheers Mat.

"Soy gets a pass though, like when Oyola gave Carroll a pass with regard to switch mongo pushing"

PP8: tried to do something a bit different. I like yellow and [Kevin] Coakley deserved the cover; he really worked hard on getting cool tricks on that trip. I mean, everyone did, but I knew Kev would have a big presence in the video too. This wasn’t the gnarliest thing he did, but then that’s not the point in my mind.
PP9: the trick speaks for itself. Kind of spontaneous; we were all skating around downtown NYC and Yonnie said he'd been there twice before to try it. This time worked out, he did it so perfectly he even surprised himself. Although the guy who claimed he owned the building was less excited. I included the film strip as I keep being reminded that people don't realize Push Periodical is all film photos. People keep messaging me to contribute (digital) photos without having actually seen the magazine or knowing that simple fact. So there we are... It's also my Kodak sponsor-me tape. Hopefully. (Note frame number).
LSM: We sort of look stuck in an era where mass media consumption under the form of view counts defines what is (or isn't) "important"; we are looking at quantity so much, the mere idea of essential quality seems to fall into increasingly deep oblivion altogether. Is that why you insist on having everything in Push film photography, besides the Soy Panday Magenta ads?
RH: I personally only shoot on film and I think it’s fitting to have film (i.e. physical) photographs in a physical medium, that’s all. Soy gets a pass though, like when Oyola gave Carroll a pass with regard to switch mongo pushing.

LSM: Let’s wrap things up with a more lighthearted question, what would you say is your favorite photo in PP9?

RH: Don’t make me pick favourites!
I don’t know, let’s say the one of the workman and the wall of pipes in the Japan article. That aimless wander in Osaka paid off. (It reminds me of the film ‘Brazil’; maybe it was the ghost of Bob Hoskins).
I could bore you with anecdotes about half the photos ‘cos there’s often a story with skate photos. But I won’t. But I will say that I was stoked on Soy’s shadow, and that the Ben photo was like a gift from the Gods - the lighting was just perfect, and Ben and I just looked at each other. He shoots photos, so he knew he had to do the ollie before either of us even said anything.
The lighting on the [Christian] Maalouf street gap is perfect too, but that’s ‘cos I took note of exactly what time to shoot it when we went there to eat one day. Thanks Christian for humouring me.
Also I was relieved that the Toby [Tobin Valverde] smith grind and the cover photo both came out looking OK - they are both gnarly tricks and so I feel an obligation to dutifully document them.
I don't know, they are all good memories. They're my holiday snapshots.


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