Nick Jensen / INTERVIEW

The strongest modern representatives of the legacy of a particularly rich British skate scene, Isle Skateboards, visually carried by filmmaker Jacob Harris's poetic touch behind video duties and by the whole crew as a collective, but most notably Nick Jensen (longtime local style icon, historically popular as early as the first Blueprint then Lakai videos all the while remaining open to independent projects, such as "SCRUM TILLY LUSH" by Phil Evans), are back with a brand new collaboration, with Nike SB.

The video accompanying the shoe release is, as expected, signed by the aforementioned Jake Harris (whose past works include full-length features such as "ELEVENTH HOUR" and "VASE", in addition to his currently ongoing Atlantic Drift productions) and, lockdown situation or not, just that warrants some particuliar attention from any skateboarder. In order to learn more and generally catch up, LIVE naturally contacted Nick Jensen, and the following exchange ensued!


LIVE Skateboard Media: OK, Nick, here we go! Where did the isolation state caught you? Home, I hope?

Nick Jensen: Hey Benjamin, yeah, just following government advice and staying in. 

LSM: Describe your routine nowadays… And what you're see out the window these days.

Nick: My routine is quite boring. I have a boy, aged two and a half. My wife and I get up go for a walk or scooter with him, come home, do creative activities.

It was abnormally sunny and warm last week, so I got the paddling pool out and made a barbecue. I am just trying to do fun stuff for Gene.

Dead out my window, nothing going on. That’s pretty much the vibe all over London at the moment.

"Cyanotype is an old
photographic process in which
paper is soaked in light
sensitive chemicals and then
exposed to the sun"

LSM: How did you find out about cyanotype?
Nick: I remember seeing a friend make a beautiful cyanotype a while ago and so, I wanted to try it out.
I played around with it a lot when Gene was born. It was the summer and I was staying home a lot, so I was making these abstract pattern pieces. It’s very satisfying when they come out crisp.
LSM: Can you explain what is the process behind it, and how it is not just a filter on a software?
Nick: Cyanotype is an old photographic process in which paper is soaked in light sensitive chemicals and then exposed to the sun.
There is a variety of different ways in which you can create an image out of this. You can either use a stencil, or a black and white image printed on transparent paper.
The stencil or print can then be laid on top of the light sensitive paper and placed in the sun. Leave for about two to five minutes and then, remove the stencil or image and wash the paper in a shallow bath.
The water from the bath reacts with the paper, turning it this beautiful cyan blue, leaving behind the trace of your stencil in white.

"The more we play
with these ideas, the more
I want to peruse them
in different ways"

LSM: It actually suits the way you have been developing Isle's aesthetics since day one, doesn't it? May you explain how every Isle graphic is first an object?
Nick: Yes, I think you're right.
It does seem to continue to surprise me how much of our ideas reflect on the process themselves. We are also very conscious of displaying the physicality of things. I want the boards to be photographs of set up environments; just seems to go hand in hand with skateboarding itself.
The more we play with these ideas, the more I want to peruse them in different ways.
LSM: Isle has a very distinct look in everything you guys do. How much of a collective effort is it? Like for the shoe, for instance, did you bounce of each other around one idea?
Nick: For this shoe, Chris Jones, Casper Brooker and I kept a tight conversation going about it and developed it together.
I had the initial idea for the patch (well actually, this came from my mate in my art studio: Tom Howse), but I presented it to Chris and Casper and they loved the idea.
Then, we spent about a month throwing imagery around until we decided on the eye.
LSM: Once again, Jacob seems to look for another step in his own visual work, and reaches for it, with this project. Which seems to be true for everybody at Isle: everybody growing into their own self, through each group project. Do you see it as conscious effort, or more of the natural results of picking individuals that mesh well together?
Nick: Good question - I think it’s a bit of both. We embrace everyone and love doing all sorts of ideas.
Luckily, we have a team of guys that have a variety of interesting ideas and a vision of their own.
This question makes me want to Whatsapp the group and ask what’s new, and start something completely different.
I know Mike Arnold is currently doing a really stand out piece, I can’t divulge more. And Sylvain has been surfing in Australia for the past three months... Perhaps I should try and make him a surfboard graphic ?

"Another Tom Penny one
was that he nearly 540'd
the stairs and he had
dyed blue hair"

LSM: I am sure you were cursing the London winter weather when filming this. How much do you miss being out with the boys at the moment?
Nick: It’s actually made me quite nostalgic for the early afternoon South Bank sessions. It’s gotten me thinking about how many great friends I have, and I just can’t wait till this is all over... 

Backside tailslide. Ph.: Sam Ashley
LSM: How long have you been skating South Bank, yourself?
Nick: Twenty years, I reckon. 
LSM: Please give us your favorite trick done there, that you got to witness yourself, over the years?
Nick: Tom Penny turned up one day, when I was about sixteen - he did a switch frontside shove-it going Mach 10 down the stairs. It was amazing.
LSM: What about a list of "historical" tricks that happened there, that you didn't see go down, but shaped the spot legacy, for you?
Nick: Quite a few, actually. Some probably rumours, another Tom Penny one was that he nearly 540'd the stairs and he had dyed blue hair [laughs], not even joking.
It should still be here once this is behind us…
LSM: Has the reopening of the closed area changed the dynamic of the spot, maybe?
Nick: Yeah, it’s been so great. You can just spread your wings so much more now; it was too claustrophobic before. 


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