Mark ‘Gonz’ Gonzales has been a member of the adidas Skateboarding family for 15 years. Inspiring, developing and nurturing the skateboarding program, Gonz single-handedly revolutionized the world of street skating in awesomely unalterable ways over the past 15 years. To honour his inspirational lifestyle adidas Skateboarding and AREA3 in Joburg are displaying the art of six photographers from 6 July to 6 August 2013 who have documented Gonz in various lights. After he was given the title ‘Most influential skateboarder of all-time’ by Transworld SKATEboarding magazine, we at one small seed couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give Gonz a metaphorical salute for just being… well, himself! Here’s a video, an interview and a selection of images at the exhibition… Enjoy!

You have lived in so many places and have friends that live far and wide. Where is home? What makes a place home?

I’d say home is the birthplace in which I was born. My idea of what makes a place a home is not so easy to explain. I would like the place where I was born to be a place where I can go to relax and be with friends and family.

Which are your most memorable photographs from the exhibition and why?
The one Benjamin took where my pants are ripped and my board is broken is a pretty memorable moment! I can remember trying to get in a positive mode, but everything negative Firstly I ripped my pants, then I broke my board but eventually I was able to pull what I was going for. Ultimately it was memorable because it was both good and bad.

You have spent a lot of time with each of the photographers in the exhibition. Can you briefly describe each of them?

I shot with a lot with Gabe when I was living in SF. He reminds me of a non-nonsense kind of guy. If you’re going for a trick, he will stay there until you make it. But he doesn’t just want you to waste his time by just posing. He doesn’t want to mess around.

Gaberman is really cool and likes skating a lot. When he is shooting photos, I feel like I want to skate with him instead of shoot photos – it’s a trippy situation. You know he skates and you want to skate with him and see all the moves that you saw him do in the skate mags, but you know he’s taking photos so it’s kind of a catch 22.

Joe always makes you feel comfortable and you never feel under pressure to make moves.

Whenever I go out to shoot with Skin it’s almost certain that I will take a gnarly spill and more chances then not, I’ll end up getting up right away and acting like it was nothing.

Sem is very easy to shoot with. You just skate and he snipers off shots from a distance and you barely know he’s there.

Benjamin is really fun to shoot photos with. The reason that it is so fun is because, no matter how ridiculous the thing is that you want to do, he’s willing to photograph it. The circle board at the Trocadaro in Paris is a perfect example.

What was the drawing factor to becoming part of he adidas family all those 15 years ago?

I had the idea to make it red white and blue and then heavy on the black much like the wardrobe of the 1700’s of France, like Louis the XIV.


Sem Reubio, Skate Photographer, on the Gonz:

Well generally he makes you smile whenever he is having fun, which is pretty much all the time. If he’s not having fun, he’ll be gone in two seconds, that’s for sure. Something that still makes me laugh is this funny shaking he does sometimes when he is skating – like totally freaking out. He does it for the laughs of course. He did that in Melbourne while trying to skate a bank in the middle of a crowded street. I still laugh when I think about it and the look of the people that passed by.

“15 Years of Gonz and adidas” exhibition | Video from adi three leaf on Vimeo

Photo by Sem Rubio

image: Joe Brook

image: Skin Phillips

image: Gabe Morford

image: Benjamin Deberdt

Photo by Brian Gaberman

Images: Sem Rubio, Benjamin Deberdt, Gabe Morford, Joe Brook, Skin Phillips

Interview c/o adidas Skateboarding