Jason Dill Is Fucking Awesome

By Jamie Clifton

If you don’t know Jason Dill, think of him as skating’s Dennis Rodman—he’s one of the sport’s greatest talents ever who possess the uncanny knack for pissing more than a few people off. Unlike Dennis, Dill isn’t a dude that wears dresses. But he just might put a cross dresser on a T-shirt, because along with fashion photographer Mike Piscitelli he founded Fucking Awesome, the label notorious for doing outrageous shit like using homeless people in its promotional shoots and making shirts that feature dictators like Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein.

Despite the naughty T-shirts, Dill is also a man of integrity. When Fucking Awesome threatened to get too popular, he just closed the whole thing down for a year. He is obviously more into credibility than making money.

Ranked as one of Transworld Magazine's "30 Most Influential Skaters Of All Time," Dill is one my lifelong heroes. So, needless to say before this interview I was torn between being too excited to type and being a sweaty mess of nerves. Finally I worked myself up to talk to him. This is how I faired talking with a legend who’s defined skating for the better part of 20 years.   


A young Dill, seated on the left, out the front of Supreme, New York

VICE: So, before we get to Fucking Awesome, you've been skating a long time, what are the worst things you've seen skateboarders wear?
Jason Dill: Man, the whole big pants, small wheels era between 1990 and 1992 is pretty hard to look at and live with. Luckily I was young then, so that's my excuse for dressing stupid. I was massively influenced by Mark Gonzales, John Cardiel, and Corey Chrysler, so some days I looked OK. I'd be in a flat brimmed baseball hat and a button up with big khakis. Other days it would be burgundy cords, a striped shirt, and half cabs like Gonz.

Didn't that whole having to wear a uniform thing annoy you?
I mean it just was what it was, you know? It's hard to be cool when you're that young. I just wish I wore exactly what Ray Barbee wore in the Public Domain video, every day. In fact, I should have just dressed like Ray full stop. He looked so sick. Ray should definitely have been on Transworld's "Most Influential Skaters of All Time" list, not me.


Dill, with the long-haired afro, outside Supreme again in the mid 90s

Nah, you both deserved a place on there. You've been tight with the Supreme guys for a while too, right? They were basically at the center of that mid-'90s NY skate look. What do you remember about that era in terms of style?
I remember being out in front of Supreme in '94 with zits and a shitty, kinda pompadour, hair style. I was about 17 and just soaking it all up. All the brown girls walking by the shop were all so good-looking and just fucking ruling, but I was really shy so I was just observing everything. I remember one girl—she was more like a woman, actually—who was so hot. She'd come by and say hi to all the boys at the shop, and I would just stare at her in awe. She was much older than me, but many years later I spent a few nights with her. It was rad. Anyway, from that first Calvin Klein t-shirt bite, I was wearing the red and white box logo every day. I loved it. Oh, the Muhammad Ali boxing Superman t-shirt was incredible too. And the Richard Pryor shirt was amazing, I wore that one all the time. Supreme made the first stuff outside of Polo and Nautica that everybody would wear. It was cool because it was the first time you'd be wearing gear made by people you know, which was inspiring to me.

Awesome. Did you ever help out in the creative process at Supreme or were you just hanging out there?
No, I just always repped their shit because when I first came to New York those guys really took me in and guided me. They were so good to me that I was more than happy to wear Supreme. I really didn't ride for any big skate clothing companies at the time and was mainly skating in Filas. Man, it was a different world back then.

Fucking Awesome Aleister Crowley and David Bowie t-shirts

Obviously you have all the links with Supreme, but I read somewhere you hate streetwear generally. Why's that?
Oh, it's just what all that shit represents. The stencil bullshit, the wheat-paste bullshit, the fake skate bullshit. I just can't believe kids buy into all that. It's like, "nice Obey hat, bud." You know?

Wouldn't you define FA as streetwear, though?
No, I think of it as an idea company. I only make something when I feel like it's right, or if I have the right materials. I don't use the internet. I find everything I put out by hand and sometimes I don't find enough material, or I make stuff and then I just don't like it. Also, Fucking Awesome isn't seasonal. It's just there when it's there and I don't make much of it. I constantly shoot myself in the foot from a business standpoint actually because I make it for sale but at the same time I don't want you to have it. It's a bit of a personality disorder company.  

I saw a quote of yours saying that she-males are the only punks left nowadays. Is the way you run FA a conscious effort to bring some affront back into fashion?
They are the last of the true punks, just my opinion. But, as for Fucking Awesome being Punk or D.I.Y? No, it's just my own little kick, something that I can do when I feel like it or have a new idea for something. Everybody has something and I have Fucking Awesome, sometimes.

But then you've been designing stuff for your sponsors for ages, which is kinda your own thing. Was it the lack of complete creative control there that made you want to start FA?
Not really. Outside of shoes, I'm not hands-on with anything in skateboarding. Most of what I make is totally fucked, I don't expect you to like it. You can't really run a business that way, but then I guess I'm not running a business so much as ruining a business. I'm amazed that Fucking Awesome still even exists. I just make because I do—there's no big reasoning, except maybe just making people angry or offended.

Yeah, where do the designs and ideas come from? Xray and Dickstick make me think "what the fuck was going on in his head?" But, in a totally good way.
It's just ideas. I like to see things on fire and I like fucking, you know, normal stuff. Every design I make, I know that there are a handful of people who will really get it. Sometimes I actually think I'm being smart, but most times it's more like "this is so fucked, nobody's gonna wear it." That's usually the whole reason I make it. But yeah, that new x-ray shirt is fucked, the gay pride rebel flag from years ago is fucked. There's been a lot of them that I wasn't going to make until I saw people's negative reaction, which is what defines whether I make them or not. Not always, but just when I'm on the fence about it. 

I can imagine a lot people not wanting to wear the dictator shirt. Was that one of those "this is so fucked" designs?
No, it's actually from an Amnesty International poster I found in the garbage in New York. I put an FA sticker on one of the words and hung it on my wall, so when I decided to make new stuff I just took the poster down and scanned it.

Yeah, I noticed you didn't put out any FA stuff for a while. Why was that?
Because I was more interested in blacking out and consuming drugs. I was in search of non-reality and I had a great time. Plus, I felt as though FA was getting way too out of hand. I wanted it to stop because I was scared of what it could become if I continued at that point.


Photo by Curtis Buchanan

Where do you think it would have ended up?
Umm, just blown out, blogged out, internetted out. Too overexposed basically. Mass appeal scares me the most because I hate the masses, so letting FA go for a while made sense. I mean, shit, it would be cool to make money, but that seems to always go hand in hand with some sort of corniness.

True, but FA has the potential to last far longer than any skating career. Is that something you've thought about in terms of making money? Do you want to keep going with it or are there other creative projects that you think might take over?
Fucking Awesome really has nothing to do with skateboarding, it never has. I've actually just begun working with Vans Syndicate as well, which is only sold in places like Supreme and other fine skate shops, and I really like everything that they do. It's a place where I can make just about anything I can think of in a Vans aesthetic, and they won't trip, which is a good thing 'cause I can't skate in any other shoes than Vans. The silver and black snakeskin authentic I made is in stores soon actually. 

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