Life

The First Episode of ‘Let It Kill You’ Is Out Now

VICE's new doc series looks at the merging of the skate and art worlds, and the first episode focuses on the legendary Mike Gigliotti.
A photo of the skateboarder Mike Gigliotti in a room
Mike Gigliotti. Photo: Andy Eclov

Tattoo artist and skateboarder Ben McQueen was always going to feature Mike Gigliotti in the first episode of his new VICE series, Let It Kill You, which you can now watch below. Based on McQueen’s 2022 photo book of the same name—and blurring a day-in-the-life style with that of Epicly Later’d—the series will chart the creative union between skating and art as seen through the lives and careers of heavyweights in the space. Gigliotti, or Lottie, was high up on the list because A) he’s a good friend of McQueen’s, but B) he’s a constant fountain of artistic output, and his skate shop, Lotties, was a huge deal for the LA skate community and beyond.

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Born in San Francisco, brought up in Santa Monica, Gigliotti was always obsessed with skateboarding. When he left home for New York, he increasingly involved himself in DIY art: T-shirts, flyers, zines. It’s his link up with pro skaters Kevin ‘Spanky’ Long and Andrew Reynolds – the founder of iconic skateboard brand, Baker – through which his artwork has been most widely seen.

Baker, the office of which has a skate park inside of it, has proved to be a fruitful link up for Gigliotti. He’s worked on their skate deck designs for years, in turn becoming a crucial creative cog in the company’s visual output. “He is Baker,” Reynolds says in the latest episode of Let It Kill You. “We could do five brands with what he provides each season,” Long says.

What comes across clear as day is Gigliotti’s love of the brand, which began when he was a kid and ran into Reynolds skating in front of the Santa Monica courthouse. Reynolds, already a famous skateboarder, was using a Baker board, the company having just launched.

“You’re never gonna make 100% cool shit, like that’s fucking the nature of it. But we try,” Gigliotti says of the Baker boards. “It seems like it’s just flying out of him, at, like, the highest level,” Long says of Gigliotti’s creative output. Among the many sick works of Gigliotti’s is a skateboard with actual Freddy Krueger on the back. His house is festooned with illustrations of “just shit I like,” Gigliotti says.

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Gigliotti got hold of his very own shop, Lotties, by way of a children’s skate book he’d put together. A bookstore that was keen on stocking the book had an open lot a few doors down. Gigliotti moved in, and the store became an iconic LA skate and hangout spot.

“There's Freddy Krueger 2 [A Nightmare on Elm Street 2: Freddy's Revenge] playing on the DVD player, and Sammy’s (Aviles, a local to the shop) in the background making jokes, and like Mike (Gigliotti) is making an oil painting. You know, you’re just kind of like, that’s pretty unique,” videographer Daniel Wheatley says of the place.

Lotties was filled with nostalgic nick-nacks, had its own merchandise, and doubled up as an art studio for Gigliotti. “The shop was art,” Reynolds says. Locals kids hung out there and pro skaters would shoot videos under the Lotties banner.

Lotties eventually closed, though Gigliotti refrains from getting into exactly why – there is clearly a story there, too. Gigliotti now does graphics for multiple skateboard brands along with Baker. “I get to do Andrew Reynolds boards… Casper [Brooker], Jacopo [Carozzi], Rowan [Zorilla]! I just got to do a Grant Taylor board. I’m beyond grateful,” Gigliotti says. “I owe forever, I feel.”