The No Comply Network Brings You the Best Skater-Produced Art
And, from this week, we'll be featuring profiles of their members on VICE UK.
Ozzie Pullin, one of The No Comply Network's members, profiled here. Image courtesy of No Comply
Skateboarding is inherently creative. From the visionary masochist who first decided to screw wheels to wood, through the inventors of various flip-tricks you're yet to learn, to modern innovators doing wild shit like double-kickflipping up stair-sets, skateboarding has always attracted inventive, imaginative individuals.
Which is perhaps why, historically, it has also attracted so many people who are creative outside of the confines of skateboarding – artists, photographers, graphic designers, fashion designers, musicians, writers, filmmakers and people passionate about all the other pursuits your school's careers counsellor advised you not to pursue.
The No Comply Network is a London-based, UK-wide network of artistically creative skateboarders, founded by Birmingham-born skater Jason Caines. From next week we're going to start running short profiles of No Comply members on VICE UK on a weekly basis, but to kick things off, here's Jason to give you a bit of background.
I started The No Comply Network in September of 2014, while I was working as the researcher and writer for the Long Live Southbank campaign. The campaign was on the brink of success, but we didn't know it at the time. We just knew we needed to save Southbank and document everything we had achieved. A few months before we won, we decided to make an official Long Live Southbank book. I was chosen to be the editor, and I was fucking stoked.
Curating the book, I met skaters from all over the world who were making amazing creative work and wanted to support the campaign. I interviewed Southbank locals from every era, like Simon Evans and Mike Manzoori, and hundreds of others who were brilliant artists, musicians and filmmakers. In doing so, I was shocked to discover that the majority of their work was going unseen, so set up the No Comply Network as a platform to promote it and help them connect with each other and whoever else might be interested in connecting with them.
Early on, that meant interviewing people and featuring them and their art on the No Comply Facebook page. As I started to feature well-known names – Heroin Skateboards founder Fos, artist Arran Gregory, photographer Fred Mortagne – No Comply really began to gain momentum. Skaters hit me up, looking to be featured; I created graphics to accompany interviews; made remix videos; produced collaborative T-shirts; shared it all online and built a website to host everything I'd curated in one place.
As No Comply continued to grow, I decided to showcase the art members had made with an event series called Beyond Skateboarding. These events are all about celebrating the creativity found within skate culture, exhibiting work and putting on skateboarding jams, which – importantly – aren't competitions. Because, in skateboarding, there is no "best" – there is no "winner". Ultimately, it's about expression.
The first Beyond Skateboarding event was held in Deptford, south-east London in November of 2016. A two-day showcase, it combined skating, art, music and film, with 85 pieces of work by 40 No Comply members exhibited across two locations.
A few months later we put on our second London jam, Beyond Skateboarding Canada Water. The event was on a bigger scale, at a larger spot, attended by more people, and a ton of skaters from outside London came down to take part.
Next was an event at a skate spot called Fastlands in my hometown of Birmingham. Fastlands is an incredible spot, underneath a motorway flyover in the centre of the city, which looks like it was purpose-built for skateboarding. It's basically Birmingham's answer to Southbank.
It was during the planning stages for the Fastlands event that I realised I'd come full circle.
In the early-2000s, Birmingham City Council had promised the local skate community that Fastlands would be redeveloped into a skate plaza. Plans were drawn up and they looked amazing; I remember looking at them every week as a kid, and couldn't wait for the park to be built. But it never was.
After working with Long Live Southbank, I wanted to give something back to my hometown with the Fastlands jam. I wanted to use No Comply as the platform, Beyond Skateboarding as the event and skateboarding as the vehicle to hold these kinds of events all over the UK; to get people hyped on skateboarding and showcase the talent that goes unseen all over the country. Beyond Skateboarding Birmingham was a banger: more people came along than the other two jams combined, and we gave away more product than ever before.
The aim now is to hold more Beyond Skateboarding events at iconic skate spots. Places that are pillars of the skate community. Places that push your imagination.
For 2018, we've got a series of new events planned all over the UK. We've just started a project with HUF called the "Dream Team", where we'll be hooking up skaters from all over the UK with free HUF shoes to help support them and keep them having fun on their boards. We're also going to be organising more collaborative projects with our members and introducing some new projects with skate brands.
Finally, we'll be officially partnering with VICE UK to bring you weekly instalments of artwork, interviews and skate edits to wrap your eyeballs around and keep your mind rolling.