35 Years of Shaping Skateboards: Interview with Shaper Andy Dobson, Folk Skateboards
Q: How’d you become a skateboard shaper and what inspired you? A: I became a shaper by default when I fell in...
Within a short timeframe of meeting Sarah Kelly, it’s obvious the redeeming qualities that tend to garner respect are all there: talent, drive, courtesy, along with a good sense of humour and style. Sarah’s a true skateboarder with hometown pride. We’re fortunate to have her in skateboarding.
Interview and photos by Noel Wendt
You started skating in the early 2000s, right?
Yeah, I was six years old. Mostly over the last few years though.
What exactly got you into skateboarding?
Avril Lavigne and some of the cartoons playing at the time. But yeah, I really liked Avril Lavigne. I dressed just like her.
Age and time period appropriate. Owen Woytowich is a fan as well.
Good taste, Owen.
Were your parents always supportive of your skateboarding?
Yeah, it’s never been an issue. I don’t think they’ve ever really seen me skateboard or much skateboarding in general but they’ve always been cool about it and they’re good parents. I mostly rolled back and forth in the driveway for 10 years so it wasn’t a big thing. I did kind of quit taekwondo and wrestling and everything else because I was just skating all the time. It didn’t seem to bother them, so thanks Mom and Dad.
How is the skate scene in Saskatoon?
It’s the best. Saskatoon is big enough that we have a good park and the best skateshop in the world, but it’s small enough that everyone’s a friend, which is so nice.
And you guys have an indoor park as well?
Yeah, which is so cool as it’s the first time in my experience that one can survive more than a winter in Saskatoon. It’s been three or four years now. There is a non-profit called Right to Skate that does a lot of good programming, we host shows there. Hard work from RTS has been able to keep it afloat which is amazing as winters can be really boring otherwise.
Anywhere in the Prairies, and just Canada in general, the winter is tough.
Yeah totally. The Prairies are brutal for winters. In the past we could only skate for a few months of the year, so an indoor changed everything.
You’ve worked at a few shops over the years.
Yeah, I worked at West 49 in high school (like everybody else has). That was whatever. Then I worked for a shop called Backside Boardshop for four years. They are mostly a snowboard shop. Now I work at Ninetimes. Highest honour.
A great shop for sure. Who are some of your favourite skaters?
Good question! Marisa Del Santo, of course. Her Strange World part is my favourite of all time. Elissa Steamer’s Paradise part is another of my favourites. I like Chris Cope’s Route 44 part. Ben Raybourn. The whole Birdhouse team. Winkowski. Gonz, Lance Mountain. Ben Kadow. I think he’s hilarious. Oh, the Delfinos! Gnarliest brother/sister combo ever.
An 8.6 Polar popsicle, Indys, and 56mm Formula Fours.
What kind of stuff do you mainly skate?
Mostly transition. I just like to dork around. Curbs, DIYs, bombing hills.
It seems like you skate everything, which is good.
I guess. I can’t skate a ledge though.
Well, there are lots of ledge skaters out there, so…
Yeah, c’est la vie.
What are your favourite places you’ve traveled to?
I’ve been to China a couple of times. I have some friends there and love it. There are some great skaters there that are now friends. It’s cool to have people to go back to in other places. California was home for a little bit and it’s great there but it’s a little too hectic to actually stay there for long. I love Canada: the West, the mountains, but I do love Saskatchewan and Saskatoon.
Where in China did you go?
A city called Nanning in the Guangxi province. It’s a big city, but it’s pretty unassuming as they are all big cities in China. A friend from Edmonton started a board company there. He’s the crazy artist type. JP Sanders, he’s the best. The skaters in the city all roll up to the town centre plaza after dark, pull out flatbars and go. Minsheng Life.
How long were you there?
I was there for three months and then another two months.
After your experience there, can you dispel any Western myths/fears about China?
Sure, I guess just that it’s a normal place with normal people. People make foreign countries out to be such an alien thing. There’s some weird food, but it’s all really, really good.
Did you eat anything weird?
Chicken feet are kind of like chicken wings with a little less meat on it. The proper thing to do is bite off the toe and spit out the claw, which is kind of gross I suppose. I didn’t do anything too crazy but I watched my friend eat a pig dick that was spiraled on a stick and then roasted. Apparently it was crunchy.
Too much. You were in California as well for a bit.
Yeah, in the LA area. I lived there for almost a year working for a non-profit that does something similar to the Right to Skate program in Saskatoon. Some friends from home had worked with them and they offered me a job in communications. I lived in a skate house, went through emails at a coffee shop in the morning and skated the rest of the day.
You’re going into your last year of university. What has been your focus in school?
I’m an English major. You’ve got to love the semi-useless Liberal Arts.
Do you have any recommended reading?
Yeah for sure. James Joyce, Wordsworth, Cummings. Mary Oliver is one of my favourite contemporary poets. Classics. You know, pretentious nerd shit. I sort of went to school because I read an old book and became obsessed with the idea of trying to consume the whole of the classic literary canon. It’s hard to even dip your toes into though. I still know nothing. If you talk to me, it will still probably be over my head.
The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall and The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera.
What are your musical tastes like?
Suddenly I am really into bluegrass. When I was a kid I was into My Chemical Romance and Blink 182 and all that stuff. That turned heavily into hardcore punk, which turned into everything else. All of a sudden I’m like, “Maybe country music is cool,” which goes against everything I believe in. I’m getting into Colter Wall, The Lost Dog Street Band and their precursor bands Spit Shine and the Teardrop Trio have been on repeat for two years. Actually, let’s just change this to Bruce Springsteen. Don’t mess with The Boss, no surrender.