Why cover an activity such as longboarding—and longboarding related topics, mind you–on a site dedicated to art (and, admittedly, a few random things that catch this writer’s eye, as well as a bay to the moon now and then…)? The answer is simple, and as the title states: longboarding is simply art in motion. A stretch? To the uncreative and unimaginative, perhaps.
…the graphics on longboards would constitute art—the riding is the “motion” part. One of the first things people like to do with a new longboard (my support of this will go unmentioned…) is check out the graphic on the underside of the deck. Designs range from flashy to weird, and it’s not uncommon for first timers to pick a first board based on how he or she “vibes” with it, so to speak. People also know that longboards are inevitably a statement, and for some, they’re another form of apparel that helps complete their image. The board has to reflect the rider, period. (Arguably, however, expression also lies in the setup of the ride, defining what kind of rider the said longboarder is).
But longboards have the all-too-often unseen potential for customization equal to that of the rider’s creative capacity. From laser/hand-cut griptape, to custom decks and wood finishes, down to wheel influenced color schemes, longboards are inarguably a potential form of personal expression for professionals and enthusiasts alike. Varying art is littered throughout the longboard community, and, as with all things that rapidly pick up cultural momentum, people are always looking for innovative ways to tweak their ride.
As a “for example” or three:
What you may not know…
…is that the “art” of longboarding transcends the look of the ride. A seemingly obvious statement at first, but upon thinking about it, one might wonder, “Uhm… how?”
Part of what makes longboarding so fun is a strong development of a love for the ride. The wind blowing by, the pavement inches from one’s feet, and the absolute concentration on nothing but riding the board; it’s absolutely sublime. As riders progress, they may want to attack steeper hills and push the limits of their ability to ride. Others find dancing.
Dancing usually entails…
…the cross-step. The shake and bake. Walk the plank. Body varials. The Peter Pan cross-step. The applesauce. All are different, individual tricks, but all can be combined into a sequence of moves that allows the rider to… dance. There really is an art in dancing while riding, allowing longboarders to express themselves in more ways than a graphic and colored polyurethane wheels.
With dancing, we see expression through action; riders move to the beat of their own drum. A drum based on nothing more than personal preference and conveyance of beauty from the perspective of the “artist”. Of course enjoyment plays in, this is fact—but things as small as putting arms out for balance, slowly develop into flourishes which act as the salt and pepper for any otherwise “sick” trick.
Much like the martial artist meditating and practicing the forms of his art, the longboarder dances while attacking the ever-providing gradual slope of a hill. With the right angles and music, dancing would look like an “artsy” scene in a movie; consider Apocalypse Now or The Fountain during meditative practices.
(Oh look, it’s my next point).
History’s repitition shows us that…
…much like its skating and surfing counterparts, riders again looked at their sport and decided: we need to film this shit!
And with film comes… more art.
Longboarding videos are one of the most prominent artforms within the movement—film-makers always consider music, editing, and creative shots. Some videos will highlight tricks and showcase the abilities of the rider, while others will take time to observe the scenery, and take in the feelings of intensity or tranquility, conveyed by the location where longboarders choose to ride.
I could argue all day about how film is art, but my hope is that most people have accepted it as such.
So I won’t.
…longboarding qualifying as an artform boils down to how we interpret art. For those with more conservative or concrete views on what art is—that is, more traditional art(-fucks)—probably won’t consider longboarding to be an art. It’s a sport. But for those who understand the love one can develop for the board, the ride, the process, along with the unmatched sense of emotional overflow influenced by the rider’s creativity: this is art. It doesn’t comment, it doesn’t criticise, and it doesn’t judge. And if those are the only things that constitutes art, then art is dead.
Progressively and literally, it’s art in motion.