Photo shot by @mikeomeally
Javier Mendizabal is a skater and painter from Spain. He burst onto the international skate scene with legendary sections for Cliché where he showcased his unique flowing relaxed style on some of the gnarliest transitions available, whilst keeping things rolling on the streets and knocking out sick street bangers too.
We were interested to see that Javier had made a noteworthy transition from pro skater to being a artist and after being fans of his skating and now his artwork we were interested to find out how he had started to paint, and to find out more about his skating too.
So we had to hit him up about it all and ask him some questions about his classic video parts, recent projects and his plans for the future. We had a long chat with Javier about all that and we’re hyped he was down to be a member of The No Comply Network
Read Javier’s interview below to find out about his painting and skate career, find out about how he came up in the Basque Country, shredding La Kantera Skate Park, meeting Thomas Campbell, going to London as a kid and going to Slam City Skates in the early 90s, getting hyped on Hokus Pokus, Matt Hensley, his memories of Ben Raemers, living in Barcelona before it became a global skate mecca, getting hooked up by Cliche, Jérémie Daclin, filming for Europa and Bon Apetit, shooting with French Fred, his trips and travels, his standout tricks and clips, going to Japan with Kenny Reed, defining his artistic style, inspirations and influences, his recent projects, and his favourite spots, skaters, photographers, filmmakers, and skate videos ever and more
Hey Javier, what have you been up to recently?
I’ve been painting. That’s what I’ve been doing most, especially the last few months,
It has been a big change, not a big change, but since the beginning of the year, I’ve been renting a proper studio for the first time in my life so that has changed a lot.
What were you up to before you got your studio?
Before that I was doing a lot of different things.
I was doing a lot of freelance things with Quiksilver, different stuff, but lately I’ve just been waking up and going to my studio and painting and suddenly it has started to work.
I’ve started to sell some paintings, here and there and yeah. I’m still trying to figure out if it’s realistic or not, because some months, it’s incredible and then there’s like months of nothing, so I’m just trying to focus on painting and see where it goes.
People will discover your art and see you rip on a skateboard and get hyped on your artwork from that aspect.
Yeah totally. Before it was the opposite. It was like Javier is painting? Oh that’s cool!
But now there have been a few people who have been in touch with me who didn’t know anything about my skateboarding and then they start following me because of my paintings and then I’ll post some skating once in a while, and then people have been like woah! You skate pretty good.
Javier, Frontside Ollie, Saint Jean de Luz: Shot by @manuelschenck
It must be funny for you to experience that
It’s refreshing. I like it. It has only happened a couple times but yeah it’s funny.
Yeah, your skating inspired a lot of people, the way you skate transition is unique.
I saw you skate at Cantelowesand do a Front Rock on the cradle. Blew my mind at the time.
Yeah, I remember that going to that skatepark and that day. That was the first time that I met Ben Raemers that day.
Yeah, he was there. It was a Quiksilver contest I think.
That was a memorable day for both of us. Ben was such a rad guy.
I travelled with Ben Raemers. There were a couple years where we were both on Converse at the same time, we did some trips together and I remember the last time I saw him was in Barcelona. I was not living there anymore. I had lived there for 15 years but at that time I had moved to France.It was just on a trip when I was back there for a few days.
Where did you see Ben?
I saw him on the street at night, alone, it was raining, and yeah he was pretty drunk and it was just really weird. I was like woah Ben, what are you doing? And I was like ey come with us! And he was like, lost.
I didn’t even really realise, I just thought woah, what is this guy doing, all by himself in the rain and I told him to come with us to the bar and he came with us, and then I looked around for him and he had disappeared. So he was already going through stuff at the time.
What year was that?
I can’t remember. I would say this was roughly about 5 years ago.
He was globetrotting a lot, in San Jose then back in London, and going on trips, it was hard for anyone to gauge how he was. What do you remember about Ben the most?
Ben was the nicest guy. I don’t think we spent enough time together for him to open up to me 100 percent and be completely himself; he was taking his own time.
But he was always smiling. I have an amazing memory of him but as you say, I know how it is.
When you travel most of the time and you go from one group of people to another you never really spend a lot of time with anyone.
Yeah, everyone recognised that now. But they are doing good things through the Ben Raemers Foundation to bring awareness to it
Yeah totally, I was actually talking to John Rattray today and he’s doing an amazing job too.
He has also been dealing with promoting awareness of mental issues due to things he’s experienced within his family, which I think is cool but also sad.
However the good side is that at least it’s opening the door a little bit for people to realise that we all go through stuff and it’s cool to talk and a necessary thing to do.
Yeah for sure. You’ve got to be able to open up to your friends.
Especially in the skateboarding world.
It’s like most of the time, it’s really young people, making good money and with a lot of freedom, so they have this constant party side that is fun but that can take a toll too and it’s sometimes can hide things.
We can just party, drink alcohol and ignore that aspect of it.
Yeah, people act like everything is cool when it’s not. But speaking about being young and getting into something exciting and cool, what was it that first got you into skateboarding?
I’m from Algorta. It’s a small town in the Basque country where La Kantera Skatepark is but even before La Kantera, it was a little town with a surfing and skateboarding culture.
Even in the 70’s there was not much happening at least in Spain. Surfing arrived in Europe in France, through Biarritz, which is one hour and a half from my town. So that’s how people started surfing first and then skating. When they first started skating it was more just skating downhill, hillbombs and stuff.
But because of that generation, there was a younger generation that came later, that was starting to build little banks and quarterpipes and because of them they started to build La Kantera Skatepark.
It wasn’t the first skatepark in Spain but it was one of the first, either the second or the third one and that made an incredible skate scene.
I don’t really know how to explain why there was not another skatepark in Spain with greater skaters, than the ones that at La Kantera were but also a lot of creative people came from that park.
Photographers, musicians, the first skate video ever made in Spain were coming from there too.
So I was 11, nearly 12 years old when I was living not in that town but right next to it. I was really young but my parents would take me there, every once in a while and I would slowly start to go there with some friends, I got influenced by all these people that I met down there and skated with.
La Kantera Skatepark
You made a book about La Kantera right?
Yeah, I made a book with my friends, Jon Amiano and Fernando Elvira about La Kantera. It’s not just about the skatepark but about the whole scene that surrounded it.
We tried to explain at least for us, the magic of the place.
The park looks amazing the way it’s set on the beach by those cliffs.
Yeah, it’s still there, the location is incredible, it’s beautiful. Skaters from other countries came to skate it and stayed for a while.
Like Bill Danforth back in the day, he came and stayed for a while. Nicky Guerrero later but then Thomas Campbell came and he also stuck around.
Yeah, there were so many people who came to visit and skate. So being a younger kid, I was influenced by the older skaters in the scene. Skate-wise but also by being creative with photography, video and painting.
Was there anybody in particular at La Kantera who inspired you?
Yeah. 100 percent. There was this guy Fernando Elvira. He still skates, he’s a bit older than me, and he’s a great artist. Back in the day he was the editor of this skate magazine called Tres60 Skate Magazine.
Then Fernando met Thomas Campbell. Thomas was travelling. He was shooting for Transworld at the time and he came, met Fernando and they started playing music together and they started talking about magazines, The magazine Fernando made was pretty open, they were not just talking about skateboarding in it but also music, art and all these different things.
I met Thomas thorough Fernando. But I didn’t really speak much English at the time and Thomas didn’t speak any Spanish. But we spent a few days together, we shot some photos and he made an article in Transworld with the big guys of the time in Spain and he also included me in it and nobody really knew who I was at the time. But it was through that that I got my very first sponsor.
Javier, Backside Tailslide: Shot by @thomascampbellart
Who was your first sponsor?
It was a guy who was doing this distribution in Spain but just going back to Fernando. He was big influence for me for a very long time.
He gave me my first photo camera when I was 14; it was a Nikon FM2, so I started shooting photos with that.
He was painting at the time and he inspired me to get me into drawing and try different things.
Never really got into the music. I’ve always been fucking around with a guitar but I cannot call myself a musician. Fernando who inspired me to try that too.
If somebody inspires you in one way then it can lead to you trying out other things you see them do, it becomes a new trick to learn
He influenced a lot of people. Not as directly as with me because we hung out but as an editor of the magazine. A lot of people read his magazine. I would say not a whole generation but a big part of them were motivated by this guy.
Javier, 180 Nosegrind: Shot by @thomascampbellart
That’s sick. So at La Kantera, you learned to skate but you also gained new interests beyond just skateboarding too.
Fernando, Jon and I were trying to show that through the book. We contacted pretty much everyone who was part of the La Kantera scene and there are a lot of people but we wanted it be made by everyone.
We were asking everyone to contribute, photos and writing and let them write about anything they wanted, from short stories of a memorable afternoon where something funny happened, to poetry to deeper longer tales. The book has no structure. That’s how the book exists and was created. Chaos and Anarchy. That’s how skating was at the time, I guess not so much anymore. But back in the day it was wild and free and we wanted the book to reflect that.
Iker Ondarra, Frontside Air,La Kantera Skatepark pool party, 2000: Shot by @terrefoto
Yeah, things can be really standardised in skateboarding these days, it’s a shame as it is a creative thing
That aspect has a good part to it too. I’m not against it. I’m just happy I experienced and discovered skateboarding in the late 80’s and 90’s.
But I think it’s cool that there are so many opportunities in it now and it’s so big. Just, the level of skating right now, the new guys, what they are doing is amazing. I can just be a little bit romantic sometimes but I’m happy I discovered it when I did.
Definitely. Even in the 00s, you could tell somebody skated by the Kickflip mark on their shoe, whereas now, everyone has that style and looking like a skater is more accepted and widespread.
Yeah, totally, I remember back in the days you would not only recognise someone from their shoes but when you would see a skater you would go up to them and talk to them because there were not that many skaters. Of course there was no internet or cellphones. So when you saw a skater walk down the street that, even if they did not have a board and you realised because of their shoes, you would be like ‘Hey! You skate?’ and you would just start talking to them.
Outside of Tres60 Magazine, did you read other skate magazines or watch skate videos?
It’s funny; I remember it took quite a lot of time for us in Spain to get new videos and magazines because there were not many skate shops. There were surf shops that had some but not much
But then I remember going to London when I was 14 with my parents. Somebody told me there was a skate shop called Slam City Skates and they gave me an address, it was in Covent Garden? Is it still there?
Yeah, it moved from Neal’s Yard to Endell Street a few years ago but it’s still in Covent Garden.
Anyway, I just remember I just had this address written on a piece of a paper and I went there with my parents. We got to Covent Garden and I told my parents, you guys wait here for me, just have a coffee and I’m going to find the skate shop. I was looking for it but I could not find it at first because at the time it was in this really small street. Also there was a really big van parked in front of the entrance and I couldn’t see it, also I couldn’t really speak any English at the time too which didn’t help but finally I found the skate shop I walked in and it was full of people just sitting on the ground, it was the video premiere of Hokus Pokus, The H-Street video.
Yeah and my parents bought it for me. I watched that video and when I came back with the Hokus Pokus video, I was one year ahead of everyone.
Yeah, that video was sick, must have been amazing at the time. When you were in London did you go to Southbank?
No man! I was thinking about this a few days ago. I just don’t remember where I went to skate, I can’t remember the name of the spot but right next to the hotel where we were staying there was a bank to wall.
It was not Southbank. It was just a random spot but it was so good. I was pretty young, just on a tourist trip with my parents and at the end of the day I’d skate that for 2 hours by myself.
If you can imagine, what it would be like for me, to skate by myself in London as a kid? It’s a great memory that’s still fresh in my mind today.
Javier, Frontside Wallride, Shot by @samuelashley
Rad. Where you sponsored then?
My first sponsor was the distribution, I mentioned earlier but that was when I was about 16. It was more of a ‘discount’ than a sponsorship on boards and product but that was the beginning.
Okay. To take a step back, what was your favourite section in Hokus Pokus?
I didn’t know anything about anyone at the time but I was a big fan of Matt Hensley.
I grew up in a town where there was an older generation from surfing, so that’s what the skateboarding was like.
I was influenced by them but when I saw that video, I saw street skating. I was a transition skater but that video made want to skate all-terrain, skate everything and Matt Hensley was a big influence for me.
Even Brian Lotti, who was in that video, was big fan of Matt Hensley, he thought Hensley was next level.
It was the tricks he did, the flow that he had and everything about him. The aesthetics. His hair and clothes, everything about him looked cool. He influenced a lot of people, he was quite unique.
He did tricks people don’t do now, like he Fakie 540 Ollied a set of stairs. Where did you skate street?
Yeah, there were some street spots in Algorta too. We were skating the park most of the time but there were some street spots.
Then we’d go to Bilbao, which was really close, get the train there, and travel around Spain.
We would go to Madrid. Barcelona wasn’t really a destination at the time it was more Madrid. Madrid had a way bigger skate scene, so we’d go there but then I moved to Barcelona when I was 19.
There were not many skate parks, there was Turo Park? That doesn’t exist anymore and there were a few others little skate parks too.
But that was the beginning of MACBA. When I got there in 1999, there were about 10 skaters there. I spent my first 3 years in Barcelona skating MACBA every day.
So there were days you would skate at MACBA and there was nobody there?
Yeah. Totally. The first couple years, it was kind of gnarly too. The museum was there obviously but not many tourists, the neighbourhood was kind of sketchy.
There was a group of bad boys hanging there and we got in trouble with them a few times but soon as there were more and more skaters coming to skate there those bad boy guys left.
Javier, Bank to Bank Back Tail: Shot by @ryanallan
How did MACBA and the Barcelona scene first blow up?
You know what happened? First it was Jamie Thomas he got a cover, of Skateboarder not at MACBA but in Barcelona and then also it was Eric Koston and Rick McCrank filming for Menikmati.
When Menikmati came out that video put Barcelona on the map.
It’s strange to hear as it’s such an international mecca for skating these days. I’ve been to that spot where you did the Ollie down the huge double set into the bank in Fondo? How did that go down?
You know what? I just went to that spot once and that was the day that I Ollied it. I never went there before and after. I don’t even know where it is.
Really? Who filmed it and what happened that day?
We were going somewhere else and we just saw it and were like wow, look at that.
It was one of those days you don’t think about what you’re doing, and you just do it but you look back and you think, woah that was actually fuckin gnarly.
Was it Fred who filmed it?
No it was not Fred. I remember because there was a sequence, my roommate at the time Quentin De Briey shot the sequence, I can’t remember who filmed it but it was not Fred.
So it was just a spontaneous thing, that’s funny. So what were you doing in Barcelona at the time?
I went to Barcelona to study for three years. It was during those years, I was not travelling. I was just in Barcelona, discovering the city and skating.
But then as Barcelona got more popular and more people started to come that’s when I started to travel to other places and skate.
It’s funny because at one point I was living in Barcelona but I started to travel quite a lot and going on skate trips and coming back for a few days so I wasn’t’ really skating Barcelona anymore.
So for the first three years, I skated there a lot, all the time but when I started travelling Barcelona was more of a place for me to relax and hang out with my friends before going on another trip.
What other spots did you used to hit up in Barcelona?
There were so many and no one really knew about them.
Most people skated Sants already; nobody was trying to discover new things. Barcelona changed really quickly around this time, they built a lot of stuff super-fast, and so there was a lot of stuff to discover.
It was through this guy Alexis Zavialof who I met on my very first trip to Barcelona, when I was looking for a school and looking for a place to live.
I met him at MACBA and we became friends, he was a photographer. He was the guy who had a car and we’d get in that and drive and look for spots.
I spent a few years shooting photos with him and it was because of him that I got on to Cliché. He’s a really good friend of Jérémie Daclin and so Alexis helped me to start skating for them.
Backside Ollie, South Africa: Shot by @anttonmiettinen
Jérémie Daclin is a legend.
Yeah, we don’t see each other so often but I just made a graphic for his board brand Into The Wild.
We’ve been in touch lately because of that. But I was like man, you skate every fuckin day. He skates every single day. He’s older than me. He must be 47-48 years old.
He does some sick shit, he used to do big gnarly stuff but now he does the low impact bangers.
I was giving him some shit recently. I was like man, you just don’t do Ollies anymore, you just do Slappies! But really I think that it’s incredible, how he can skate every day at his age. Respect.
For sure, he’s the French Gonz. He just keeps going. So were you the first person on Cliché then?
No, before me, there was a full team. Cliché started in 1997 and I got on in 1999. So it was going for a year and half before I got on.
Manuel Palacios, from Madrid, was already pro for them. Now I think about it, Manuel was just as big a reason why I got on to Cliché as well as Alexis too.
Ricardo Fonseca from Portugal was already skating for them. Seb Daurel from France and myself. Lots of different people. So I was not on from day one but day two.
Cliché stood out at the time, it was such a great skate brand. What was it like filming for Europa?
For Europa, I did pretty much everything for that in those first two years in Barcelona. Spending time with Alexis who was taking photos but he was also filming.
So I didn’t really get much travelling in with the rest of the team for that. It was really cool. I was getting some boards from that distributor at the time and I just remember meeting Alexis who asked me if I would like to get Cliché boxes instead and I was like yeah that sounds amazing.
I remember just telling my friends, I’m going to start skating for Cliché. At the beginnning it was European but for my friends they were like why are you going to skate for a ‘French Brand’!?
They didn’t get it. I didn’t know at the time that Cliché was going to become what it became you know, but I don’t know I wanted to ride for something that felt natural and closer and people I can see and talk to it.
People at that distro didn’t know that I existed. Cliché felt more real to me.So that’s why I rode for them.
Then Pontus came on-board, I got along with Pontus right away, so that was really cool.
Javier, 180 Nosegrind, Shot by @pontus_alv
Watching your part, you skate a lot of transition Switch and Nollie, how did you get into that?
Yeah I do, yeah I still do, and I try anyway. I like to do that.
Yeah, there was no plan for skating ramps like that. You see people do stuff you like, you try it. It’s just a good way to pull tricks. I started doing Nollies on the streets and then taking it to ramps and the same thing happened with Switch.
How did you go about filming your Europa section?
In the beginning there was nothing planned. I was just going to skate and we’d find spots and skate whatever. Sometimes get footage and photos.
Then later in the years, I could do this or that, let’s try to have some more street, thinking of the whole concept of the part and planning it a bit but that came later after Bon Apetit. Those two video parts were nothing planned just pure skating.
You came from a creative background in skating. How did you end up skating in so many big contests over the years?
I did some contests at the beginning because when I was in Barcelona I wasn’t making any money at all, so I was just trying to survive. I was selling shoes and boards in the streets to friends or whatever and then go to contests to make it into the top 3 and make a little money. It was just survival mode.
But as soon as I started making enough money, I stopped skating contests.NThen with Quiksilver, they started ding the Marseille Bowlriders contest and the Malmo Bowlriders contests.NBecause of that they were the only contests that I was doing because I was sponsored by Quiksilver at the timeNBut I was just doing one of those every year and a few qualifiers for those. But I never really enjoyed those contests. It’s not really my thing.
What did you think about the Olympics?
No. I never watch Street League or The Olympics or anything like that.
How long were you filming for Bon Apetit?
I would say there were 2 years between Europa and Bon Apetit. Maybe three. I was not filming most of the time during that thought. We went to Australia; a lot of stuff came out of that.
There’s a lot of stuff in my hometown in Algorta, then Barcelona and a couple of trips with Cliché.
Javier, Backside Nosegrind: Shot by @benjamin_deberdt_photography
You have a banging section in that. The Back tail at Canyelles Skatepark was steez, how did that go down?
I was skating that park the most in Barcelona. I like skateparks that are a little bit fucked. That’s the stuff I like the most. I was skating there most of the time and the mini ramps there.
I have some clips skating that bit also in the Europa video. I have some lines there. I don’t know if you know Julian Furones? I used to go there with him quite a lot as he was the only guy I know who liked it too.
Why do you like skating such rough steep transition?
It’s just the way I like it. Some people worry about that stuff, I like it when it’s a bit different.
Javier, Frontside Tailslide, Canary Islands: Shot by Leo Sharp
Yeah, it’s an acquired taste. It’s gnarly. You do a rad Nosebluntslide on a bank to ledge in Barcelona, it’s so sick, how did that go down?
I’ve only been there a couple times. It’s a cool spot I like it. Yeah, the ledge there is weird, it has this angle on the ledge, it makes it hard to skate but with time you figure it out.
How did the Switch Backside Ollie down the double set go down in those iPaths?
I didn’t even remember I did that! Yeah I was on iPath for a while. I became really good friends with Kenny Reed and through him I met the other guys, I was in San Francisco with Kenny and they told me that they were going to Japan on a iPath tour and they asked me if I wanted to go.
I was sponsored by some other shoe brand but I was like fuck it! I went to Japan and they kind of asked me to ride for them and I was down. I rode for them for a couple years.
Who else was on that iPath Japan trip?
It was Kenny Reed, Nate Jones, Matt Field, Tony Cox and some others, Gabe Morford was taking photos and Dan Wolfe was filming.
That’s a sick crew. What was that tour like?
At that time iPath was huge in Japan. It was the number one selling skate shoe brand. So they were taking care of us really well, we did some demos but we also went to the mountains to some hot springs, it was a really good trip. It was different to everything else in the market.
I really liked the guys there. I became good friends with Tony, it was just great vibes in general and the shoes were good too.
Javier, Kickflip the Hip: Shot by @sergiomartinphoto
How did your Bilbao bump to Ledge 5-0 grind go down?
It’s in Barakaldo? It’s next to Bilbao, near my hometown. That spot is incredible, it’s still there. I have no idea what it’s for. Somebody just had a great idea to build it.
It’s in the middle of a neighbourhood and within the middle of the buildings, there are these fountains, and these concrete waves. It’s quite big.
A lot of things have been done over the years. There has been a Transworld cover shot there. For one little spot so much has gone down there.
Bon Apetit was sick. Did you expect Fred to do such a good job on it?
When it came out I really liked it. I’m a big fan of Fred Mortagne, he’s a good friend. We are actually working on a little piece together at the moment that’s going to be coming out in a couple of months but that’s another story. Europa wasn’t Fred; it was another guy, Ben Derenne.
Bon Apetit was the first one by Fred.
He was coming from doing Menikmati and then Sorry. Filming with the best skaters. Rowley, Koston, Arto and those guys. Cliché, he’s from Lyon, he’s from there, Fred knew everyone, so for him, it was getting back to his roots and film with people he’d knew for a long time.
Fred had the freedom to do whatever he wanted and Bon Apetit was the result of that. Fred doing what he wanted. It was just a bunch of friends travelling. Fred knew how to get that joy of skating and travelling and get that to come through in the video and that’s it.
Yeah for sure, what was it like working with Fred on it?
Every time he came with his unique style and people started to copy his stuff. He has the eye, and was true to himself and came up with new stuff. He’s a methodical perfectionist type of person and he puts everything on it, time and energy, everything.
It’s incredible to work with him. When you see someone put in so much, it makes you just put in your 100 percent.
Javier and Fred Mortagne: Shot by @thomascampbellart
Yeah and it makes you more confident the trick will look banging.
Yeah, it’s just trust you know. You just know it’s going to look good, even with the music. When he was editing the videos, I was going to Lyon when he was working on my part and I had some ideas for music, some options I would propose.
Every time I suggested something he was like yeah, yeah that’s good but listen to this! And we’d always end up using his ideas and most of the time he would find music, I’d never have heard of, ever. Even with Bon Apetit for my section the musician Raul Seixas? He is this Brazilian musician who is huge in Brazil but that I’d never heard of before at all.
Then when the video came out a lot of people from Brazil would come up to me and like say in conversation, yeah Javier it’s great you chose that artist for your section. I was like thank you but I’m not that guy! That was Fred.
That’s cool. So at this time, were you painting then or just drawing?
I’ve always been drawing and carrying my sketchbooks. It’s been that way since I was 17. But I was not painting that much because I didn’t have the time or the space. I was just skating and travelling a lot. I didn’t have a studio.
I was taking photos but it was when I moved to France that I kind of stopped skating professionally, I was skating for myself and also moving to a new place that was different to Barcelona, where there are a lot of people, social life and distractions.
So when I moved to this house in France in the mountains that’s when I started painting.
That was 8 years ago. So since then every year I’ve just been putting more energy and time into it.
Yeah, new creativity can come out when you have space, time and the capacity. Where there any artists that inspired you?
I told you that I was influenced by my friend Fernando, who’s always been a big influence but just in my approach to being creative and exploring, definitely there are some influences in my style but directly there are two people that I’ve met in the last 8 years that have influenced me in my painting
One is Julio Lorenzo who is a skater, a really good skater from Spain, who lives in Barcelona. He went to art school and I didn’t and so I don’t have a formal art background, so I didn’t originally really have the technique to make things the way I wanted to.
I was in France, he was in Spain, he was coming over, I’d call him and ask him questions on how to do things I wanted to do and then we did some exhibitions together and then we did some art residencies together and we were spending weeks together so I learned a lot from him Then another guy that I met through Thomas Campbell, Julian Smith, he’s a great artist too.
He moved to France for a year, he’s not here anymore, but we’re still good friends, we’ve been painting together a lot and just having people right next you, you get the influence like that.
Also nature is my biggest influence and shapes and colours and lately human body shapes have been getting into work.
How long do you spend on each of your paintings?
It can go from 3 days to 3 weeks. No longer than 3 weeks. I’ve done some art residencies where you have 10 days, like the one I did with Julio in France that I mentioned earlier. The space where we were going to show the work was huge, so we had to do big paintings and we spent 10 days, painting for 14-15 hours a day. Non-stop.
So at that time, I was doing paintings in 3 days but normally in 2-3 weeks. But it really depends, because I never really paint for 8 hours a day. I have a family, I have daughter, I have other stuff going on, I go surfing, so yeah, these days, I’ll spend a few hours a day and some day’s I’ll spend 6 hours a day painting. I’m not in a rush, I like to take my time. I do it for myself for now.
Aside from that recent collaboration with Jérémie have you done any other work for other brands or clients?
Yeah, I have done some graphics for Element because I’m good friends with Phil Zwijsen, he lives close to me here in France. Lately he’s been travelling so we haven’t been skating so much together but we were skating together quite a lot and he asked me to make a graphic for his next pro model and I made a sketch for it. They really liked it and I ended up doing three more for them.
And then there’s another graphic coming out for Magenta, I did a graphic for Soy Panday.
There’s been a few skate brands who’ve asked me to do graphics, but I don’t really don’t want to go too far into that direction. I did it for Jérémie and Soy and Phil because they are my friends and that’s it. And then I also did a collaboration with some brands outside of skateboarding, I’ve done a snowboard graphic because it was for a good friend too.
I’ve got a collection with Quiksilver coming out too; I’ve been on Quiksilver forever so it made sense. I’ve also did a towel graphic for a towel brand from America called Slow Tide? Few things here and there.
I also did a t-shirt graphic for Nike SB recently.
Sick, how did the Nike SB job come about?
That came out of the blue. This guy contacted me on Instagram and asked me if he wanted to do the t-shirt…There were supposed to be some other guys doing that as part of a series with one guy from North America, South America and Europe but in the end it was just me. Something happened in the middle. Only my graphic came out, it was cool.
Do you have a website?
That’s my goal for this winter, I’m working on it. I did an open door at my studio and I’ve been selling locally but yeah I’ve definitely have to get a website but I’m not worrying about it at the moment, I’m just focusing on painting.
What was that project you mentioned you were working on with French Fred?
I’ve made a collection for Quiksilver of my designs on some clothing. So we’re making a video about it. My only condition was that I wouldn’t talk into the video! I just want to show my inspirations
There will be a little skateboarding, but it’s going to be artistic let’s say, we’ve been getting creative.
Look forward to seeing it. Where’s your favourite place to go skate in the world and why?
A spot that comes to mind is Burnside. I like the whole DIY thing and it’s a really fun skatepark to skate too. I don’t know if it’s my favourite in the world but its’ the first thing that came to mind.
Javier, Tweaked Stalefish Transfer, Burnside: Shot by @artofoto
Yeah, it’s 30 years old this year.
Yeah, has to be, it’s the same age as La Kantera.
Who’s your favourite skate photographer?
I really like Brian Gaberman.
I think he has something really unique. I was lucky enough to travel with him too a few times. He’s an incredible human being. His black and white photography is something that you recognise straight away, it’s his own style and I really like it.
Javier, Stalefish, La Kantera, Shot by @b_gaberman
I really like Mike O’Meally too.He’s a really good friend but he’s not one of my favourites just because of that.
He’s an incredible photographer. He’s maybe less artistic than Brian but his technique is really good.
He has a pure love for skateboarding, he’s a hard worker and he’s really talented too. Some of the best photos I have are from Mike for sure.
Javier, Frontside Ollie: Shot by Mike O’Meally
O’Meally is a legend! He knows how to light a spark into a session.
He made me do tricks that I never tried before in my life and that I never did again after and I was just like what!?
Also Thomas Campbell. Not many people know that he was a skate photographer and still is too. When I met him he was bringing colour flashes, a lot of funny and new stuff to skate photography that nobody was using at the time.
He was the editor of Skateboarder Magazine back in the day. He was one of the first guys to go and skate and shoot in exotic destinations, he was shooting skaters getting covers in magazines in places like Japan and Australia. Exotic I mean because they were just places outside of America.
He was making trips with Geoff Rowley, with young Steve Olson and Donny Barley to places like Morocco and Vietnam a long, long time ago.
He was the guy who discovered Chad Muska!
Yeah, they did a Transworld trip to Las Vegas and they met this young homeless skater and it was Chad Muska. Thomas just called Transworld and was like we need to do something with this guy. They flew him to California and that’s it. I have a lot of respect for Thomas he’s a good friend.
That’s a cool story. What’s your favourite skate photo?
The photo of Matt Hensley that was in his pro spotlight in Transworld a long time ago. He’s under a bridge, going over the highway, somewhere in California. He’s under the bridge, over the highway and the bridge has this huge transition and he’s doing a Frontside Ollie. It’s the first photo that came to my mind. It’s just pure Matt Hensley style.
Matt Hensley, Frontside Ollie: Shot by Daniel Sturt
Yeah, it’s such a rad Frontside Ollie photo
I love Frontside Ollies on transition. I have a thousand Frontside and Backside Ollie photos. It’s a trick I love and if it’s Matt Hensley even more. Also just the fact it’s not a skatepark, it’s just a spot not made for skateboarding, also the fact that it looks pretty fucking gnarly just to get up there too. I had that photo on my wall as a kid.
What’s your favourite skate video?
Welcome to Hell, Toy Machine. Every single part is incredible. Brian Anderson, everyone.
Also, Eastern Exposure with Donny Barley by Dan Wolfe, really liked that one.
Who’s your Favourite skater?
Right now? Grant Taylor. He’s the most exciting guy, style, he’s incredible.
There are some other guys like Dennis Busenitz too.
Mark Suciu? I just saw he became SOTY. I just watched his video part twice. That’s something I haven’t done in a long time. He’s really, really good. I like his style.
You mentioned Fred and Thomas. But do you have any other favourite skate filmmakers ?
I like Greg Hunt too. The video he made for Alien Workshop. Mindfield. I really like it. Also, his work with Vans too.
I’ve known him for a long time. I met him back in the day in San Francisco; he was working in a pizza place, selling pizza. He used to be pro for Stereo and then between Stereo and before he started filming he was working in a pizza place. Every time I see him, I tell him. He was only there for a couple months but the first time I met him he was working there. We travelled together with Gravis for a couple years, he’s a really cool guy.
Javier, Frontside Invert: Shot by @ryanallan
Cool. Anything else you want to mention before I let you go?
I’ve just had an exhibition a couple weeks ago and Christmas is around the corner and after that I’m going back to my studio and I’m going to keep painting.
Cool. Do you have any last words for people reading this Javier?
Keep inspired and thanks for reading and thanks to you for reaching out to me.