Julian Klincewicz goes for everything on and off his board.
He skates anything at anytime, that he can find inbetween working as a film director, musician, photographer, fashion designer and model.
He's created films and creative work for Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh, Kanye West, Slayer, Supreme and Calvin Klein. He's shot models for Gosha Rubchinskiy and he sings, plays guitar and writes music.
But it was Julian's skills on a board that grabbed our attention. He is one of the best skaters you may never have seen before who produces a dizzying amount of creative things and he's now a No Comply Member.
So, we sat down with Julian to discuss how he got into skating, film, photography and music, working with Kanye West, Virgil Abloh, J Grant Brittain, Gosha Rubichinsky, Dolan Stearns, modelling in Japan, Swish Projects and his favourite creative things of all-time on and off his skateboard.
What’s your full name?
Julian Istvan Geza Klincewicz.
Where did you grow up and where do you reside now?
I was born in Chicago, but grew up in San Diego.
Right now I’m living in Costa Mesa, California.
Klincewicz is a rare surname, where does it come from?
“Klincewicz” is a Polish last name.
I’m half Polish, half Hungarian (although really just American.)
When did you first learn to skate and who did you skate with?
I started skating when I was 10 – I went to Wisconson to visit my some friends, and they had just started skating, and I thought it was just the coolest thing.
I remember going to the skate shop with them to get my first ever set up.
When I got back to San Diego, I started skating with my step-dad Mike. He has grown up skating in San Diego – so he just decided to get back into it with me.
We would go skate Washington street – so i'd skate with a lot of those dudes and then some friends from school too.
Were you ever sponsored?
Mmmmm, I don't think I was ever like fully sponsored – except by Route 44 Skate shop – which honestly meant the most to me out of anyone I could have ever been sponsored by.
And that maybe was even less to do with being like “Sponsored” and more to do with just being part of the family.
I got shoes from a few different people at various points though – some shoes from Vox.
And then I was getting boards from Lurkville for a while too – that was probably the closest I got to actually being sponsored.
When did you first start shooting photography?
I first started shooting photos towards the end of middle school I think – maybe 7th grade, definitely 8th grade.
Some of my best friends at the time were really into Lomography – so that was sort of my entry point into taking photos.
It was never a really serious thing though, more just fun. I think I started thinking about taking photos a bit more seriously when I was like 19 or 20.
When did you realise you could get paid and live working creatively?
Oh that’s a great question. I’m not really sure?
I think growing up the people I always looked up to were just creative people – even within skateboarding, I always like creative skateboarders like Gonz, or for the longest time my favourite skater was Zarosh Eggleston.
So I always just figured you could be creative within anything you wanted to do…
And then when I was in high-school, I had a few bands with friends – and we would make a little money when we’d play shows, probably never more than like $20 or $30 bucks each – but that was still something, so I feel that maybe reaffirmed the idea you could just be creative and have it work.
Then maybe the last piece that helped me really see it was working as an artist's assistant to Kelsey Brookes. Getting to work for him, and learn from him – just to be able to have a mentor who was a real artist, that had a huge affect on me.
You learned to ride a unicycle at a young age, how did that go down?
Haha, yeah I was in a circus for like 7 or 8 years I think?
I was doing gymnastics, but it was just too expensive – so my mom signed my sister and I up for circus arts, since it was basically a free alternative that had some similarities.
I really really loved it, and tried to do a bit of everything – Tight Wire, Trampoline, Tumbling, Juggle – but I really fell in love with unicycling.
And then I had a really good friend named Miles who also skated & rode unicycle – so then I was just doing both all the time. It was a ton of fun!
How long did you live in Japan for and how was that experience?
Haha, Yeah I definitely did. It was such a funny thing, but also so rad. I basically went out there when I was 18 or 19 – I think I’d just turned 19 actually – with my friends from SD.
They had been there a few times before and kept telling me “dude you’re gonna get cast to do modelling”, but I didn't really think so. But then maybe the 2nd day we were there – I got cast for a shoot… and then it kinda just didn't stop.
I ended up staying there for like 2 months – I had to just keep changing my flights until finally JAL wouldn’t let me change it anymore.
But it was cool – I met so many amazing people, made friends, fell in love for a second haha.
But there’s really nothing like traveling especially when you’re on your own for a bit – it just forces you to grow, to learn, to adapt. I’m so grateful for that experience…
The modelling kind of just let me stay in Tokyo longer – but I also kind of liked it just because it was around the same time I was getting into fashion, and thinking about photography a bit more seriously.
So I figured if I could have the experience of modelling, it might help give me some insight to what goes on behind the camera – how the photographers work, the kinds of cameras… And I think it did!
The Boneless Photo of you going over the motorcyclist in Japan is rad. How did that trick go down?
Ooo yeah that was a major highlight. I was out shooting with Iseki, and he took me to that gap. It’s on someone’s porch basically.
Since I don't really skate gaps I figured probably the only two things I could do down it would be an Ollie or a boneless.
I did the boneless, and just down the street that guy was delivering something – and he just sort of came over, and talked with iseki for a second – and then pulled up the bike in front of the spot so I could try the boneless over him haha.
I was soo terrified I was gonna land right on top of him, but I managed somehow not too.
You’ve created for Louis Vuitton. What did you do for LV?
The LV stuff came about in a sort of round about way. I work with an agency called Be Good Studios – and Virgil brought them on to help with the campaigns.
So when they were concepting the first campaigns – they had my name on a list of possible people.
I’d worked with Virgil Abloh a lot back when I was shooting for Kanye West on The Life Of Pablo / Yeezy Season 3.
So we already knew each other – and he just decided to bring me on for a few campaigns. I did like 4 campaigns, and then took a little break to take on a few other projects.
But it’s been really really rad.
I’m so inspired by Virgil, and think what he’s been doing at LV is really interesting – so its been cool to get to be a part of it, and help translate it into the video world.
You worked in Russia with Gosha Rubchinskiy on some visual projects. What was that experience like and what were you doing for Gosha?
Yeah – Gosha and I worked together on two or three projects I think – back in 2015.
He was kind of the first person to give me a chance to do a video for them, so I’m forever grateful about that.
The first thing I did was shoot the video for one of his runway shows – which was incredible – truly changed my life, I was just soo excited to be there, and be part of something like that.
After that – we did the video for his Vans shoe – that one we shot in Moscow.
Your film for Calvin Klein has a solid soundscape and dream-like visuals. How did you make it?
Thanks soo much! It was right when Raf was taking over as Creative Director, and his team had wanted to do something that just helps establish that personality.
I think so much of what CK has always done is felt like – very attainable, like kind of cool real people.
So we cast some people they’d already been working with, and that Raf very much saw as part of the CK family – and I just tried to do these little intimate portraits of them.
It wasn’t so much about the clothing – everyone was just wearing the most basic classic CK stuff – jeans & a t-shirt – it was more about showing each person, their personality, a little stolen moment from their lives.
The main cut was actually kind of secondary – I’d been trying to really just focus on each person solo.
Supreme and Slayer is a rad combination. How did that shoot go down and how did you get a job working for Supreme?
My friend Ricky was directing that video – and it kind of just worked out that they were going to be filming it at the San Diego Slayer show, and I was living in San Diego – so he just asked me to help shoot.
That was a fun one. I’m hesitant to say that I worked for Supreme, cuz it wasn’t really like that – it was more just like I got to help shoot Ricky’s project – but I loved that, and feel so grateful to have gotten to do that.
What creative medium stokes you out most?
It kind of varies – recently I’ve been doing a ton of video, for the past year I’ve pretty much been doing Video non-stop…
But in the past few months I’ve been feeling way more drawn to music. And also to fashion again – not so much shooting campaigns, or videos for fashion – but designing stuff.
I have some fun clothing projects coming out in 2020 – and working on those have gotten me sort of re-inspired to do more.
I had that runway show back in 2016 – and that was such a life high-light, it’s maybe one of the few times I felt like I’d really really done what I set out to do.
So I’m sort of thinking about how to grow around that concept.
Not necessarily doing more runway shows – but creating types of artwork that draw people together, that are experience based, that facilitate a community.
You were in a band called Christy. How did that band form?
We named it after my mom! I forget what the actual process of deciding to name it Christy was – but I think once we landed on it, it just felt perfect.
Are you still producing music?
I’m still making a lot of music – I’ve been writing stuff pretty non-stop for the past year, I just haven’t had time to really dive into recording anything.
I’m definitely trying to make it more of a priority in 2020 though. It’s one of the things I love most – just playing guitar, writing a song, working through lyrics – all of it.
But for some reason I haven’t been able to invest as much time in it as I feel like I should. So that’s definitely next up.
Kanye credits you on the Life of Pablo and you've worked together multiple times. How did you meet Kanye West?
Kanye West’s team reached out to at the end of 2015 – through the recommendation of Ian Connor.
I think I got the email on New Years day – and then went to a meeting a few days later in LA – at Ye’s Calabasis office.
I think I went in expecting like a 30minute meeting, and ended up just hanging out for 8 hours – talking through ideas, all things creative.
It was probably one of the single coolest and most exciting times of my life (thus far), and I left just feeling so inspired – having a conversation with Kanye is probably one of the single most inspiring things you can do as an artist.
Anyways, I came on board to help do video for the making of Yeezy Season 3 – at the same time he was working on The Life Of Pablo – so I was just filming all the time on both.
I think Kanye really just wants to surround himself with creative people, so my entry point was video, and that was my main role – I would also just get to be part of the creative conversations, giving feed back on stuff, consulting etc.
Your good mates with Dolan Stearns. How did you first meet?
I forget exactly how I first met Dolan, but he’s the best!
We lived like 3 blocks away from each other, we’d go to the same coffee shop, hang out at the same store (Gym Standard), and then both rode for lurkville – so we just ended up spending soo much time together.
I remember I’d bought this moped in highschool – a real piece of junk – and was soo hyped on it. I probably only had it actually running for like a month before I had to get rid of it – but that’s what I towed dolan in on to do that tree-ollie that ended up being the TWS cover.
I think we both couldn’t belive that it was actually strong enough to tow him in to it – I think getting to see us both drawn as cartoons was a major highlight.
What’s your favourite product that you’ve created and why?
I’ve done a few collaboration boards, and Dolan and I are slowly working on a brand. I think for me getting to do board graphics will always be one of the most exciting things.
Just growing up, always being soo stoked when new graphics would come out, or like saving up to buy a new board that you knew had to last you a while – it was all about the graphics.
So for me – just to get to see one of my images on a board, it feels super surreal.
What is the Gym Standard and how did you get involved in it and what do you do for the Gym Standard?
So Gym Standard was a shoe & design goods store that opened up like a block away from my house…
I’d skate past it all the time before it was actually open – but didn’t really know what it was.
I thought it was gonna be a fancy gym or something.
Anyways – when they finally opened I went in and Shockus, who I just knew from skating O.B park all the time, was talking with the owner, Edwin.
Edwin sort of took me under his wing after that – and has been one of my mentors ever since.
Gym Standard became such a central community hub in San Diego – its where dolan and I would meet up before going skating, I think we both had our first like solo art shows there too.
In 2018 Edwin closed the shop and is now transitioning it into a clothing brand, but in the same space we’ve now partnered to run a creative space & gallery called SWISH PROJECTS.
You melon grabbed your truck for Vans shoes and the photo was shot by J. Grant Brittain. How many tries did it take to get the lander?
Soo the shoe was actually my friend Edwin’s – who ran that store Gym Standard where Dolan and I would hang out all the time. But Edwin had wanted to do something skate related for the ad, and he already had a relationship with J. Grant from a while back…
So once I knew he was going to be shooting it – I just felt like “fuck, what can I do that will look cool, feel classic, and maybe grant would be psyched to shoot.”
I’d also sort of been thinking about trying to jump my truck – sort of for fun, but also just a lil personal challenge – so this seemed like the perfect opportunity for it.
I think I landed it like 4th or 5th try?
I hadn’t been skating much, so went to like a hot yoga class the day before to try to stretch and loosen up – but it ended up just making me sooo sore, I almost couldn't skate.
I did a few roll ups, and then just committed to jumping over one, and it was way easier than I was expecting.
I ended up doing it like 3 or 4 times so we could get the photo right, and I could tweak the melon right.
That was soo fun.
I was thinking if I ever get to do a shoe – maybe I’ll try to jump two trucks haha.
Who is your favourite photographer ever?
Constantly changing – but consistant top contendors are
On a Board?
Outside of Skateboarding?
Right now I love Hugo Comte’s work.
I think its absolutely incredible.
Who is your favourite filmmaker?
I have a few.
I think his stories are just incredible, and his Director of Photography – Robbie Mueller, is probably the best ever.
I also love Terrance Malick.
He’s a huge source of inspiration for me. All his work has a kind of spiritual poetry that is so moving.
On a Board?
I think Mindfield is the reason I really got into filming.
I probably watched that video everyday for like 2 years.
He’s one of my favourite film makers ever.
What’s your favourite skate video?
Mindfield for sure.
I have it on DVD and it’s one of my most treasured possessions.
Who has your favourite skate style?
Right now I really love Justin Drysen – I think his style is soo good.
Also Gilbert Crockett.
Favourite Skate Photo ever?
Oh damn, I don't even know… Anything by Grant haha.
I do know I can spend like 2 hours straight just scrolling through Koolmoeleo’s instagram.
There’s one he posted a while back of Jason Lee doing an Ollie over a green trashcan that I think about almost everyday – for me that really sums up what skating is about.
He also posted this one of Jovantae Turner doing an Ollie off a lil hip – it’s black and white, and he has these super fat wheels – I think about that everytime I go skate too: just like simple, sick style.
Oooo – also that photo of Alex Olson doing a huge method air off the launch ramp. I think that's one of the best skate photos ever.
Do you have any advice for creatives and filmmakers who want to develop their skills?
Anything is possible. Find people who can mentor you – learn from every one. Experiment endlessly.
There’s no such thing as wasted time. “Nothing to it, but to do it.” All of those are phrases I think about pretty much everyday, and try to actively practice.
Today I was thinking especially about how you have to make soo much bad work, ugly work, work you look at and think “nope, that aint it” in order to make things you love.
What are your plans for the future?
(and skating more in 2020)