Spencer Fujimoto has skated for some of the most prestigious skate companies of all-time. As a kid, he was part of the original 90s World Industries team. During his teens in SF he was a local at EMB and by the early 2000’s he was living in NY and skating for Supreme.
Maybe it was those golden opportunities that led him to moulding gold into jewellery as a creative profession and starting his brand El Señor.
So now Spencer is a member, we hit him up to discover how he created the first ever skate jewellery brand, what it was like being on the golden age era-World team, growing up in San Jose, going to SF, filming for Love Child, EMB, skating for Supreme, moving to New York, RB Umali, finding creative motivation, going pro with Stevie Williams, his all-time favourite spots and skate videos and more.
What’s your full name?
Spencer Masayoshi Fujimoto or just Fuj.
Where did you grow up?
I was conceived in the NYU dorms, born in a suburb of Detroit and I grew up in North California’s Bay Area, moved to New York in 1996.
Where do you live now?
I recently moved to Honolulu in Hawaii.
When did you first get a board?
Around 1984 I got a board from ‘Toys R’ Us’ but I was more into BMX, karate, and gymnastics at the time.
I broke my arm on that cheap board, and hid the board after it happened and pulled out my bike, kicked the front door open and told my mom I had an accident on my bike.
Why did you do that?
I knew it would have been no more skateboarding!
So when did you skate again?
In 1986 I got a legit board and skated around my neighbourhood with whoever was around but mainly going out solo.
Then my Dad got me the legit set up coming home from the doctors after getting the cast off.
I was siked!
What was your first proper board?
It was a Santa Cruz Rob Roskopp 4 with Indy trucks and OJ wheels.
It had a skid plate, rails, nose guard, and riser pads, maybe copers too, they did’nt stay on that long if I did get them.
We got it at ‘Go Skate’ in San Jose, California.
Who were you skating with?
Once I got sponsored I skated a lot with the San Jose crew.
Who were you first skate sponsors?
My first sponsor was Gremic Skateshop I guess around 1988. I was about 11.
Then they got me on Santa Cruz Skateboards in 1989 when I was 12.
What about when you went to SF?
Who sponsored you at that time?
I rode for World Industries, then Mad Circle, and I turned pro with Stevie Williams for Profile Skateboards in 1995. Alphanumeric was one of my favorites.
Sick.What was it like being on World?
It was simply kinda the shit. I remember going to LA at least once a month.
The ticket would come in the mail, it was usually a ‘fancy’ FedEx or USPS envelope a few days before.
I’d pack up on Friday, dump it in my locker and after school go to the airport.
Best memories from World days?
Most weekends I would be in San Francisco, more or less skating and wilding out, like teenagers do.
What did you get up to?
We basically got 86’d from just about every hotel and motel in the Torrance and Hawthorn area for tearing them up.
Everytime we would do it, Rodney Mullen would be like ‘you guys messed up the last good one’ now you guys gotta stay far away and in a shitty motel!
What was Rodney like?
Driving Rodney crazy and talking with him about skating makes me smile still, he has the patience of a saint.
What about Steve Rocco?
Going to Steve Rocco’s crib, being on his boat, having pockets full of money, all crumpled up like he had been playing dice for days, and his Porsche stick out in my memory.
What was it like filming Love Child?
I remember filming a few days at Embarcadero before the deadline and a couple times in LA, that is how most of my parts come together.
Not that thought or planned out and usually in my mind incomplete.
How did you feel about your part?
I was not the ‘star’ or ‘soon to be star’ so the focus wasn’t really on me.
How do you mean?
I guess like in all situations it is what you make of it and I could have tried harder and became that guy but I just wanted to have fun and being the best or getting the most attention wasn’t really my priority.
Funny side note, at first World sent this dude from LA to film us in the Bay. He got off the plane and showed up at Embarcadero with roller skates, we were tripping.
You can imagine, we were laughing so hard.
They said he could do it but nah, he couldn’t keep up, so he tried to film us while he was on a bike, that didn’t work either.
This is like the first week, so by day 8 or whatever it was rainy and he ended up at Aris and Ben’s, the Berkeley Warehouse.
I wasn’t there and I’m glad bcause I don’t like to watch people get hurt.
Dude kept saying how good he was and got siked and tried to air the spine on the bike and broke his arm.
Who replaced him?
Meza. That’s how Aaron Meza became our guy.
I was happy with the tricks I got and I still am not sure how I feel about the song choice for my part, haha.
Were you on Zoo?
I was in almost all of RB Umali’s Zoo videos but I was never on Zoo York.
That was something that just never materialised.
What’s your favourite memory of skating for Supreme?
Does smoking weed, drinking champagne, beer and liquor, and talking shit in the back count as my favorite memory?
The best part of being down with Supreme was that ‘social club, brotherhood, crew, family, type of culture and atmosphere’ around the store and skaters.
It was one of those things, ‘if you don’t know, you don’t need it.’
What’s the best thing about Supreme to you?
They helped to show skaters that a skateshop didn’t have to fit into the cookie cutter mom and pop shop and we could be cleaner and have more style than ‘just a dirty skater’
Favourite place to skate right now?
Curbs! Almost strictly curbs!
In NY we were skating at Boca LES on Delancy, they tore it out, so we moved it down in Chinatown the ‘Bermuda Triangle’ near the Manhattan Bridge down the block from ‘Popeyes Ledge.’
In Hawaii I’ve been skating at Aala Park, Ala Moana parking lot, and Ala Wai Golf course.
The park is less crowded at Aala than the mayhem at LES, so I don’t mind hitting the park but I typically try and stay in the streets.
What inspired you to make jewellery?
In high school I started getting into some trouble and my mom made take classes at my stepfather’s job.
Did he make jewellery?
He was a professor at a community college, one of the classes was jewellery making.
I made a few pieces and didnt think about it so much after. But I always wanted my ‘pro medallion’ like the big timers and rappers.
So why did you push it further?
I never made that kind of money skating and when I did have some money, the ideas I was coming up with seemed too good just for ‘one-off’ custom pieces.
I started to think that there was mass appeal to my idea.
What inspired you creatively?
I was totally inspired by the Supreme calender of 2001ish shot by Jamil G.S., my business partner Stevie Williams and DGK.
People would ask me ‘when you gonna start your own company’?
I would reply ‘when the time is right.’
Doing anything original in skateboarding is almost impossible nowadays but I have created a whole new industry within our industry.
What year did you start El Senor?
We launched El Señor in 2012 as skateboarding’s first jewellery company
What is the ethos of the company?
El Señor is dedicated to preserving skateboarding’s culture and heritage.
From the beach to the streets, to vert, concrete, and mountain peaks.
Who skates for the team?
We have a big family style team with over 150 on the team roster.
How do you pick skaters?
A lot has changed since I was a kid trying to get sponsored, entering contests, gong to skate jams, and making and watching sponsor me tapes.
I started by putting my close friends on and branched out. Most are brought to our attention from our riders or social media posts. Some we scouted at contests, parks, and in the street.
We found Tiago Lemos at LES park.
I think it was a Damn Am, I mean we ‘noticed him,’ he was there with Boulevard and DC Brazil so he was on his way.
Basically if you are established or becoming established and you want to be down, you are, so if you want to be down, make it known, and we got you.
Any upcoming releases?
Last season we dropped two new pieces, a collab – Pier 7 ‘Destination Block’ with artist Michael Maestas, and the ‘South Bank Pillar.’
I am excited about spring, we have a few new hand sculpted pieces that are fire.
Sick. Do you make any other art?
Some painting, photos, film, comedy, cooking, grilling, fishing, and martial arts.
I like to be creative and I want to do more but right now El Señor, skating, wife and life is taking up most of my time.
I was training in Philipino martial arts a few years ago, my trainer Lance Carlton had two kids and moved further out into Queens, so we did sessions less and less.
I need to find a good spot or guy in Hawaii and get back on it.
Favourite El Señor piece?
The ‘Parking Block’. Everyone starts skating on parking blocks at least in my day.
Who is your favourite artist ever?
Favourite skate video?
Blind’s ‘Video Days’.
The style, the tricks, the rawness, the lines, Guy, Gonz, Rudy, Jason Lee, Spike.
The music, the edited bootleg version that someone made and that everyone somehow had, the end was legendary, people thought they really were drinking and driving and died at the end.
Or World’s ‘Rubbish Heap’- Hartsel’s style, Duc and Jon with the pop, Steve Roberts caught kickflip, Jeremy Klien’s backside flips and backsmith on the rail.
Rodney’s skating and Spike’s song for him, the board focusing, and end skits.
They are both so sick damn it’s hard to make a decision.
Favourite Skate Spot of all-time?
I have four, sorry.
Embarcadero, Brooklyn Banks – the small banks, Love Park, and Wallos.
Best places to skate in SF?
Union Square at night.
Fort Miley during the day.
Pier 7 daytime.
Black Rock, and brown marble benches also very good.
Step out of the crib and bomb a hill to the spot is the best and funnest way to warm up or possibly end the day early if you go down too hard, which happens all the time, slam before you even get to the spot.
Favourite skater from New York?
Old School – Harry Jumanji
My generation – Keenan Milton
This Generation – Tyshawn Jones
Any advice for starting a brand?
Planning, timing, money, and a good support system is key.
Apply yourself the same way you would apply yourself to skateboarding and a similar result will occur.
Hard work, and perseverance, and not being scared to fail will help you succeed.
If you have partners, make sure that they are on the same page and have the same goals for the brand otherwise it will end in a tug of war and no one will be happy.
If you don’t believe in the brand and yourself, no one else will, so be confident and trust yourself.
Plans for the future Spencer?
Proceed and continue to change the world.
Live the life with my wife in Hawaii and build the brand, skate, travel, and have fun.
I am thinking of doing something on Youtube, maybe like ‘Skatenation’ my old live show that was on the Ride Channel, but we will see.
Any last words?
Thank you No Comply Network, my wife Nubia Fermin, my El Señor partners Stevie Williams, Alex Corporan, Marcus Mcbride, Michael Maestas, the El Señor team, mom, dad, In4mation, Fitted, Nutty Rice Showroom, MaxFish, Skatenight NYC, Run Skate Chill Store, Slappy Sundays crews, our family, friends, fans, supporters, participants and of course -skateboarding.
“Skateboarding doesn’t owe you anything, you owe skateboarding everything” – Jake Phelps RIP