The Friend Ship reminds us time and time again that skateboarding is meant to be artful & fun. The self proclaimed “Owner and Bad Decision Maker” of The Friend Ship, Timothy Olson, was kind enough to have a conversation with United, over the span of two days about his transition from the Midwest to California, art, and what the future has in store for The Friend Ship.
So let’s start off– you made the move out West? What inspired the move, and what does it mean for The Friend Ship? And more so, what do you miss about Midwest skateboarding, and what are you loving about West Coast skateboarding?
I basically moved out here to help push the company forward. Running a company remotely from Wisconsin is fine, but if I want it to grow and be able to be self sustaining, I needed to be closer to my business partner, the manufacturers and the industry in general. That’s not to say that a company in the Midwest or elsewhere can’t grow and prosper, but for me personally, I needed to be out here in L.A.
What do I miss most about the Midwest? Well, it’s winter right now, so not much. But the summers in Milwaukee rule and the spots are amazing. I obviously miss my skate friends, but I’m hoping they to get them all to come visit me from time to time.
West Coast skateboarding is amazing. I was fortunate enough to fall in with a really great crew of dudes to smash curbs with on the weekends. I can’t, nor will I ever, complain.
Nice—the Midwest definitely has some gems (despite the harsh winters). I know you were a fan of Estabrook DIY spot– so I’m sure that’s one of the spots you miss. Could you tell us a little more about Estabrook, and what makes it special?
Estabrook is my all time favorite. It’s been going on for years– way before any concrete was poured. Dudes and kids would just bring their old flat bars of boxes or whatever and dump it there for everyone to skate. It was pretty janky for the first 6 or 7 years, but once dudes starting pouring concrete, it shaped up really quick. It has a little something for everyone. I’m sure they will continue to build on it and make it more and more awesome. I can’t wait to go back and skate it again some day.
I saw the “Li’l Bastard Travel Kits” you did in collaboration with Shapes Wax (solid dudes), Knowgood Hardware (some of the best in the game), and Krux. I’m loving the collaborations with smaller companies. Do you plan to continue these types of collabos? Any in store for the near future?
I love doing collaborations. As of right now, I have nothing planned for the near future, but I really want to work with Cons for some reason. I love the ctas Chucks. If we could do a shoe, that would be a “pinch me” moment. Otherwise, I want to collab with Apple and do a TFS throwback 10 gig brick iPod.
I think you’re on to something with the Apple collabo! One thing I always associate with your company, is graphics that I enjoy. I’ve seen you post pieces for shows, or just art that you’ve done in general– what drives your creative process? What’s the difference between the art you make for yourself, and the art you create for The Friend Ship (if there even is a difference)? And what is another company out there who’s art/creative process you enjoy?
My creative process isn’t a process at all. It’s just me sitting in bed before I fall asleep thinking about skateboarding and how dumb it is. Sometimes stupid ideas happen in those moments and end up on a skateboard. Lately, I haven’t been making art for myself. I did an art show last year and it burnt me out a bit. I’m taking a short break from drawing in my free time– I want to get sparked on it again. And I do my best to avoid looking at other company’s graphics, but when I do,I like to look at The Killing Floor, Two Cents, Manager’s Special, and Heroin. I get worried sometimes that if I look at other stuff, it will influence me in the wrong way. I don’t want to accidentally rip someone off. If I’m ripping someone off, I want it to be on purpose. And obvious.
Maybe the most important question of the night– I know you are a man who enjoys a good curb: top three guys you skate with who will absolutely destroy a curb. I know that’s a lot of pressure, but let’s make this list official.
Easy: Scott Herskovitz,Chris Pastras, and John Benton. Ryan Gallant, too. He’s incredible on the curbs.
Speaking of Gallant– when are you guys snagging him up?! Any other “free agents” out there that you would love to see riding The Friend Ship?
Oh, man—Gallant. We’re ready whenever he is.
Free agents? None really come to mind. Maybe Marc Johnson? I don’t know. I’d love to get a girl on the team. Maybe a vert guy or girl too. I give away way too many skateboards– but everyone I give them too totally deserves them.
I fully back adding a female skater– the female skate scene has done nothing but progress within the last few years. It has been insane. Any female skaters that you think would fit well with The Friend Ship?
I like Breana Geering’s skating, but I think she skates for Hoopla. Allysha Le is awesome too. Not sure really who would fit. Girls, sned me your sponsor me vids!
You heard em’ ladies– send in those clips! Also, you have a great team of riders, and post skate clips pretty regularly (I always enjoy the IG posts), any thoughts of making a full-length video? Is that a project you would be stoked on?
A full length seems very ambitious. Especially since my guys are all over the country. I would love to film and edit one, but it costs a lot of money and time, which I’m pretty short on.
Well, based on everything the company has put out, skateboarding would definitely be stoked on a full-length project. Any thank you’s? I know to build a company, there are always plenty of people along the way who help how they can– United is always stoked to hear about those who support creative and fun skateboarding.
I’d love to say thanks to all the shops and distributors all over the world that have supported us. Without them, we’re nothing. Team dudes: I love you guys. Never stop being you. Michael Sieben; you the man. For real– love ya. Mega thanks to David Ritchie for everything ever. All of the art guys and ladies; thanks a lot! I appreciate you all so much. And of course,thanks to all the skateboarders that have ever bought, rode or hung up anything we’ve ever made: it means a lot to me. I never imagined I’d ever have a skateboard company that actually lasted more than a month. I’m so thankful for each and every day I get to work on this thing.
Don’t forget to follow The Friend Ship (@friend_ship_skateboards) and Tim (@curbscouting) on Instagram: