As most of skateboarding is becoming beer breath, Brian Lotti is its peppermint gum. Like, refreshing. My attempt at poetic metaphors though, does sound more like an sudden, and deadly, unnoticed cavity.
Anyway, Brian and I have been friends for a minute, and seeing him pile up amazing artwork, or helping him silk-screen CD covers for that one French band on Everloving, I was always wondering when he would start his own board company. More importantly, I was wondering HOW he would start his own board company, as the guy definitely thinks on his own terms, usually taking a seat in the bleachers to amusingly watch the rat race.
Well, today is the day : Telegraph (*) Skateboards is born and I have to say it doesn’t disappoint. Just check the site, and the blog. And this kind of video. I know, skateboarding’s saved once again, you think. Regardless, here are answers to a few questions, all transmitted to the Memory Screened headquarters in Morse code. Transcribing them what was took so long since the last post.
When did you start toying with the idea of a skateboard company?
Ha! Probably about 3 years ago the idea of creating some kind of skateboard company started bouncing around my mind. A few good friends were planting ideas here and there and making odd suggestions. When the economy was really low last year things started falling into place and it just seemed like a good idea to work toward providing some fun skateboards that could support the project of making some provocative videos.
Why “only” now may I ask?
Good question! I feel settled with myself now, and know I can handle the business and social aspects of running a creative company. I have always been working on the creative side of things, but now I feel prepared to engage the larger scheme of things and hopefully wax some free-play into the marketplace.
Who’s part of this adventure?
Tjaden Brewer, my wife Laura, and I have been collaborating to create graphics and manage the production runs. Zach Wagner skates with Tjaden and I. For the time being, the three of us constitute the “Telegraph” team. But a big part of the fun with Telegraph is roping in friends and comrades to the mix, too. We’re getting some help with videos and music now.
How is it gonna be different than a regular skate company?
Our designs are based on color and meaning, not logos and branding.
We are trying to make boards that look cool and make people want to skate. We want our boards and videos and things to spark people’s imagination. We want to channel and broadcast a really fun, but fresh kind of skate-frequency. We want to champion great skateboarding and riders, but our vibe probably won’t be too competitive. We compete with ourselves! We want to be in a position to feature “pro-model” decks, but we want to do more and say more than just “we are a good team.” Telegraph isn’t a ball-club.
Are you going to have full-on pro-models, or?
I hope we can really sponsor and feature some incredible skateboarders. Of course this will include crafting some cheeky graphics that express what is unique about these fellows. But on the whole, when I walk into a skateboard shop these days I am not very impressed. I feel like a lot of graphics reflect the commercialism of the world we find ourselves in.
The shops are less of a refuge and more of a trap. And this is the case for a lot of “Pro” graphics. I feel like the “Pro” board has to be reinvented, or revisited somehow. A pro’s board should be something special, above average. And beyond all this, I suspect that a lot of pros themselves are bored by “Pro” models.
Perhaps there is a new way to feature and support a skater worthy of being pro. And perhaps there can simply be “Fresh” boards that pros and non-pros alike love to ride… that’s what we’re really after.
Are you hoping to ge a reality series out of this, Brian?
Yeah! Actually, I am hoping to get a Sur-reality MOVIE out of this. I want to make a ridiculous movie about skateboarding that features really sick skating in a story about what it means to live and carry on, here in the modern age.
I remember you hesitated with alternative names like “Company skateboard company”. What made you choose Telegraph and what’s the meaning behind it?
Good things come if we can wait. For a month and a half we tried a few thousand different names out… and then Laura and I had been listening to this Orchestral Manouvres in the Dark song, “Telegraph”. Laura called out “Telegraph” and we liked the sound of it. We also liked what was for us a deeper meaning: tele – graph. To communicate through graphs, graphics. Tell-a-graph. Tell-a-story. For a skateboard company aspiring to a creative, art-based niche – the word seemed to be the ticket.
Are you hoping to ever match Zach Wagner’s yoga skills?
Ha! Yeah! Definitely hoping to sidle up next to Zack for some yoga challenges. He’s pretty far along on his path, but I can give him a run for his money on some headstands. For sure. Yeah, Zach is a passionate guy and Yoga is a really big part of his life… he finally talked Tjaden and I into attending one of his classes. We’re going tomorrow after we skate !
What was exactly that footage from the Comedy Club in the video introduction?
Laura’s friend Chris Goldteeth throws these karoake-party nights called “Karoke Killed the Cat.” He came to LA from New York and we attended his Bootyoke night at the Comedy Club. People were so into the show, there was such a group ecstasy, I broke down and started filming little snips with my little flip camera. No one really noticed at the time, but they ended up making a happy little addition to our promo video.
How many wagons can a chuck wagon chuck, actually?
On a good day, 1200. I can land and bail around 1200 tricks. Ha!
IT’s ridiculous to say, and numbers don’t mean a thing, but that’s the best kind of wagon-chucking that I know of. Cruising and carving and kicking my board around like a little soccer ball!
(*) The OG telegraph system was invented in 1794 by Claude Chappe and was non-electrical, using semaphore-like signals. Its sole purpose was, according to Chappe on his Facebook page, “to provide clever, know-it-all-style post titles for skateboard blogs”. Thanks, Claude.