Graham Tait

There is so much choice on the market today in footwear, and one can buy trainers in almost any colour and style imaginable, from countless different brands (Gola’s classic trainers are not to be missed out!) One of the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of trainers and people that wear many trainers are skateboarders. I remember one of my school friends was into skateboarding and had a giant collection of artful trainers in every colour and style you can imagine. It turns out that guys can be just as shoe obsessed as girls!

I’m not sure what it is that makes trainers the staple of skater’s footwear, but in an effort to find out more about the world of skateboarding and the creative aspects of the whole culture, I got in touch with Graham Tait who literally lives in the world of skateboarding. Graham works at Focus skate store in Edinburgh, and is also a talented skateboard photographer and the editor of North Skate Magazine. Here is what he has to say:

Tell us a bit about yourself… What are your roots and where does the inspiration for what you do come from?

I grew up in Scotlandin a place called Livingston, its in-between Edinburgh and Glasgow and now home to one of the biggest shopping centers in the country. There wasn’t much to do when I was growing up, but for some reason they built a world class concrete skate park there.  I used to go down to the skate park as a little kid, mostly just to play about with friends. When I saw other kids on skateboards, I knew I wanted one; I must’ve been about 9 or 10? I didn’t really get into it until later on, but I always favored my skateboard over my bike, for going to the shops or going down hills or whatever.

When I started first year of high school I met a bunch of new friends, saw my first skateboard video and discovered that you could actually skate, like do tricks and stunts! I then found out there was a little indoor skateboard ramp in a little community centre barn called ‘Crofthead’, it wasn’t too far away so decided to check it out. It was run by Kenny Omond who turned out to be the main person behind the campaign to get the main skate park built inLivingston.

He’s a legend and one of the nicest people I have ever met. He’s put some much time and effort into skateboarding inScotland, and to helping people. If it were not for Kenny, Scottish skateboarding wouldn’t be what it is today.

I Bought my first skateboard from Kenny and been hooked ever since.

How did you get into skateboarding photography?

In 5th year of high school I took a photography class, I have no idea why as I’d never owned a camera or taken any photos. I had little projects to do and because I was a skateboarder it made sense to take photos of that.

I got a lot of encouragement from the lecturers on the course so I decided to enroll into college when I left school to study photography. At every opportunity I would shoot skateboarding, I would try incorporate it into every assignment when I could and when I left college I just kept at it. Unfortunately, I started suffering from back problems so I couldn’t really skate that much any more, so I started taking the photography side of it more seriously. I’d buy skateboarding magazines and study the photos, pick which ones I like the best and try to copy them. This was before digital so it was a lot of trial and error. After a couple of years of getting photographs to the level I though was okay, I started submitting to magazines. There were two magazines in the U.K at the time (Sidewalk and Document), and after a lot of advice from the staff (Wig Worland, Leo Sharp, Sam Ashley, Percy Dean, and Stephen King) I had a couple of photos published, then a few more and so on. Unfortunately, Document went under due to the recession, and with the rise of digital photography, there were a lot of people competing for space in the one magazine. I was, and still am, managing Focus Skate Store in Edinburgh( I was still shooting photos but wasn’t sure what to do with them.

You’ve recently launched North Skateboard Magazine, can you tell us a bit about this project?

The first issue of this magazine is now available online!

As he says in the magazine’s introduction: I’ve been working on North for over two years now. Although I knew I wanted to do something with my photography I wasn’t really sure what form it would take. Digital photography now probably makes up 95% of the photography in most skateboard magazines, but I still shoot on film. With so many new photographers coming up and shooting digital, I felt there was room for another publication that was aimed more at traditional film photography.

Where do you hope it will go in the future?

I’m really proud of the first issue, a lot of time, effort, and love went into making it. I want to continue to make a magazine that I can be proud of and that people are excited about and other photographers want to be part of. I also hope that I can get enough support from the industry through advertising to cover all the costs, it’s a tough time for skateboarding and print media, hopefully I can keep it going and get people behind the project.

Obviously, it has been an awesome effort from Graham to make his idea for the magazine a reality, and I sincerely hope that the project is a success and takes off for him in the future. Visit his website and blog to see more of these inspiring photos and spread the word to all your skating friends!



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About Joanna Lisowiec

Hello! I’m excited to be representing Gola as a student ambassador, and help them in their mission to discover and recognize Britain’s emerging, creative talents. I’m currently an illustration student at the Edinburgh College of Art. I love what I do and nothing makes me happier than working hard and being totally immersed in an idea. I like adventures and a lot of the work I do is about journeys, exploring cool places and meeting interesting people. Between Scotland’s wild, highland landscapes and a vibrant city full of history, there's a lot to be inspired by.

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