Photos: Jorge Villa
An interview with Generic Skateboards founder Joaquin Carter and skate team members Michael Wilson, Kyle Hughes and Bryan Andrada. This interview has been cut down for clarity.
When did you first start Generic Skateboards?
J: I wanted to actually do it in high school, and then it didn’t start until after 2015/2016. We got a really really small run of boards, but it always felt like something natural to do because I love skateboarding and I always wanted to work in skateboarding. I love doodling and having a physical product.
What’s up with the name “Generic”?
J: The original idea was to, at the time, a couple years ago, everyone was either putting their logo and then doing different patterns behind it. Like, they’d do a tie dye and then a galaxy pattern, that was all their boards. Or, they would just do a rip off of a logo. So it’d be a Coca Cola logo and then it’d just be their brand name. I wanted to make something that made fun of that because I thought it was stupid. So when I was making the mock ups of it, I just put “generic” as a filler, and then I figured it kind of make sense to actually run with it.
And the first board you ever made was?
J: Iit was a pilgrim cutting a turkey’s neck and it said generic on the bottom. Iit had the turkey holding its children and a knife.
K: The other one, it was a baby connected to a cell phone through a USB cord.
What’s the most difficult part of running a skate brand?
J: The market in general is super saturated and you’re competing against everyone you’ve looked up to your entire life.
What makes you stand apart from other brands?
J: I like to think we’re doing something more honest. We throw a lot of events and stuff, like around Long Beach. We’re a part of lots of local shows. We’re actually in the community. Even though we’re trying to expand, we’d like to do that in a lot of places and just let everyone have fun.
Is creating boards a collaborative effort or is there one person in particular who takes on that task?
J: I make the graphics and stuff but I’m not the best illustrator. With that, that’s something really personal because I do like a lot of the stuff that’s on the market right now, but I just don’t identify with it. I think there’s too much of it.
M: Everyone’s doing the same shit. A lot of the graphics are the same, people are skating the same. Everything has become this one thing.
J: Our stuff is probably a lot uglier and that’s not always attractive to people, but I hope it’s more honest.
You explained earlier that your boards are in four Long Beach skate shops. Why is retail important to you?
J: It’s a lot easier and although we would probably make more profit just doing it through online. I think shops are super important to the skateboarding community and that’s why it’s just a lot better to work with them. It just makes more sense.
B: We could do these boards all night and all day and it would be a lot cheaper, but it wouldn’t be the same experience as going to a shop and talking to the people that work there and building a friendship. We learn a lot at the skate shop. They teach you everything. Skate shops are definitely a big part.
You’ve thrown little contests in the past, what made you start doing that?
J: I honestly love it just because I do love the community and I love skateboarding and it just makes sense to have a place where everyone can hang out and they have some sort of incentive to get crazy.
B: A lot of kids don’t have the chance to buy one of our boards, and when they win the contest we’ll give them one of our boards.
M: You get to see kids hug, that’s always cool.
K: You get to see a lot of people fall.
Who’s in control of video and what kind of struggles do you face filming?
J: Kyle controls all the photo video.
K: That is correct, I do that. Editing takes a lot of time and I just got a new software so I have to learn everything all over again. I started with Final Cut and I moved onto Adobe Premiere and it’s completely different, that’s really hard to deal with. The actual filming, it’s just keeping the skater motivated to keep trying, because they’re killing themselves trying stuff.
What are your thoughts on popular culture potentially bastardizing skate culture?
J: I think popular culture has always stolen from skateboarding culture, you know the big pants and shoes in the 90s, and then skinny jeans and just a shitload of stuff. The Genoski was their most popular shoe out of their whole department, and it was a skateboarding shoe made by a skateboarder.
B: I feel like it’s a good and bad thing, because of the whole celebrity thing. Since it’s getting more popular, people are buying more boards than before. But at the same time, I don’t want to say the wrong people are wearing, mimicking a certain thing. I went to fashion school and i’m really deep into that world. They’re putting out the D3, and all these shoes that were coming out 20 years ago, and they’re marketing it as a real thing when it was something that was really original and popular in skate culture. It’s good and bad.
M: Don’t be this thing that you think is cool, just be who you are.
Do you have any advice for kids wanting to start their own skate companies?
J: Just, whatever you’re trying to do, make sure it’s something you love and that’s actually worth it. Elon Musk has this quote, his friend said it, “ starting a company is like eating glass and staring into to abyss” or something. Everything is possible, it just takes money and time and energy.