Sunday, February 3


The first time I met Russ Morland I couldn't help but think...."this guy is an asshole." That thought really didn't last long after a few minutes of conversation. Adapting quickly to his dry sardonic wit and dirty english tongue, I knew there was something more intriguing to this odd bloke than his terrifyingly insulting humor. In the early days of DNA Skateshop I knew that Russ was an amazing and unique artist. Did I think his gifts, passions, and intense dedication would lead him on an amazing journey to great accomplishments? To success? To fame? To respectability? To a GIANT list of sponsors? To having Britney Spears own a set of his hand painted Etnies?......ABSOLUTELY I did. I am honored to have Russ in my life, and say he is one of my favorite humans. Russ has alot to say, so curl up in a good pair of pj's, get a cup o' tea and feast your eyes on this..Here is PART 1. Enjoy - (note - interview in raw, no spell check....don't care.) - Jay Zemanek

 Where did you grow up, and why did you come to Canada?
        I grew up in the North of England in a little town called Spennymoor, It's pretty close to the border of Scotland in an area known as County Durham, I would be called a Geordie, were kinda like Newfies (spelling?). I moved around a bit to a few cities but I always stayed in the the North. I moved to Canada with my wife whom was Canadian, we split a few years ago and I decided to stay because we have a kid together. 

What was your first interaction with DNA Skateshop? 

        I had met Dave (Salem) when I was working at the District (OG Nanaimo skateshop), we only worked together briefly. Dave Blackman and I were talking about things to do, and thought opening a skate shop would be a good idea. We were both working for George Timmins at the time at his outdoor sports recycling store. It sucked, we wanted to do something that we were into so we went looking for locations. We had heard that the spot on Fitzwilliam ST (Nanaimo) was up for rent, so we went by and Dave (Salem) was (already) fucking in there with (Brendan) Moles opening DNA. I was stoked but bummed. After that I tried a couple of odd jobs but after a few months of being open Dave hired me to work at the store. He had a few people that were hanging around and kinda helping but weren't cut out for retail. I had a serious edge and love for the industry and for doing the right thing for local skateboarding so I was a good fit. The first year was hard but we made it through and the rest is history, I miss it every day.

Did you have experience in the skate industry back home?
     I had a lot of experience back home in England, My closest skate homie had been pro for Death box back in the eighties, Deathbox turned into Flip, He introduced me to other English pros, I did graphics for stores back then, The first graphics I did was for Hughys shop in Newcastle called Cold Turkey. I hung out at that store lots, this was back when we still had no skate store at all in out city, no park, no skate store, we had great street spots though, every time we needed skate gear we had to travel for about an hour. Sucked. I moved to Bransley to study Art in 98 and met Toby Batchelor, he was a filmographer for the industry and his stuff was getting out there more an more. He introduced me to more people in the industry. I finally ended up working at a skate/surf shop in York, It was good in so many ways and bad in others, the owners were only interested in money, not supporting, we had a small team that got very little discount, I was sponsored through the shop for Duffs, I was always just ok at skating but they hooked me up because of my attitude, I was getting better here and there but was never gonna be great I knew this, after many injuries I just lost whatever edge I had and just ended up scaling back my skating and stopped pushing myself. The Store in York was called Mayhem, I met some great people through this store, Nick Zorlac from Death Skateboards, Foz at Heroin, Arthur Tubb, lots of the Blueprint guys like Scott Palmer, all my homies from Darlo would roll through, Bingo and Snoz, Snoz built us an amazing ramp for my late friends Rich and Joe. The shop was cursed 4 guys from the shop died three being my best friends, I've had some rough things happen in my life, I feel like it made me bitter in some ways.

What was your perception of the Canadian skate industry when moving here?
    When I moved here I thought it was rad, When I worked at the District it gave me a bad impression, the people that worked there were really negative sometimes, My homie Doron (Inglis) was a super positive dude always down to skate and the PA boys would roll in and be the best, this is when I first met Brando (Wells) and Jamie (Collins). The distribution guys were rad, super friendly, Lots of people skated that worked at the distributions which is the way it should be. There seemed to be more money for events in Canada, more sponsorships but in a weird way less unity in the actual skate community, it was the first time I ever really experienced haters and bad attitudes, this trend has sadly kept going, sport versus lifestyle I guess. Lots of local brands were popping up, these guys were young and trying to do the right thing but lots of the time the teams had weird attitudes and the brands were having a hard time making it out of the city they were from. I respect them for what they tried to do though, it was never easy.

How did the idea of Kitsch come about?
    Geoff (Dermer) called me wanting to talk graphics and ideas for a company, we based it out for a week or so, I think at the time I had suggested calling it LURK skateboards, I wanted to do the art and have him do the team stuff, He was into that idea at the time, He wanted to have his own thing and have me just help with graphics, I think his girlfriend came up with the name and we both loved it, I got on that right away. I'm so down for making something cool for others though eventually I would love to have LURK skates still. I think we need more Canadian brands, if kids supported local and Canadian brands more the brands would be able to help the scene out easier it would take a little pressure of the distributors. 

What inspired you to pursue your artwork?
  I was born to do what I do, I know it sounds cliche but I really feel that art is my calling, not because of my skill because there are millions of skilled artists out there but more because of my attitude, I'm an artist, I have all the stereotypical behaviours of an artist. I think wanting to do things for people to enjoy drives me, its a great rush to do an art show and get a great response kinda like landing a trick, skateboarding is like art in this way, you do it mainly for yourself but when a homie sees you land a trick then its for them, and they get stoked, thats all it should be, simple. I can remember the feeling if landing tricks that were sick and I can remember the feeling of a great response to my art. Its all connected. As of late my sponsors (Instrumental Skateboards, Etnies Footwear, Altamont Clothing, Nixon Watches, Electric Sunglasses) have been great at motivating me and finding cool things for me to do and fun venues to show in.

Tuesday, January 29

Russ Morland...too many parts - part 1

Comin' at ya this Sunday February 3rd, the first part of my interview with Russ Morland. We will take you on a journey through time and space. Tales of skateboarding adventures, tidbits of personal struggles. Snipets of artwork. And the ramblings of a true madman that I am proud to call one of my favorite humans - Jay Zed.

Friday, January 4

Our man forever and always, Jamie Collins.

As you all know, Jamie Collins left us this past summer.  He was an inspiration to myself and all beyond words, his presence is still felt daily. Color Magazine just released his memorial video today about the secret spot he built in the Tofino rain forest over the span of the last 3 years. So much love to Brandon Wells, Russ Morland, Jason Picton, Matt Macleod....and honestly this list can go on forever. DNA thanks you all.