Nikwen Huynh: From Kickflips to Kingpin
I first met Nikwen Huynh on the dance floor of Max Fish in 2009. We became fast friends over a late night Bushwick burrito and have since traveled the world together. Professional skate photographer for KingPin Magazine – one of the 25 subsidiaries of the Mpora group, the world’s largest action sports website — Nikwen lives the life we all wish we had.
At 15, he started to skate, graffiti and shoot his friends skating in France. Two years later, frustrated that his point and shoot camera was cropping his masterpieces, he bought a SLR analog camera. He went to Barcelona to visit his long time friend and professional skater Bastien Salabanzi while filming the "Really Sorry" video and a 4 day trip turned into 2 weeks. Salabanzi was shooting an interview for Thrasher Magazine at the time with skate photographer Anton Miettinen, who let Nikwen shadow his shoot. To Nikwen’s luck, Miettinen’s film messed up after the shoot and Thrasher ended up running Nikwen’s backside 180 shot as the lead image for the story.
During the same time, he became friends with Léonard Vernhet and Sébastien Michelini (ill Studio) and they offered him a job to be involved in creating Chill – a skate magazine based out of Paris. The magazine lasted 2 and a half years after which Alex Irvine (former editor in chief at Kingpin) gave him a call to work for them. From nothing to a full pager in Thrasher, the rest was history.
You travel a lot for work, what is the most amazing/crazy place you have been?
It’s always hard to pick only one place. I have to say my very first time in New York was mind blowing. China is crazy as well but for totally different reasons. But to me the most important thing about traveling is who you are with . You can go on the moon and find it shitty if you go with assholes…
Have you ever been starstruck by someone you met?
I have to say every time you meet a skater that you were looking up to as a kid, it’s a bit weird. I remember meeting Eric Koston at the launch of his 1st Nike pro shoes which was sick. I was really happy and impressed but the dude is super nice and makes you feel comfortable.
Where do you get inspiration?
I love to spend time with my friends. I love to listen to music. I love to love someone. This is what inspires me I guess. If you’re asking me which skate photographers inspire me, I grew up reading Skateboarder and Transworld in the Bartok and Atiba era. My two favs for sure. Non skate, I go for Martin Parr, Richard Avedon, Jerry Hsu and Matt Stuart.
If you could summarize your life / job in one sentence what would it be?
I am a normal person who is lucky enough to be able to combine his two passions in one job. I try to not take it so seriously because it’s about fun and who knows where you gonna be tomorrow. It’s been 5 years now. Fuck I’ve been lucky!