NYC Finally Gets Its Own Skate Mag With Stoops
Believe it or not, you can actually skate pools in New York City. You could try prowling the streets yourself for these mythical spots (good luck, it took Tony Farmer 15 years to find a handful), or you could grab a copy of NYC’s newest skate magazine Stoops to find Farmer’s report plus contributions from Allen Ying of 43 Magazine, Mandible Claw’s Colin
Read and a host of others. Milk Made spoke with Stoops founder
Eby Ghafarian a year ago about his plan to spotlight
the city’s wealth of underappreciated spots and talents, and we caught up with him again to talk about the first issue and why skateboard print magazines will survive in a world drowning in Instagram photos.
The last time we talked was almost exactly a year ago when you were launching the Kickstarter campaign. Have you been working on Stoops that entire time?
It’s been a long time! [laughs] Probably like three
years, but the bulk of the physical work has gone on in the last year. It was a year ago that we launched the Kickstarter campaign and it took six months to get the video done and the foundation built up prior to even that. It was a lot of brainstorming from how the magazine would be formatted, choosing the name and the requirements in terms of having these rules in place to protect the integrity of the magazine throughout its life.
What are the rules?
A lot of them are based on quality, from photo quality to the types pf of photos [we run] and in terms of keeping them focused and not running portraits or lifestyle photos or sequence shots.
Why were these rules important?
When I was thinking about starting a magazine, I was thinking, “Why do we need another magazine?” Not that there have been an excess — there are probably fewer now than there used to be — but any time you start an endeavor you have to ask yourself “Why?” You have to ask yourself what issues do you have with existing magazines, and a lot of times when I open a skateboard magazine I want to see skateboarding and sometimes I open a magazine and I see a two-page spread of a guy smoking a cigarette and playing the guitar. If it were a different kind of magazine then it makes sense, but as a skateboarder, when I open a skateboard mag I want to see skateboarding in its full glory. And with the sequence it’s the same thing. If it needs a sequence then chances are it needs to be cut into a video. That’s more documentation than photography, I think.
Where does print photography and a print magazine fit in the current skateboard media world where there’s also Instagram and Instagram/Vine videos and other social media?
That’s the biggest distinction. The printed medium is basically the bar for quality. Obviously that’s a bit subjective. Sometimes it’s based on who’s printing, and advertising influences a lot of that as well but, generally speaking, when a photo is shot for print there’s usually more care put into it, whether it’s setting up the photo or the effort somebody is putting into its framing. [If it’s not for print], they don’t really take the extra effort it takes to produce a photo because a lot of times what ends up happening — and it’s mostly due to a lack of mediums to display printed photos — is it ends up going online and everything online is very fleeting. It’s gone in a second so there isn’t much incentive to invest in it.
Is the way people use Instagram and other newer platforms going to affect the way people see skateboarding five, 10 years from now?
In skateboarding everything is cyclical. Right now there’s so much new technology and it’s so accessible that it’s got people’s attention. But I think people are going to fall back and I think it’s already starting. For a while people weren’t really buying skate videos and were going online and getting whatever they could but I think there’s been a resurgence in skate videos.
I think the same thing is happening with magazines now that people realize that a lot of magazines don’t exist and are going out of business. I just heard another local East Coast magazine is putting out its last issue. We’ve lost so many skateboard magazines in the past five years so I think now people are starting to spend money. The European Dank Magazine is 11 dollars and it’ll sell out and a few years ago it would never happen, people would scoff at it. But now they actually have an opportunity to support something and I think the appeal is to support the more artistic side of skateboarding as far as photography is concerned.
Has your vision for the magazine changed much in the last year that you’ve worked on it?
It has changed, it’s been modified to the circumstances.You go into a project with all these ideas about how you want things and when you actually start and try to implement them, you realize that not everything is how you would hope, whether people not being as motivated or content not being as available. Going back to Instagram, they’d rather have their [photos] posted on their Instagram instead of putting it in a magazine because it could be out in a few months in the magazine versus immediately on Instagram. But I also feel like now that the magazine is out and they see it they’re going to understand it a little more. And we might see a shift to hold off on [publishing skate photos on Instagram]. Stoops up until this point has basically been conceptual and now there’s something for people to see and it’s basically the proof of concept. Because a lot of people, they like to know what they’re getting into. A lot of advertisers were really interested in working with us and probably will in the second issue, but they really wanted to see what we’re about. It was actually cool to see that we did have support just based on pure speculation on what the magazine would be.
Backtracking a bit, why do you think there is a resurgence of interest in skate videos and magazines?
I’m not sure if there’s a specific thing. What I would think is the case is that with everything being digital, when people look back on things like a photo and a video, it’s basically lost in cyberspace so they can search around and hope it’s still hosted somewhere but that’s pretty much it, versus having something tangible and being able to just throw on a DVD and watch it. I think basically it’s having something tangible in such an intangible world.
What are you excited to share with readers from the first issue of Stoops?
One of the main things is to show love for skateboarders that people here know about but people outside of New York don’t know about. Some people might ask what about Brian Anderson or Alex Olson because they live here and they’re skateboarding and they know that because their brands are marketing that. And that’s not something we ignore too, because transplants are a huge part of New York skateboarding, but there are people who don’t have those sponsors and we’re able to showcase that and the spots that don’t get the shine that they deserve. There are really cool spots in NYC and you generally only see the same places over and over and I think that’s something you see in the first issue. We have a thing on pool skating in New York City. They’re very rare but they do exist.
How far do you have to go to find these pools?
You‘ve got to go deep, deep into Brooklyn like Brownsville or Rego Park in Queens. They’re out there. They’re not as accessible and that’s another thing too. It shows how much the city has and I think there are very few cities who can do a magazine specifically on spots in the city proper because most of the time you run out and use the same spots over and over. People can skate them in other ways but there’s so much in our five boroughs and it’s kind of incredible to show deep in Queens and find spots that look like they’re out of Moscow.
Anything else about the launch or magazine that you want people to know about?
The magazine itself has 84 pages including the covers, and we decided to print 20 that represented the photos in the issue. They’ll be on sale but the primary focus is to see them and to be able to introduce the magazine to everybody. It’s been a really long time coming and I’m also happy to be able to share it with others who have supported it and have had to wait a full year for them to see what they’re help has contributed to. And to say, look, this is what we did because of you and there’s going to be more to come. This is just the beginning in terms of production.
The first issue of Stoops is now on sale at StoopsMag.com