Beyond the Shield Pack – Stefan Janoski Speaks
Nike SB has really been pushing skate product beyond just colors and collabs but towards a more functional yet stylish edge. A follow-up of sorts to the “Fit to Move” apparel collection is the “Flash” pack, an update of the Lunar Janoski Mid, Koston 1 Mid and P-Rod 8 Mid including a reflective windbreaker. To celebrate this pack, Nike SB has invited us to Paris to interview Stefan Janoski. Before Stefan falls victim to the “Stan Smith phenomenon” and becomes less popular than his shoe, we’re giving you some more insight on what’s going on in his life.
Stefan, nice to meet you here in Paris. You’ve come a long way as a skateboarder. Do you still remember the early days in Vacaville, when you started?
Yeah, of course. There were only a couple of kids in town who did it. My friend Josh had a skateboard but he wasn’t really that good. We basically started skating in his garage. I had a Toys’R Us board and I remember how we were both trying to learn how to ollie. My first “real” board was a Guy Mariano from Blind Skateboards. After I bought my first skateboard, it just never ended from there.
Why did you decide to pick up skateboarding in the first place?
It was just something that Josh and I started doing and it was really fun, you know. I didn’t play sports and didn’t have a lot of friends at the time. And I lived in the country, so before skateboarding I just played in the woods and drew pictures and stuff. Skateboarding gave us something to do. At lunch time, I would go skate. After school, go skate. It was something you could do by yourself but also with all your friends. It’s a really individual thing. Skateboarding is not a team sport. Everybody learns on their own and has to figure it out by themselves. I just liked it.
Did [pro skateboarder] Mike Carroll have an influence on your style?
(laughs) Yeah, the first skate videos I saw were Plan B’s Virtual Reality and the first issues of 411 . Mike Carroll was really my favorite skater. Actually all those guys: Mike Carroll, Rick Howard, Sean Sheffey… they were all my favorite skaters. The influence was basically that I tried to go learn all the tricks those guys did. Personally, I just like the way Carroll does all those tricks, like frontside flips, kickflips, switch flips, and back tailslides. He just does it all the best, I think. It just looks really cool.
What kind of art and books had an influence on you?
As far as art goes, I like Impressionist painters. I like all types of art, really. More classical art… I don’t really like Pop Art that much. Or conceptual art, but it really depends. Art is really like skateboarding in that it is so much dependent on your opinion. There are also many different styles involved.
When you’re in Paris, where do you go to see art?
Different places, I went to the Louvre before … I like museums but I also don’t like them because there are just too many people and it’s just too much. You can’t hang twenty master pieces in one room and expect people to appreciate any of it. Then there are all these people taking pictures of the Mona Lisa like she’s Mick Jagger or something like that, it’s just ridiculous (laughs). But I do love seeing art in person, because when you see certain paintings in a picture and then you see them in person – it’s very different. The textures and the colors are very different.
Would you say it’s the same when people see your sculptures in photographs?
Oh yeah, sculptures are so three-dimensional. It’s a 360-degree thing and pictures only capture one side, plus there are shadows so it’s very hard to photograph sculptures. But when you see photo books about sculpture artists, the photographers are always really good, too. It’s really hard to capture a sculpture in photos.
Why are you so against people touching your sculptures?
It’s not like I don’t let them! But at an art show, you can’t just let anyone walk up and touch your shit. Sculptures are fun to touch, I guess. Because they are in front of you, in 3D. Paintings are fun to touch, too. Sometimes it’s hard not to touch a painting, you just think, “Wow, that’s so cool.” And you want to feel the texture…
What inspired you to begin painting and sculpting?
I really don’t know. It was just something I’ve always done. I can’t remember ever not doing that. Ever since I was a baby, I was always painting and making messes… creating art.
How do you explain the tendency of your art towards “weird stuff”?
Weird? (laughs) I like different things. I like to make new things that have not existed before. I really like to use my imagination. If something is a certain way, I like to think of it as the complete opposite. Go in search of it. There are already tables, and people, and chairs. So you can make them with hands coming through their face, holding up their brain. Because… why not?
You play a lot with religious images?
That’s just really fun. I like religious art, because it’s most of all really good. I like the style of religious paintings depicting someone with their head cut off or angels flying around, zapping people. I just think that’s really funny.
Did you have a religious education?
What is the most recent thing you drew in your sketch book?
Hmm… I don’t know. The one I brought to Paris is empty right now. But I brought a water color pad and some water colors. I’ll do some of that later.
What was your latest disturbing idea for art?
A disturbing one? (laughs) I don’t know. I had the idea that people with nasal allergies are the most blessed.
Changing the subject to shoes, what is your definition of a legendary shoe design?
Legendary is something classic, that is timeless. Something you could wear at all times and there is no trend for it. Or you could fit into any trend, I guess. Classic, simple stuff is mostly what lasts the longest. For example the Chuck Taylor has been around forever, because you can wear it with anything. You can do any activity in it, and it’s slim.
What are your Top 5 shoes, except your own?
Except mine? No, I don’t like any other ones! (laughs) I’ve only been wearing the same shoes for the last seven years. I wasn’t really a big shoe guy or shoe collector before the shoe. I just wore simple shoes, whatever.
After your highly successful pro shoe, what is your next challenge in life?
Not to die!
Okay, thanks for the interview, Stefan.
The Flash Pack in full effect – to be shopped at select retailers or at Nike.