Described by Mark Gonzales as a way to conquer boredom, skateboarding has saved many Icelanders from the blues, which inevitably follow island living. Although some only dabble and many leave the scene without ever having had any real effect or influence, there are those whose tenacity and dedication have kept skateboarding alive and well. They have inspired younger skateboarders to keep honing their skills and helped skateboarding become the established hobby, lifestyle and art form that it is today.
As one of few sports that endorses individual strength and independence, skating has had a profound and often underestimated influence on fashion and art. Four skateboard enthusiasts have recently gained recognition in the Icelandic skate scene for their custom made skateboards: Lucas, Baldur, Sara and Siggi.
Lucas Quesnel Keller is a Californian who has lived in Iceland for about a year. An aspiring chef as well as artist, Lucas has been skating for more than a decade and is recognised as one of the more talented skaters in the country. He renovates and repaints used boards and has exhibited his boards as well as other artwork at Café Hljómalind on Laugavegur. He has also designed T-Shirts but appreciates the board as a canvas more, both due to its unique shape as well as the “personality” it acquires through use.
Sigurður Júlíus Bjarnason, who some deem to be the best skater that Iceland has ever had, is known for his ‘Kannski’ boards which sport the colours of the Icelandic flag. His boards are still very rare and will most likely continue to be so due to the fact that they simply beg to be skated to shreds. Siggi’s boards simply look best when they’re being used.
Graphic designer and musician Baldur Björnsson is an avid board enthusiast and designs longboards. Although he originally only designed boards as personal gifts, he is now planning experimental projects focused on the creation and design of both long and freestyle skateboards, including what he described as being “the ugliest, comfiest board in the world”.
Sara is an artist who has utilised used boards, although they serve a more aesthetic purpose than practical. Although not a hardcore skater herself, her work is heavily influenced by the skaters she’s known for many years.
‘Amma’ skateboards also supposedly have a project in the pipeline but have yet to release anything. They’ve stated that once ready, (which will hopefully be soon) their boards will be available at the newly opened Reykjavík Skate-Shop, which is situated at Ingólfstorg square where Underground used to be. Lucas has shown his boards at Kaffi Hljómalind but now keeps them in Noland, another newly opened skate-shop on Laugavegur. Siggi, Baldur and Sara have all displayed their boards at Belleville, the premiere skateboard enthusiast’s shop in Reykjavík. These three stores are the places to go if you’re searching for Icelandic skate design or info on the Icelandic skate scene.
Skate-shops in Reykjavík:
Belleville, Laugavegur 55
Noland, Laugavegur 32
Reykjavík Skate-Shop, at Ingólfstorg square.
Brim, Laugavegur 71