North Skateboard Magazine is a publication that hails from Scotland, and if you're lucky enough to get your hands on a copy, there's one thing you'll likely notice: every photo in the mag looks exceptionally good. When we discovered that North has taken on the daunting task of featuring photos shot on film (rather than those taken with digital cameras), we knew we had to hear the full story. Daryl Mersom, whose work may be found at Fakiehillbomb spoke with Graham Tait, editor and photographer for North Skateboard Magazine and got to the bottom of things:
What do you think it is that sets North apart from other skate publications?
I don't really think too much about trying to set myself apart from other magazines. But having said that, I guess being a film dedicated magazine it is a little different.
I try to make a magazine that I think looks good to me and has quality photography. I’ve always preferred magazines that were photo based, like the old Thrasher photo issues, so I try to keep things simple and aesthetically pleasing.
What are some of the pros and cons of it being a film dedicated magazine?
There are no pros! [Laughs]. For me personally, I just prefer to shoot film. It's what I started shooting on and what I spend time learning to shoot on. I don't have a problem with digital at all, it can be a lifesaver. I also prefer to have a physical hard copy of the image with the negative, hard drives and computers can be unreliable.
The cons are that it’s getting really expensive for film & developing and the turn around time for a photo is much slower. If you shoot with digital you know in one second if you got the shot or not. With film you might have to wait 4 or 5 days to see if you messed it up.
The major problem I'm finding with the magazine though are the contributors. The majority of skate photographers shoot digital. I do however have some rad guys sending me stuff, which I really appreciate.
Which photographers send you pictures?
I get a lot of submissions from all over, and it changes every issue. But Oliver Barton, John Bradford, Benjamin Deberdt, and Zander Taketomo have all had interviews in North. It's great to be in a position to have photographers that inspire and influence you in a magazine you make, it feels rad.
What do you look for in a photo submission?
To be honest, just a good composition. It doesn't have to be the best lit photo in the world, but it does need to be in focus! I get a lot of submissions from 35mm point and shoots, they can be terrible, but because it's film they (the submitters) think it fits. I reply to everyone and try to give positive feedback, we all started somewhere. I also get sent a lot of photos of small pole jams and wallrides, which can be annoying [laughs].
How does film translate to Instagram?
Film and digital photos can both look great on a small screen, I don't think anything is lost at that size.
Do you ever worry about the way that photographs are reposted on Instagram?
I don't really have a problem with my photos being spread around on there, it’s bound to happen. I usually get credited, I think most people know that's the right thing to do.
What is it like running a skate magazine from Scotland?
The weather can be problematic up here in Scotland. Winters are cold and summers can be temperamental. I also feel that in UK the skateboard industry is very London-based. All the tours, events, and premieres take place there and very rarely make it to the north of England, nevermind Scotland. I'm trying to do more trips down there and across England to get a more even coverage of the UK. But there are so many rad skaters up here that never get any exposure so at the same time I'm trying to help with that.
Do you think that Americans and Europeans get an inaccurate portrayal of the UK scene because of this focus on London?
They get a good, accurate portrayal on what skateboarding is like in London. I mean a lot of tours that make it to the UK will be billed as a UK tour, but they will only hit a few cities in England and miss out Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland completely. There's no way you can go everywhere, and that's the way it seems to be. But with social media and online edits coming out all the time, if you want to know what skating is all about in Scotland, or anywhere, you can find out.
I was stoked to read that Aaron Herrington really liked Bristol on the Polar UK tour.
That is rad. The New Balance Numeric team came through Edinburgh in 2014, they all had a sick time. That's probably due to just street skating and not having to do any demos. Their Quids In edit was really sick. That was a proper tour, I don't think they even went to London.
In the Still Shooting On Film section of the magazine you allow a whole white page for the annotations to the photo. Why did you choose to format the magazine like this?
I want to make the photo as big as possible on the page. I try as much as I can to have one photo per double page throughout the magazine, especially with interviews. I don't like text and small photos all cluttered together or text on top of photos, for some reason it bugs me. I guess it’s an aesthetic thing for me, I like to keep it simple.
How did you decide on the North cover stamp?
It was actually designed by a friend of a friend. They are both graphic designers and were working together at the time when I asked him to design it. It took a while but we got something I liked. Cheers dudes!
Do you have any plans for the rest of this year?
The magazine has gone quarterly this year so I'm trying to organize a few more issues ahead now, and plan for the bad weather.