The skateboarding subculture has recently turned into a sort of international underground, with inclusive values but an exclusive attitude. If you have passion and talent, you’re in; if you were not born with the need to skate, why try to join anyway? Known for their hardcore street footage shot mainly in New York and San Francisco, the GX1000 crew is one of the most popular and seemingly exclusive skate groups that is not sponsored by a large brand name.
Ryan Garshell and Al Davis.
Started by Ryan Garshell during his time filming for SLAP magazine, the team produce videos centred around street skating specifically, and travel to various cities where they cover tons of ground, interact with agitated locals and police officers, and of course work to land tricks in the craziest spots they can find. But rather than building up their collective persona through a recognisable, uniform set of tricks or obligatory shots of someone bombing a hill, their popularity comes from the image they tailor through their videos. Even the most underground groups have to forge a brand somehow.
Shot on Garshell’s VX-1000, the grainy film quality of their videos immediately connects them to the “classic” videos of the 1990s, when young skaters would all sit around the VHS player and watch their favourites land tricks on the city streets. This aesthetic also lends itself to a more hardcore vibe, because the footage looks less manipulated, less created for perfection than the modern HD cameras. Garshell keeps his lens pretty low to the ground, the camera comes up close to the boards and then lets go as the trick is landed, as if the skater is shooting away from the viewer on a slingshot. The style is very raw, and puts the skater on a higher level than the viewer, filling the screen. The city is a huge character in the footage as well, and is never forgotten. The GX crew are known for their sassy altercations with police and bystanders, where filming every angry reaction shows how much they themselves don’t really care. They have a genuine interaction with the streets rather than just posing themselves there for a few shots.
Al Davis, Stephen McClintock, Chris Jata, Jake Johnson, Ryan Garshell, and Coco.
While they create an energy that is never over-hyped, skaters outside the clique have come to see the GX1000 group as something revered, a high-stakes crew who truly understand the “skate or die” mentality of years gone by. They live in a sort of paradox in the skate world, where usually the coolest and most prestigious teams are the hardest to sneak your way into, but in reality, if you show up, skate well, and get along, you’d be surprised as to how fast you can get in.
Garshell has said in multiple interviews that “there’s no team,” that anyone who’s around can skate with them, and this speaks to how real the group is; the collective energy that they create on screen is never forced. This openness makes them quite unique, as they fight to stand out in an online media landscape where new videos come out every day, and hot new skaters and tricks seem to flash by like Top 40 tracks. Yet their premise is quite simple, go back to your roots, go back to the streets where skating and skate videos where born, and you can create something worth following.
Words: Annunziata Santelli
Copy edited by Elena Stanciu
Cover image: A Break on the Concrete (No. 52), 1970s by Hugh Holland.