Talkin' Shop with "Heart" Author Lucas Beaufort
Do you remember the chunky skate shoe era? I am glad I saw its glory days, downfall and attempted revival. They were great, but I think we can move on. Don’t get me wrong; they will never lose their spot in my heart. After all, my first skate shoes were chunky black and neon green DCs. Purchasing them also coincided with my first time entering a skate shop, ABS, in my tiny hometown, Annecy, France. The first time pushing open the door was electrifying—a warm, rushing feeling overtaking my body. It’s an experience I will never cease to feel, whether entering new shops or during my yearly pilgrimage to ABS. So I was beyond excited when I saw it in Lucas Beaufort’s new book HEART. Gathering the hstory of skate shops worldwide in the past 40 years, Beaufort writes a love letter to these places, our second homes. It’s a captivating piece for older and newer generations to enjoy and learn from it. If you’re not familiar with Beaufort’s work, you might have seen his restyling of the Tampa park this year. It was also the release of HEART, so I took the chance to chat with him about his process and vision.
From Slam City to Antisocial and plenty more between, this first look will get you hyped
How was it skating and growing up in France?
I started toying with skating when I was six. My twin and I would bomb hills on our knees in Cannes, our hometown. Eventually, we had so many holes in our clothes that our mom took our board away. After that, I got my first board at OKLA in Toulouse when I was 13. On one of the first days I skated, I remember around 70 skaters at one spot; for a kid, it was breathtaking. It all started from there for me. It reached the point where I was dreaming about it all day. I wouldn’t do my homework. The teachers would always tell me, “Lucas, you’ll never get anywhere.” Back then, it got me into trouble, but it also brought me everything in the end.
Skateboarding truly brings us so much, whether that’s people, values or life experiences. I was curious, what has been your most memorable experience at a skateshop?
In the book’s intro, I mention my first time at my local shop—LSD in Cannes. It straight up was a scene from a western movie. I opened the door and the shop was empty. Only two guys were working. It felt like they were staring at me. I was anxious to say the right thing and do the right thing. In the ‘90s, they would import everything from the States. The only board left was a Mariano Girl pro model. As a kid, I was so reluctant to buy it. Later, when I met my friends at the spot, they were all so hyped about it. That’s when I realized there is history, and there are magazines, brands and skaters that make up the culture. It really sparked my interest, and I started ordering mags from abroad to learn about the culture. It was the one way I could connect and learn about what others were doing.
Your first-time story reminded me of my own experience at ABS when I was a teen. It was mesmerizing and terrifying stepping into a world you know nothing about, but everyone there feels like a wise mage.
It’s true! It took me two years to feel comfortable at LSD. You can’t enter, snap your fingers and expect people to treat you like a homie. I think you need to earn it in some ways.
Right, but it’s important to remember this doesn’t come from skills. Instead, it’s the energy and implication you have in the local scene.
I couldn’t agree more. The hardest part isn’t to mark people's minds; it’s remaining in their minds. It’s thanks to the thousands of magazines I bought that things worked out for me. One day I was bored and started painting on the cover of a VICE magazine. I sent them the cover, and their enthusiasm pushed me to continue. I started sharing these covers with mag editors and people on social media. In the end, that was the best way for others to talk about my art. That was also the beginning of my RECOVER project, Devoted and HEART organically followed.
Sidewalk skiddin' BSNB by Drew Summersides Photo: Fidlin
Hans Smits rides into the distance with a bunch of painted spectators as part of Beaufort's Recover project Photo: Noorman
How did you start HEART, and where did it get its name?
It started as a blog idea during the pandemic. It is now a 430-page book. COVID was an abrupt stop to my lifestyle. I take joy in traveling and meeting new people. I figured, meanwhile, I’d use the time to work on something that matters to skateboarding and the people I care about. The goal was to tell the history of shops still open in chronological order since the ‘70s. I got so much feedback and love for the project that it unfolded very quickly. Within six months, I interviewed over 50 shops. Brands started reaching out to me. Even the financing of the book went smoothly. Everyone involved or interested realized the potential of the project and pitched in.
I think there is an inherent knowledge that skateshops link every one of us; they are at the heart of our culture.
Absolutely! I love connecting and giving to others, but HEART is also a selfish desire. I wanted to learn about the people and stories behind these shelters. Why is Slam City named that way? Why call Antisocial the most social shop out there? What’s the story behind Pawnshop? It’s all these stories put in one place. I hope the book remains a guiding point and archive for these unsung heroes.
What were the first shops to get on board with the project?
The first ones were the homies. I started with Working Class, Nozbone, ABS, and other friends. From their interest and excitement, I started reaching out to others like Escapist and 303. I also discovered shops like Chocolate Jesus in Okinawa. It was great interviewing all these people, but the next step is meeting them. I went to continue growing HEART. There are so many more shops I want to interview.
A staple of the Southwest, Denver's 303 is a must visit
Wasn’t it a bit hard to select the skateshops?
That’s an excellent question. I didn’t want it to be too subjective, so I reached out to skateboarding media. I asked mags worldwide to give me their top-five shops in their country. I crossed all the references and came out with a list. There are definitely more shops out there I want to interview. Sadly, there were also shops that never followed through.
You wrapped the project in a single year. Wasn’t it a logistic nightmare?
Ha! I am a die-hard hustler. My passion will drive me to work 20 hours a day. It’s a double-edged sword, but thankfully it helped push the shops to send in materials or schedule interviews. If I hadn’t been in bulldozer mode, the book would still be in the making. It’s been like that for all my projects. I pour my soul into each of them, and if there is one project I am finally proud of, it’s HEART. Not that I didn’t like the others, but I never took them for granted; I always question myself and my work.
Shakastics' weird shape perfectly fitting for Beaufort's Gus Gus
How do you think people can continue cultivating skateshop culture in the digital era?
That’s the whole purpose of this book—it’s for people who have that knowledge and desire to bring it to others and newcomers to skateboarding. There is no experience like going to a skateshop, touching the boards, seeing the shapes, feeling your wheels and sharing stories with the people there. HEART is a compilation of those stories to remind the shops to believe in their work. For instance, my local shop Papatoro organizes street sessions every Saturday. It’s becoming a rallying point for skaters across the city. It’s hard to nurture and maintain such spaces, but I can’t envision a future without them.
How do you see the future of HEART?
I was asked if there would be a second book. I don’t think that’s the goal. The next step is creating an online platform where skateshops talk about their projects and news. I would continue uploading interviews. This book is also a way for kids to see beyond their local shop and see the ones across the world. It’s a travel guide for people to seek them wherever they may go.
Jake Ilardi soaring up with a bunch of Gus Gus and humans watching. Beaufort painted the entire park for the 28th edition of Tampa Pro Photo: Cabral
How was it painting and releasing HEART at Tampa Pro?
I think the stars really aligned on that. It’s been three years since I have offered to paint the park. This year was finally the one, and it was super cool that it coincided with the release. The guys from Tampa were so kind and kept hyping up the book. I have been following the event since its beginning in 95, so it was phenomenal to experience it. That and people kept stopping to chat with me. It was a little refreshing; I felt like Shane O’Neill for a minute. I think it will remain a core memory for me.
Alright, my last question for you—we’ve established your heart is at LSD, my heart is at ABS, but what makes the heart of a skater?
The skater and the skateshop are mirrors; without one, the other cannot shine. It’s their drive to give back to the shops, to their community. It’s cultivating their local scene with their friends.
Shoutout, Atlas, one of the best in The Bay. HEART is available where you'd expect it—online and at your local skateshop
4/14/2022Lucas Beaufort's beautiful new book catalogs 40 years of skateshop history. Grab a copy when it hits your local.
11/20/2019If you're in Los Angeles this Friday come check out this art show featuring Sebo Walker and Lucas Beaufort.