James Whineray is an established Australian all rounder—photographer, founder of a fashion label, sponsored skater and FvF contributor. On a 38 degree day in Perth, we caught up to discuss his latest project—Bilde Paper, a magazine that explores a different side of skate culture.
James has been skating for most of his life: a lifestyle passion that his talent transformed into a career. At nearly thirty, he admits that skateboarding has become harder with age—but in slowing down he’s had more time to contemplate the other facets of the global scene. Drawing from an international network of skaters and creatives, James has married his love of riding with his photographic skills in a thoughtfully designed, limited edition print publication: Bilde Paper.
Skating has always been analogous with print media, and as more and more it-girls don Thrasher tees, it’s clear that much of the counterculture has moved into popular consciousness. Whilst this ‘mainstreaming’ has been frequently condemned by parts of the skate community, publications like Bilde Paper illustrate that the growing accessibility only serves to strengthen the messages of philanthropy, activism and creativity that the subculture has come to promote.
“Skateboarding, as varied and progressive as it is, sometimes feels like it’s all been done before.”
Illustrating this depth was one of James’ primary objectives, and he admirably undertook the task with little financial backing from advertisers to keep the content honest to his intentions. For its premier edition Bilde Paper had launch parties in Australia and Japan, and is now available to purchase in 45 countries: something he still finds a little absurd, “It’s funny, because the only way I know where it is, is by being tagged on Instagram—and I keep getting tagged in Portugal. That’s the network though. I mean you can buy it at the Warsaw International airport, and I didn’t think anyone in Warsaw would be looking for it, but then—I sold 25 copies in Dubai. Which is weird, but great!”
This bi-annual exploration of the interconnected cultures and personalities of skateboarding creates breadth in an oft-saturated area of print media. “I want someone like you to be able to pick it up and read it, too,” James explains. His eye for design and the strength of his content are evident in the artfully curated mixture of words, images and white space. The content crosses genres, at least, as much as a magazine about skating can. “I’ve got a pretty good network in the industry,” explains James, “so I’ve asked a lot of people. But it has been tricky because Bilde is about stuff that hasn’t been seen too much within skate media. Skateboarding, as varied and progressive as it is, sometimes feels like it’s all been done before.”
The first edition—of which only one thousand copies were printed—sees filmmakers, artists and skaters alike discuss wide-reaching topics from economics to infrastructure, in places as diverse as Iran and Bangalore. Bilde Paper liberates skating from the confines of tricks, clothing and tours by exposing us to stories not only of coordination, but of displacement, memories, and evolution of urban spaces. Skating in this form is both a subculture and a consciousness, it has the capacity to change and challenge dominant views of concrete landscapes and social hierarchies—ideas that Bilde Paper illustrates succinctly.
Exploring the social and cultural dynamics of skateboarding
Excerpts from Bilde Paper
“I thought it would be interesting to try and do something a little bit different: both aesthetically and content-wise I guess.”
As James explains, skate media too often focuses on the brands and not the culture, on the moves and not the people: “I really wanted to do something that talked about the subcultures, the industry, the people working in skateboarding, doing all these cool things that I’m constantly hearing about as well as having it design driven, focused on photography rather than just the skateboarding.” Magazines have always played a large part in the skate world, allowing an alternative space for the movement to flourish and develop globally. For James though, much of the print media surrounding skating is problematic, “Aesthetically, skate magazines can be really nice, but a lot of the content stays the same. I thought it would be interesting to try and do something a little bit different: both aesthetically and content-wise I guess.”
Thanks for chatting with us James, we’re looking forward to the possibility of a Berlin launch for issue two! If you’d like to purchase your own copy of Bilde, follow this link.