Mark Gonzales: Photos Sem Rubio

By Peggy Roalf   Friday October 23, 2020


I love books. I love all kinds of books, even [especially?] books about stuff that has nothing to do with what I do. So when this book about the legendary skateboarder, Mark Gonzales, landed on my threshold, it immediately got my attention. Here’s why: 

The hardcover is wrapped in gorgeous linen in a shade of blue that makes you think of a perfect summer day in New York City. The title is stamped in sunshine yellow foil and the end pages are the same hue. The cover photo by Sem Rubio is tipped in. It looks great and it feels great.


Reading between the lines of the press release and looking at the collaboration between Gonzales, Rubio, and Lou Andrea Savoir, the creative director who evidently packaged the book to be published by Rizzoli, it became evident that this book is a super-hybrid that combines lifestyle, lifestyle branding, and artistry at a high level. 

The book celebrates the world of Gonzalez, who is recognized as the greatest street boarder of all time, through commentary and interviews by Ms. Savoir with people who have been close to him over the years—skateboarders and artists alike—including  Spike Jonze, Hiroshi Fujiwara, KAWS, Tommy Guerrero, Tony Hawk, Blondey McCoy, Gus Van Sant and more. At around the age of 50, and a dedicated family man, Gonzales has not lost the child-like enthusiasms that makes him a natural. 


The book is a product in itself and a product of this time. One of the themes that runs through it is freedom—the freedom of youthful rebellion, the freedom of flight, the freedom that success brings to people who love life. The photography of Sem Rubio, who has worked with Gonzales for more than ten years while also shooting for fashion and luxury brands, captures the magic Gonzales brings to his smallest observations, like the thickness of a granite curb that will make a perfect launch for an aerial move. The book is fun.

So here are a few extracts and photographs to show you what I’m talking about. 

Tom Sachs, artist, on how Gonzales’ work and boarding have evolved: I think some skateboarding magazine, like Transworld, interviewed the 100 best skaters of all time a couple of years ago. Everyone had to name their top 10, and Mark was the only one who was on every list. He’s the guy who made street skating a thing. Before that it was ramp skating or freestyle. He did this special hybrid and that’s become the dominant thing. It also made it more accessible, because you can do it anywhere. He’s the one who subverted architecture more than anyone else…[the most important zine collector in the world says] that there are only 4 “Masters in the Universe” [zine creators]. They are: Ari Marcopoulos, Dash Snow, Raymond Pettibon, and Mark….


Nora Vasconcellos, professional skateboarder: Just recently, this past summer, we were skating back in Massachusetts. We drove by this little granite curb. If you ran it over in your car, it’s the kind of curb that would pop your tire. The way he skated this…I wouldn’t even look twice at this spot. He ollied up, rolled across, frontside boardslided it, and came off it in a rock n roll. The way he can still slam and roll around like an 11-year-old. I can’t imagine skating with him and not having fun.

Hiroshi Fujiwara, musician, producer and designer living in Tokyo, about his skateboarding style: As fast as the wind, as quiet as the forest, as daring as fire, and as immovable as a mountain.

Mark Gonzales, photographs in color and black-and-white by Sem Rubio. Photos © Mark Gonzales by Mark Gonzales, Rizzoli New York, 2020. Images © Sem Rubio. Desktop photos here © Peggy Roalf Krooked Skateboards by Mark Gonzales