Jim Fitzpatrick Surf Skate Style



How has surfing influenced skateboarding and skating influenced surfing?

In 1990, Dogtown’s Jim Muir asked me, “Tell me something, are you a surfer who skateboards, or are you a skateboarder who surfs?” His attitude was sorta stinky, and seemed to imply that I’d better answer correctly, I explained, “Well, I skateboarded before I surfed, and then, after I began surfing (1959), I still kept skateboarding.” “All right, good,” declared Red Dog. He cut me off at Rincon a few years ago and I gave him shit all the way to the beach. “I didn’t know it was you!” was his explanation. I sidewalk surfed on my skateboard in 1957, but we didn’t call it that. I called it fun. By the ‘60s, certainly we were going in both directions, but it was separate, we were doing 360s (“spinners”) on land. We weren’t going to do that in the water! There was no crossover. Turns, bottom turns, dropping a shoulder, sure, but tricks were in the future. Personal style, that was an identity that developed. I had a style on my surfboard that translated to my skateboard. It wasn’t any one thing, it was my total ‘style.’ I was surfing in Santa Barbara in the early ‘80s and came out of the water to run into a guy I hadn’t seen since the ‘60s, “I knew that was you, Fitzpatrick,!” he claimed. “I said to my wife, “That’s Jim Fitzpatrick!” And she said, ‘So?’” He went on and on how ‘I can tell your style any day, I would know it was you.’ Craig Stecyk said the same thing when he and I and Steve Pezman were surfing at Church, “Your style is the same as it was 30 years ago.” That’s OK with me. Historically, I think Christian Fletcher was the pioneer of skate tricks going to surfing. He took the street to the waves. Herbie and I were surfing Rincon together in the ‘80s and, by the ‘90s, Christian was doing ollies on waves. Rad.

Is SurfSkate style important today?

Style. “Gallagher” sat with Miki Vuckovich and Nancy Hawk and I explained how important it was to have “style.” “Whatever you do,” he explained, “you have to have style.” Turns out he was a rink roller skating champion in Florida as a kid, and he developed his style. If you watch his comedy routines, you recognize his style. He had it, even when he was  smashing watermelons! Style includes manner, too, right? If you’re around real skaters and real surfers enough, you begin to recognize the respect and the kind demeanor of most skaters and surfers. There’s lots of subtle recognition and greetings and heartfelt handshakes and hugs. Seriously. There is a respectful kindness that spans generations. I was at Jay Adams’ memorial service at Venice Beach, and dozens of people introduced themselves to me. I was with Stacy Peralta before the paddle out and so many people approached us, respectfully and appreciatively. Stacy had a kind word for everyone, so did I. There’s a skate and surf culture that continues to develop every day. It’s a community, a real emotional and physical community, that continues to discover its style and its culture every day. That’s what’s happening. It’s genuine, this developing style, this developing culture, and much of it has to do with pushing back against the mainstream and, as a result, it’s creative. My whole life was predicated on my father’s experiences in WWII. He returned a pacifist. War disgusted him. He was a multi-talented creator. He’d seen such death and such atrocities that he was astounded to be alive. I was raised under the canopy of “Whatever!” If I wanted to do it, then he was all for it. The lesson I took away from his messages to me was, if there’s a way, then there has to be another way, too, especially if that ‘way’ isn’t the way I’m comfortable with.

Jim Fitzpatrick stylin’ on the nose in Topanga, 1962, Photo © Bruce Bernstein


The influence of surfing on skateboarding has been discussed since the beginning of both, yet we have now entered a new era, where skateboarding has returned the favor with its own unique influence on the surfing world. In order to get to the core of this cross over and to try to define the origins and current state and status of surf skate style, we’ve interviewed some of the most innovative skateboarders, surfers, artists, documentarians, photographers, filmmakers and musicians on the planet. In honor of the great, Shogo Kubo, who once said, “To me, style is everything…” welcome to our exploration of Surf Skate Style featuring interviews with Aaron Murray, Aaron Astorga, Abraham Paskowitz, Art Brewer, Bennett Harada, Brad Bowman, Brandon Cruz, Brian Brannon, Carter Slade, Chris Miller, Chris Strople, Christian Fletcher, Christian Hosoi, Craig Stecyk III, Darren Ho, Dave Tourje, David Hackett, Dennis Martinez, Dibi Fletcher, Don Redondo, Eric Britton, Garrett McNamara, Gerry Lopez, Glen E. Friedman, Greg Falk, Greg Galbraith, Greyson Fletcher, Herbie Fletcher, James O’Mahoney, Jef Hartsel, Jeff Ament, Jeff Divine, Jeff Ho, Jim Fitzpatrick, Jim Gray, John Van Hamersveld, Jonathan Paskowitz, Josh “Bagel” Klassman, Kalani David, Keith Morris, Kirra Kehoe, Larry Bertlemann, Laura Thornhill, Lizzie Armanto, Marc Emond, Michael Denicola, Michael Early, Nano Nobrega, Nathan Fletcher, Nathan Florence, Neil Stratton, Norton Wisdom, Pat Bareis, Randy Katen, Ray Flores, Rob Nelson, Robert Trujillo, Scott Oster, Shane Allen, Shaun Tomson, Shota Kubo, Solo Scott, Stacy Peralta, Steve Alba, Steve Olson, Takuji Masuda, Terry Nails, Tim Curran, Tim Hendricks, Tim Kerr, Tom Groholski, Tony Alva, Wes Humpston and Zach Miller.


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