13? with Christian Cooper.
If you are lucky enough to call yourself a skateboarder chances are pretty high that you’ve heard of BLKPRJKT. Whether it was a no bullshit skate article you read online or one of your favorite board graphics you have tucked away in your closet, you’ve come across his work at some point in your life. He was kind enough to answer a few questions and give us a little incite into his new endeavor, DEFECT MAG.
Christian Cooper AKA BLKPRJKT AKA I’ve been called too many things to remember them all.
Southern California, 400 miles south of my NORCAL home.
3. What was your first job in skateboarding?
From a simple skateboarding perspective, I worked in a local skateshop for about 9 months in 1986. I had drawn all of their sticker and t-shirt art for a few years before that, and I rode for them so it just turned into a job. As far as a serious industry job, from 1995 to 1998 I drew graphics for all of the DLX companies (Real, Spitfire, Thunder, Stereo, Anti*Hero, Forties, Lucky Bearings, Metropolitan, and ADI) Those were brilliant days, every other company and distribution house referred to us as “The Death Star”. Heat transfers hadn’t been invented, and we cut rubylith color separation films by hand. We suffered for our art. We did it for the pure love of it. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. I worked with Fausto Vitello, Eric Swensen, Jim Thiebaud, Tommy Guerrero, Todd Francis, Ruben Orkin(RIP), Chris Pastras, Jason Lee, John Cardiel, and Julien Stranger. Talk about a think tank. Geniuses, all.
4. You were one of the main writers at Concrete Disciples for years, what prompted you to leave?
I was really, for lack of a better term, THE writer for CD. This isn’t an ego-based statement, but simply to say that once Ray Zimmerman(MRZ) and I were made partners in the site, we just took the ball and ran with it. He made insanely great pictures and I wrote hundreds of thousands of words to go with them over a 7 year period. We put CD on the map as far as the industry and the pros were concerned, and we were covering a huge segment of skateboarding that was largely ignored by the print mags. We turned the bulletin boards into a full-on warzone too. We had months where there were close to 2 million page views, site-wide. It was good for a while, and we did it out of our passion for skateboarding. Ray and I never broke even, our travel expenses and whatnot always eclipsed the minimal money we made from the ad network on the site.
Eventually, our partner put the site through a major re-design, and that, combined with everybody migrating over to Facebook, and the emergence of thousands of new skate websites popping up pretty much killed us. We had some fundamental differences of opinion on what the direction of the site should be and what should happen next, and then we were, for lack of a better term, fired. It actually was one of the key motivating factors for us to develop what we are doing now. I have no hard feelings about it. We had a good run. Learn from your mistakes, move on.
Brandon Perelson coming in hot on the cover of Issue 1.
5. Can you explain to us what DEFECT MAG is and where the idea came from?
DEFECT MAG is a fully interactive, digital publication that is currently available for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. I actively followed the emergence of digital publishing for a couple of years and as the technology developed, I started realizing that it was the perfect vehicle for the evolution of skateboarding media. Ray and I were approached by one of the major print mags about creating another print title under their wing that focused on the stuff we are into, pools, vert, DIY, etc. In our one and only meeting with them, I pitched the digital/interactive concept as an alternative to print. Apparently they weren’t feeling it, so we decided we were going to do it ourselves. 6 months later that same print mag launched their “digital edition” an e-reader electronic version of the print mag. But what I was shooting for was a highly interactive app, not just something to read. I immersed myself in learning the technology, Ray got on a heavy shooting schedule and we argued over names and concepts and whatnot, we started trying to figure out how to really make the technology work for us, and now here we are.
6. Magazines like Thrasher and The Skateboard Mag have digital versions of their magazines. How does DEFECT differ?
Essentially what they are putting out is what’s called a “digital edition”. More like an electronic version of a static print magazine. A viewer is, for the most part, just turning pages and looking at the magazine in pretty much the same way they would the printed version.
DEFECT is an interactive experience full of different types of media such as video, animation, audio, and other features that allow the viewer to bring the content to life. It also allows us to have ads that provide our advertisers the ability to run multimedia and to have an instant connection via social media channels and the web, and it all occurs right inside of the app. The first issue explores a lot of the technological possibilities that are currently available and issue 2 will have even more of the new technology being developed on the fly.
One of the things I designed into the app is that all of our proprietary interactive and multimedia content downloads to a user’s device. This makes for a heavier initial download, but it means that even if the device has no network connectivity the interactive multimedia content experience is still complete. Our advertisers’ multimedia content is also handled in this way.
7. This seems like a pretty new idea for skate media. Were there any issues in developing this app that you didn’t anticipate and how did you work around them?
I had seen that some guys in Australia were experimenting with some of these technologies, right around the time I was going through the initial development process for DEFECT. But mostly, anything skateboarding-wise has followed the more traditional electronic magazine format. Because much of this device-driven, interactive technology is still in an emerging phase, I have encountered a lot of technical issues and challenges I didn’t expect. Much of the development process has been trial-and-error because the technology is fluid and continues to change constantly. I’ve always been a rule-bender as a creative director and adapting to limitations isn’t one of my strengths, I want to generally just bulldoze right through them. Screw the rules. Sometimes it works, sometimes it means re-thinking how to make something work within those limitations. It’s a long learning curve that never ends.
A glimpse of what’s inside.
8. Have skaters and companies been on board with what you are doing?
I prepared a relatively polished demo of the first issue and we showed it to a handful of pros and industry people and the reaction was sort of 80/20 between people who get the technology and understand what we are doing and why, and the smaller percentage of people who are just sort of overwhelmed by it and haven’t quite figured it out. By the time we had the first issue closed and ready for distribution, we had Independent Trucks, Flip Skateboards, Anti*Hero Skateboards, and Vans on board as advertisers. The support of these heavy companies tells me we are doing something right, and that we are doing right by them. And the skaters are backing us pretty hard as well.
9. What are some of the things in the first issue we can look forward to?
I’m not going to give away a bunch of details but I can tell you that it’s really content-heavy. A photo feature with Anthony Acosta, an interview with Brandon Perelson, a big feature on DIY, loads of photos and videos and other interactive content. And it’s not all pools and tranny, we are bringing street and all-terrain content into the mag as well, and striving to create a balance that accurately reflects a wide spectrum view of skateboarding, or at least the aspects of it that are the heaviest. The progression of skateboarding in the last few years has been driven by the young guys coming up who are hungry for it all, street, pools, parks, DIY, guys who will skate everything they encounter and rip. We aren’t going to be running articles about cone huggers, longboarders, or freestylers, but then why would we? They have their own stale magazines, they don’t need our help.
10. Who are the people involved with Defect?
Ray Zimmerman (MRZ) and myself are the principals in this equation. He shoots photos like a madman and I design, write, and program the thing. A staff of 2. We must be masochists or something. But we do have a nice stable of contributors who wanted to get involved on the first issue and without them, this would have been a lot harder to pull off. People like Bryce Kanights, Brian Fick, Anthony Acosta, Josh Peacock, Ozzie Ausband, Brandon Wong, Sam Keeley, Scott Taylor, and more. Their contributions, however small or otherwise, were instrumental in helping get our first issue shaped. I don’t have enough gratitude to express to them.
11. When will it be available for download and is there an Android version?
Currently the first issue is available for iPad, iPhone4+, and iPod touch with the retina display only, via the Appstore and iTunes. We plan to extend to the Android platform/marketplace in early 2013, and provide back issues for Android users that missed out on the first release.
DIY or DIE.
12. How much to purchase the app?
Our viewer app is free to download, and a very minimal free preview is included. Full issues of DEFECT are $4.99 and that purchase price covers multiple devices, so if you have iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch, you get all 3 versions for one price. Different devices will auto-detect and download version-specific issues. Once an issue has been purchased and downloaded it can be removed from the device and archived but remains available to be downloaded at no charge if a user wants to re-visit the issue later.
13. Any last words?
I guess I could just say something like “buy our mag”, but that’s overstating the obvious. We are simply trying to do something new, in keeping with the quickening of technology, and trying to bring skateboarding media to life in a brand new way that is portable and entertaining and accurately reflects just how badass skateboarding truly is.
Thanks to Christian for taking the time to talk to us and MRZ for the photos.
DEFECT MAG is available now for download. Click here to purchase the app: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/defect-mag/id550752881?ls=1&mt=8