Fos breathes skateboarding, art and music.
Fos hails from North of England but moved to London to study art at the prestigious Goldsmiths College.
Having founded both Heroin and Landscape, designed boards and shoes for countless other skates companies and helped set up Altamont, he moved to LA in 2011 and continued to develop his own brands as well as collaborating with the best and even launching his own radio show.
His signature style can be seen from shop logos to big-brand graphics. He developed and managed to maintain a truly unique gig with Heroin, with its super diverse team and rad videos over the years. Fos has inspired many and with no doubt will continue to do so for a very long time to come. Cheers, Fos!
Hey Mark, in the late 90s you’ve started 2 very different companies: Landscape with conventional branding, and Heroin with a 180 degree U-Turn of what skateboarding was (still is) at that time. Could you explain us, how did you come up with the idea and goals for these companies at that time?
Heroin was the first one I started in 1998, it was really my vision of skateboarding. Landscape was a project I started with Toby Shuall, Snowy, Joel Curtis and Olly Todd in 2003. That was a more conventional company in that sense I suppose. With Heroin I didn’t even know if anyone would be into it, I was just doing it for the fun, I was working in the skate industry and a bit frustrated with California`s stranglehold on everything. Like we had UK riders for brands that would represent the companies really well, but I’d struggle getting them a couple of boards in a $20,000 order that I was placing, so figured I should do something that supported the riders a little more.
The skateboarding industry back then was basic, you have a brand, you sell it in a skateshop. How did it work for you through the years?
It`s always worked well for us. Shops are the lifeblood of the industry, I really believe that and support them to the fullest, but it has to go both ways, we don’t ask for much in the form of support, just to keep a few of our boards on the wall.
“I’d prefer them to go the shops to be honest but its not always the case. Some places don’t like or understand the name of the brand”
Are you still the owner of Heroin and Landscape, and keep making decisions in the design and marketing process?
I still own both 100% and manage both. I work with Joe Gavin a lot on the landscape stuff, he’s been really great to work with as far as the direction for the brand and pushing it in the UK. Heroin is through Baker Boys, so thats been good to be given deadlines to work towards and all that.
The skateboarding industry is shifting right now with the social media, and the online shopping. Brands, distributors and skateshops have to be really creative. You’ve started to sell Heroin online along with other brands, but also keep the old model to brand/distribution/skateshop. How did this idea come up?
The idea is that the customers can get stuff directly if there’s no shops in their area or if the shop doesn’t stock Heroin for whatever reason. I’d prefer them to go the shops to be honest but its not always the case. Some places don’t like or understand the name of the brand, some places are more concerned with stocking their local companies, or whatever is coolest at the moment, there’s a lot of competion for wall space, so sometimes brands get forgotten about.
Is it working for you?
Seems to be, we have repeat customers and feedback has been good, it means that the customer can get what they want.
Doing this, I guess some distributors and shops are not that happy, infact not a long time ago it was really taboo. How will you manage to sell online, and keep your business partners happy?
We don’t undercut anyone. Everyone sells our boards for the same price at wholesale. So nobody can argue that we’re doing anything unfairly. The online store is really just something we do out of necessity to the customer rather than as a money making thing. We just want people to have the option to get our stuff, it`s not a conscious plan to cut anyone out of anything. I really love all the shops that have supported us and we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them, but I went somewhere recently, and a store that I used to work for years didn’t even have any Heroin or Landscape boards on the walls.
“usually people super mad threatening me via social media”
P-rod with Primitive started what will (probably) be the new popular way to sell goods, with their « subscription box » which consists of paying an amount of money per month to recieve a board, griptape, wheels, a T-shirt and wax every month. What do you think about it?
I thought that was a sure fire way to piss of all the shops and distributors. I don’t think it is going to be a popular way to sell stuff. When I was growing up I was broke, I just used to make boards last as long as I could and get a new one when I needed it. I worked in factories to get money to buy shoes and boards, I think its a very small demographic that has the money to get a subscription every month.
Back in the days, Natas has a lot of trouble with his names on clothing, ‘cause it looks like “Satan” reversed. Did you have any trouble with the name Heroin?
The stories I have aren’t that funny to be honest, usually people super mad threatening me via social media, and then I explain the meaning and the company to them and they understand. People who came in super hot and pretty much said they were going to kick my ass, have actually become fans of the brand, kind of, once I explained things to them. But then again there’s always haters, who are going to hate no matter what, had one this week blowing me up on the social media stuff.
There is one funny one though, I literally bumped into Reda at a video premier, I was like “Hey, nice to see you!” and he was like “Great to see you, you still doing Heroin??” really loud, and I was like “Yeah! It`s going great” and he stood next to Felix who I don’t think he knew it was a board brand and thought it was a totally fucked up conversation.
What are your plans for 2018?
Celebrate 20 years of Heroin skateboards, starting with an art show and party tonight in Echo park.
Thanks a lot Mark, it’s very appreciated!
Intro by Claire Alleaume / Questions by Babas Levrai / Portrait by Aaron Paustin