Studio Albin Holmqvist brings typographic punch to the monograph of skate legend Mark Gonzales
Since entering the skateboarding world at age 13, and appearing on the cover of Thrasher Magazine just three years later, Mark Gonzales aka ‘The Gonz’ has developed a reputation as not only a pioneer of street skating but one of the most influential skateboarders of all time. Regularly hailed for his fearless and uncompromising creativity, Gonzales has pushed boundaries beyond skateboarding through collaborative ventures with brands including Adidas, Supreme, RETROSUPERFUTURE, JanSport and Études.
In 2017, Gonzales, his wife Tia Romano and photographer Sem Rubio travelled to Palermo, Italy for an impromptu skate trip. On their return, Rubio realised that despite only being away for five days, he’d taken “so many good photos.” An idea popped into his head, and after a handful more trips, it became a reality – a part-skate, part-portrait monograph peering directly into the mind of the iconic skateboarder.
In addition to Rubio’s photography, the resulting book features artwork and poetry from Gonzales, and high profile interviews with Spike Jonze, Tom Sachs, Gus Van Sant, KAWS, Tony Hawk, Ed Templeton and Hiroshi Fujiwara; all showcased through a lusciously tactile graphic treatment from Studio Albin Holmqvist. Twelve months of iteration to find a unified vision between designer, photographer, subject, publisher (Rizzoli New York) and producer (Cascade Berlin) followed; eventually leading to a utilitarian design approach that champions Gonzales’ story through bold typography and vibrant colour.
As a result of the idiosyncratic nature of the publication’s content, Holmqvist chose to adopt Letters from Sweden’s Ivar Display Condensed for body copy despite its intended use as a headline typeface. Working directly with Göran Söderström, Ivar Display’s designer, he obtained a version of the typeface optimised specifically for better legibility in small sizes. It’s contrasted by the more straightforward, classic choices of Akzidenz Grotesk Black and Nimbus Roman No.9 L for headlines, supporting text and quotes, with the latter catering specifically for long-form interviews. With the book being predominantly photographic, Holmqvist explains that he “wanted to add a dynamic element to the pace of the book,” with the trio of distinctly different typefaces successfully reflecting that goal.
Holmqvist’s design is triumphantly capped off by the book’s blue and yellow cover, making it feel more playful than your typical coffee-table monograph – a feeling that’s perhaps enhanced further by Gonzales’ handwritten message that graces the back cover. “The blue for the cover was an early idea from Lou, the editor,” Holmqvist reveals, “it’s actually Gonz’s eye colour!” The yellow, he adds, “came naturally since I wanted to work with a strong primary colour that has some pop to it, with the added bonus of being easy to match with the yellow tail bands.” The yellow pulsates against the textured blue cover stock through the massive application of Akzidenz Grotesk Black, with the typography refusing to play second fiddle to the chosen cover image. “It just felt right,” Holmqvist explains of the image, “I mean the guy still rips which I think was nice to showcase instead of the more artful and abstract photos that can be found in the book.”
240mm x 290mm