A CONVERSATION WITH TOM BOTWID
Hailing from Malmö, Sweden, art graduate and self confessed skate fiend Tom Botwid, chose to merge his love for both creative art forms by starting his own brand Poetic Collective. Consisting of a close knit group of friends who share the same values and interests in both skateboarding and conceptual art, Poetic Collective has grown to become one of the most unique skate brands in Europe today. We caught up with Tom to discuss business challenges, the influence of Stevie Williams and why skateboarding in the Olympics might prove beneficial in the long run.
Hey Tom, how’s things? What have you been up to recently?
Working , working and more work! Got like three jobs now including running Poetic Collective! It`s good though since it`s mostly doing things I’mm stoked on even though it can get stressful sometimes. We are just about to release our new spring/summer collection and I`m really happy with that one, been working on that and putting together a promo clip for it. Then spring is finally arriving here in Sweden so been trying to get outside and skate, start filming again! We are heading to Paris for easter too, staying busy!
Can you tell us how Poetic Collective started?
Yeah it started when I was living in Berlin. I was studying at the art academy here, painting and during my last year I felt…..I had a lot of influences in art history and painting and of course I’ve been skateboarding all my life and I wanted to do something that incorporated pieces of the art world into skateboarding. I feel like a lot of skate brands look at each other, it’s like you look at what’s happening within skateboarding, instead of trying to look a little bit outside of it and bring pieces into it. So I felt like I wanted to do that. It was fun to start working more aesthetically because I was making more conceptual stuff as far as my own art goes. So I started making some boards and some t-shirts, just very, very small quantities, mostly for myself and friends.
What’s the biggest challenges you’ve faced since starting your own brand?
I mean you just learn so much y’know? “Every challenge is an opportunity for growth (laughs).No but a lot of challenges are just basic things like how to do stuff, how to get boards produced, how to get clothes produced, making mistakes, things not turning out the way you wanted them to. And then even tax stuff, things like that. How do you start a company? All those things. I made a lot of mistakes, I was never good at math or anything and now I’m dealing with taxes and stuff. So far though, every challenge has always worked out.
What’s been your biggest influence in skateboarding?
There’s different things. I mean my favourite video when I stared skating was PJ Ladd’s Wonderful, Horrible Life. Even the DC Video, like Stevie Williams and then of course, being from Malmö, Pontus and Polar obviously, I have to mention them as an influence because they do great things. Most of all though, I think what influences me most within skateboarding is when people express something through skateboarding or through what they do. Whether it’s what Pontus does or what Stevie Williams does, like when he does one switch mongo push and somehow expresses so much, like so much rap within that one mongo push. A friend of mine said that, like “ One switch mongo push from Stevie Williams is more rap than most Swedish rappers ever were” (laughs). I mean any way of expressing something and not only following, I think that’s good. And that can be on so many different levels, from tricks to clothes to just ‘being’, how you are.
How do you feel about skateboarding being in the Olympics?
I think it’s just a different thing. I’m not gonna say it’s a bad thing. I mean I think of it this way; skateboarding has become so big it’s like music. You don’t say like “I like music”, you like certain things like hip hop music or you might like classical music. With skateboarding and the Olympics it’s like liking Britney Spears, it’s a more commercial side of it y’know? With the Olympics it’s like they’re going off in their direction and that’s one part and then there’s this whole other part which is more about self expression and that’s growing really fast. I think it’s just gonna become more separated.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing then?
No, I mean maybe there’s some kid who will see it on tv and they’ll start goggling skateboarding and they’ll find so much amazing stuff and get into a completely different side of it. I think it’s also good as it’ll put a lot of focus on women’s skateboarding and that’s a really good thing.
Who are you most stoked on right now in skateboarding?
Hmmm who I am most stoked on? I think everyone’s stoked on the blobys right now aren’t they? I like that. I like the new stuff they’re always doing. I liked Spirit Quest, Colin Read’s video. And Vincent Touzery’s in it too, I thought that was really good.
What’s the worst trend in skateboarding?
I guess too much following. Everyone’s so influenced, I mean I’m influenced as well from so many different things so everything you do is a mix of everything you’ve seen. I mean if you end up straight-up copying everything you see then that’s a bad trend I guess. Or even people not having fun, that’s a bad trend as well. Filming for Instagram and breaking your phone or something. That’s when it gets too serious. A good thing about skateboarding is having fun. In Malmö there’s these brothers Amandus & Sondre Mortensen, they recently dropped a new part on Free Skate Mag and they’re having so much fun y’know. And they’re really good people and completely on their own planet as far as influences go.
What album are you listening to right now?
I feel like I just listen to spotify playlists now, unfortunately. I have been listening to this Ben Weaver album, it’s like this new Americana country stuff that my Dad listened to a bit, I thought that was pretty cool. It’s super like, country, whiskey drinking old voice sorta sounds. I mean I mostelylisten to hip hop but I thought that was really good.
What the best thing about being Swedish?
I’m not sure. I appreciate it a lot more now because I lived abroad so when I came back it was nice that there was a good social security system and there is a sense of community and taking care of one another, even though it’s not as strong as it was when my parents were growing up. There’s a lot of good skate spots as well and Sweden supports skateboarding in a great way, a lot of people are involved and I think that’s good.
What would you be doing if you didn’t discover skateboarding?
I think just art. I mean I make art and I love just doing creative stuff. But at the same time I don’t know because skateboarding put me on that path in some way, although I was drawing a lot as a kid before that. I mean I’m happy I discovered skateboarding because it’s both a creative and a physical outlet and I have a hard time sitting still for a long time. Even when I was studying in Berlin, I’d be in the studio all day but before that I would skate for an hour in the morning just to get it all out. Too much energy I guess.
Maybe, undiagnosed haha!
Finally, what does the future hold for you & Poetic?
Just to keep growing and connecting with more people that like what we do and share similar values. I’m really happy that we’re reaching out to more countries and just meeting more people, hanging out and skating with them. I’d like to be able to support the team we have a lot more than we do. I wish I could give them a lot more. And then maybe one day, hopefully, make a euro out of it (laughs).
You can scope out everything good from Poetic Collective here