Glorious nutcase and the most influential skater the world has ever seen, Mark Gonzales’s mentalist creativity explodes the boundaries of what skateboarding can be.
Portrait by Jim Spencer
It might be difficult these days to perceive the genius of Mark Gonzales through the veil of his own self-created strangeness, but ‘the Gonz’ was one of the pioneers who dragged skateboarding ’s global focus away from ramps, bowls and parks and into the street. In the mid eighties he kickflipped, ollied and rode rails into legend. He was the catalyst that pushed forward skating’s second evolutionary leap into a creative, visceral endeavour that bled outside its gee-whiz, sidewalk surfing roots.
You’ll glimpse him these days skating through art galleries in a hooded onesie of white lycra; roaming the planet packing nothing but a strangely large skateboard and a paper bag full of sweets; he shows up to the launch of his Adidas signature shoe, skating on stage with tennis pro and trophy girl Martina Hingis on his shoulders.
If you live in any of the world’s major cities you may have caught sight of him skating past you at shocking speed, re-imagining street furniture with that uniquely biting, soulful flow. You may also have found him curled up in an alleyway, dressed in a scum stained three piece suit. Either way you couldn’t have mistaken him for some hipster pseud.
Never lastingly aligned with brands, particular skate movements and genres, Gonz’s creativity is a deep rooted way of being-in-the-world, messing with the field of expectations in the worlds of both skateboarding and street art.
He is Arthur Gonzarelli. The Gonz. Mark Fucking Gonzales. Acid Rambler Forever.