Creative genius rarely comes without at least a few drops of madness. With little exception, many of the most significant artistic contributions to the world have come from people the rest of us would describe as being “weird” or “a little off.” Dali kept pet ocelots and publicly walked anteaters, Van Gogh lopped off his own ear, Michelangelo seldom changed his clothes, and Howard Hughes maintained two inch long fingernails. It’s almost always these hyper-creative (or simply crazy) visionaries who toggle between having one foot in the nut house and the other in the public eye who generally end up being the ones to shatter the boundaries and pioneer future styles.
Skateboarding, like art, is the perfect refuge for the anti-social. It’s a fiercely independent activity, often solitary—and there are no rules to follow. As one of skateboarding’s lead documentarians, Patrick O’Dell has spent the latter part of his career finding, researching, and revealing some of skateboarding’s most heroic, celebrated, and, yes, sometimes eccentric characters in a way that few can. His work reveals a side of these skateboarders that goes well beyond their talent—often delving deeply and sometimes dramatically into their personal lives, childhood upbringings, and daily routines, to uncover a side of skateboarding that’s seldom seen in the glossy pages of magazine ads or in half-baked editorials.
Starting off in the hallowed halls of Thrasher Magazine’s photo department to his current job as the producer and host behind Vice‘s Epicly Later’d documentary series, O’Dell has unique insight into skateboarding and skateboarders that make him the perfect mouthpiece for voicing opinions on that razor thin line between artistic brilliance and sheer madness.
words by Cullen Poythress