Skateboarding is a huge world of it’s own and to keep up with every change and new development is a challenge. Skaters and companies come and go but some are always there to stay, in the background and always supporting skateboarding and the people who live it.
Robert Wolff has been skateboarding for over 30 years and he is the owner of “Blackyard Skateboards” from Hamburg, Germany – my home turf. The products are vert and pool oriented, the team is special and that made me want to find out a bit more about a really cool team:
Skater: Robert Wolff | backside air | Photographer: Chris Eggers
Give us a little background info – how old are you, where did you grow up / live now and what do you do for a living when you’re not skateboarding?
I’m 46 years young, born and grew up in Hamburg, Germany. So you can call me an original Hamburg resident. I’m a father, husband and professional tree climber and arborist, which means I’m working with trees using special rope techniques. I work all around Germany as a teacher to teach other users these rope techniques.
You’ve been involved in skateboarding for quite some time now. When and how did skateboarding begin for you?
Started skateboarding at the age of probably 11-12. It all began by putting a shelf, a pair of roller skates and nails together.
We’re all not getting younger (even though you are still skating strong!). Is there a point in your life when you think you’ll try something different than skateboarding or are you already combining different sports to keep yourself going?
Indeed, I had a much too long pause with my skateboarding. I did different things / sports for many years. I was really into tree climbing / my company, freeride snowboarding, music, long distance running and my family. I had a problem to combine that with skateboarding. It seemed at that time that something went wrong. Do you know the feeling, even if your life is great that you do miss something so bad!? I knew the answer to solve the problem, but just needed a while. My whole body needed the break to bring my body, heart and soul together again.
Skater: Robert Wolff | lien to tail | Photographer: Chris Eggers
Blackyard Skateboards: we can guess about the name but you tell us what it means for you.
You are absolutely right. The brand name Blackyard is a pun. Skaters at my age know the meaning of backyard skating. Black just sounded a little dark to me, which I like and it stands a little for the music genre I grew up with for example Black Sabbath.
I assume you started Blackyard Skateboards for reasons other than dominating the skateboard market – what are the reasons?
Umhh, that´s some wrong information. I plan to rule the world market pretty soon. Of course you are right again. Indeed I started my skateboard company because I just thought there is not enough hardware for the tranny loving skaters on the market. Different skaters with different styles and different preferences of skate terrains…….means to me, shaped boards in addition to popsicle boards. So I planned a “friend” brand / product just for a bunch of skating friends. My friends decided very soon not to let me off with Blackyard. You see, I had to continue.
Where do you produce the skateboard hardware and who is responsible for your deck designs?
I produce in China, the USA and Germany. Everything started with the great art work of my very good friend and band member Arne. He understood the maritime style I wanted for Blackyard and created different unique board graphics. The fantastic “Matt Grabowski“ pro model graphic is made by Uli, Mats wife. She is such a great tattoo artist and I´m proud to have her in the team. And there are artists and art directors like Zedler and Mrs Wolff, my wife, who are helping out and keep the level high. I just love my artist team ….and to work with them in the background.
You’ve got a very well-known skater on the team with Matt Grabowski ( Minus Ramps man! ). How did that happen?
It´s not just because we are both from Hamburg. It´s not because we know each other for over 25 years or something like that either. We just skated together pretty often the last year and we talked a lot. One thing came to another. Brainstorming, BBQ, beer and skating was the key for our decision to plan his Blackyard pro model. Matt is an excellent skateboarder, but much more important to me is he´s a real friend with a great personality.
Skater: Matt Grabowski | bs smith grind | Photographer: Pudy
Who else is on the Blackyard Skateboards team and what’s your relationship to them?
Let me introduce Henri von Stanislawski and Tim Boerner. They are both Hamburg residents and just great young skateboarders. To me, they have an excellent mix between new and old school tricks. Including tons of style. Intelligent and polite young men totally into hardcore and punk rock when they are standing on their boards. Call it old fashioned, but we feel something like a family spirit . Maybe just because there is nothing more to earn than passion.
You skate all terrains. Where do you like to skate the most and do you have some favorite spots on this planet?
Ha ha, I’m seriously not able to skate every terrain. I am not able to ollie above a curb. For sure, I do love transitions, even the ones I can not handle, you know. It´s not embarrassing to me to skate a spot I´m not good at. Of course I enjoy to skate halfpipe / vert from time to time, but most of the time I do skate some pool spots and the Blackyard home mini ramp. My main thing for a good skate day is to have some good buddies around me and not to hurt too much Everything else comes by itself. It´s all about “ THE DAILY GRIND“.
Skater: Henri von Stanislawski | bs smith grind | Photographer: Rob
What do you have planned next for Blackyard Skateboards?
Hard question. Being able to exist for the next years!? I don´t know. We do have the best sizes for popsicles. We are not afraid to produce shaped boards with up-to-date technical features. We even do have a brand new pro model series and we do have one of the best new school transition wheels on the market. OK, I’ll tell you something. If we talk about hardware….rails are coming.
We want to skate. That´s the main plan. We plan some visits at Blackyard core shops in Germany to skate with friends on their local spots. In Brandenburg, Kiel, Cologne, Munich. We´ll see.
Skater: Tim Boerner | fs air over the tight stairs / Grannie Bowl, Hamburg | Photographer: Gerd Rieger
Thanks for the interview Robert and I wish this team/company all the best for the future – check out the Blackyard Skateboards website and online shop!