Really stoked about this next interview with Greg Poissonnier, the man behind the French skateboard company cOLLAPSe sKATEBOARDs. I’ll just let him do the talking…
Hi Greg. The cOLLAPSe skateboards story began in August 2011. What’s the story behind how it started and why did you embark on this mission?
Hi Jonathan, so long story short, I was “riding” at the time for a US brand called Old Man Army who was willing to develop its presence in France, and at some point they offered to make a guest model for me. As that deck was made for the French market only, I was in charge of its production…this is how I realized that I could do my own brand in the end, OMA not really going anywhere, my friend Boul Rostan and I decided to create our own thing for fun, Boul was in charge of creative direction while I was doing all the rest…he decided to move on from the brand a couple years later, since then I’m the only one running it. We just wanted to do our own thing, Boul being really creative it was the perfect outlet for him to express his art, while I was stoked to put a team together and offer something new and fresh at a local level that the kids could refer to!
So is this your full time job or do you support your love for skateboarding with another job?
No this more of a side project as it’s not paying the rent nore a wage. I do a bunch of other things but all related to skateboarding so it’s all complimentary in the end, I’m a content curator for redbull.com/skateboarding, I’m in charge of the communication for the French Skateboarding Commission, I’m an event organizer and host, content creator, community manager…
Photo by: Mayol
Who do have to come up with the deck design ideas and who actually does the artwork for you?
From day one the idea was to not be associated with one style, we wanted to be able to switch from one style to something totally different from one range to the other. Nowadays we have one artist who designs at least one graphic per collection, Mike Mailman aka Pentagram Pizza (@pentagram_pizza), he’s got a pretty corrosive sense of humour and likes to make fun of religion, his drawings crack me up. Other than that, a lot of artists knock at the door cause they’d love to have their art display on some skateboards, this is how things happen most of the time. I like when the artist or the artwork is related to our region, but sometimes it has nothing to do with it and it’s just cause I like how it looks.
It’s good to see the diversity in deck sizes and shapes you have in the product range especially with the Curb Destroyer deck. Why did you decide to integrate this range of sizes in your deck offer and is this a development you see with what skaters want to have or what’s the reason(s)?
We came up pretty quickly with shaped decks and bigger sizes within our board offer cause I skate them ! I’ve always been riding bigger decks than my friends so it made sense that my brand reflects that, same goes with shaped decks, there’re more brands offering them now but at some point there wasn’t that many and I thought it was cool to offer them even though it doesn’t represent a lot of volume, I think it made older dudes recognize themselves in the brand as well cause we were offering decks that suit them!
You have a team of 5 skaters, four French skaters and one British skater (living in Seignosse , France). What are you looking out for when you are choosing a skater to join the cOLLAPSe skateboards team and why these guys on the team right now?
Rule number one is that every new rider must be green lighted by the team, it’s not about having the best riders out there but more putting a crew of skaters together who get along well and like to skate any kind of terrain. George Poole was the very first rider on team, he was the local ripper (and still is!) and had a board sponsor which didn’t really help beside product, so I offered him to be part of the adventure, he just got a board with his name on it a few weeks ago, almost 8 years later! Then there’s Matt Débauché, I wanted someone to represent in Biarritz and as I was close friend with his father it was just natural to ask him if he’d been down to be part of it, Same goes with Romain Covolan, he’s from the same circle of friends/family so it just happened naturally, plus he’s such a character that it was a no brainer. Gaëtan Ducellier came a little later, he’s the role model at Cosanostra skatepark close to Paris, kids and mummies love him haha ! Then the latest addition to the team was Hugo Westrelin, he’s 15 or 16 and rips big time, especially in transitions, but not only as kids can do anything these days, I’ve picked him because… I don’t know, you just need to see him skate !
Just last August 2018 cOLLAPSe skateboards celebrated it’s 7th anniversary with quite a rad looking party at Hossegor’s Casino with an 80’s style to it. The scene and support seems to be really strong for you. How do you see this and in general how is the skateboarding scene in France evolving in the last few years?
Yeah that event was rad, cOLLAPSe Slappy Fest it was called, since the beginning of cOLLAPSe we’re putting an event together for the anniversary of the brand, as it’s in the middle of the summer and in a touristical area it’s pretty convenient! So every year the event is growing, the idea since 4 events now, is to bring skateboarding outside of skateparks, in the streets where appropriate, and put it in front of people’s eyes who wouldn’t necessarally go to a skateboarding event, I like to think that a few kids who witnessed some of our events by “accident” are now addicted skateboarders! But yeah the latest edition was one for the books, and the bar is pretty high now for the next one, to be honest I still don’t know how the next one will look like!
Photo by: PAL
The French scene is pretty strong from many different aspects, as a skate destination: Republique in Paris is currently one the world’s hot spot, but also Bordeaux or Lyon are attracting a lot of teams, riders shine on different levels, from contests to nbd’s on the good old american soil, French riders are covering the whole spectrum of skateboarding it seems, and get worldwide recognition for what they do, Aurelien Giraud, Vincent Milou, Flo Mirtain, Robin Bolian, Leo Valls, Vincent Matheron, Victor Pellegrin, Edouard Damestoy… just to name a few are all shining in different aspects of skateboarding which shows that the French scene is pretty solid…we have a bunch of good events too, Red Bull Bowl Rippers being one of them when it comes to transition skating…
You have quite a good video clip presence which always helps to push a brand. Who is behind the lens for you and who does the edits?
I am filming a lot, since the beginning of the brand I’ve tried to have a heavy presence online, the first few years we were putting a clip out every week ! Julien Dellion has been working with us a lot as well and lately Alberto Scattolin (the man behind Thanks Skateboarding mag) has been in charge of filming and editing since he moved to France and now works with me, we’re developing the video production activity within my company Slappy Agency. Alberto edited the Promo Video we just released at Christmas.
Skateboard contests are on the rise again and no one can deny that the Olympics in 2020 are having an effect on many decisions about contest formats. How do you see the development of skateboarding contests, the involvement of large international organizations and how brands are dealing with this situation?
Of course, we’re living an interesting era in skateboarding right now, whether you like it or not, the evolution is here and we’ll have to deal with it, somehow it’s pretty fun to witness to be honest, some riders are really in a tricky situation where they want to keep producing video parts, shoot photos and have fun with their friends but in the same time they really want to try to make it to the Olympics, so it’s all about staying “cool” but at the same time train like an athlete ! I think all in all contests formats are okay right now, maybe a couple things can be adapted here and there but nothing major, there were pretty much as they are today before skateboarding was announced an Olympic sport…the biggest evolution in regards with Olympic qualifictaion is the “open” factor, it can no longer be a “contest/show” with a bunch of selected marketable riders, now you need to qualify and everyone has the opportunity to make it…brands don’t seem to care much about it to be honest, apart from Nike I would say…and Vans just announced that Vans Park Series won’t be part of the qualifying process…
Photo by: Clement Le Gall
After that large question here’s hopefully an easier one – where do you hope to see cOLLAPSe skateboards in the next 5 years and what will happening in 2019?
Let’s reach 10 years of existence first, then we’ll see ! Hopefully we’ll go on tour with the whole team, I’m planning to do a series of boards with a local artist that i like a lot so i’m really looking forward to that and I’ll need to work on the 8th anniversary session concept!
Big thank you to Greg for these insights, make sure you check out the cOLLAPSe sKATEBOARDs website right here.
Want to read more interviews? Check out what Moonshine Skateboards designer Chris Alliston had to say…
Photo by: Alberto Scattolin