If you haven’t been lucky enough to travel around Europe or just decided to visit Poland, then you probably haven’t heard much about the local skate scene, the spots and the growing number of great skaters that are showing up in this country.
Mateusz Paszkiewicz is the creator/editor/person behind System Skateboarding Magazine, an online magazine built on the flipbook Flash system which is growing ever more in popularity through the imitation of a print magazine on the computer monitor. A lot of energy, sweat and love has obviously been put into this “publication” with a good variety of event reports, photography, interviews and insightful stories about skateboarding in and outside of Poland. Published in both Polish and English (since issue #3), Mateusz has created a platform which offers both eye candy and a good read which isn’t easy to find at one spot.
Luckily for me and Europeskate, Mateusz and I get along quite well and he deserves an introduction to a broader group of people around the world and that’s how this interview came about.
Hi Mateusz! It has taken a while to get this interview together so let’s waste no time. Tell us some of the basics first: how old are you, where do you live / come from and how did you get involved in skateboarding?
Hi my name is Mateusz Paszkiewicz, Iâ€™m 21 years old, I come from Tczew, itâ€™s a city in the north of Poland (near GdaÅ„sk) but now Iâ€™m living in Warsaw.
I started skating when I was 16 years old (quite late).I met a few people who skated at this time in my home town (thanks Karol, Adam, Sebastian) and I decided to try it. What more can I say – I love it.
System Skateboarding Magazine is your baby. What was / is the idea with setting up and running an online skateboard magazine in Poland?
Well the first step was that I started working on a book about Polish skateboarding history. Then I meet a few people from the Polish skateboarding industry, one of them was Tomek Frant, the chief of System Distribution. I started writing articles for his website and after writing three articles, I thought: damn it, it would be great to make an online skateboarding magazine. So I talked about it with Tomek, collected stuff for the first issue and thatâ€™s how our cooperation started. (Big thanks to Tomek)
Thanks to the internet platform I can connect with System Skateboarding Magazine (SSM) to places around the world. If there is someone interested in SSM in Japan, yeah itâ€™s cool, he can read it especially because SSM has two language versions, Polish and English.
The best thing is that I can promote Polish skateboarding, show the world that Poland can also skate and hope to see you at some good spot! I also have a little vision to connect skateboarding from different parts of world. I can show skateboarding from South Africa or from France and the best thing is that I donâ€™t have to count every page because itâ€™s online, but everybody knows that printed magazines promote an atmosphere more like a record. I hope that I can make SSM into a really good magazine and give people a big smile when the new issue is put in the internet.
Are you able to work full-time on the magazine – in other words, can you live off of it?
Yeah, I have been working for a few months only by writing. Itâ€™s not a lot of cash, but the satisfaction is great, creating something, and I know that putting passion and hard work in to it will make SSM better and better. I have a few writing projects in my head but for now Iâ€™m writing for the Tacky.pl website as an editor and in Dizaster (Polish print magazine) as a chief editor. Itâ€™s not a big deal though, especially with living in Warsaw being very expensive, but I canâ€™t imagine any other type of work where I canâ€™t write: itâ€™s my passion.
How would you compare the Polish skateboard scene to other countries in Europe?
Polish skateboarding its growing, but sometimes I think it’s not growing that fast, I mean skateboarding has been in Poland for about 20 years and that’s quite a long time, but sometimes I think that we lose a lot of time. Some people forget why they started skating and everything connected with skateboarding, but I donâ€™t want to point out peopleâ€™s mistakes because Iâ€™m still young and I still have to learn a lot: It’s not an armageddon but I think it could be really better.
And yes, we have a group of trick and style killers, a few good Polish skateboarding companies, people who love skateboarding who help it grow straight from their heart.
It’s hard for me to compare the Polish and European skateboarding scene because I havenâ€™t travelled a lot to skate in other countries (money problem), but by looking at movies and photos I see that Europe is ripping. I hope that Polish skaters soon catch up to the European level.
The magazine (System Skateboarding) has a solid graphical concept behind it – somebody has taken the time to think about how the layout will work with the readers. Who is behind Concepts.pl and how did your collaborative work begin?
The graphic designer is Marcin Zydek, he is the best graphic man I know, I love his stuff. He is helping System Distribution with some graphic possibilities – when I tell Tomek â€œI donâ€™t have any graphicâ€ he says okay lets ask Marcin, and thatâ€™s how it started.
What other media do you use / read / watch to keep up-to-date on a daily basis?
Iâ€™m checking out a lot of different portals (check out the System Skate Mag â€œfriendly linksâ€), but the most popular for me are (Iâ€™m checking them out everyday): Skateboarding.transworld.net, Tacky.pl, Systemskate.pl, Vimo.pl
And print magazines such as: Transworld, Thrasher, Slap, Dizaster, Kingpin,The Skateboard Mag
How do you see the future of skateboarding in Europe?
I think we are living in a good time to travel, the united Europe gives us a lot of options. We can choose a country to visit and there are no visa. Just jump on the train, bus or plane and go skating in new places, make new contacts/friends and learn about other cultures.
I think it is the best time for connections between countries and for building something together, especially to take care of skateboardingâ€™s roots and not making a money machine out of it. Just have the companies try to find a good and true way to lead, still think about skateboarding, like when you were a kid collecting money for new skate gear, remember where are you from, who you were, who you are now.
What is your opinion about the American print magazine SLAP deciding to leave the print area and continue only as an online version?
Hmmmâ€¦ itâ€™s hard to say why they do that, maybe they have problems with their budget or they like the options of an online magazine. For me itâ€™s ok, I hope that more skaters and companies will look more seriously at online magazines. Itâ€™s also hard work and a good source of information, but I will be happy to have the possibility to still read print magazines. The nightmare will start when a lot of skateboarding magazines will choose the online option, as I say paper is paper: you can hold a printed mag in your hands, you can smell it, put it somwhere and find it 20 years later.
But on other side with todayâ€™s technology and efforts with saving the world, online magazines are a great success to help save some trees.
A big thanks to Mateusz for his time and we wish him all the best for the future – I know we will be working hand in hand!
– Read the latest issue of System Skateboarding Magazine, just click here!