Skip to content
Blog

In Conversation with Graham Tait of North Skateboard Magazine

Launched in 2011 by Graham Tait, North Skateboard Magazine is a free digital and print publication based in Edinburgh. Released quarterly, each issue captures the best in analogue photography from both Tait and a variety of welcomed contributors.  A rich passion and love for skateboarding, combined with the beauty of film photography in each issue highlights a combination of talents, both in the UK and internationally, whilst high quality cut and sew apparel acts as an extension of the magazine as well as camera bags that encourage individual exploration.   

Having just released the 21st ‘New York & Philadelphia Issue’ we got in touch with Graham to learn more about how each issue comes to life and the energy of the Scottish skate community. As well as some high quality imagery we’ve also been treated to a behind the scenes film made especially for Flatspot (see below) - big thanks to Graham and the team! 

 

Flatspot: Nice job on issue 21! Can you tell us a bit about the creative process behind each edition? The quality is always super high and it’s great that it’s remained free to read both in print and digitally. 

Graham: Thanks for the feedback! I usually start the year on the back foot as the winters in Scotland can be pretty miserable, haha! I try to plan a few issues ahead with skaters and photographers I'd like to shoot and feature throughout the year. This is always kept quite loose and flexible though as I've found out over the years that you need to be able to adapt to situations that are out of your control - skaters getting hurt for example when you're trying to finish up an interview is always the worst!  

 

"Every single time I drop film off at the lab I'm terrified that I've messed something up, but nothing can beat [...] seeing that you nailed it. Let's not talk about the times you don't....."

 

Flatspot: What keeps your attention when it comes to analogue methods of photography and documentation? We’re glad to see that print is just about surviving in such a digitally driven time and it feels as though there’s a resurge for demand of traditional methods. 

Graham: With analogue photography you never know what you're going to get, that's what keeps my attention! Every single time I drop film off at the lab I'm terrified that I've messed something up, but nothing can beat that feeling of looking at your sheet of slides and seeing that you nailed it. Let's not talk about the times you don't.....

It's funny that you should say that, I think there are actually more print magazines now than there has ever been, especially in the UK!

 

Flatspot: Nice! It’s good to hear the UK scene is thriving - how’s the journey been since releasing the first issue seven years ago? What to you, is the biggest change and challenge you’ve experienced? 

Graham: It was a slow start in the beginning to be honest as I didn't have any experience in making any kind of magazine or publication. I didn't really know what I was doing or what people might be expecting from a new magazine so it took me a while to figure out how I wanted it to look… not sure if I've completely figured it out yet though (laughs).

The biggest change I've experienced was taking the magazine from two issues a year to four. I make the whole magazine myself - I shoot photos, sort all the advertising, do the layout and design, so doubling up my workload was definitely a challenge. Neil Macdonald has been been helping me out with interviews now which helps a lot, you might know him as @scienceversuslife on Instagram? Cheers Neil! 

 

"This is another thing I knew nothing about [...] I've always worn baseball caps, so that was the first thing I wanted to make 'properly' and by properly I mean not off the shelf blanks."

 

Flatspot: Ah yeah we follow Neil he’s got a strong collection of images saved, very nostalgic! And you feature a broad mix of both your own work and contributors who capture international skaters and locations, do you find it an organic process with some nice surprises?

Graham: It's mostly organic to be honest. With most photographers shooting digitally I sometimes think it will be hard to get enough contributors for the Film Gallery but we've managed so far. I have some amazing photographers sending me photos regularly so thanks to you guys for the support!

 

Flatspot: What led you into producing apparel? Did you hope to work on clothing at some point, alongside photography?

Graham: This is another thing I knew nothing about. I've been working in retail most of my life but never 'behind the scenes' I guess you'd call it. I started off with making two designs of t-shirts, then introducing some hoodies then jackets, caps and bags. It's just naturally progressed I guess. I've always worn baseball caps, so that was the first thing I wanted to make 'properly' and by properly I mean not off the shelf blanks. I want to offer people something a little different, it's not like I'm making anything crazy but I'd like people to know that a lot of time and effort goes into the caps and our camera bags and that they're all made from scratch! Our new hoodies are now too, I'm very proud of the North cut & sew pieces.

 

"Bristo Square was amazing! There would always be someone there you could skate with, buy an old board from, or just shoot the shit with."

 

Flatspot: Tell us a bit about the Edinburgh skate community, have you always lived here? Are there any locations or future plans currently pulling your attention?

Graham: I'm actually from Livingston which surprises a lot of people. I moved to Edinburgh when I was 21 but had been going through regularly from about the age of 15. Livingston Skate Park is amazing but that place is really gnarly! I always preferred street skating and those types of tricks seemed more attainable to me, so I gravitated more towards a city. Bristo Square was amazing! There would always be someone there you could skate with, buy an old board from, or just shoot the shit with. Unfortunately it was refurbished by the university a couple of years back and it's not very skate friendly. I think most major cities have experienced this by now in some form - if people could only see the value of such places for kids growing up, it's priceless and can change lives. 

Despite Bristo Square not being there anymore, the scene is still very strong. Focus Skate Store does a lot for the Edinburgh skate community and the Scottish scene in general. I ran Focus for over ten years so I've seen a lot of really rad things. Kieron who worked with me in the shop for a number of years has just started a company called Garden. The first run of boards has just dropped and they're amazing! Moments like that make me really proud to have such a tight scene and to be a part of something great.

I've been shooting down in London a lot more which has been nice. I'd love to get over to California, maybe one day…

 

Flatspot: We’re glad to hear the scene is still going strong a few years after Bristo Square was lost, which is no doubt thanks to the community and individuals working hard to make sure it thrives after big changes. Nice to hear you mention Kieron, we’re catching up with him soon to talk about Garden!

Cheers for your time Graham, congrats again on the latest issue and we’ll catch you soon. 


Video courtesy of Zander Ritchie @netvisuals@northskatemag

Shop North Skateboard Magazine at Flatspot.

By entering your email, your are agreeing to Flatspot's Privacy Policy