Innovative brand Element announces a year-long celebration of a quarter century of doing the good stuff. We spoke with founder Johnny Schillereff...
Innovative brand Element announces a year-long celebration of a quarter century of doing the good stuff. We spoke with founder Johnny Schillereff.
In 1992 skateboarder Johnny Schillereff launched Element. This year, to mark the brand’s 25th anniversary, Johnny is leading a year-long celebration of a very different kind of skate company. Right from the start Johnny created Element with environmental concerns at the heart of the brand’s aesthetic – a worthy attitude that at the time was extremely rare.
The anniversary will include a book release, a ‘Brand Anthem’ video, and a full U.S. tour, as well as a feature-length team video. The latter will comprise incredible unseen archive material alongside cutting edge action that continues to define the team’s ethos. The film, shot on location around the globe, will premiere in Los Angeles in late 2017 before being toured by the Element crew, stopping off in Japan, France, Australia and Brazil.
We caught up with Johnny at the beginning of what is sure to be one of Element’s most memorable years.
Where did the company name and the logo come from?
The word itself points of course to the constituent stuff of the whole universe, so it is deep in meaning and symbolism. There’s a tree at the centre of the logo – but not just because skateboards come from trees! Trees represent enduring strength, eternal life, beauty, wisdom, peace, survival, protection, rebirth, nature. I think of the tree at the centre of our identity as a commitment to environmental stewardship.
The circle surrounding the tree signifies the planet, community and interconnectedness, but also the joining up of dualities like yin and yang, city and forest, urban and woodsman. Wind is the free space in and around the logo; water is the single piece under the tree; fire is the component above the tree and earth is the tree itself. If a company has a spirit then we have to make that clear, because otherwise it’s just a company making product for the sake of making product. With Element, the idea was to make product for the sake of making a difference.
Tell us about what Element means to you.
Element was created to have a lasting positive impression. We’ve developed from an east coast skateboard company born from the streets and inspired by nature, into a universal movement. I have been blessed to have nurtured the company and to have seen it develop beautifully.
We have lived incredible adventures and blazed trails together I could only have dreamed of. I go to work with as much enthusiasm today as I did when we were a start-up. So many dynamic individuals have been with us on the journey and have provided great mentorship and guidance to us all. The company has manifested itself from the ground up through the most inspiring, creative and supportive people I’ve ever known. It’s their unwavering dedication and faith in what we do that has enabled us to make positive impact in the world.
Why do you think skateboarding appeals to so many creative people?
People frown upon skateboarding and skateboarders and attempt to discourage them from doing this amazing thing, this way of being that provides guidance, a creative outlet and endless, fearless dreaming. Youth naturally pushes the boundaries of creativity, innovation and authority – and skateboarding embodies all of that.
Element is comprised of diverse and unique individuals, with a wide spectrum of opinions, beliefs and lifestyles. Some of us drive Ferraris and some of us ride bikes. Some of us are vegans and others are hunters. We listen to punk, reggae, hip hop, folk music and more. What we all have in common is a love of skateboarding and a positive vision for the world. Keep in mind, we are a family – and a family accepts people for who they are.
Skateboarders re-imagine their environment; how has Element re-imagined skateboarding?
I think we have made a difference by thinking less about our accomplishments and more about the present, so that the future will take care of itself. We have been living in the now for the last 25 years, and I reckon that’s the best way to be. I’ve always believed it’s important to live your life the same way you skate; you’ve got to be progressive, you’ve got to stay pure and you’ve got to take creative risks.
However, I also believe you should do all this responsibly, with style, balance and most importantly – you need to have fun while you’re doing it! Whether it is in the act of skateboarding, or in the business of skateboarding, the whole element project was built on leading rather than following, on being inclusive rather than exclusive, and being open enough and fluid enough to embrace change. Those ideals are our deepest roots.
Check out Element’s latest arrivals now.