Originally from Madrid, Kilian Martin is the artistic side of skateboarding the world never knew about. Starting out as a surfer and a gymnast Martin soon found both sports to be helpful in what would become the beginning of his skating career. After reaching 16 Martin began to skate in the street, a year later he discovered freestyle skateboarding. He is now known globally, through the help of Youtube and Channel 4’s Concrete Circus, as one of the world’s rising pro skaters. Focusing on creating breath-taking skate videos and coining a fluid freestyle technique that is both a delight and an awe to watch Martin continues to impress his fans and critics across the globe. With new projects with his current filmmaker (Brett Novak) underway we caught up with him to talk about what is going on in his life.
Hi Kilian, pleasure to be interviewing you! How did you first get into skateboarding?
I was 16 and I had a friend who used to skate once in a while, one day he brought his board and let me give it a try. I thought that skateboarding would improve my surfing skills and balance. Later on, obviously skateboarding started to mean much more to me than that. It was SO FUN, that I kept skipping gymnastics class to go skate.
Who are your current sponsors?
Powell Peralta, Vision Street Wear, Stance Skateshop, Grind Oceanside
You’re originally from Spain, what’s the skating scene like out there compared to the US/UK?
The interest in skateboarding in Spain is growing. Skateboarding is getting a lot more attention compared to years before. They’re building a lot of skateparks and the scene is generally getting bigger. Obviously Barcelona is the best city Spain has to skate, but almost every big city has its skate scene with good skatespots and skaters, but it’s still nothing compared to the US.
Do you see freestyling as an expression of your creativity?
To me skateboarding is an expression of creativity. It’s looking at a street obstacle and being able to feel free to give your ultimate expression of how you feel.
Has surfing and gymnastics helped your skating in any way?
Gymnastics has probably given me the strength and balance for some of the tricks I do. Surfing has helped on my balance also.
How do you feel being compared to other freestylers such as Rodney Mullen and Darryl Grogan?
I don’t like to be compared. Even though some of the tricks [I do] could look similar. We have our own personality, individuality and our own view of what skateboarding is. It’s true that sometimes you get inspired and influenced by someone to do a trick and that shouldn’t be a bad thing. I think gathering my influences has helped me a lot.
Skateboarding is about having fun. It’s not about being the best. It’s about progression. Instead of being frustrated when you compare yourself to others, compete with yourself. That’s the best way to improve.
How did you meet cinematographer Brett Novak and how did he come to direct your films?
I saw Brett’s work online and I loved it. We met randomly at a skate event in Inglewood (California) in 2009, where we talked about doing a video – So we did “Kilian Martin: Freestyle Skateboarding” in 2 days. Our friendship, excitement and love for making videos grew .This guy Novak…just keeps getting better. He pushes me to give my best.
A Skate Illustration is a beautifully shot film, was it important for both of you to make the film artistic? Do you see skating as an art form?
Yes. Our goal is to make a piece of art not just a regular skate video. To me Skateboarding is an art form. There’s a lot of people who tend to treat skateboarding as a regular sport. Skateboarders are athletes. I don’t like my tricks to be measured by points, when I go to skate I go to have fun. You use your skateboard to paint what your mind tells you to paint.
You appeared on a C4 Documentary in August called Concrete Circus has this helped you to gain more attention and popularity over in the UK?
It’s given me a lot of attention in the UK. All in a natural way, since we were just being filmed doing what we do. We got amazing feedback and I’m really happy to hear how this documentary has inspired so many people in the UK, to go out and try to do their thing.
What’s coming up for you in the near future?
I’m moving to California. I have a few projects planned but those projects are waiting for me to get to Cali. I can’t wait to eat one of those delicious “California burritos” after a good day of skating…
Finally, any last words?
I’m having a hard time thinking what to say…because I keep thinking about this trick I really wanna do…