STEVIE WONDROUS: THE GOURLAY INTERVIEW
01 August 2011 • 1450 Views
Balanced perspectives come from those who have viewed various worlds from multiple angles. Yes, Steve Gourlay is obviously one of the country’s photography elites. Alternately, he can be a tradesman. He also rips on skateboard with a Blender-esque bag of goodness. He was actually the first Australian on Powell (yep back when the Bones Brigade was in full effect). He can easily get greasy repairing his 4wd whom he fondly calls Troopy. He is a loving husband and dedicated pet owner. He’s been visiting and documenting urban nooks and crannies globally for over two decades. All his varied vocations and locations have made him the well-rounded ruler that he is. It really is quite wondrous when talent, grace and modesty go hand in hand: hats of to you Stevie. – MC
All photos by Steve Gourlay (except where noted). Click on any Gourlay shot to view it in a larger size.
MC: If you were to liken your self to a particular camera which would you be? (feel free to explain broken bits, lenses etc)?
SG: Broken bits, what do you mean you bastard? I think I’m very much like my 1971 Canon F1. As the service report states: “A good solid unit with some heavy internal and external wear, wrinkles on the leather case and is suffering some painful corrosion of the moving parts, but can still get the job done – if required. Constant replacement of parts will be necessary. Light meter requires regular new batteries. *Take note: It often will have problems winding on but generally functioning ok – keep well lubricated.
Year started living?
Year started skating?
1978: I still have a Skateboarder Mag from 78. My sister and I learnt to skate at the same time on Grentecs and Mustangs.
Year started shooting?
1987 was the first time I remember purposely carrying a camera, it was surf trip to Yorks Peninsular.
What made you gravitate towards shooting photos?
Wanting to have shots of all the skate spots we used to shred. At the time I wasn’t aware that skate photography could ever exist: It was just in the mags. When I fucked my ankle I started to take it seriously; I spent a lot of time learning from a mate and it just evolved from there.
Before pursuing photography you originally had a trade is that right?
Yeah, I was a plumber. I helped a mate out a few weeks ago one weekend who’s a plumber, some may know him as Scotty G. He had his arse crack hangin’ out his dacks all day and I busted up concrete and dug lots of holes. I was stuffed for days after that, my bitch mitts were all calloused and blistered, my back was fucked; but it was good hard work.
What advantages are there to having seen both sides of the fence: i.e. labour/trade and artist/creative?
One of the few good things that came out of my apprenticeship was learning how to work fuck’n hard and fast. The downside of this is that I wasn’t taught attention to detail so I’ve spent most of my life re-training myself as a photographer to be very particular and to not cut corners like I was made to when I was a young ‘un.
Have any or your relatives been into creative avenues such as painting or photography?
Yeah my old man influenced me when I was young as he always shot cool photos on family trips etc, my sister is a very skilled art and craft self taught teacher/artist and my mum has recently discovered an amazing skill as a painter. The funny thing about Trish G is she had no idea she could paint up until about ten years ago and is now exhibiting and selling work. Very proud of Mumsy.
Where are you currently working?
I have a studio in Collingwood, Melbourne were all the fuk’n hairy fixie hippies are. I’m pretty lucky as my friends who love ping pong are thru a hole in the wall so we have some good times in there. Did I mention the beer fridge?
You stoked on the set up there?
Yeah for sure man it’s amazing, I feel very lucky to be there. We’ve all put in some hard yards to make it happen, so its really cool to be able to walk into work each day and be super excited. I’ve still got lots of construction to do but that will come in good time.
What are the top five (or ten) most random locations that skateboarding/photography have taken you?
Crikey good question! Skating in Arnemland, Northern Territory was weird and interesting. Sao Paulo Brazil was purely insane. Seoul, South Korea was fun as hell. Lance Mountains house early 90’s: nuts. Vina Del Mar, Chile. Pot Hole: the most amazing session. Europe has always been an eye opener and a pleasure. I have been fortunate to travel, but fuck, I don’t think you need to actually travel far from your own home to have some random stories to tell.
You seem to have taken all the semi-recent technological and communication changes completely in your stride. Have you found it at all difficult to adapt to digital photography and the emphasis placed on web?
Not so much difficult but more me being personally open to understand what it all means in the scheme of things. Digital photography and early web-based media was a tough concept to fully accept as no one really new what they where doing so there was a lot of trial and error involved. I shot film for fifteen years before digital came along so it was such a different concept. Since DSLR’s started to get decent sensors and programs matched the gear, digital work has become just amazing to use all round. Film for me is still good times though. What I find interesting now is the aspect of social media and how it’s taken over so damn quickly, it seems so normal now. It definitely took me awhile to get onboard FB and Twitter and I still often question the benefits for me as a professional. Personally it’s cool to keep in touch with people but I just wonder where it will lead us? Sometimes I feel weird updating posts from my Blob on BookFace… For me all this stuff is just another rad tool in your toolbox, but how you apply it to make it work for you is the key.
Got any projects on the boil that you can tell us about?
Yeah well one thing is finally a new skate website is on the boil, which I’m really stoked about. A few months ago I launched an online folio, which is mainly the day-to-day work side of things I do in commercial world. So I really need to stop procrastinating and decide what I want design-wise to get this thing off the ground. Content-wise it will be all sorts of old and never seen shizz with sprinklings of other things.
Did u ever imagine that Australian skateboarding or (skateboarding in general) would progress to the level it has?
Yeah sure I have never thought some force is going to put a lid on skateboarding’s progression, its weird though over the last few decades when things go ‘quiet’ in the industry you do have thoughts of what the hell is next. Skaters are of course, a resourceful bunch so inevitably these quieter times are often when crew think laterally or a few young guys come thru with a totally fresh take on what skateboarding is to them and a new level evolves that is just amazing. Its funny how these young guys see the current hardest tricks and think they are ‘normal’ tricks so they then progress from there, I guess nothing’s changed in that respect really.
Next Aussie to burn bright on an international level?
There are too many rad kids now Morgs, it’s all a matter of if they want it.