The art to getting in your garage by river bennett

River Bennett

A couple of weeks ago I sat down to watch a documentary about skateboarding. 

I didn't realise until later what a significant impact it would have on my work process. 

It was the story of Stacey Peralta, a pro skateboarder who was looking to create a team of young skateboarders. He scouted skate comps and skate parks not just in search of great skaters but kids who had a real genuine passion. 

During one of the competitions he watched a young skater take a fall. He watched the shattered heartbroken reaction of the kid who knew he could have landed it better. He knew in that moment he had found a boy with a passion for his craft and quickly asked him to be part of the team.

The young skateboarder's name was Tony Hawk.

He also found a kid by the name of Rodney Mullen who was known to be a bit of a loner. His teachers had tried on numerous occasions to help him, assuming he had autism.  

Rodney opened up on the documentary about how he always felt on the outside, a misfit. He was the boy who lived on a farm outside town and the nearest neighbour to their home was two miles away. 

His Dad had built him a garage on a concrete slab and that is where he spent his time obsessing over skateboard tricks. (This is the guy who later would be recognized for inventing tricks such as the flat ground ollie', 'kickflip', i'mpossible' and '360-flip')

You see, at the time all the other skaters spent their time in empty pools using speed and jumps as their language for skateboarding, and yet all Rodney had  was a slab of concrete and an obsession to push himself beyond what even he thought possible.

During his time in the garage he would look at his board and find new ways to ride it. It wasn't just about riding it flat, he wanted to master riding it on it's side and kicking it up to angles and snapping it back. He discovered the board could be used in hundreds of way. He spent hours mastering it. Obsessing over new tricks in isolation. 

Little did he know at the time that he was actually producing a new language for other skaters, who may also have felt like misfits, for generations to come. 

He talked about how he loves to watch young skaters learn his tricks, which are basic skateboard tricks today. Then they go off to their “isolation” and put their flavor to it, and bring it back to the community from where they learnt it. And the cycle then continues as their input produces another way of looking at things and in turn allowing the community to find space for others.

I couldn't help but think about us as artists, creators, inventors.

Maybe you have at times felt displaced, I mean haven’t we all felt misunderstood at some time or another?

Maybe all you have is a garage on a concrete slab while everyone else is skating in empty pools.

If there is any encouragement in this story, know that you are the right person to use your craft as you obsess over it in your garage. As you work hard, allow your passion to drive you, as you start to find another way to look at it your “skateboard”.  

As you share your art, allow it to become a new language for other misfits to relate to, and find their place in. Maybe your investment is worth your while. 

But remember as artists, creators and inventors we have a responsibility to give back to the community from which we learnt our basic tricks. As you create new language I hope you invest it back into the lives of others. There are other misfits, others artists, other creators who need you. This language you have created was never meant for just you. 

What is the thing you obsess over? What is your “garage”?  How can you look at your “skateboard” with new eyes and see potential? How will you create a new language for future generations?

Cheering you on always,


River XO


To watch more on Rodney Mullen story head to: