Rudy New York is my little labor of love I suppose; it’s my means of giving back to blading. It’s heavily inspired by the likes of Bacemint, The Blackjack Project, Them Skates, Too Easy, The DRC, and many others that are creating great things for skating. But I guess a little back story to give more further insight, I lost my job back in June as a purchasing agent for a plumbing company. It was a job that was a fall back as I never made anything of myself in photography. So it was something I really didn’t want to do, but I was good at. So to fail at something that was a back up, it’s quite the blow. And throughout my years, I’ve let depression and my mind take a toll on me when anything fucked up would ever happen. So, surprisingly, instead of wallowing in my shame, I decided to push myself forward. The theory of working for somebody else again just wasn’t something I was keen on. After the Daniel Ogbogu fundraiser, I was inclined to continue doing these deeds that were bigger than myself, and that is sort of where Rudy came to fruition. I didn’t want it to have my name necessarily, as the initiative for Daniel was a large collaboration and its success was based on everyone’s involvement. The name originally came up as I had been considering going into the plumbing biz as a consultant, but I didn’t think I had the name recognition yet to be successful. I still liked the idea and branding that I had developed; the name was a childhood nickname that I renounced, but upon mulling it over, felt it was fitting. A lot of the time, skating is considered to be childish or whatever. But honestly, as a kid, at least in my opinion, we had so much unrecognized freedom in what we could do. And I feel like when we skate, we sort of get some of that back. So it felt fitting. My intentions with Rudy are pretty simple: support those that inspire me. I want to do more though than just create products, as I do not want this to be seem as just another random hero company trying to fit into an already saturated market. I’ve been thinking and planning a myriad of initiatives such as a donate to skate, fundraisers, collaborations with other companies, and so forth.
Nick Fatato – Acid Drop – Photograph by Ryan Loewy
Why now, and what’s your vision for the next 5 years?
Well, I think if I started this 5 years ago I wouldn’t have the slightest fucking clue of what I was doing or have any cohesive vision for that matter. It took me roughly 10 years to become decent with photography, so, I think I am now more well equipped. I did though have a small clothing company back in the day, Fuzzy Slippers, but that shit fell flat on its face because I had no sense of business, marketing, or good fashion taste, haha. But, I mean, I think also too, because I am involved in producing a lot of editorial work for blading with Be-Mag, that I have the understanding of what looks good and what people are looking for in a company. My goal throughout this whole process has been to be as transparent as possible in my intentions. For the next 5 years, I just want to grow this thing and have it break even. The theory of a profit in this industry is far-fetched. But I would like to ensure that the initiatives I have, such as the donate to skate, or doing a breast cancer fundraiser, sees its fruition.
001 SS Tee – Photographs by Ryan Loewy
Tell us about your background in blading, and who inspired you along the way (in blading, photography, business, life)
My background in blading? Well oh boy. Alright. Well, my momma got me a pair of TRS lightnings back when I was 5 and took me to the roller rink. That’s where I guess it all started. Fast forward to like, 5th or 6th grade when skateboarding and EXTREME sports got big, and I sort of rediscovered rollerblading. I remember thinking about which sport I was going to take on too, like, I knew I couldn’t fucking skateboard for the life of me, and while I liked riding a bike, I felt blades worked best for me. When I started, I didn’t have too many people to skate with, and I actually ended up skating a lot with BMX dudes and what not. My friend, Chris Zeppieri, was the first person I suppose that introduced the idea of documenting a sport. I bought my first video camera from him. And I bought my first point and shoot from my friend Rob Sturgess, who also BMX’d. So I slowly began dipping my feet in that pool if you will. I didn’t really get good at skating at all because I got severely hurt when I first started. Like legit, when I first started, I fucked up my arm pretty bad at a skate park. And then when I was in like, 10th grade, I tried a hand rail and lacerated the inside of my left calf, like, an inch down to the point that you could see the bone. I remember my father coming into the emergency room and seeing it and being like, “you’re never fucking skating again!”, and I was like, ” No! Fuck You! I am skating again!”, and literally the next week I was skating with the homies, staples and all in my leg. And I injured myself again after that, so I never got to a level I wanted. Which is why I believe I turned to photography at some point…because I eventually started Fuzzy Slippers, and I wanted to take pics of the clothes I made. So that’s how I started to get into photography.
Tadd Labozzetta – Hop to Ledge Roll to Top Soul – Photograph by Ryan Loewy
So…Photo Influences right? Okay. Well, I remember buying Daily Breads back in the day. I was fascinated by the Mindgame ads, like I thought and still think Shane Coburn is a fucking genius. And like, of course, Schude and Busta’s photographs were always inspiring. Also Mike Graffigna took this great portrait of a dude lighting a cigarette in front of a gas station pump with the hose on the ground and what looks like gas spilt on the floor. I don’t know why but I have always been drawn to portraiture. So, after not getting into RISD for fashion design, I used photography as a fall back and went to a local school. Haha, do you see a pattern here? So at college, there, well there I met my friend Josh Earley and Melissa Butler, and those two completely changed my perspective of photography. Those are the homies. They’ve shaped me into what I am as a photographer now and without them I wouldn’t be where I am.
Some other photographers that have inspired me a shit ton along the way include Chris Buck, Danny Winters, Bobby Doherty, Greg Miller, Irving Penn, and my bud Christian Delfino. Have you seen Delfino’s work? He’s a fucking ace dude.
002 Line Preview – Photograph courtesy of Rudy New York
In terms of biz, I mean, I don’t know. I have worked since I was 13 and have gotten fucked over by so many people when it comes to money. My first job was working in a deli cleaning up freezers and stocking shelfs for $5 an hour. I remember I worked as an “intern” for a wedding photographer too later on, which was his way of getting free labor out of me. And I interned for an editorial photographer and literally got paid like, I think if I did the math, $4.50 a day. Oh, and then there was working for a photo studio in Long Island City as a studio manager and that asshole paid me $10/hr AND 1099’d me. My favorite one was when this woman hired me to assist, paid me like, not even $100 for the day and then asked me for a 1099. I told her to keep her fucking money.
So I have been stiffed so many times by people, but even though I made shit money, those experiences was where I picked up the bits and pieces of biz knowledge that made me into what I am now. Mainly though, I have honed my chops from working in the plumbing industry. You have to be tough as nails and know when to talk your shit, but you also need to keep it pro. Articulation and thoroughness are key. I always try and be as professional as possible in my candor. Like I say it all the time, and people think I am joking, but I’ll say, ” today I turned pro”, and I mean that shit. I strive every day to be my best and be as pro as possible. I don’t always succeed, I don’t think any of us do, but it’s what keeps me going to be my best I suppose.
Photographs courtesy of Rudy New York
Who’s on the team, and why these individuals?
The team currently consists of Tadd Labozzetta, Mal Ashby, Young Juice, Joey Lunger, and Nick Fatato. Brian Freeman just joined us as well, which is really exciting. There’s also a handful of homies that I plan on bringing on in the future, but I am trying to take baby steps for the time being.
That said, anyone I support, I love them. For the current team, these guys have been homies for a long while and I feel like they’re pushing the sport and, most importantly, they love the sport. They’ll unconditionally support it and I support them for that. I talked to them pretty much every day about what is going on, what my plans on, shit like that. I try to keep them in the loop every hop, skip and jump along the way because I want them to know that I care for their input. Rudy isn’t for me, it’s for everyone.
Malik Ashby – AO Top Soul – Photograph by Ryan Loewy
What’s your take on the current blade business market, and where do you see the growth?
Honestly, I think it’s the best its ever been, and I really attribute that to Jon Julio. Nobody else has done an undertaking the way he did, and he did it so well, that it was incredibly fucking infectious. Look at how many company revivals there have been, new media like Jump Street podcast, and the plethora of content out there is just, it’s hard to digest at times. Like people say blading is dead, or it isn’t as good as it was, or whatever kind of bullshit, and those people are for the fucking birds. They obviously don’t have their eyes open. I know that there have been a lot of shops that closed, a lot of companies have come and gone, but honestly, the presence of blading, the way it is documented and executed, I feel like we are in a fucking renaissance my guy.
Young Juice – Forward Air – Photograph by John O’Donnell
Why is New York so good at producing generation after generation of talent?
Well, New York is the metropolis of the world. We have a handful of transplants that come and shine like the stars when they get here. And like, there’s this theory, and I fucking hate this theory, that if like, you didn’t grow up in New York or weren’t born in New York, that you’re not a New Yorker. And that shit is so not fucking true. Like, let me ask, if you were born in a different country, but then moved to America and lived here for 15-20 years, are you not an American? What kind of shit is that? There are so many talented people that have moved to New York and have made it their own. But I think New York is accessible. It is easy to get around and we have a handful of pro spots and that yields greatness from there.
Be-Mag X Rudy Tee | Photographs courtesy of Rudy New York
Where in the world can your goods be purchased?
mmmph! The 001 line is now available for pre-order on the Big Cartel store, rudynewyork.bigcartel.com. But your boy is working his magic to get Rudy into some skate shops as soon as I possibly can. I’ve written a press kit and done a handful of little PDF packages that I’ve presented to a bunch of shops, it’s just more of winning them over. I think the hardest thing in doing this is building brand identity and trust. Like, why would any one buy something from someone without knowing what the fuck it is that they’re selling and what they’re selling it for? It takes a lot, but I am pretty determined to win. Like I said, every day is a day to turn pro.