Lori Damiano has been skateboarding and making stuff for so long that I can’t even remember when or where I was first introduced to her work. Somewhere among her involvement in the zine Villa Villa Cola, her animation (she did the menus for the Spike Jones DVD, for one example), and skateboarding like a madwoman, she recently earned a master’s degree in experimental animation from The California Institute of the Arts and helped VVC get the Getting Nowhere Faster DVD out.
Lori D. is, as friend and Crownfarmer proprietor Bob Kronbauer describes it, working on many projects that will blow your socks off: “Seriously. One sock’ll be bouncin’ off the wall and you’ll be going over to grab it to put it back on and then the other one’ll be flyin’ off hittin’ the opposing wall before you even know it.”
Roy Christopher: For the uninitiated, tell us about Villa Villa Cola.
Lori Damiano: Villa Villa Cola is an ongoing collective of female skateboarders who have been skating, making zines, films and videos together since 1996. There is not much representation of women’s/girls’ skateboarding out there, and when there is, it is often in a solely commercial sense and without much authenticity. It has been our intention to try and document the skateboarders we know so there would be an authentic representation of the creative and dynamic skateboarders of the world of the male and especially the female variety.
RC: ...And how about the recent VVC DVD, Getting Nowhere Faster?
LD: Last February we released our most recent project Getting Nowhere Faster presented by Element Skateboards. It’s sponsored by Etnies, SG, Peta2.com, with a lot of help from Antisocial Skateboard Shop (Vancouver BC). The skill level in female skateboarding has escalated so quick, even some of the girls’ own sponsors were blown away by the footage from the video (shot by Lisa Whitaker). For all of us, our involvement with skateboarding made an enormous difference in our lives. As young women, it opened up a lot of opportunities for us, and helped us to reject a lot of the unrealistic social expectations and pressures of what girls/women should and shouldn’t do with their lives. Because we had developed a community with other people all over the country and the world through skateboarding, we had an incredible support group of inspiring and creative individuals. I think that is an enormously valuable and rare priveledge to have this kind of global family, especially at such a young age. We wanted to make a legitamate video with wide distribution that would feature as many of the top female skateboarders as we could find so that people would realize the level at which young women were skating these days. Also, we hope to provide representation of the kinds of creative and independent personalities whose lives become fused with skateboarding. Hopefully the video will reach beyond just skateboarders and also inspire other people to get involved with skateboarding or some other creative venture.
RC: You hold a master’s degree in “experimental animation.” What exactly does that mean?
LD: There is a traditional method of storytelling, imagemaking, and filmmaking within commercial animation. I studied animation at CalArts in a program called Experimental Animation. In that program we were encouraged to explore the limitlessness of the medium rather than the limitations of the conventions that have been established in animation’s relatively short history. Although experimental animators often utilize many of the techniques of traditional animation, they are much less constrained by the classical conventions. Some people have explained experimental animation as a time-based ‘fine-art’. Here is a quote I found from The Technique of Film Animation (Focal Press) By John Halas and Roger Manvell, 1959: “In a medium as free and as flexible as the drawn film, the field for experiment is endless, and it is through keeping alive this sense of experiment that animation could avoid some of the stereotyped repetitions of established forms of design and technique to which it is so often subject.”
RC: I’ve found initiation into skateboard culture to be a conduit to all kinds of good things (e.g., music, art, people, etc.). How’d you get into skateboarding and art in the first place?
LD: I overheard someone at a family reunion when I was 8 years old. They were saying that their daughter had this skateboarder friend who was impressively creative. She said that he would always make things and give them as gifts. That was the best thing I’d ever heard of. So I always had skateboarding and artmaking interwoven in my mind. I wanted to be that kind of person (who made things for other people), and subconsciously I think that I had decided the first step to take would be to start skating. I didn’t start until I was 16 though. Somewhere along the way I had figured that it wasn’t for me since I was a girl and I had never seen any girls skateboarding. When I was 16 me and my best friend decided to start skating.
RC: Anything coming up that you’d like to mention here?
LD: There is a really neat show coming up called The Zine UnBound: Kults, Werewolves and Sarcastic Hippies: “This show celebrates the creative and political spirit of independent publishing, showcasing independently produced artists’ publications as a model of collaborative activity as well as an alternative exhibition space.” It as at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in SF from Oct 7–Dec 30, 2005. I will be showing some animation there.
[Photo by Bob Kronbauer]