Jerry Hsu’s evolution from mainstream pro to proprietor of a small independent quasi skate brand has been awesome to watch, and really speaks to the times that we’re in. If you’re relevant, you don’t really have to skate for anyone these days. Jerry talks no sponsors, plans for Sci-Fi Fantasy, and his new book in an in-depth interview published by GQ this afternoon. We pulled a couple of choice quotes below.
GQ: Why don’t you have any sponsors right now?
Jerry Hsu: I was interested in not being sponsored. I’ve been sponsored all my life, I’ve been a pro skater for like 20 years, since I was 16, so I got kinda burnt. I was riding for Chocolate Skateboards and I didn’t really feel like that was where I belonged, and didn’t want to just sit there and not participate but then get a check, too. So I told them I was done, and they were like, Okay, cool. And I never really tried to get another board sponsor. And then my shoe sponsor just sort of unceremoniously let me go, and I was like, okay. That’s cool. Fine. That was hard because all my income—half by choice and half not by choice—just evaporated. But luckily I had started Sci-Fi already, so it was filling the gap that skating was providing income-wise. And now I’m just free to do all my creative stuff and I don’t need to worry about skating. But I’m still skating. I just have more choices now. I get to do what I want.
What are your feelings about growing and expanding? Any interest in making boards and putting together a team?
I do have plans for Sci-Fi, but at the same time, I like how much freedom there is. I decide when growth happens or doesn’t happen. I like that it’s small and I like that it’s rare. I’m not trying to blow it out, because that’s always been something at companies that really bugs me. Like every company I’ve ever skated for, they answer to this higher corporate power, so there’s just this constant demand from people who only see numbers. All that forced expansion creates an environment and culture where creativity and pushing any kind of limits comes second to the dollar. Which is very annoying to me because my ideas were rejected because of this system. And I don’t have that anymore. I can literally put anything on anything and I can do small numbers. That was another thing that was annoying—I’d say, “Can we just make 50 of these?” and it was like, “No, we have to make 50 billion of em.” I don’t want to do that. I just want to make something that’s special. So I’m kinda cagey to the idea of making Sci-fi this huge thing. I like that it’s personal. But that’s not to say I won’t do more. I have a lot of ideas for the future. It’s just going at its own pace.
For more, head over to GQ to read the entire piece.