CCS Customs X First Thursdays Interviews: Jay Howell
November 05, 2021 - CCS launches the Customs X First Thursdays program with one of our favorite artists: Jay Howell.
Since we first got to know Marbie Miller when she joined the CCS team in 2020 she has been steadily gaining attention and popularity throughout skateboarding. She was featured in Jeff Grosso's final Loveletters episode, she turned pro for There Skateboards, and she was recently asked to create a signature truck and apparel graphic for Krux Trucks. Unfortunately, she also broke her leg... again.
Marbie took time out from making art and rehabbing her leg to talk with us about collages, skate tricks, and her fresh new gear from Krux.
CCS: So you’re in Oakland right now?
Marbie: I am. I’m staying at a friend’s place in Oakland. Just kinda chilling and working on art stuff and rehabbing my leg.
CCS: How did you break your leg?
M: Well, it’s the third time I’ve broken it, actually. I broke it in a new spot, though. I was skating a, like, one and a half foot tall ramp and a trick just snuck up on me and I slipped out of a stall all weird and just kind of sat on my back leg cause my front foot was still on my board. It happened just so quick.
M: So that happened. Luckily it was my fibula, the smaller bone, and apparently it’s a non-weight-bearing bone, so that’s why I was able to walk two days later. It is just a couple inches lower than my knee. It was pretty much set in place so I didn’t have to do surgery or anything. They let me walk on it. I had to walk with one of those post-op knee braces where you can’t really move your knee while you’re walking. Now I’ve been out of that for a few weeks. I guess I have 5 or 6 days left until I can skate since it might not be fully healed but it feels great.
CCS: You’re ready to go.
M: I’ve been training with Carolina out here in the Bay and over Zoom when I’m back in LA. So that’s been super helpful. I actually hopped on my board today and did a couple of kickturn and rolled around and it didn’t feel weird at all. I’m just grateful I didn’t break it where my ankle is. That’s where I’ve broken it in the past. So it’s not a joint issue this time. I can still move my knee and my ankle easily.
CCS: And how long ago did this happen?
M: I guess like 2 months.
CCS: So that’s not too long to be out with a broken leg.
M: No. The first time I broke it and got surgery I was non-weight-bearing for 8 months. So it was that long before I could even start trying to walk. And I wasn’t really even walking until, like, a year after the break. And I didn’t skate for, like, 4 and a half years. So I’m not worried about a couple of months. I can still go watch people skate with getting super bummed out.
CCS: And you don’t really have bad weather seasons where you can’t skate in California. So you’ll be good to get going here.
M: If I was in Madison
CCS: Well, we hope your recovery continues smooth. Did you see that the footage mix you made and we posted on Facebook went viral and got, like, 1.5 million views?
M: That’s so wild.
CCS: Are you feeling that popularity? Are folks starting to recognize you, whether you’re skating or not?
M: Oh for sure. Yeah. I’ve been getting recognized in just random places. It’s kinda nice but it’s kinda weird at the same time. I don’t really want to be famous, if that makes sense. Like, I don’t want to be on a billboard or anything. But it does feel good to be able to skate for a living and that’s part of that.
CCS: Are people trying to take selfies with you?
M: I feel like I’m more awkward and shy than they are in that case. But that’s definitely happened. I was skating this spot and this person drove around the block to come see me. And I was really pissed off trying to film a trick. So I had to pretend I wasn’t upset for a second with them.
CCS: That’s gotta be tough to instantly switch it up so a fan doesn’t think that is how you are towards them. You know?
M: Haha. I know. That would be the worst. If I was losing my mind trying a trick forever and just took it out on a fan.
CCS: Maybe the break can actually help with the trick. Like a reset. We talked with
M: For sure. That reset can be so important. I’m just so stubborn that I hit there too late sometimes when I’m trying a trick. Definitely when you start getting emotional you should check it and stop for a bit. It gets to the point where it’s not even about this trick not working out, it’s about all these things in my life aren’t working out. Then it’s time to stop.
CCS: Or maybe just doing an easy trick you know you can land to break the pattern of failure.
M: Switching it up with a different trick definitely helps. Just moving your body in a different way.
CCS: Let’s talk about some of your more tech-combo tricks. How much thought and planning goes into those kinds of tricks? Do you think of those in advance and contemplate what you can string together or is it a little more spontaneous than that?
M: It’s a little bit of both. I’ll learn a new stall and then I’ll already have 30 different stalls and variations to work from. I think of it like, I learned back smith to front pivot. And then I’ve had front pivot to shove fakie. So maybe I can combine those two. Sometimes it just happens when I’m skating, but then if I learn something new I’ll try to think of a way to toy with it. Sometimes it clicks.
CCS: Is it ever a pain to explain these tricks and you’re just stringing together names of tricks? This to that to that to that and you’re getting four or five tricks deep in a combo…
M: It can be easier just to show people. That’s funny because sometimes when I’m trying things, like when I was trying the noseslide shove noseslide bigspin I kept saying that to myself every time I was trying the trick. Like, “Noseslide. Shove. Noseslide.” Like, just repeating to myself what I’m doing so I can remember. Cause I’ve gotten into stalls perfectly and totally forgotten what the next thing I was gonna do.
CCS: Once your brain has enough space to think about what’s next, it’s over.
M: Yeah, there’s too much break.
CCS: So, let’s talk about this Krux collaboration. How did you end up with your own capsule of apparel with them?
M: I got asked if I’d be down to do a pro truck, which was so crazy. I never thought I’d be doing a pro truck. They wanted me to design it, and I’d already been posting a ton of my art and they told me, “That’d be super cool.” Which was weird as I made that, like, character to fit on the side of the truck. It was so much harder than making a shirt or something. Like, how do you put a graphic on a truck?
CCS: And Krux trucks have that hole in the hanger, too.
M: Yeah. So the center space is gone! So what do you even do? So I looked up past trucks and then tried to fit that triangle shaped area and mirror it. And they were really stoked on the graphics and asked if it was cool to put it on shirts. And that’s how that all happened. Luckily, Jason cleaned it up a little bit and put a drop shadow on it to make it fit better on some stuff. So I’m super pumped they wanted to make a collection. And they just recently asked me about making another shirt design. So I got that coming up too!
CCS: And the truck is still coming a few more weeks down the road?
M: Oh yeah. Covid set it back so much with production delays. But it’s coming.
CCS: So is the artwork for Krux from a paper collage?
M: Yeah. That’s pretty much how I do all my art now. I used to paint a lot, but now they’re all paper cut-out collages. I started doing that when I worked at a copy shop for a couple years before I moved to Madison. There was just so much down time and a ton of paper so I just started cutting up shapes. And then I picked it up more in the last couple of years.
CCS: Do you make artwork in other mediums?
M: Right now it’s just the paper. I used to paint every day. And I still make little songs on my keyboard. But with the collages, I have just gotten in such a rhythm and I finally like what I am doing most of the time. With painting and other mediums it was harder for me to like what I was doing.
CCS: What do you listen to while you are making artwork?
M: I love listening to music, but I usually just do it when I’m walking or if I’m eating breakfast in the morning. But, for some reason when making art I don’t have any music going. Which is kind of weird to learn that I like it like that. It almost feels like a distraction.
CCS: That’s interesting. So if someone was interested in getting some original artwork from you, how would they go about that?
M: I do prints every now and then. I’ll be having one coming out soon with Unity Press. Hopefully there are still some up when this interview comes out <note: it already sold out>. People can just follow me on Instagram cause every now and then I’ll have pieces in shows and you can contact the gallery. And I might be having a solo show in the future. So just follow me and see if I have anything, but I usually don’t try to sell work just through DMs and stuff. I like coming out with prints and I would like to do that a lot more. It’s too much for me to run it as a business. It’s nice to do a print with Unity since Jeff and Gabe take care of it and ship the orders.
CCS: So, I see footage of you skating the curbs at Rockridge BART. Do you know about the suit of armor sword fighting that happens there?
M: Like, LARPing?
CCS: Yeah, I’m not sure if it still happens but it used to go down every Thursday night. Like, since that station first opened in the 1970s. People in full suits of armor doing staged combat. It’s a trip to skate there and the next space over swords are clashing like Medieval Times.
M: Oh wow.
CCS: Yeah. Check ‘em out.
M: Well, that is just a great spot to learn new slappies. And it is so easy to just spend all day there. There so much food nearby that you can just hang out the entire day. We always joke about being stuck at Rockridge. If we wanna go out filming but we start at Rockridge we just stay the whole day.
CCS: Any shout outs?
M: Um. I’m trying to think. Shout out to all my friends and family and sponsors. That isn’t very specific.