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Mark Suciu – Learning German and looking at Spots

This article started when photographer Sem Rubio sent us pictures of Mark that he shot in the Spanish town of Vigo. Great photos, but only two, so we thought to just do a little story with them. Then, however, it turned out that Mark was coming to Stuttgart right before our deadline. He wanted to go to Berlin for a Beirut concert (their first gig in years) and then go skiing in Switzerland. On the way, it fit perfectly to go filming with Torsten Frank. Sem planned to take photos too, but unfortunately, he broke two ribs shortly beforehand and had to cancel, so Daniel Wagner stepped in. Then Mark arrived in Stuttgart with a fever and February brought rain… but in the end, it worked out. A bit like one of Mark’s favorite quotes from a book by Robert Hass where he quotes Somerset Maugham, “A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn't feel like it.”

Your last Solo interview was in September 2019, shortly before Verso was released. What has happened since then?

Oh, so much. Verso was the end of a two-year period where I was just trying to really come back as a skater from having spent four years at school and not paying attention to skating. Then I filmed for two years and after I put out Verso, I felt like I was back on track, where I was in 2013 when I just turned pro. For me, 2019 and 2013 were kind of similar years. I felt like I was just really on it, like they were amazing years of my life. And then with Verso there was the whole SOTY thing. It was more concrete than I had ever imagined. I thought this thing only happens to people like Tony Trujillo and Chris Cole, and all of a sudden, Thrasher hit me up, telling me that I can be a contender – so all of a sudden, I knew that I could be SOTY. And when I didn’t get it, I still knew that I could be. People then asked me if I wanted to try again, and I was like, “No way. That’s too much pressure.” You have to put in a lot of work on building up a foundation of footage, but that’s exactly what I ended up doing. I just didn’t really know it. I was definitely trying not to think about going for SOTY again. And then I just had this idea for a project, which was Flora 3. From there on, I knew what I was working on. I wanted to make a long part with only handrails, where all the tricks bleed into each other. Like, they either mirror each other or they reverse each other, or they continue – all kind of choreographed. From mid-2020 into late 2021, I was just trying to learn tricks on flat bars and then tried to find rails all over the US to do them on. And then while I was doing that, Thrasher hit me up again. I was like, “What? I haven’t even been having a good year and I really want to work on this video for a year or two more.” Then I was talking with a bunch of guys at adidas and they were really getting behind me, like, “What do you need to finish these parts? Just go for it, dude. You got this.” – so that was the whole SOTY thing. And then afterwards, I hit a big chill period. Then lately, in the last year or so, I’ve been collecting clips and making life moves to skate more. Now I’m feeling it come back and here I am in Stuggi trying to just collect clips for a new project. I have a good amount of footage, but it’s not telling me what it is so far.

"Lem was definitely one of my favorite skaters. I just love that era when he got on adidas. I thought he had the chillest style."

You’re not just collecting good footy, you always need a concept?

In the 2013 era, I was just putting out footage and Cross Continental was me and my friend Miguel Valle just trying to replicate what we liked. After that, I got on adidas and RVCA and Habitat fully put me on. I thought, “I have all these obligations with all these brands. I don’t think I’m ever going to have the opportunity again to do it all by myself” but then I did realize there’s room to work with that. Verso was me telling my sponsors I’m working on this project, and full lengths weren’t really that much of a thing anymore. You could kind of do what you wanted to. If a sponsor needs to put out something of me, I’ll just look through my footage to see what I don’t need for my project and can give it away. When it comes to working on something that I’m allowed to do whatever I want with, then I really want – even if it’s not a concept – to have a good idea of what I’m working on. For example, showcasing the time when I skated a lot of handrails. It’s like a reminder almost. I like it when it documents a time in my life, even if it doesn't show that to the viewer.

Mark Suciu Rock N Roll Daniel Wagner Stuttgart

Rock ’n’ Roll | Photo: Daniel Wagner

Do you prefer to film on your own as well or do you also like to sit in the van?

Back then, I did find it a little bit difficult to be on everyone’s schedule and not be able to do exactly what you want, but then it kind of brings you all together more and you’ll end up bonding. Trips are always so fun. Adidas, I miss those trips so much, but I think I do my best skating when I have a little bit of focus.

If you're going somewhere, is it because you’re also interested in the city or is it, like you mentioned, because you’re looking for the right spots?

Normally, I travel because I’m working on a project like Verso. I knew I wanted to film at home and then I wanted the rest of it to be all over the world. I wanted to skate Milano Centrale and I wanted to go back to Madrid and get that trick. Normally, I have a really specific idea and then I plan the trips, and I always pick places that I love. It’s got to be a good mix of spots and amazing culture. I really want to go to Ireland, but I don’t think there are many spots there.

You had a line in Lenz III. How did that happen?

That was because of Brandon Nguyen in 2018, April. He knows some people there and we stayed in Tokyo and Osaka, and he was meeting up with Masa [Yoshimoto Masahiro] and one night, Shingo, the filmer, joined. I remember being so stoked on that line, and then years go by and I’m still thinking about when it’ll come out. It took them so long to make that video, and it was so good! It fully lived up to it.


Drop In | Photo: Sem Rubio

I wanted to ask about the skiing, because I was surprised you’re not snowboarding.

I snowboarded for 14 years. As a skateboarder, I got pretty good at snowboarding but didn’t want to progress because I knew I could eat shit really easily. I didn’t know how to fall, I didn’t have snowboarder friends to learn things from, and it just felt too similar to skateboarding to be really exciting. I also really love just being on the mountain and exploring it and seeing the views and cruising through the trees. Skiing seemed way easier for that. I also think snowboarding isn’t as stylish as skateboarding because you’re stuck on your board and you don’t get to move your body as much as a skateboarder can, especially your knees are always at the same angle. Skiing isn’t trying to be anything. It’s just what you do when you go to the mountain. When I was 20, my mom taught me skiing and then I didn’t go for six years. Then during the pandemic, I went to Vermont and I just had the best time. Just going up to the mountain, cruising around, and being in beautiful nature. I was just so happy. And all of a sudden, I started doing tricks and now I’m really trying to learn how to 360.

The other stop on this trip was the Beirut concert in Berlin to meet the singer Zach Condon. How did the connection come together?

I used a song of his in Cross Continental and there were two of his songs in Verso. Two years later when I had my shoe colorway part, he just reached out over Instagram and said that he likes it and that it reminded him of growing up, going to San Francisco to skate and thanked me for using his songs in my parts, so he can be a part of skate history. He said, “If I’m ever in Berlin, it would be fun to meet.” I was like, “Holy shit, my dreams are coming true!” A couple months later, Thrasher asked me to interview him for the SOTY trip issue. We just had the best conversation and I sent him some shoes and he sent me some records and then I met him in Berlin. That was summer ‘22 and we really hit it off, met up twice, and talked for hours. He was showing me all of his instruments and we were talking about skating. He said he was a Zero kind of skater. Now, when I heard that he was playing that show after a long time of not performing, I definitely had to go. I landed in Berlin in the morning and went to the show with my friend Henrik Biemer at night. Afterwards, the band asked me to come with them to the hotel for some drinks. I felt so fucking lucky, I just talked to everybody, and they were all so cool.


50-50 landing on curb | Photo: Sem Rubio

You’re known for reading a lot, but your @nightsofreading account hasn’t been updated that much lately. Do you read less than you used to?

I was definitely reading more when I started that. I was just coming out of a literature program and was trying so hard to keep that up while knowing nobody’s telling me to read a certain book. @nightsofreading was a good way for me to make it feel like there was another reason in my life to read all the time. Now I read a book every week, but back then, it was definitely at least two a week. After two years of doing the account, I didn't really know who I was doing it for, because I kept getting interactions from people that I just didn't really want to have. I love having conversations with strangers, but on the Internet, it’s just not for me. People would ask me really specific stuff about the books, and I would just let it pass by and not respond, because I’m doing this for me. However, it didn’t feel like I was doing it really for myself anymore, so I stopped it for a while. Two years later, I wanted to do it again but slightly differently. Now I try to take photos of all the little things that really meant something to me in the book and find a quote that I really love, so that I remember that book and then there’s no confusion who I did it for. I definitely did it for me.

My problem with reading recently is that Netflix got me.

Oh, for sure. It’s all about the rhythms of your life, too. It can be really hard to make time to read. I just moved in with my girlfriend six months ago, and we’re still setting up our routines. Neither of us has lived with a partner before, so it’s like, “What feels good, what doesn’t?” Sometimes I need more time to read, so I will watch Netflix and then I’m just like, “I need to read!”

"I thought winning SOTY would make me chill out, but no, I just want to put out another video part."

Did you bring books on the trip?

I brought a ton of books. Right now, I’m just reading poetry. My brother and his girlfriend are really good at collecting information and presenting it. In the past, they’ve made these collections of books on a certain topic that they’ve given to me and my family. Like, they xeroxed a bunch of articles for us to read about Los Angeles when we took a trip there, to get excited about food, to get excited about the lights on the street and stuff like that. I asked them to do a collection of books for me. They gave me 15 books and I’ve read through maybe five of them so far.

Are you keeping the books after you read them?

Yeah, I have a lot of books and my girlfriend has a lot, too. I like to collect them only because I feel like my thoughts are caught in books. I like to be able to go back and remember who I was when I was maybe like 20 when I started drinking and I didn’t want to become a drinker. And then I really loved it when I started drinking and I definitely went in super hard, like all of us do. There was this kind of disconnect between my personalities, the one in the past and the one at that moment. I feel like if that ever were to happen to me on a larger scale or even in a small way, I can go back into these books and I can kind of find a little bit more moral clarity cause I reacted to that character or that story in a certain way and it meant so much to me at that point, and now it doesn’t. What changed?

Mark Suciu Bs Noseblunt Stuttgart Daniel Wagner

Backside Nosebluntslide | Photo: Daniel Wagner

How do you experience a new city when you go on a trip?

I’ve kind of been in two eras of my life. One was when I didn’t really know about skating and first started to travel, and the second one is now, where I know exactly what skateboarding is and what I’m trying to do. Traveling is always super fun for me, but I put skating first and I’m not trying to use skating to see the world. I did that at first, and it was frustrating because when you’re on a trip, you don’t get to do that much besides hanging out with the team in the van and going to a plaza. I remember asking Jascha Muller if I can go to the museum. And he was like, “I’ll pay for your entry if you do this trick in ten minutes.” It was that crooked in Madrid right in front of the Reina Sofía museum. I did it in nine minutes and 50 seconds, so the rest of the day, I went to the museum by myself. That was, however, when I was really young and just trying to soak up culture. There was so much of life that I didn’t really understand and so many illusions that I had. Now I’m at a place where I’m having so much fun skating and I’ve always loved traveling. When I get to a new city, I love to walk around. I love pastry. Especially when I’m in Germany or France, I’ll get something from the bakery, have an espresso, and look at spots. Then, from there, I’ll try to tap in with the filmer or the locals and skate as much as I can. I also try to fit in a little bit of sightseeing on the days off. Going to the museum, going to bookstores.

This article consists of two trips, the trip with Sem to Vigo and now Stuttgart. How did the Vigo trip come together and what happened there with the newspaper?

I planned a trip to go to a spot in Barcelona because I needed to shoot photos for a Thrasher interview. Sem Rubio had been telling me for years that I needed to go to Vigo with him, so I told him that I could do a small trip to Vigo afterwards. Then Jonathan Perez and Miles Silvas wanted to come as well, so we all went to Vigo and invited Mikel Vidal from Barcelona to come with us. He and I look super similar. The second day there, Sem found a newspaper with a photo of Mikel at the plaza on the cover, and it said, “Skater of the year 2021 Mark Suciu is coming to Vigo to film for a new project.” [laughing] We didn’t talk to them at all. We had no idea that anybody knew we were there. And then, when we were getting kicked out of spots, the cops would know us, it was fucked up. We went to another city, got off the train and Jon got stopped. He got racially profiled by the police… They searched his bag and found a little weed bag. Then Sem was like, “What’s going on? We’re just here on a skate trip for adidas!” and the cops were like, “Oh shit, you guys are in the paper!” And they just let Jon go. One other time, we were shooting a photo at a plaza and Sem went into a coffee shop to ask for a ladder to get the angle he wanted, and they also knew us from the newspaper and gave him the ladder right away. It was pretty sick.

Mark Suciu Boardslide Stuttgart Daniel Wagner

Boardslide | Photo: Daniel Wagner

How do you like Stuttgart? You seem to know lots of Lem Villemin footy from back in the days.

Lem was definitely one of my favorite skaters. I just love that era when he got on adidas. I thought he had the chillest style. I watched all the clips of when he turned pro for Titus, and then all of a sudden, he’s an am again on adidas. That was so funny to me, but he was doing a lot of new tricks too and that was one of the early reasons why I wanted to ride for adidas. I also watched those Lem clips in the metro station. I’d never skated there, so on this trip, it’s winter, but we can still skate in the stations. That’s, to me, a big part of the allure of Stuttgart.

In our last interview, you mentioned that you were worried that at some point you might get tied down by skateboarding. Have you overcome that feeling? Because after the interview, it felt like you got deeper into skateboarding than ever.

I still don’t think I’ve really overcome that and I’m still trying to. It’s confusing to have a skate career because I fucking love skating and it’s something that I will always want to do. When I grew up, people had careers until they were 30 or so. Now it seems like a lot of people are putting out really good footage into their 40s. I’m 31, I’ve had two different eras of being in the limelight, and I’ve done a ton of stuff that I’m really happy with. Do I move on now? Definitely not. Because of the SOTY stuff, I got almost militant about skating because I was thinking so hard about so many projects. Now I just want to keep doing it. In the past two years, I haven’t put out anything and I’m like, “Fuck, I got to get back on it.” I thought winning SOTY would make me chill out, but no, I just want to put out another video part. Since skating gives you so much time to do other things, I want to keep honing these passions – reading, writing, photography –, so that when I’m older, I have those as outlets, to do things that feel deeply important to me.

You brought your analog camera on this trip. Can you tell a bit about your photography?

Lately, I’ve just been really enjoying shooting photos at night. I like to shoot a lot of mirror photos. I’m still learning so much about photography even though I’ve been taking photos forever. I have a couple of ideas for photo books.