A Day In The Life of Alex Olson
By Peter Sutherland
I first noticed Alex in NYC around 2004, I would see him hanging out with artists and skaters at Max Fish. I don't ever remember seeing him with a skateboard, I just assumed he was one of those kids that skated a little between hanging out. The next time I saw Alex was in his video part in the Fully Flared skate video. It begins with a slam section set to the song pop corn, and then goes into one of my favorite parts of all time. He is bad ass on a skateboard. Over the last few years I have gotten to know Alex a bit more and seen him doing photos and art, making music and posting stuff to his blog. I remember seeing him last year and asking him if he was filming a new part, he said "this sounds sorta cheesy, but I have to be inspired to do a part, maybe it's sort of like being an artist." I liked his answer. This photo story was meant to loosely be an essay about 'a day in the life for Alex' and show off some places that are special to him in LA. I wanted to show him working on music and taking photos, but I didn't want to control it too much.
Alex suggested we start the day at the video arcade near Los Feliz in LA. My brother Andrew and I met him there around 1pm. Within a minute a guy wandered out of the change booth and said there was no photography allowed inside the building. I thought this was an appropriate start for the day because it sort of felt like getting kicked out of a skate spot. Alex and I played a few games of virtual tennis, he won 2 games I won one. Then we went to a health food store and had nachos and smoothies.
We talked about music, Alex started making music under the name "Chocolate Swirl" with his friend (and legendary skate photographer) Atiba Jefferson last year, he said they had not completed one song because Atiba uses Reason and Alex uses some other program that doesn't match up well with it. I wanted to get a shot of him with all of his music equipment, there is a lot of it, I've seen it, but it is currently in storage. I asked Alex what else he wanted to do to for the photo essay, he said he wanted to jump over a car. We spotted this mercedes a few blocks from the restaurant and he started boosting over it. I remembered seeing photos of Gonz jumping over a car and asked Alex if it was a homage to that or just something he wanted to do, he said it was a mix of both, and that he had jumped a couple other cars recently.
I asked Alex if we could do one skate photo and thought it would be cool to photograph him doing a power slide in the dirt. My reason for wanting to shoot him doing that is simple. When Alex skates it super tough, he can ollie really high and it seems like he could skate on almost any surface and just beast through it. We followed Alex in the car to Bronson Ditch, it's a known skate spot in LA and actually the first place Alex ever skated, that was at age 10. We hiked up to the ditch in search of a dirt trail and talked about dogs. Andrew and I really like Australian shepherds and border collies and Alex said he likes ridge backs because he had heard they could win in a fight with a lion. We made a pile of leaves and I shot Alex doing power-slides through them. On the way back down the trail we saw this waist-high road gate and I asked him if he could ollie it. I apologized because I don't know if that goes against some sort of etiquette to ask a skater if they can do something. He was open to it, the whole day was very loose and collaborative like that. He popped an ollie off of the dirt road on the second try, it was pretty killer, my brother took some footage of it.
I thought it was a good end to the day and then Alex offered to jump over another car so we had taken in the day and one at night. He stared boosting over this car, he wanted to make sure to go over the driver's part and not just over the hood.
I have a lot of respect for Alex, he is someone that seems to have a very charmed life, but is also quite down to earth, he is super friendly to waiters and people that might not have the same opportunities he does. He seems to be curious about everything and is always looking for the artistic potential in every day stuff. He has a blog and is working on music. We talked about going to art school, Alex said he had researched a lot of his favorite artists to see if they had all gone to art school, he was glad to find that many of them had not because he wasn't planning to go. I think he will be fine without it.