ARTIST SPOTLIGHT: AARON HOBGOOD
Time waits for no one. Aaron Hobgood understands this better than most. A native of Rochester, New York, Aaron moved to Columbus, Ohio five years ago. As an accomplished skateboarder, artist, photographer, and TEDx Talk speaker, this self-taught creator uses a fierce combination of motivation and patience to learn and understand. Aaron uses the formula of fail, learn, progress, on a daily basis with his students at Skate Naked indoor skatepark. With the new generation being used to instant gratification, Aaron does his best to show them that not everything happens right away. Aaron knows that patience and persistence are the only tools you need to succeed.
When did you get into skateboarding? Growing up near Rochester I know there was a small but dedicated scene. Did you grow up in that?
I got into skateboarding in the mid 2000s. I remember seeing a bunch of guys with ramps set up at my elementary school early on but had no idea how to get into it. After a while, I met a couple guys my age that were into so of course, I fell into it. It was just something I’d try here and there but never really gave it any effort. It wasn’t until middle school/ early high school that I actually started to learn tricks. Just skating in my driveway then to the skatepark up in Brockport, New York. After that first double kickflip, I was in love. I just never put it down and even tried incorporating it into other aspects of my life. The Rochester Scene is pretty tight. Everyone knows everyone so I gained a lot of friends and was able to hang around a lot of similarly minded guys. There were two big skate shops at the time; Hardpact (rip) and Krudco. Aaron and Alan at Krudco were super supportive, down to earth and very real. If it wasn’t for them, I may have fallen out of it and into some terrible shit. I like to think that I learned a lot from those guys about life and skateboarding. As someone who fell into the scene and was accepted for who I was; I’ll always keep a piece of that with me and push it back out into the world.
You teach skateboarding lessons at the main skatepark in Columbus. What has teaching others taught you?
I first started teaching back in New York at a skatepark called X-Dreams Skatepark. I was maybe 15/16 and it was a really cool environment. I wasn’t much a transition skater then but since all the ramps were built for BMX, I had to learn quickly. It was a really rad vibe to share something I loved with others; especially those just getting into it. I can even begin to list the things I have learned from teaching at Skatenaked Skatepark. It's such a family vibe that I’m always reminded that I’m not in it alone and I have so much support. The most important thing that I’ve learned from those kids is being humble, not sweating the little inconveniences in life and to smile. Even on my worst day, those kids always manage to find a way to make me laugh and inspire me to keep those good vibes. I’m very thankful to have the opportunity to spend time with and learn from them.
Was it skateboarding that got you into photography?
Absolutely. I would always visualize how certain tricks look and how I would capture them until I decided to actually pick up a camera and put that vision into the world. As skateboarders, we see the world differently than others. Some would argue that it is an art form itself and I truly believe that.
What is it about photography that inspires you? Why photography instead of another creative path for you?
We all see things differently. We experience life differently. Photography is one of those things that allows us to capture a moment in our own experience and share with others so they may see the world through our eyes or feel something different. I can’t draw or paint for shit. I’m not very musically inclined either but I can capture moments of my life and explain my most inner thoughts, fears or emotions with a photograph. Photography and skateboarding are my ways of painting or drawing a picture on a different canvas. I need to learn how to actually draw though. I have some weird images that pop up in my head that would look on paper.
Tell us about your studio situation in Columbus. It's a very unique space.
I have an art studio in the Franklinton community (Chromedge Studios) that I share with two really rad artists (Maureen Clark & Allison Hall). The coolest thing is that I not only draw inspiration from those two but there are so many other artists in the 400 Building & idea Foundry that I get to talk to and learn from. It’s kind of like a collection of weirdos. We’re all artists with different mediums, styles, and processes but we get to share those with each other for the sake of art and our own self-expression. It’s pretty fucking tight.
Your Instagram handle (@theblvcksiren) has always interested me. Where did the Blvck Siren name come from?
“I am a siren, and for my adoration of mankind, have been caught in fishing nets one time too many. And in those fishing nets I have learned too many unfavorable things about human intentions and the lack of trust and goodwill; I'm not going to allow myself to be caught, anymore. Sirens do well at singing the sirens' song and dragging vile people to their deaths, and for good reason!” ― C. JoyBell C.
It originates from this quote. I’m not the biggest fan of humans. Most people suck but I’ve been lucky enough to surround myself with the right people in the right time of my life but like many of us, I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with too many that I’ve given myself to and they’ve made me regret it. This is where I connected with the Siren of Greek mythology. I’ve always been obsessed with Medusa as well. This is why my logo is a woman with tentacles for hair. It was my way of standing up for myself, for what I believe in, for what I want to put into the world for its progression, for believing in my own creativity and expressing it to its fullest. The “Blvck” part of it refers to the darkness within all of us. You can’t be all sunshine and happiness. We all have a bit of evil inside and we should embrace it just much as the rest. You can’t the sun without the moon, light without dark, up without down, etc etc.
Is social media changing your creative process at all?
It has and it hasn’t. It taught me that humans are always going to either love or hate anything that you do. That's the life of being creative. Everyone loves my skateboarding photos but feel indifferent to creative portraits. I try to not let it dictate what I do or how I create. I do take the time to understand what others like about my art and try to apply it to the things that they don’t really care for but for the most part, I just create how I want to. Constructive criticism is taken with a grain of salt but still heard and understood. It will just make me a better artist.
Also, it provided me with millions of others that I can learn from and draw inspiration from. In that aspect, I’m grateful for it but it’s also made it easier for people just steal it. In that sense, social media sucks. Our art should be judged by how you connect with it, not compared to someone else’s. and it definitely shouldn’t be replicated and regurgitated the way it has been. When we can hit that point where we stay original and draw inspiration from each other, I’ll be okay with it but I’m not going to hold my breath.
What is the absolute best advice you could give to a young person that wants to do something different with their lives than what would be considered the norm?
Young or old; If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. Just remember that it won’t be easy, but if you stick to it and put all of your efforts into it, it will pay off. Nothing good ever comes easy and anything easy is never good. Don’t be afraid to fail, learn and love. Anything that you can imagine can be put into action so go out there and do it. Most importantly; anyone that loves you will support you and anyone that doesn’t, you don’t need them. I believe in you.