Jerry Hsu: skateboarder, photographer and entrepreneur

Jerry Hsu is a professional skateboarder.

It is lore that Taiwanese-American skater phenom Jerry Hsu is best-known for his part in Emerica's 2010 release Stay Gold, where he skates switch for the entire video. Skating switch essentially means leading with your non-dominant foot, while doing the same tricks. Changing your stance is not necessarily skating backward, but adjusting your weight and forward momentum to appear as if you are going "forward". Prior to filming, Hsu had sustained a serious injury to his knees and ankles, limiting his range and pop so, he switched it up, an almost mirror-image, a bit like a film negative printed backward.

As reported recently in GQ Magazine, "Hsu's greatest contribution to skateboarding may be something a little more abstract: he made highly-technical street skating appear effortless. Style is everything in skateboarding, and Hsu proved that it didn't have to be sacrificed in order to do mind-bogglingly difficult stuff."

Jerry Hsu is a professional photographer.

He can both be that mind-boggling body doing the difficult stuff, and capture the styles of other people, animals, and stills of people doing their own, every day, mind-boggling stuff. As Hero Magazine explains, "Jerry Hsu began his blog, NAZI GOLD, in 2009. A curated feed of cell phone photos combined with classic photography and film to spotlight Hsu's sharp-wit and flair for capturing life's ironies and absurdities: from polemic religious slogans to fish guts and dogs hanging out of cars. Now, these images have been collated into a new book by Hsu titled, The Beautiful Flower Is the World—taken from a mistranslated tee he spotted in China." He recently shot the images for an Los Angeles Times Magazine food story, "Fly fishing for 'sewer salmon' in the LA River."

Jerry Hsu is a business owner and designer.

In 2019, unsponsored—by choice—for the first time since his early teens, Hsu created Sci-Fi Fantasy, his skater-owned artistic outlet. "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… 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."

Sci-Fi Fantasy gear has been spotted on Zendaya, who plays Rue Bennett on the hit Netflix show, Euphoria. Kat Danabassis, to whom Hsu is married, came up with the name and finalized the logo. Danabassis works as assistant to Heidi Bevins, the designer behind Euphoria's style. Hsu explains his approach: "I am a huge fan of the sci-fi fi fantasy genre, but I don't want to make the company too on the nose and kinda of restricting. So, I base the designs on very clean, basic graphic design. I also dabble in corporate graphic design. My parents were computer engineers, so electronics catalogs would always come to the house, and I kinda grew up around that sort of Silicon Valley design. I use a lot of that as a source." Check out the first official skate team video here, featuring Ryan Lay and Arin.

Skate style, photography, and streetwear collabs come together in Hsu's latest project with iconic 1980s brand Jimmy'z and London-based Palace Skateboards. Hsu brings his rad photographer skills shooting the images for the release of this un-anticipated but right-on collaboration.

Jimmy'z was founded in 1984 by artist and surfer Jim Ganzer. This is around the same time that Sean Stussy was scribbling his name on T-shirts and hats, and selling them out of his trunk. A who's who of skateboarders rode for the brand, perhaps most well-known for the attached velcro belt that functioned as a closure for their pants and shorts. Ganzer was super connected with the Hollywood art scene. According to this interview, the phrase used by Jeff Bridges in The Big Labowski, "The Dude abides," was actually a saying Ganzer created. He and Bridges were friends.

As a result, like SciFi Fantasy, Jimmy'z was worn not only by the gnarliest and most stylish skateboarders, but by Hollywood's biggest stars, including Jack Nicholson. The brand was sold to Aéropostale and was never the same. In 2011, the brand was purchased back and revived by Black Harrington. You can now order online. There is also an Instagram page with images of classic t-shirts and advertising. Take a ride back in time.

As Hypebeast reports, "Lev Tanju is the founder of London-based Palace Skateboards. Born and raised in London, Tanju initially began designing skateboard graphics, before founding Palace Skateboards in 2010 primarily as a way to fund his skateboarding lifestyle. Bringing a decidedly British aesthetic to a culture dominated largely by the American West Coast, Tanju's label saw a meteoric rise within the skateboarding world…"

Palace suggests synonymy with collabs. Since its founding, Palace has worked with Ralph Lauren, Adidas, Reebok, and Umbro. In the last few days, they released a collab with New Balance. As GQ Magazine states, "Palace has certainly had a hand in setting trends. Its mix of '90s sportswear with bench-made opulence is pervasive now; designer brands like Celine and Dior have been appealing to skaters with recent collections that might make you wonder if Palace was on their mood boards."