From his films and photography to his creations of wonderful cement, Pontus Alv is a man with talent, vision and a desire to spread the stoke. Running a board company is a business, but Polar Skate Co. is also a vehicle to get people motivated, active and inspired in their own right. He's one of the few European skaters who made it to the U.S. and became a pro and after returning home and skating for Cliché, his drive helped him to create one of skating's best films, Strongest of the Strange . That film continues to inspire countless others and his current edits for Polar continue this tradition, only now with his own crew: a hand-picked team of talented and creative individuals. As momentum grows and more get inspired, we can't wait to see what Pontus and crew do next.
portrait by Sam Ashley
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Smile or frown when you think of the overall state of modern skating?
It all depends on which direction you are looking. Right now there are some really cool small brands, scenes and things happening on an underground street level. People are creating their own societies and visions with its own ideas. People are making their own crew/scene videos that are really fresh to see and finally there are a few small brands happening around the world that are getting the support from the streets. I also think skateboarding-wise it is a pretty good time 'cause all kinds of styles, ideas, and expressions are welcome. It is not so strict these days; all forms are accepted: street-skating, hammer-skating, pools, parks and what not.
Then if I look the other direction I see big commercial corporate business that are in skateboarding perhaps for the wrong reasons. I can’t say all of the big business industry things are shit. Some of those brands do cool things to support the scene, but there are a few really horrible things going on out there. This green logo popping up everywhere and what not. But I try to focus on the good shit and the stuff that I am into and just block the rest out.
frontside wallride [ o ] ashley
Do you think companies like Polar have helped remind people that skating is about everyday fun?
I think brand like Polar Skate Co. and people like me are giving people an alternative to the commercial things like Street League etc. In one way those big commercial things are the biggest gift to the underground scene—The bigger they get the bigger we get. 'Cause there are still tons of people out there looking for an alternative and it is just a matter of time before more and more people find out what goes on behind the scenes.
So yeah brands like us keep skateboarding fun and interesting and we are pushing hard for classic raw skateboarding and pushing the culture perspective of things by making rad videos, graphics, artwork and just pushing for the classic terms like "Skate & Create" or "Inspire others to inspire yourself."
It seems that you’ve made an effort to make Polar an international company, adding U.S. and U.K. riders and doing projects in the States and Japan. Why not just keep it a local thing?
Skateboarding is global and our message is important on a global scale. I want to talk to the world and show our ideas and visions to the world. The global commercial takeover is happening everywhere, so we have to give an alternative everywhere. Where ever they go, we go. I just can't see my biggest love—skateboarding—be raped and turned into shit in front of my eyes. I wake up every morning going to the office and busting out culture hammers trying to push our visions out there.... It is a bloody warzone out there and skateboarders needs to stand up for what they believe in and say: NO YOU CAN NOT FUCK ME IN THE ASS. NOT TODAY, HONEY. Of course only if they do not agree with the green logo.
Pontus Alv, fakie flip [ o ] hamnen
Your “career” goes back to the mid-90s and there is that similar aesthetic with the art and videos you produce. What about that time period makes you want to continue that same feeling and vibe?
The biggest time in skateboarding for me is between '87-'94—The golden age and I lived skated through it. It was so inspiring on all levels and so much rad stuff went down during those years. People just started to explore the streets artwork and whatever else. A really creative experimental time in skateboarding. All I do every day is to try to recreate a modern version of that time and pass that culture heritage onto the next generations so we can see some cool rad shit go down in the future whenever we are all old an retired.
one of the amazing cut-outs created by Pontus
Like some of the other companies featured in the "Worldwide Underground" article, your video edits are full-concepts: well edited and not rushed, but they have all been released on the web. When will there be a DVD?
We are working on a small film; a power package. I will realize the promos and the small film on a DVD and with tons of bonus stuff. Perhaps combined with a small art book and little art show premieres. Working on it but nothing until spring summer 2014. To produce interesting skateboarding footage takes time.....
How has Josh Stewart’s Theories of Atlantis distribution impacted the company?
Josh and I are friends and he is on the same page as me when it comes to skateboarding ideas and visions. This just makes it a lot easier to work and do things together. We are still working on getting all the things rolling but it is slowly coming together. Step by step, piece by piece, brick by brick— Rome wasn't built in a day. Do it right: grow slowly and organically.
Polar Skate Co. is distributed in Canada by YT Distribution and available in finer skateshops near you.
Have you heard back from fans of the company and people inspired by your DIY concrete work?
Yes of course. The two videos I made before Polar Skate Co. set the foundation for all of this to start. The videos inspired skaters around the world to get together and create their own scenes. Over the last five years I think I got at least 250 mails from different DIY spots and scenes that got inspired. Then those projects inspire others and others—snowball effect. It was the entire point and message of the videos and it worked and it is the biggest paycheck that you can get. Our group of friends here in Malmö managed to create, document and present a vision/message to the world, and people around the world left their couch and tv and went out on the street and went mad. If I would die, today I would die with a smile.
What projects are coming up next for you and Polar?
The main thing is to focus on the filming and traveling this year. Then just doing the stuff we always do: build rad shit, do artwork and just go mental.
Do you think the stoke has gone out of the industry?
Depends on what direction you are looking. Skateboarding is really up to you; what you wanna make of it each day. So stay positive and look at the good things that are out there. Even if they are small and underground, there are still skaters just doing classic raw skateboarding stuff. The way we remember it and why most of us fell in love with this culture.
Check out Polar and 5 other great indy companies in the current issue of COLOR (11.1)