Speak For Yourself is a platfor mfor artists and musicians to discuss what inspires and influences their work. Here, the hugely influential painter, photographer, and skatboarder Ed Templeton ponders the forces that have shaped his outlook on life. If you’re not familiar with Ed’s work then visit toymachine.com/ed/ for some of the most interesting contemporary American photography around. As told to Daniel Tapper

Skateboarding: The catalyst for everything in my life. The people, the love, the formation of my being and how I see the world has come from my life in and around skateboarding. As an alienated and directionless middle school kid in the mid-’80s the only thing that somehow found me was punk music and skateboarding. From that starting point all the people in my world were into music, punk flyers, drawing, skating, graffiti, taking photos, making ‘zines, forming bands, etc. how can one not become an artist? Skateboarding gave me the starting point, the freedom, the space to learn and explore. I credit this random activity for making me who I am. sy
Sonic Youth: A band, along with Fugazi, that serves as a great example of creating a community around what you do. Including people rather than excluding them — making your art (which in the case of these bands is music and lyrics) with a purpose. Not only is the music aesthetically pleasing, but it represents a position, a worldview, be it political, social or artistic. When you think about these bands you think of an entire community, at least I do. I have always used Sonic Youth as the soundtrack to my skateboard video parts because I felt like their music best represented how I saw my skateboarding, that it would be a good fit, and also help expand the young viewers’ music tastes.
Orange County: I think of Suburban Sprawl when I read these words and I think about walls and fake-ness. But I also think of home; the place where I was born and found skateboarding. The source for a large part of what I do as an artist. After travelling the world as a skateboarder, coming back home to the suburbs with different eyes is really great. I can see the place for what it is, a place built for people to achieve the American Dream, but there is really no such thing. People are people no matter what their landscaping looks like. It’s all the same, just dressed differently.
Beautiful Losers: A title given to an exhibition that has turned into a catchphrase used to lump a massive variety of artists with very diverse approaches and styles together. The exhibition itself was a landmark gathering of artists who were loosely associated with Aaron Rose’s NYC based Alleged Gallery. Aaron had a curatorial vision to show artists who were coming from the outlaw worlds of graffiti and skateboarding, and also surfing, along with the artists that inspired them. The show travelled to various museums around the US and Europe from 2005 to 2008, helping expose many of the artists involved to a wider audience. I am very honoured to have been part of the exhibition, but cringe at being called a ‘Beautiful Loser’.
Beautiful Losers is out now on DVD. Visit losermovie.co.uk for more
Daniel Tapper

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