Luke Brown at Daylight Skateboards
From the windy streets of Wellington New Zealand, Daylight has steadily been in the works for a while now. The company is now starting to hit stores all over New Zealand and Australia. To celebrate, I caught up with the man behind the brand, Luke Brown, to see what DL is all about.
Daylight rider PJ Wybrow | Nosegrind | Shot by Jake Mein.
What is Daylight?
To sum it up, Daylight is a skateboard company based in Wellington, New Zealand.
Originally it started when I was around 11. I would spray paint boards with my dad in the basement back when I was living in the UK. My parents and I immigrated to New Zealand 10 years ago to live with my Uncle who unfortunately passed away a few years ago. I started high school in NZ fresh off the boat and managed to scramble a group of good friends who enjoyed skateboarding too. I was into photography and videography as a kid and was heavily inspired by my Uncle. He gave me old cameras and equipment for me to play around with.
After watching a large collection of 411VM VHS’s, DVD’s that I’d get for Christmas every year and later on YouTube, I had an idea of what was best to film skating with. I got my first VX when I was 13 and started to make little web clips at my local park around Hawkes Bay. Mark Lahood (Part & Parcel videographer/editor) retired from filming skateboarding and sold me two VX’s for really cheap. I was around 15 at the time. I filmed for a while until I eventually put together a little grommy full-length video with Pat Pollock, Mashey, and a few others. Since then I have probably owned 9 VX’s.
I dabbled with skate photography, too. I would always be asking Dave Read (Manual Magazine) for pointers, and I still do to this day. Around the same time Jake Darwin was starting out and we would send each other our images and give each other pointers. Not that he needed any...It’s incredible to see how far he has gone with it.
During High School I took business studies and learned a little about the logistics of running a small business. I managed to receive an awarded grant from my business mentor, which led me to getting some boards produced in NZ through the manufacturer Nelson Creek. I had a little weird phase of anxiety and felt like being the head of a skate company was too far out for my young mind to handle, so I put the brand on hold until I had more experience in the industry.
I started working for local distributions S&S and Collab. My friend and work partner Sam Crabtree convinced me to get the brand going again as there was a definite space for a legit skate company from New Zealand. We ran a couple of ranges through Nelson Creek, until they ceased operation to build skate parks, which lead me to putting the brand on ice… Again…
With less to worry about, I started shooting and filming a lot more and made a video series with Jack Fagan called Green Belt and then eventually moving on to a full length called Monachopsis. After working closely with the distributions and doing the video projects, it made sense to get Daylight back on track. It was a lot of work, but I eventually managed to get rid of 120 boards! I am now on to my second range and it’ll be selling in stores in New Zealand and Australia.
Jonty Hoggard | BS 50-50 while Luke Browne films | Shot by Nick Holder
Your graphics seem to be heavily influenced with New Zealand heritage. Is this concept really important for you?
I found it kind of awkward being an immigrant using Kiwi culture to start with, but now I’m all about it. Obviously not exploiting Maori culture but more showcasing NZ for its natural beauty. I’ve found a lot of innocence and freshness in its surroundings. It really fascinates me. Over the past year I have been collecting as many old NZ books as I can. Scoping out every op shop I walk past. I am about 80 deep now but I want it to keep it growing. I haven’t used too much of the imagery yet but I use them as a reference point and will find use for them eventually.
As for the NZ theme graphic wise, I just realised that outside of the beautiful country, it’s seen as almost a tropical phenomenon. A lot of people have never heard of the place or even know where it is! Some think it doesn’t exist or is full of Hobbits or something! Ha-ha.
Who rides for DL?
At the moment it’s Hootie Andrewes, Jonty Hoggard and PJ Wybrow. If it were possible there would be a huge list of people I’d hook up. Especially some of the young kids from small towns in New Zealand. There is some crazy talent here and it’s pretty hard for them to stay motivated. My main thing is to actually be able to support whoever I am going to sponsor. Not just a marketing tool but be able to pay their way and hook them up with everything they need to push themselves. This is still a long way away but it is definitely a goal of mine and one of the main objectives I want to accomplish from running a company.
Jonty Hoggard | Ollie | Shot by Luke Browne
Do you operate the brand solo?
I never really like to claim it but I’m getting better at it. At the moment, yes I am. I run the entire operation from filming to shooting skate photos, product photography, advertisements, website, distribution, accounts, etc. It’s all run out of my house. I do, however, get a lot of help from my girlfriend Tulsi who keeps me on top of everything when I start slacking off. With a tonne of graphics design experience and an eye for details, she’s my right-hand girl. My dude Nick Holder who has been my main man since high school helped out with some of the older graphics and often gives me feedback and creative criticism. Also Gunter Muller helps out graphics from time to time and gives me feedback when I’m sceptical about a design. So I guess it’s not actually operated by myself at all, ha-ha. I really appreciate everyone that has put in their ten cents over the years.
Image via PortNicholson
Having worked in distribution and video production before, do you find running the brand a lot of work and how have you adjusted to your new workload?
Yeah, it can be pretty intense. Alongside working a full time job as a magazine designer, most of the work is done in the evenings or weekends. It can be stressful but lately I’ve been enjoying it a lot because I know it will be worthwhile eventually. I think I’d lose my mind if I had nothing to do… I always need to be working on something. I’m really unorganised but it seems to all work out somehow, ha-ha.
What brands inspire you the most?
This is always a hard one for me because I can never really say I have a direct influence from any brand… I’m not saying I am original at all, but I try stay away from following trends as much as I can. In saying that, the old Alien Workshop/Habitat was incredible. Pass~Port because they have gone so far from a small Aussie brand. I loved all the British themed artwork that Blueprint was doing too. My main inspiration is people doing cool stuff around me, who are immersed in the scene and constantly creating and evolving. I guess that’s the nature of skateboarding, though. It’s hard to get bored when there is always so much more to learn and explore. It sounds cheesy but that’s kind of the philosophy I live by.
Future plans for Daylight?
I’d love to make it my full time job, support the people around me and grow it into something to reach other parts of the world. I want people to perceive it as something they haven’t seen before and put New Zealand on the worldwide skateboarding map.International distribution is the next step and something I never thought would be possible. Stocking to 3 stores in Melbourne is already a huge leap. One of the stores order is bigger than the whole of NZ’s combined! For future plans, I want to continue working on visuals, keep filming, shooting, creating, travelling, learning and growing.
I want to showcase New Zealand and it’s vast talent to the world, stay humble, positive and skate as much as I can.
Luke Browne | 50-50 FS 180 | Seq: Jake Mein
Interviewed by Casey Foley for Ducktales Issue 8
Watch Lukes newest video production "OZONE" below or get the hard copy accompanied with a dope A4 zine HERE.