CHRIS CONTESSO

Chris Contesso is a great example of what Get Born is all about: a creative and truly talented individual involved in the midwestern skate scene who deserves more recognition for all the rad shit that he's doing. Chris is an amazing sculptor, photographer, illustrator and skateboarder from Crystal Lake, Illinois who currently rides for Harmony Skate Shop in McHenry, Illinois. He had a full part in Texas Heat in Illinois and another one in Texas Heat 2 featuring a few tricks from Mike Matzuka, although right now he is working on the Caddywhompus video with Tim Kozlowski and Danny Pasminski. Recently, an illustration of Chris’ was used by Bing Liu as the poster graphic for his skate documentary Minding the Gap. Check out Chris’ instagram for more of his inspiring artwork @themonsterkiss! 

How long have you been skating for? How did you first get into it?

I started skateboarding about ten years ago maybe? It was just a little neighborhood phase, those little flat bar rails that don’t stay put on one end of the block, and a quarter pipe with PVC coping on the other end. Some of the best times though.

Pyramid Country ring, Lost wax casting

What are the mediums that you express yourself through? Do you have a specific one you exercise the most?

I’m all over the place. I have always had an interest in creating, from simple napkin drawings at bars to sculpture work. I even took a jewelry class in college to see what it was about. Lately I have been mostly messing with some markers at my desk, or jotting future projects down in my notes. On occasion I’ll bring out a camera and shoot some stuff, but mostly I’ve been trying to get out and film with the guys as much as possible.

What is your favorite piece you have ever created and why? What was the message behind it?

I took a sculpture class one winter, the worst winter ever. Just the combination of the snow and some other shit I was dealing with was handled through making art. I spent more time outside of class than in class for this project. I’d stay after class until the school closed not because I was behind or anything, I just wanted to be there. I worked out a project called “I’m Tired”, it was a paper mache sculpture that I used the classroom space generously for, the thing was bigger than I am. It was sort of a self portrait just showing how I felt at the time, sort of stuck. Mostly just bummed out.

I'm Tired, Paper mache sculpture

We had one of those “Slice Life” zines in our living room up in Montreal for like a year. The photos were very raw and super tight! We saw your name credited on the back of it. What did you do to contribute? Have you guys put out any more zines since then? 

Oh yeah!  My good bud Alex Rhino is behind all of that. It’s called “Bitch Tits Zine”. All my buds do that whole crew battle stuff like every summer, just like the skate perception thing, or Thrasher’s King of the Road. Our crew name was “Slice Life” and I just drew up some .tiff files for our little edit my friend Rick Lynn made. Alex then used the graphics for his zine that consisted of all the photos he shot that weekend.

Can you tell us about the piece you made for Bing’s new project “Minding the Gap”? What is the meaning behind it? Are you going to be making anything else for this project?

I have always supported Bing’s work. I just posted a drawing I did one night on Instagram called “father/son rituals”. I got a call from Bing a few days later asking me if I was interested in helping him out with “Minding the Gap” in creating a poster/sticker. I think the drawing had a general focus on what he was looking for so I took some time to recreate it with the aspects of what he wanted. As for the future, it’s all an open book. But everyone should support his film, he sent me a little demo reel of the project and it’s looking great!

Father Son Rituals, Prisma marker

How do you keep skateboarding alive and honest?

Just trying to get all the dudes together like we used to is so hard to do now, we are all pretty much grown up and busy all the time. Making friends is always good too. Planning more trips so we can get the time off. Contributing to the local skate video stuff. My friends Tim Kozlowski and Danny Pasminski are working on the Caddywhompus video. Heading to Denver in a week, that should be good.

Has there been a time where you detached yourself from skateboarding? What was it like? How did you get the inspiration to get back on your feet?

When I first started skateboarding, the kids on the block were into it for about a year or two and then started heading in bad directions. I followed them very briefly just because they were the only good friends I had at the time. It didn’t take me long to realize it wasn’t what I wanted. That’s when I started skating with the Kozlowski brothers and Mr. Dallas Etzel. All kids I looked up to at the time. They were filming their first video at the time, “Live for Today”. Taking trains to the city and filming on a little handy cam was such an experience at the time, super new to me, but it all fit and felt a lot better. Without those dudes I don’t know where I would be now. Then just building friends from there and keeping it going.

Whats your take on the skateboarding industry these days? Has it changed your perspective on what the culture has become?

It’s all kinda weird. From the corporate companies getting involved to the sports channels, it is what it is. There still is some good though. All these new companies that have been coming out are super rad. Supporting the friends, the artists, and even just anyone in the business that skateboards. Plenty of great companies have been killing it out of Chicago as well. Bluetown, Reed, Character, whoever. It’s great seeing these companies succeed. I just wish it was easier to support everyone and also see more people support these companies as well. On the other hand, It’s kinda weird rolling up to a skate park with 70% of the kids on scooters. That’s fine and all, but sorta depressing… I mean how much fun can you even have on those things?

Is there anything you are working on becoming better at for the future? Any new projects coming out soon?

I have so much written down that I need to start putting to work. I’m gonna be starting some soon. Other than that I’m just waiting on an injury or some snow so I can really focus on the bigger projects in mind. Haha. Kinda just focusing on a next step in general right now, while not worrying about it.

What do you think about when you hear the words Get Born?  Making what you love doing happen.

We were honestly surprised by Chris’ answer to this last question because it was the most accurate description of what Get Born is to all of us who have been working on it since day one. Chris is someone who understands our vision and we want to thank him for it. Get Born represents a group of girls in love with skateboarding that made what they love doing happen all for the sole purpose of helping local homies make what they love doing happen. We support our skate community for everything that it is because without it we may all be lost. 

Photos by Chris Contesso.