Nude in China

ON BOARD: Nude skateboards founder, Drew Hill shows off one of his and Taranaki-based business partner Ricky Malcolm’s Nude longboards with the business’s signature transparent deck. The longboards are now in production in China.
Art teacher, photographer, sculptor and Nude skateboards founder Drew Hill flew to China to visit the factory that is making his fully assembled, transparent boards.
The cloak-like form The Guardian — Te Tairawhiti — created in a project led by artist Drew Hill, is made of Plexiglass and inspired Drew to look for other objects he could make transparent.

A CONTAINER-load of fully-assembled Nude skateboards is expected to arrive early in the new year but in the meantime, Nude founder, Gisborne entrepreneur Drew Hill has a few samples of a brand new product — a long skateboard to showcase at this year’s Rhythm and Vines music festival.

This will be the second year Nude skateboards will be represented at the festival.

The brainchild of Drew and Taranaki-based business partner Ricky Malcolm, the longboard’s design comes with a concave deck that has been tested by professional skateboarders.

The unavailability in New Zealand of the technology needed to manufacture the boards saw the Nude duo get their skateboard line made in China. The physical properties of their long skateboard with a transparent and concave deck are under wraps, though.

“In New Zealand we could only get flat decks with a kicker (an angled heel) made,” says Drew.

“We couldn’t get them thermo-moulded here. It’s also cheaper to get them made in China.”

As with much of the concept’s evolution, getting to China was a matter of being in the right place at the right time, says Drew.

A chance meeting at a function with a top international airline marketing manager, spiced with the Gisborne entrepreneur’s self-confessed “gift of the gab”, led to free flights to China for the Nude partners.

“He said ‘write a letter about what you’re doing and we’ll see what we can do’,” says Drew.

“We made up a seven-page Nude magazine as our proposal. They loved our concept and branding and said ‘you’ve got tickets to China’.”

Drew and Ricky contacted about 20 factories in China, chose one that specialised in the material they needed for their design, packed gifts and flew over.

“What was cool was we were the first people from New Zealand to visit the factory. We were the fifth in the world to visit them. We heard Chinese people liked white wine so we took some Gisborne wine.”

Their hosts took the Kiwi duo to lunch and dinner. The gifts of gewurztraminer went down a treat, says Mr Hill. The Kiwis were taken to the factory in Shuzo, one hour out of Shanghai by bullet train.

“Because we’d gone over there and made face-to-face contact, they gave us an amazing deal,” says Drew.

The factory produced a prototype of the transparent, concave-deck longboard. Professional skateboarders tested the prototype.

“From there, we got the factory to tweak the design. The next stage is production.”

Not only will Nude get the thermo-moulded decks but assembled boards complete with trucks (the components that attach the wheels to the deck), wheels and screen-printed branding.

Drew and Ricky launched Nude’s penny boards — short, flat-decked boards with a kicker — at Rhythm and Vines last summer.

Marketing included limited edition board give-aways, and pictures and videos posted on Facebook and Instagram of festival-goers with the transparent boards.

“We now have new products and a raft of next generation boards with new styles and features that no other skateboards have coming out of Nude,” says Drew.

“We’re not just a one-item company. We’re making new products for different markets. That puts us in a unique position.”

The idea to make transparent skateboards was sparked by Drew’s completion of the plexiglass Te Tairawhiti-Guardian sculpture outside Kathmandu in Gladstone Road.

“After Guardian, I looked around to see what else could be made transparent. I walked around looking at everything, thinking ‘how could I make that see-through?’ Then a skateboarder went past and I thought ‘wow!’

“Ten days later I had prototypes made by the same company that manufactured the sculpture.”

Drew’s day job is as an art teacher at Tolaga Bay Area School. He also works in photography, sculpture and video installation.

While teaching at Lytton High School, Drew and artist Simon Lardelli created an artwork for the school called Mangopare, a hammerhead shark.

“We used a 50 millimetre-thick sheet of acrylic, the same thickness as the Guardian. The work lights up at night.”

This year, Drew has had five shows in as many months. He exhibited in Hong Kong, twice in Queenstown, at the Auckland Art Fair and the Auckland Photography Festival.

Auckland art centre Depot Artspace filmed at his photography show as part of the organisation’s cultural icon series.
Drew says when he returned to Gisborne some years ago he found employment hard to find.

“I found myself creating my own jobs. The more irons in the fire the better. We diversify as a whanau. My partner Kadie and I don’t sit on our laurels.

“That’s what you need to do to survive in Gisborne.”

A CONTAINER-load of fully-assembled Nude skateboards is expected to arrive early in the new year but in the meantime, Nude founder, Gisborne entrepreneur Drew Hill has a few samples of a brand new product — a long skateboard to showcase at this year’s Rhythm and Vines music festival.

This will be the second year Nude skateboards will be represented at the festival.

The brainchild of Drew and Taranaki-based business partner Ricky Malcolm, the longboard’s design comes with a concave deck that has been tested by professional skateboarders.

The unavailability in New Zealand of the technology needed to manufacture the boards saw the Nude duo get their skateboard line made in China. The physical properties of their long skateboard with a transparent and concave deck are under wraps, though.

“In New Zealand we could only get flat decks with a kicker (an angled heel) made,” says Drew.

“We couldn’t get them thermo-moulded here. It’s also cheaper to get them made in China.”

As with much of the concept’s evolution, getting to China was a matter of being in the right place at the right time, says Drew.

A chance meeting at a function with a top international airline marketing manager, spiced with the Gisborne entrepreneur’s self-confessed “gift of the gab”, led to free flights to China for the Nude partners.

“He said ‘write a letter about what you’re doing and we’ll see what we can do’,” says Drew.

“We made up a seven-page Nude magazine as our proposal. They loved our concept and branding and said ‘you’ve got tickets to China’.”

Drew and Ricky contacted about 20 factories in China, chose one that specialised in the material they needed for their design, packed gifts and flew over.

“What was cool was we were the first people from New Zealand to visit the factory. We were the fifth in the world to visit them. We heard Chinese people liked white wine so we took some Gisborne wine.”

Their hosts took the Kiwi duo to lunch and dinner. The gifts of gewurztraminer went down a treat, says Mr Hill. The Kiwis were taken to the factory in Shuzo, one hour out of Shanghai by bullet train.

“Because we’d gone over there and made face-to-face contact, they gave us an amazing deal,” says Drew.

The factory produced a prototype of the transparent, concave-deck longboard. Professional skateboarders tested the prototype.

“From there, we got the factory to tweak the design. The next stage is production.”

Not only will Nude get the thermo-moulded decks but assembled boards complete with trucks (the components that attach the wheels to the deck), wheels and screen-printed branding.

Drew and Ricky launched Nude’s penny boards — short, flat-decked boards with a kicker — at Rhythm and Vines last summer.

Marketing included limited edition board give-aways, and pictures and videos posted on Facebook and Instagram of festival-goers with the transparent boards.

“We now have new products and a raft of next generation boards with new styles and features that no other skateboards have coming out of Nude,” says Drew.

“We’re not just a one-item company. We’re making new products for different markets. That puts us in a unique position.”

The idea to make transparent skateboards was sparked by Drew’s completion of the plexiglass Te Tairawhiti-Guardian sculpture outside Kathmandu in Gladstone Road.

“After Guardian, I looked around to see what else could be made transparent. I walked around looking at everything, thinking ‘how could I make that see-through?’ Then a skateboarder went past and I thought ‘wow!’

“Ten days later I had prototypes made by the same company that manufactured the sculpture.”

Drew’s day job is as an art teacher at Tolaga Bay Area School. He also works in photography, sculpture and video installation.

While teaching at Lytton High School, Drew and artist Simon Lardelli created an artwork for the school called Mangopare, a hammerhead shark.

“We used a 50 millimetre-thick sheet of acrylic, the same thickness as the Guardian. The work lights up at night.”

This year, Drew has had five shows in as many months. He exhibited in Hong Kong, twice in Queenstown, at the Auckland Art Fair and the Auckland Photography Festival.

Auckland art centre Depot Artspace filmed at his photography show as part of the organisation’s cultural icon series.
Drew says when he returned to Gisborne some years ago he found employment hard to find.

“I found myself creating my own jobs. The more irons in the fire the better. We diversify as a whanau. My partner Kadie and I don’t sit on our laurels.

“That’s what you need to do to survive in Gisborne.”

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