Skaters and creative vision are not normally uttered in the same sentence amongst culture aficionados, but that is about to change when the art world discovers Koby Newell.
For those not into the skate scene, Bay Street in Santa Monica was the epicenter of the Dogtown era. The corner of Bay Street and Main Street is the location of Horizon’s West Surf Shop, formerly known as Zepher. During its heyday, this low-key shop was home to the sufers and skaters that fueled the movement to today’s X-Games and other action sports. More than just a sporting movement, it is a life and culture with its own stylized fashion, art and music.
A recent revival of Dogtown and Zepher has come through the documentary “Dogtown and Z-boys” and through the photo documentary of Craig Stecyk. However, while the local scene has been subdued in recent years, the personalities, creativity and passion still thrive. A San Diego transplant by the name of Koby Newell seems to herald a new vision and direction for the area. I spent an afternoon shooting his photos and viewing his new and old work, music and skating.
Koby’s passions influence and inspire all of his work as a skater, musician and artist. I first met him at the Alan Scott Salon on Pico, near Main Street, where his work as a stylist and artist are both on display. Almost every inch of the salon is covered in work by local artists, including Alan Scott and Koby. While Alan is a local veteran of the scene, Koby is a new addition. At a glance, he seems a-typical of the usual Southern California skater. Sure, he has blond hair and blue eyes, but that’s as far as the stereotype goes.
If I were attempt to describe Koby’s style, it would be 70’s punk, skater, mod revial with a user-friendly twist. Unlike his previous generations, Koby seems to capture a raw, edgy style without the angst. He’s down-to-earth and mature beyond his years, but he’s also able to communicate a fresh, direct punch to you through his work.