Sem Rubio documents an unseen glimpse into the legendary skateboarder Mark Gonzales

Published by Rizzoli New York, this new book captures the universe surrounding the “most Influential Skateboarder of All Time" according to Transworld Skateboarding.

26 October 2020
Reading Time
3 minute read

If you aren’t familiar with “The Gonz” now, you certainly will be by the end of this article. Born Mark Gonzales, the American professional skateboarder and artist is fondly known as the The Gonz or just Gonz, but is even better known as a pioneer of street skateboarding. In a new book profiling Mark’s universe which embodies both his skateboarding and art, the eponymous tome is written by Mark himself and features photography by the photographer Sem Rubio.

Having been commissioned by the likes of Thrasher, 032C, Vans and Carhartt, Sem started out his career as “a skateboarder frustrated with injuries and looking for something else to keep [him] in contact with skateboarding,” he tells us. And with little encouragement, it didn’t take him long to start photographing his friends back in 2000 which, in his words, “escalated into a whole new passion.”

Born in the coastal town of Blanes, Catalonia (where he currently still resides) Sem likes to “keep true to what I do and what I like,” he tells us. Dispelling trends, which bear no relevance to this photographer, Sem says, “I’ve done my own thing since I started,” allowing a unique sense of artistry to come through in his work. Throughout his work however, there is one element that presides over his photographic oeuvre. Sem focuses on what’s important when it comes to an image, prescinding the irrelevant information in turn.


Mark Gonzales: Photography by Sem Rubio, published by Rizzoli New York (Copyright © Mark Gonzales, 2020)

“I just shoot things that make me feel good or find interesting,” he goes on to say. It’s similar to how he wound up skateboarding in the first place; a good feeling coupled with a fervent interest. He met Mark back in 2010 in Brazil and up until recently, he only knew the esteemed skateboarder in a professional context. “I grew up watching Mark skate like a zillion others,” Sem adds. “He has a very peculiar and even naïve perspective about skateboarding that reminds me of when I first grabbed a skateboard when I was 12.”

For Sem, Mark is one of those lucky people born blessed with a gift, both for skateboarding and art. Not only is he impressed with Mark’s varying outcomes but also the fact that “nothing ever becomes a routine for him,” which, Sem adds, “really inspires me on all levels, professionally and personally.” The idea for the book came about in 2017 when Mark, Tia (his wife) and the photographer travelled to Palermo to skate together with Blondey McCoy and Lucas Puig. On return from the trip, Sem realised that in only five days, he’d taken “so many good photos”. Thinking to himself, “what if we did two or three more trips like this?” the idea for the book suddenly popped into his head, and the ball started rolling.

Published by Rizzoli New York, the new book marks a previously unseen insight into Mark’s work, bridging both his art and skateboarding. A non-linear portrait of the pioneer accompanied with words by respected figures in both fields, Mark Gonzales captures how “everything Mark does is different sides of the same coin”. The publication is a culmination of passion project after passion project for Mark, Tia and Sem. Capturing the freeing atmosphere which goes hand-in-hand with the nostalgia of holidays, the book preserves unencumbered moments in time for one of the greatest skateboarders in history.

GalleryMark Gonzales: Photography by Sem Rubio, published by Rizzoli New York (Copyright © Mark Gonzales, 2020)

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Mark Gonzales: Photography by Sem Rubio, published by Rizzoli New York (Copyright © Mark Gonzales, 2020)

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About the Author

Jyni Ong

Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.

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