Marco Hernandez hails from Staten Island, NY and I came across him by chance a year or two back while scrolling through Instagram. A few weeks later I was picking up a few items from the Nighted online shop and I bagged a copy of his first zine “The Streets Talk But Do We Listen?”, it’s since been a favourite and rarely sits idle on the bookshelf.
When did you first start taking photos and who/what influences your style and the way you shoot?
I began taking photographs in 2011, I wanted to document my life skateboarding in New York City and show the world what I see. Ed Templeton was and is to this day a big inspiration to me, growing up watching Toy Machine videos and going out skating in the Lower East Side was basically all I did was when I was in high school. In one of Ed’s videos "Suffer The Joy" there was a booklet that came along in it, it was like a zine with images Ed had shot while on tour with the Toy team and I was just in awe how amazing the images were, the gritty borders and grainy black and white photos made me want to start shooting things myself. Fast forward 3 years later and here I am with 4 zines under my belt, a solo exhibition on the way, and a book in the works. Just crazy how time flies.
Following your Instagram feed you constantly seem to be out and about keeping busy, shooting photos, developing a ton of film, exploring and skating. Talk me through a normal day in your life, what do you get up to?
I definitely like to keep myself occupied, whether it be skating, shooting photos, writing down future plans, just anything I can keep my mind flowing with. I’m working on a book at the moment called ” Smoker’s Club ” and I am real excited about it, it consists of portraits of smokers and other images cigarette related. An average day in my life would be to wake up, grab a coffee, hit up the homies, gas my car up, load my cameras with film, and just see where the day takes me. I shoot at least a roll a day.
I’ve never had a chance to visit the USA yet, being a local tell me a bit about NYC and Staten Island? Where can I find you chilling / partying and what’s good to check out?
You should definitely make a plan to come to states soon! There is no place like New York, it’s almost impossible to become bored in this city. You walk around the same spot and there will always be something new going on, it’s a melting pot of people from all over the world so you see new faces everywhere. Skating in the streets is probably something that needs to be experienced, there is nothing like pushing on the rough concrete, swerving through traffic, listening to the noise of the New York hustle, holding onto the back of taxis to get speed, and seeing crazy people. I was born in Staten Island, this borough is known as the forgotten borough just because of the fact that nothing really comes out of here, I call it Stagnant Island. It’s a small suburbs where everyone knows everyone and you can pretty much fall into a void of alcoholism and drug addiction at a young age because there is really nothing to do other than eat, get drunk, or go to a shopping mall on a Friday where you’ll see most of the island’s youth. You can usually catch me chilling around a local meet up spot in Manhattan, Tompkins Sq Park, it’s basically a large slab of smooth concrete where people come to warm up and proceed to go to other spots from there, you see so many pros and other famous people there sometimes. I’ve seen Spike Jonze there, a bunch of fashion photo shoots would take place there that wound up being in magazines I would see in shops eventually, it’s crazy. After a day of skating me and the crew go to the local spot, Lé Basket, it’s basically a deli with outdoor seating and a good variety of beers.
I heard you’re a big Wu Tang fan, being from the same borough you must have a story or something interesting you can tell me about them?
I’m definitely a fan of Wu-Tang Clan, I was born around the time east coast hip hop was at it’s best so I’m super into it. Growing up my brothers were into Wu and around my house there was a supermarket that had a record store in it and they had just got the ” Enter the 36 Chambers ” tape, I remember just chilling with them listening to the album, and to this day I still listen to them religiously. They basically put Staten Island on the map and now everyone knows this borough as “Shaolin”. You can see them around sometimes I’ve heard my friends say they’ve seen Method Man around with his daughter and I’ve seen Ghostface Killah, it’s just sick how they are still here in NYC keeping it real.
Not too long ago you were given the opportunity to have one of your photos used as a skateboard graphic for The Northern Co which was a first for you. Like any skateboarder I can imagine how exciting that must’ve been. Tell me about how that came to light and the process of working towards the final product?
Yeah I was stoked! At the time they were just starting out and looking for graphics to be done, the first graphic that got me stoked was the mountain photo graphic that my friend Matt Day had shot, he is out in Ohio and shoots beautiful images of woods and nature type shots, I usually get bored with that stuff but the way he shoots it just looks so good. He referred me over to them and I shared a couple shots I had and they were stoked on a photo I shot at a cemetery of the Virgin Mary statue on a grave. From there they gave me 100 bucks and now the board is proudly hanging up on my wall, it was wn emotional event for me when I received it in the mail and looking at it, skateboarding has been a big part of my life for such a long time and to see my photo on a board that people around the world can skate just gets me real hyped. I would get tagged on Instagram when people bought the boards and I would just be like in awe that something like that can happen.
I’m a firm believer in bridging the seas by making friends, contacts and working with people from all over the world. A while back I was stoked to see you collaborated on some work with Tom Bold of Stay Rad Skates from the UK where he added some pretty insane illustrations to your photos. They looked great and worked really well giving a whole different life to your shots. How did the idea come about and do you have any plans for something similar or other collaboration work in the future with him or anyone else?
Tom Bold is one of my favourite artists and a good homie out in the UK! His work is rad and only makes sense that his artist name is STAYRAD. I had met him through Instagram around the time I started making zines and I had a cover of my zine a photo of my foot on a skateboard. He had bought the zine and he was inspired by it, which led him to make a painting of a foot on a board, he had tagged me in his post and I was just so stoked to see I got someone hyped to make art. So from there we collaborated on a some images, that dude is killing it, I have a couple of his prints framed and hanging on my wall along with the other homies who make art. I respect him a lot for what he is doing and I back his work 100%. I am definitely always open to collaborate with other artists, I think we all should want to work together to create something.
A Love Token released your new solo zine "I Remember Nothing" a few months ago, for me it was the perfect follow up to previous zines complete with skate and chill photos and then a few polaroids thown in the mix too. Where do your zine titles come from and what do you think makes a good solid release?
"I Remember Nothing" is my third zine that was released a couple months ago, besides being a song by Joy Division, "I Remember Nothing" has a meaning to me. I’m always out skating and pushing past things I see, I shoot tons of photographs a day to the point I forget what I saw that day and when I develop a roll, look at what the results are, then will be reminded of what went down. I like to title my zines based off what is going on in my mind at the moment and sometimes it just won’t make sense to people, my recent zine was titled "Understanding is Optional" only because if you don’t skate, you won’t understand. I don’t want to confuse viewers, I don’t consider myself an artist, I just want to show the world what I see. A good zine is something someone wants to keep in the bookshelf for ages and look at whenever they want, I get excited knowing my zines are all over the world, especially in London where most of my online purchases are from.
Just to round things off what plans you’ve got for the future?
Other than my book in the works, I just plan on skating more with my friends, meeting new people, making time for more exhibitions and just have a great time enjoying life. I am having an exhibition in Staten Island in a few weeks so I’m stoked!
…and finally just for fun give me your all time top 5 records?
1) Morrissey - Viva Hate
2) Mobb Deep - The Infamous
3) Allah-Lahs - Self Titled
4) Raekwon - Only Built 4 Cuban Linx
5) Joy Division - Closer
Interview by Mark Buchanan
24 Pages / Full Color and B&W Pages / Hand Assembled
Limited to 30 hand numbered copies
We’ll have a few copies of Brian Arnold and Nicholas Haydon’s new zine fairly soon if anyone this side of the water is after one. Stoked to get my hands on it.