Jeremy Vlcsek : Road, Pics & Wood
Posted 06 September 2012 by .
Jeremy Vlcsek is definitely a good all-rounder, busy and modest dude! At only 24 years old, the Olow cabinet-maker is both an important figure in the Bordeaux skate scene and a young entrepreneur, photographer and adventurer in his spare time.
Hi Jeremy, how are you doing?
Quite well, the sun shines by now and I won’t deny that I still have thousands of things to do before getting back to the path of work, which means tomorrow…
All right, we do know you pretty well, but would you still make a quick introduction of yourself?
I’m 24 by now; I’ve been a carpenter for almost 6 years and skateboarding for 10. I’ve been living in Bordeaux for 3 years already, time flies! I come from the Parisian suburbs, SQY (Saint-Quentin en Yvelines).
You just got back from a nice road trip to Lebanon and Eastern Europe, don’t you? How was it? Tell me a little bit about your journey!
Actually, I’ve spent all the month of July away, half the time in Lebanon and the other half in Eastern Europe. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay any longer, you know, it was a low budget getaway! My Father has been married to a Lebanese for almost 10 years, so they go over there quite often to spend time with her family; I was there 8 years ago, I really felt like going back again to see the country with more years on my back : what’s changed, what hasn’t, Lebanese people… I’m not disappointed in the end; the “Swiss of the Middle East” is indeed worth seeing. Eastern Europe is considered quite an easy destination for French people: we all know that the cost of living is lower and that our salaries let us spend for sure a good time without being tight-fisted. My girlfriend and I left from Alsace, where she comes from, by car and then, 3000 km later, we were back to the starting point after having gone through a few countries: Germany, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and Austria.
What’s the craziest thing that happened to you on the road?
I’d say meeting up with part of my family again. They live in Slovakia, in Budmerice, a village located about 20 km north from Bratislava. My grand-father was Czechoslovakian and he immigrated to France after the war; my mother used to go to Czechoslovakia when she was young but in the last 20 years the two families have lost touch. The only information I had was that my family used to live in this village.
As a result, on the road to Bratislava, after getting completely lost in the Slovakian countryside, we eventually came across the village. The village isn’t as small as it used to be anymore so I couldn’t check every mailbox, certainly no more than ten I though, to find mine, as I’ve had planned, because it would have taken a couple of weeks longer. At the end, we came across the town hall and we wondered that, as it’s experienced, in villages everybody knows each-other.
After a dialogue of the deaf, by chance, I end up writing down my surname on a piece of paper and then the charming lady at the window shows to me on a map where the house is. I get out, the lady shows to me politely that the place is at the bottom of the tiny road “with the car before” and then I rushed off on that direction, I knocked on the door, and pulled my passport to show him my name, it took to both of us a couple of minutes to sink in and than in 10 minutes I found myself in the middle of a whole load of aunts and nephews, all eyes on me, with big smiles and asking me loads of questions in Slovakian. In the end we spent quite a time drawing on a notebook to get to understand each other.
During two hours I could meet up with part of my family, my girlfriend and I were really dumbfounded noticing how could our visiting, as crazy as it was, made them happy.
In the end, after politely turning down their invitation to stay instead of carrying on with our trip and receiving a 2 liters bottle of a quite pure alcohol as a present, we got back to Bratislava surrounded by everybody and happy to know that we took up with the family again.
Concerning the pictures, you must have got back with plenty of negatives I guess…
Not that much at the end, only about ten, most of them was taken in Lebanon where the changes were so crazy I used to get stunned at every street corner and pull my camera. Eastern Europe is amazing, nothing to say, the architecture is extremely beautiful and it was a real blow to my girlfriend, who’s an architect. However, these cities are getting touristy; you almost loose the feeling of being abroad, into another culture or just another country. As a result I calmed down with pictures in those countries, as many people we just content ourselves with walking around all day long to admire the treasures of Eastern Europe cities architecture.
What about skating in Lebanon and Eastern Europe?
It’s very hard to skate in Lebanon and skateboarding has definitely crept onto the country. I heard that they just set a skate park next to Bayreuth forum and I wondered that it could have been an opportunity to meet up with some Lebanese skaters and talk with them a bit. I ended up searching that skate park all the afternoon but no one in the neighborhood ever heard that place so, at nightfall, I turned back. I could only catch a glimpse of it, at the bottom of a mall parking, taking the motorway on my way back to the airport…
To come back to Easter Europe, everybody knows it’s a very good alternative to the too classic Barcelona: spots are crazy, there’s no shortage of marble squares and skating is much more fixed in the culture. I didn’t really have the chance to skate, above all I wanted to visit the country and see as much as I could of it, especially since travelling with your girlfriend means leaving the skate out for a while…
I just got her to understand that in Prague there’s Letno Park (Stalin Square) and that I had to go and skate and what’s more, as everybody knows, there’s a superb view on the city from this spot, so… everybody’s satisfied…
Can you tell us a little about Bella’s history, the carpentry you set up?
That’s fairly recent… I can tell you shortly how it gradually appeared.
Basically, when you have as girlfriend an architect and you are a carpenter, you have to impress her making her believe that the picture she has of the carpenter, that is to say the virile worker in blue in his workshop, with his fag stuck in his mouth, making endless-working furniture all day long, it’s me indeed and not my boss, who’s on my tale for everything to be ready as quickly as possible. Anyway, I started handcrafting some wood jewelry for her during my brakes, I’ve always enjoyed working with wood, and I used to do POSA for Olow at the same time. One day then, after discussing with my girlfriend about my project getting interesting not only for her and you, I got into the shop outside home, “Graduate”, and I just told them that I knew a little woodworking and that if they were happy with it, I could reproduce their logo in wood, the way they’d want me to. Much to my surprise, they were keen on that and since then, here we go, by word of mouth I managed to make some timbers for some friends and get to know other people interested in my concept, an unique piece, handmade, made do and mend, and with salvaged materials mostly.
We’ve seen plenty of wood birds with your designer label around the city, can you explain us your project and how did you get it?
To get the project talked about, you need people to hear about it. The best way I’ve found to do it is using the street as a means of communication trying to do something eye-catching, like graffiti or a sticker but in an “all kind of public” way. So I cut out of wood this bird, which for me is easy on the eye-shaped, easy to make and so for larger series; I get out, with a neoprene tube stuck in my pocket; I have a walk and try to stick them where I think passengers’ eyes come to rest on, involuntarily systematically. It’s up to them to get closer, and then to see my name and address on it, and, who knows, get in touch with me or talk about it with someone else.
So, did it work? Tell us a bit more about your clients
I’m not sure you can call it a success but I get emails from architecture agencies schemed by the idea, or just from friends who saw them in such-and-such place without me event talking to them about it before. For me it means that the idea wasn’t that bad, after all!
Let’s talk about Olow now; you take care of everything concerning wood POSA: how did you start up with that?
Everything began when I saw Luez and you turn up on my lino two years ago, and you were endlessly graceful to me for having you put up in such “good” conditions, and then you let me drive for a while with you during your “DIY Marketing” France tour. At first I had a lot of fun and then I was extremely surprised by you guys, I mean I challenge anybody to be as passionate and determinate as you guys are on your project. It makes doing everything you can to support it. However, big up for you guys!
What are you future plans?
At the moment I am still employed in a woodworking business, I try to work as much as possible on my project to try to stop working the evening, why not, and so to do my own job with more devotion, why not?
Otherwise, I’d love to continue skating with my friends, travelling this way and that when the opportunity comes up.
Thank you for the interview, dude. A little word to end up with?
I just wanted to say that the pictures I’ve joined to you don’t claim to be able to be artistic or anything, nothing close to a sterile tumbler looking for “like”.
They’re only personal memories to me, the kind you find out with a smile when you open the album which was lying at the bottom of your closet covered by dust.