Since its inception in 1995, Blueprint Skateboards stood apart from all other U.K. based skate brands. Some credit Dan Magee's clean and sophisticated art direction, while others say it was the result of a team roster that boasted the best England had to offer for nearly two decades. And still others say it was their polished and tightly edited videos like "Waiting For The World" and "Lost and Found" that made them a global success. I believe it was a combination of all three and much more that made them so unique and great.
Sadly, with a shift in the economy Blueprint fell on hard times several years ago, having to sell off the brand to an outsider with a different vision, which ultimately sent Magee and the team packing just over a year ago.
London's Danny Brady was just one of the many bright and shining stars Blueprint exposed to the world in recent years. When the team left Blueprint, Brady and his good friend Nick Jenson were the main names speculated about where they'd land. Ultimately Jenson went with Paul Shier to start their new endeavor, Isle, while Brady went across the hallway to his roommate Lev Tanju's bedroom, knocked on the door and asked to ride for Lev's blazing hot underground brand Palace.
Earlier this year, XGames.com sat down with Brady to discuss the fallout at Blueprint and his move to Palace, which coincided with the release of new footage from Brady last week.
XGames.com: What happened with you and Blueprint?
Brady: Well, the original owner got in financial trouble when the financial crisis occurred and he went bust. They wanted to sell more in America and so they got a Canadian backer, some old vert skater named Max Dufour. We were meant to get royalties and no one got paid for a year and then Dan Magee left.
That's when it started to change. There were no graphics. Basically it was someone doing graphics by copying Magee's old style and so there was no progression. A company has to keep doing new stuff and not churning out the same old ideas over and over to be successful. We were no longer going on any trips. The whole time, I'd never spoke to Max DuFour until [Paul] Shier quit and he didn't even email me personally then. I was the one that emailed him saying, "I quit."
It seems like he wants to market Blueprint as a budget brand for kids. I'd much rather Blueprint just end instead of that happening but it's not up to me. He put the money into it so he gets the say. It just seems quite a sad thing to make it some price-point cartoony thing.
Since Lev Tanju, the owner of Palace, is also your roommate, was that a no-brainer to ride for them?
Yeah, it was kind of weird for me because everyone close to me was riding for Palace and doing all this cool stuff while Blueprint was not doing so much. It was kind of an envious thing because I wanted to be part of it but at the same time I didn't want to leave what I had because Blueprint had done so much for me. Lev would always joke, "Ah, you'll be on Palace soon. Don't worry."
Blueprint was my first ever sponsor and without them I wouldn't have really done much. They did so much for me that I never wanted to leave. There were points in 2012 that I did want to quit but if I quit there would have been a part of me that felt like I left it and did it an injustice. The way things worked out, I was relieved in the end because I didn't have to abandon ship. Everyone was leaving, it wasn't just me. I didn't feel like I left anyone behind. I saw it through to the end or what I like to think is the end.
I know Paul Shier is working on Isle with Nick Jensen. Why not go with them instead of Palace?
I think he already knew. I spoke to Shier about it and he said, "I know you were going to do Palace inevitably. Even if you came and rode for this new thing." Like I said, I'd been jealous of what Palace had going on and I wanted to be a part of it. Blueprint has always been family and that's the feeling I got with Palace -- it's all friends, it's all love.
I'm still going to skate with Jenson pretty much every time I go skating. Nothing is different but this seems to be fit for me. It's right in my house. There's not many other companies that I'd be interested in riding for, not that I've had any offers whatsoever. Palace was my number one choice. Polar is another amazing company that is hitting all the right notes. And Cliché has the most amazing team.
You mention three brands that are not American. You could never see yourself riding for an American brand?
I love visiting America but I wouldn't want to live there. It's my favorite place in the world to go and skate. New York is one of my favorite places. Driving across the country I had the best times ever but I've also spent three or four months and I didn't like being there for that long. It could work if I could live over here but Palace just seems so obvious that I wouldn't ever think of anything else.
Jenson did phone me to say they had a meeting at Girl about doing something for the both of us if we didn't find anything but I'm sure that would have been like a flow deal. I think when Blueprint moved to the U.S., it really separated us skaters that stayed in England from the company. I think it's important when you ride for a company that you are around the base of it. It makes you feel more involved.
Do you think it was the beginning of the end for Blueprint when they moved to America? Do you think had it stayed in England and serviced Europe that it would have still had legs and carried on?
It's hard to say because it depends on the person who takes it on. There's a small part of me that feels that this guy who took it over, maybe this is what he wanted all along. You just don't pay your riders for two years and think they're not going to quit. That's just simple stuff. You can't get away with that nowadays. If you can afford to pay the guys that pack your boxes why aren't you paying the team that sell the boards for you?
I think maybe he wanted to push us out so he could make it a budget brand. But it's up to him if that's what he wants to do. It's his money and his company now. [Editor's note: Blueprint was picked up by Pure Distribution and announced a new team in March of 2013.]
What do you have lined up?
I just put out this Palace video part. It was a new experience for me filming with VHS. It was one of the things I was a bit nervous about because I'm so used to VX and HD footage. With Blueprint, Dan Magee was always quite militant about footage, the complete opposite of Palace. There could be no talking in the background, don't cheer straight away after someone lands a trick, and if the footage was a bit dark he wouldn't use it.
Now with Palace, anything goes. I like the Palace videos but I was worried if my skating would look good on VHS. But one thing Lev said to me was, "Don't worry about anything."
Last question, I saw that there was a photo of Naomi Campbell wearing a Palace shirt. Does she hang around your house much?
No, I wish, I wish, I wish. There's a lot of people and celebrities wearing Palace in East London. It's fashionable but if you look at Palace as a team and a company it's pretty raw. It's a proper skater's company.