This summer we brought the Frog Skateboards team together here in New York to film a video. We think they capture the essence of individuality in skateboarding and are proud to present our collaborative product now available online and in-store. It’s about to get weird.
Chris Milic of Frog Skateboards interviewed by Noah sales associate & videographer, Alex Greenberg
What’s up dude? What are you doing?
Nothing really, I’m just starting to help build this installation at the Noah store right now. It’s like a television and this big paper that covers the whole front window with graphics and drawings and stuff.
Yeah that sounds great. So are you super-busy right now then?
No, I have some time to talk. I’m just going to be here for a little while and then I’m going to a big concert in a couple hours.
Oh really? Who are you seeing?
Wow. That’s so sick.
Yeah. Then I have to come back to the store at like 8 in the morning to set up the rest of the installation.
Cool, then we can get into it. I guess the first thing we were wondering was how Frog Skateboards started. And when? What was the timeline for that like?
Well, I used to ride for a different skateboarding company a few years ago. This guy named Nolan Johnson was already on the team, and he’s one of my favorite skaters, so that was part of why I was into the company. But eventually he got fired—I mean kicked off the team, I guess that’s what you call it [laughs]. Once he got kicked off, a bunch of other people on the team decided to leave on their own. Jesse [Alba] was on the team too, and we both decided to leave also.
When was that?
Probably like 5 years ago. I moved to New York about 4 years ago. And so I think one summer right after I moved my friend Diego Meek was visiting me and we were all joking about starting a company called Frog. And a couple months later, way after the joke had ended, I got offered to ride for Alex [Olson]’s board company called 917. It didn’t end up working out, and me and Jesse brought back the joke from a couple months before like, “should we just do Frog?” And we were both just like “uhh, yeah, sure.” I guess that’s where it started.
So it wasn’t your master plan or anything? It just sort of happened when it happened?
I don’t know. We would joke about making Frog stuff and I remember drawing a couple funny things. And then I was like, “Dang, maybe we should actually do Frog.” And I kept drawing more stuff and ended up getting some t-shirts made. I think that sealed the deal. The boards weren’t actually made until like 6 or 7 months after the shirts. Boards are really expensive to make so I was just saving up money from the t-shirts. I was finally able to afford around 200 boards [laughs]. Even that few boards costs like 5 thousand dollars to make.
You’ve been making drawings for a while right? I remember you saying people used to buy your art off the Internet sometimes.
Yeah I’ve always drawn and painted and stuff, and I still do. I made little ’zines of drawings and paintings and put some up for sale. And I guess I just started using that art for Frog.
At what point did you really start putting all your eggs in the Frog basket?
It hasn’t ever been a conscious thing like that. It just started getting bigger and bigger. It started from a joke, so we just thought it was all really funny. And I wanted all of the graphics to be really silly. I guess I usually think that the more ridiculous it is, the better. [laughs]
Word. I was looking at a comment on Noah’s first Instagram post about the collab and someone was like, “Frog is the worst company ever, my 5 year old cousin could make their graphics in his sleep,” and in my head I was like, “I bet Chris would be hyped to read that.”
[Laughs] Yeah. That’s pretty funny, yeah. A bunch of people always comment that about the artwork, because it’s kind of bad [laughs]. I don’t know, I kind of like it. I like that it’s kind of ridiculous.
Exactly. I mean, whether it’s “good” or “bad,” it’s definitely unique. You can’t find anything like it anywhere else in skating, or even in art in general. That’s definitely pretty rare.
Yeah, I guess a lot of stuff in skating was looking really similar. And I was wanting the Frog graphics to look like nothing else sort of. It’s still pretty hard though.
And then your art happened to be a good way to make that happen? Or was that just like naturally what happened when you’re an artist and also start a board company?
I mean, when I first moved to New York I was just kind of planning to be an artist and keep drawing and painting and stuff. And then the Frog stuff all happened after that plan, so it wasn’t really intentional. Now that I do Frog, I try to put like half of my artistic energy into that. But in a different way. I don’t want the graphics to look exactly like my art. I’ll usually go about making a graphic in a different way than a painting or drawing, but obviously it’ll be similar. I feel like the graphics have a different style. Like a 5 year old did them. [laughs]
Oh yeah, I remember what that comment said actually. It was like, “My 5 year old cousin could make this on Microsoft Paint.”
Do you actually use Microsoft Paint?
Um [laughs], yeah. I’ve used it for a couple of the graphics. But now I also use photoshop.
I saw someone else who was super confused about Noah and Frog collaboration because they didn’t think it made sense that a skate company like Frog would collaborate with a clothing company. They were bummed because Noah isn’t fully a “skate” company or whatever. Or maybe it was the other way around. What’s your take on all that?
I feel like part of Noah’s roots are in skating. Skating and surfing and stuff, so it felt pretty natural for it to happen. I think it would be dumb to have to decide—as a company or just as a person—that you only belong to one category. You shouldn’t let yourself be pigeonholed and let other people put you in a certain box or something. Nobody should expect you to pick one thing and to just do that, and you shouldn’t expect yourself to do that either. Like, “Oh, Noah makes this style of clothes, so that’s what we’ll expect for the next 5 years.” That obviously doesn’t make sense to me. So with the collaboration with Frog, the only really important thing was that Noah genuinely loves skating and we were all excited about it.
I agree. I feel like part of the whole reason Noah exists is to be an example that it’s okay—or even good—to not only be what you’re expected to be. As a company, or just as a person, like you said. Noah is a clothing company but it also will make skateboards and wetsuits and make records and stuff, and by doing so it shows that you can really do whatever you want and have it work. I think Frog is like that too—it doesn’t stick to the skate company script, but I think that’s what makes it so sick.
Yeah. Exactly. And I feel like it’s important to surprise yourself and do stuff that’s unexpected even to you. I’m sure there are a lot of skaters who wouldn’t want to wear Noah clothes because it’s not a “skate” brand. I feel like it’s weird to think like that.
Speaking of which, I saw that you posted a music playlist on the Frog YouTube account. Like 45 minutes of different songs with freaky visuals and nothing to do with skating. That was sick and exactly what we’re talking about. It reminded me of something Noah might do as well. What else is Frog into? Do you have plans for anything else like that?
That was something I had wanted to do for a long time, and just more recently had time to do it. The timing of it wasn’t really planned. I was just feeling it one day and started making the video. Once I had it started, I just worked on it when I could until it was done.
So it was pretty spontaneous. That’s usually the best way to do things. Kind of like this whole Frog and Noah project.
Yeah. I do have stuff I want to do. But I almost don’t want to reveal it, [laughs]. I mostly don’t know how to explain it right now. [laughs]
Haha. Now I’m going to be up all night wondering.
I have some ideas. I just don’t really know when they will happen I guess. It will probably just be spontaneous again.
I feel it. I trust you. Maybe you can think of how to explain it before this interview comes out and we can add it in.
Yeah that works. I’ll let you know.
Cool. Alright guy. Thank you again.
No prob. See you soon.