Published on July 6th, 2018 | by Darren Paltrowitz0
Bear Walker On Making Top-Notch Skateboards, Being An Entrepreneur & Gulf Coast Living
Based on the Gulf Coast, Bear Walker Industries is known for making top-quality handcrafted skateboards known as Bear Walker Boards. At the helm of the company is its namesake Bear Walker, who interestingly only began doing skateboard design as a hobby. Reportedly, Walker and team are currently working on a “one-wheel” model, as scheduled to launch in early August 2018.
A lot of people recently took note of Bear Walker Industries when it collaborated with Legendary Television to produce a limited-edition collector’s board inspired by the new Lost in Space series streaming on Netflix. This J2 Beacon skateboard design incorporates iconic elements of the reimagined show including Will Robinson’s spacesuit and the spacecraft, the Jupiter 2. Each deck is crafted from the highest quality maple, with top-of-the-line trucks, wheels and hardware.
I had the pleasure of doing Q&A with Bear Walker himself about the J2 Beacon, being based in Alabama and plenty more. Walker and team can be visited online at www.bearwalker.com and also followed on Instagram and Facebook via the @BearWalkerOfficial handle.
You are a graphic designer, craftsman, fabricator and entrepreneur. When someone asks what you do for a living, how do you usually respond?
Bear Walker: I usually keep it simple and say “I make skateboards”… I love seeing the disapproving look on most people’s faces. Then they see my work and you can start to see their gears turning.
One of the things you’re most acclaimed for is your limited-edition skateboards. The Lost In Space-inspired board received a lot of press. How long does it take to make a board like that?
Bear Walker: The Lost In Space board is definitely a special one. I wanted to do something innovative so I was in the prototyping stage for almost a year. All said and done, with all the handmade detailing, the final product takes about 4 to 5 hours per board.
Has that led to requests for a collaborations with other entertainment properties?
Bear Walker: I happened to become buddies with Maxwell Jenkins — Will Robinson on Lost In Space — so that led to the Legendary/LIS deal. I typically like to collaborate more with individual artists/innovators. With that said though, Legendary was amazing to work with. The crew makes you feel like part of the family.
What is a typical workday like for you these days? How much of it as spent on art versus commerce?
Bear Walker: I live a pretty loose scheduled lifestyle, so running a business is a strange balance. My typical workday is spent in the shop from about 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM, and then I spend the evenings working on custom orders and maintaining the back-end of the company. It’s not out of the ordinary to work an 80-hour week, but it allows me to take a long vacation a couple times a year and not feel guilty. I usually turn those vacations into excuses to get social media content though.
Is it challenging to be based in Gulf Coast area doing what you do? Or are there other nearby skateboard-related companies and vendors?
Bear Walker: I view being based on the Gulf Coast as a huge opportunity. There’s a surprisingly large surf/skate community here that I feel is untapped due to stigma. Same thing with Alabama. I’m guilty of thinking “rednecks” when I moved here, but it’s a very artistic and open-minded community. I’m very fortunate to have found my way here, and I’m striving to become a force to be reckoned with in my new home.
What do the next few months for Bear Walker Industries look like?
Bear Walker: Crazy. I have my new line dropping on August 1st, some amazing collaborations coming up, and an entirely new product line with my OneWheel pads. I’m also booked out with customs for the next few months, which means I get to be artistic and try to create my client’s visions for the foreseeable future, which is what this is all about.
Have you ever encountered Bear McCreary? Or Bear Grylls?
Bear Walker: No, but either one would be an honor. I’m a pretty hardcore geek, so McCreary’s work on Walking Dead is legendary, and I’m an avid outdoorsman, so Bear Grylls is kind of my hero. He made a brand out of doing what he loves, and he’s a master at it. The day I get on one of those Bear Grylls adventure shows I’ll know I’ve made it haha
When not busy with work, where does your free time usually go?
Bear Walker: At this point in my life I feel like “free time” is just a perspective. I enjoy what I do, so I do it all the time. When I’m not building boards or designing them, I’m skating or walking around new places to get inspiration for new designs. Even going for a surf session to clear my head is work-related.
What was the last concert you attended for fun?
Bear Walker: Sadly, the last concert I saw was over a year ago at Hangout Fest: Twenty-One Pilots. They played for about 15 minutes until a thunderstorm rolled in and got rained out. It turned into a mosh pit of a thousand people rushing to the gates in a monsoon. It was epic.
Finally, Bear, any last words for the kids?
Bear Walker: Don’t be afraid of the future if you don’t have a plan. I floated along for years, trying to figure out my path. I’m not saying be lazy, I busted my ass for those years of “floating,” but all the odd jobs I worked and places I moved happened to be the perfect jigsaw puzzle to get me to where I am now. I wouldn’t have found this path any other way.