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interview x travis hancock
images x arto saari

Because Arto is a badass, and it might just be easier to leave it at that because he is always evolving, trying and mastering new things. And like a fine wine or a hot Finnish mustard, he keeps getting better with age.

The Manifold:  Your world seems to be full of new horizons, not limited to a slew of new sponsors, from a semi-recent return to Flip Skateboards to joining forces with New Balance Numeric, WeSC, and the Side Mission project. Do these changes play into anything greater? Some kind of evolution? A new lease on life or just letting in fresh air?

AS:  Yes, for the last year or so there has been a lot of stuff happening, for the better for sure. The NB [Numeric] and WeSC have been excellent to work with and the Side Mission show finally came together, not sure if this is all happening cuz I took break from drinking, or maybe am just more willing to have more responsibility on my plate at this time.

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TM: Everyone likes to talk about your transition from professional skateboarder to professional photographer, but you did drop some heavy clips in the recent NB Numeric team videos. Do you still have a lot of goals or unfinished busi
ness on the board?

AS: I am not planning on transitioning anywhere. Let’s just say my obsession for photography has grown bigger. I still have few battles to pick on the board.

TM: But photography is clearly a big part of your current interests too. Do you think skating and photography will go always go hand in hand from here on out?

AS: Yes, that is how it started and I believe it will remain the same way. I just started surfing too and that has been a whole other experience of other-worldly radness!

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TM: Do you feel more drawn toward capturing tricks and skate culture? Spontaneous moments? Scandalous Ed Templeton-style teammate shots?

AS: I love capturing the actual tricks while I am on the sessions, but I love the culture and lifestyle of it and sometimes I am more psyched on a lifestyle photo than the actual trick in itself. There are so many ways to shoot anything, and there is no right or wrong way really. It is up to you and what looks good; you are the creator of the image and it’s same thing when you actually skate, you are the one making it happen on the board. I love that. For me photography feels like a blank canvas and anything is possible at this point. I love Edna; he is one of the greatest inspirations!

TM: Friend of The Manifold, Sam Muller, told me he has helped you with printing and post-processing and stuff– a difficult, and expensive, learning process. Would you say you are a perfectionist or you just wanna learn it all the right way?

AS: Yes, Sam is an absolute epic human and one of the greatest shooters out there right now. He has given me a lot of pointers and helped me out a lot.

Printing is a whole other ball game and scientific process itself. There is no reason to print a crappy print of an image you care about if with a little work it can be done proper.

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TM: Shifting gears a little… I’ve seen you in Hawaii a handful of times on tours and vacations with Dylan Rieder and Mark Oblow. How do feel about the islands? Any plans to return?

AS: One day I will live there, hopefully.

TM: You have explained Side Mission elsewhere, but it seems to be a bit of an evolving term, given the mission at hand. I know you recently had a Side Mission show in LA. So what does it mean at the moment?

AS: Side Missions started as innocent getaways from regular tours to shoot landscapes or bounce out for a night of camping somewhere. It has kinda evolved from there on to different projects and now my life consists of different Side Missions and makes it a whole.

TM: I hear you like mustard, fine Finnish mustard, and that you have been known to give the gift of mustard for holidays. What’s the story there?

AS: I absolutely love Auran Sinappi—can’t get it in States—and I love the graphics so I decided to get in touch with the peeps over in Finland and make few board graphics. They are super into it and it’s a big hit in Finland at the moment.

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TM: Any shout-outs to people in Hawaii or potential readers in outer space?

AS: I would like to thank the people of Hawaii for allowing me  to come and enjoy paradise once in awhile for a visit and anyone who hasn’t had the chance to visit should go there since it is a life changing experience. Mahalo!

TM: Going off this issue’s theme of “Legacy,” when it’s all said and done, which of your possessions will they put on display for you at the Finnish National Museum?

AS: If I was ever going to reach that kind of recognition, it would probably be my ashes. It’s better to burn out than fade away.