ARTBOARD / SKATEBOARD – Collaboration with skate-aid

Last weekend Bea, she does all the design stuff for our various “we”- endeavours, and I went to Münster. My second visit to this beautiful old city … We visited skate-aid at the skate palace.



skate-aid – under the umbrella of the Titus Dittmann Foundation – was founded in 2009 by Titus Dittmann, the German skateboarding legend. skate-aid supports humanitarian aid projects for children and young people worldwide. Their goal: to promote a sense of identity and purpose through skateboarding.

Exactly what we are planning to do with our we_school skatepark project.
Therefore I am very happy to announce that skate-aid and we_school “join forces” to let the ARTBOARD/SKATEBOARD project fly.

The cooperation includes:

  • we both use our networks to promote the project
  • skate-aid will operate and conduct the auction on a charity basis;
  • ARTBOARD/SKATEBOARD will become a skate-aid project without loosing its independence
  • we garantee the handling in India and coordinate the project locally
  • skate-aid brings in its expertise in building the skatepark
  • we connect them with the locals and provide sustainable progress

So NOW – having all the skateboards ready and having set the ground for a charity auction – all we need is YOU to join and make the auction a HUGE success – for the sake of the young children in rural India.


ARTBOARD / SKATEBOARD designed by Vicky Roy

Today I want to introduce our first artist who has designed an skateboard for our auction ARTBOARDS / SKATEBOARDS. Artists from around the world, many of them friends of mine, have offered their services free of charge to design skateboards which will be auctioned to help build a skatepark in an area of rural India. The auction is open to everybody and begins on 20 March.

Let me introduce Vicky Roy to you. He is a young well-known photographer, now based in Delhi. I met Vicky Roy two and a half years ago – since then we stayed in touch. What an amazing journey he started. Almost exactly a year ago I interviewed him: “Stay Free!” was the title – and it’s still the motto of his life.

Vicky is a real-life example of courage, resilience and effective mentorship. He ran away from home in West Bengal when he was 11, boarding a train to the Indian capital where he spent a year living at the railway station and a street eatery. He collected plastic bottles to sell, washed dishes and made flat bread for a living. He found shelter at Salaam Balak Trust where he met his mentor, Dixie Benjamin, a British photographer. This was life changing. Vicky started to walk down his own path of photography and created his very special way to tell Indian stories to the world!

Today his photos are exhibited worldwide and he has become a world class photographer.
Just recently his first book “HOME.STREET.HOME.” was published.

This is Vicky’s ARTBOARD/SKATEBOARD – the six photographs are a series from his latest exhibit HOME.STREET.HOME:


Just a few days he was featured in The Hindu, one of India’s most important newspapers.



A few days ago we’ve launched our latest project for we_school: ARTBOARDS/ SKATEBOARDS: Artists, many of them friends of mine, have offered their services free of charge to design skateboards which will be auctioned to help build a skatepark in an area of rural India. The auction is open to everybody and begins on 20 March.

artboard_skateboard_web_logo copy


The general idea of the skatepark is to give kids in rural India who DON’T know what a skateboard is and who are lacking in self-confidence the chance to bring some fun into their lives and learn new skills by playing. This will give them trust and confidence as they learn to develop new social skills and learn what it takes to commit themselves to a set goal.

The invitation to turn a SKATEBOARD into an ARTBOARD has been taken up not just by “hotshot” artists but also by the local kids in Jodhpur, the village where the skatepark will be built. The galaxy of stars supporting the project extends from artists whose names are household words like the Indian pioneer Raghava KK, the internet trendsetter Joi Ito and the young star photographer Vicky Roy from New Delhi to internationally famous artists like Austria’s Ernst Handl, New York’s Egon Zippel, Germany’s artist couple and Golden Nica winners Monika Fleischmann and Wolfgang Strauss and the Berlin photographer Axel Pfennigschmidt. What’s more, Dagmar Woyde-Koehler, widow of the German artist OUBEY, has given the work of her late husband a new lease of life in this exceptional format that deliberately shuns the conventions of the established art world.
Two Romanian artists are also on board – the Berlin entrepreneur and painter Béa Beste and Elisabeth Ochsenfeld with a host of international shows to her credit. On the national/local level we’re pleased to have gained the support of Indian and German artists. Bea Gschwend, the creative mind behind all we_activities, Bernd Herweh from Heidelberg (the hometown of the project’s initiator Ulrike Reinhard) and the art studio MAATI in New Delhi that supports and trains artistically gifted people from rural areas of India.
We’re also joined by two “local heroes” from Jodhpur, Rajasthan and Khajuraho, Madhya Pradesh – a children’s group and the “best living artist” from the city of the Kamasutra temples, Ashok whose temple paintings enjoy an international reputation.

In short, we’ve assembled a richly diversified group of people who all wish to see social change and support it – for a wide variety of reasons in a wide variety of forms.

So please go to our project website to read more about the artists and the skateboards they’ve painted for the special auction. The link to the auction “YOUR BID” will be activated on 20 March.
The auction runs from 20 to 26 March.

It’s open to everyone.

Bidding for each ARTBOARD / SKATEBOARD starts at 300 Euro.

Within the next 4 weeks I will introduce each artist and his/her board … So, stay tuned!


Painting and Skateboarding go beautifully together

Together with the guys from India’s first indoor skatepark “freemotionsk8” we went this week to Jodpuhr, a tiny little village in Rajasthan, a 4 hour drive from Delhi, to work with kids: Painting and skateboarding was on our schedule! I’ve written about this before here.

Akbar Khan was our wonderful host. I visited him before when we did this interview. Akbar is a farmer. He cares very much about education and has managed to educate his children in an extraordinary way – from the village to university back to the village. A completely different approach from what other farmers in the villages do – Akbar Khan is a true role model. Thanks again Akbar for your hospitality – we really enjoyed being with you!

On the roof of Akbar’s father house we skated and painted – it was the only place in the village where we had flat ground.

Our roof terrace – what a spot!

Painting on the left side of the roof, skating on the right side.

We started our 2.5 day event at the student’s assembly at the government school. The assembly takes place every morning and all students attend. It’s either in front of the school or in the school yard. The children pray and sing and sometimes the teacher tells a little story – it takes 5 minutes and after that school starts. At the government school in Jodpuhr they say they have about 100 students (up to grade 8), but frankly we never saw more than 25 kids there … and the school itself … just see! Another example in the unpleasant story of education in rural India. The principal and the teacher were very nice and I think the latter were very happy that we’ve liberated them from the kids for 2 days;-)

Entrance of the school

Students at assembly

Steve, Shang and Antonella watching the assembly

On the roof we separated the students in 2 groups: one painting group, one skateboarding group … we started by separating girls and boys as well, but this we gave up soon since they easily mixed together. Playing and working together It wasn’t an issue at all among the kids – we were very happy to see that. Boys dominating girls wasn’t something we experienced, it was a conversation on eye level – rather the girls dominating the boys was the real challenge;-)

We’ve had all age groups.
None of the kids ever painted before! They hardly had pens to draw with.
There are no art lessons at school! It’s no issue at all!
So we organized paper, pencils, water and acryl colors – which wasn’t an easy job;-)
Geeta, a french lady whom I work with in Khajuarho and who came to attend the workshop, went into 2 villages (20 km away) to find at least some colors!
And they had no idea what skateboarding was when we arrived.
But as kids are – they were refreshingly open and just embraced the new.
Curious to do things.
No fears. No barriers for us to break!
And they were equally eager to paint as they were to skate!
And they had the time of their life – as you can easily see on the pictures!
No words to explain needed.







During our painting sessions we had a competition going. We told them that at the end of the workshop we will select the 5 best paintings. The 5 winners I will take to Delhi – they usually don’t leave the village – they can skateboard in Steve’s skatepark and I show them a bit around. We will auction their paintings and the 3 skateboards they designed and the money we get will be spent for more skateboarding/learning/painting activities. All this will happen in mid March 2014.

It wasn’t an easy job to choose the best pictures … we really had a broad variety, as you can see. And please remember – the kids never had the chance to paint before! So what you see are all debut features!

Steve choosing his “top 5”

The best ones for us (none of us being professional in this field!) were those which used the space nicely, showed a variety of motifs and were fresh … I know, very superficial and not at all objective and professional … But what to do? 😉

So, here are the “award-winning” pictures and the designed skateboards – what colorful expressions!



During the entire 2 days on the roof we’ve had a never ending stream of visitors … the entire village wanted to see what we were doing!



And before we left we decorated the classrooms with the pictures 😉



And then we said good bye!
I am looking forward to see five of them in March in Delhi!

What was the outcome – besides the beautiful picts and skateboards and a lot of fun?

  • Kids take their chance when they get one! After 2 days some of the kids stood pretty secure on the skateboard and they easily picked up on painting!
  • there are 100+ ways of learning
  • kids always focus and concentrate if they love what they do!
  • it’s not so important how professional you do things, it’s much more important that you start doing things!
  • the “learning” environment matters !!!
  • the lack of plain roads had something surprisingly good: it gave us this beautiful spot on the roof !

Thanks again to Akbar and his family for being wonderful hosts!

Dinner with Akbar and his family

Skateboarding helps children develop positive behaviour!

Shake is an Indian Skateboarder and one of the founders/owners of The Holy Stoked Skatepark. The park was built within 2 weeks with the help of more than 20 skateboarders from all around the world – sponsored by Levis. Read their story here. The park opened late March this year and it gives pleasure and hope to so many kids in the neighborhood.

I went there to learn more about what you can really achieve when you provide a space for kids where they are free to develop their way. And what I saw made me happy:

  • boys and girls “equally” happy skating together
  • respectful handling
  • great engagement and dedication
  • nice mix of kids with various backgrounds
  • low barriers in approaching “strangers”
  • cool personal hand shaking while saying “hi” and “good-bye” 😉

There was one 13 year old guy, who truly impressed me. For him Holy Stoked Collective is life changing. Instead of hanging out with the wrong crowd and being a big troublemaker for his mother – he is now fully engaged in skateboarding … Still he is refusing to go to school, he dropped out 2 years ago – but with a pretty clear statement he said that he decided to work and earn money to pay for his little brother’s education instead. He feels that his chances of returning to school are gone and he doesn’t want to join classes with kids 2 years younger than him.

He is very strong minded kid and I felt he is smart and a good kid. And he finds his confidence in the skate park. I was so amazed how he is dealing with this board after only 5 month of practicing … I am sure with or without school the floor will be his!

During my visit I’ve got the chance to do ths short interview with Shake, on of the two guys who are running the Holy Stoked. He is telling us what they’ve been achieved so far and what they are up to …

And here are a few kids in action;-)




Creative Financing – Auctioning personalized Skateboards

As many of you know I initiated the we_school project in India. So far Egon Zippel (a friend of mine) and I financed the entire endeavour all by ourselves – expect in two cases we used crowd funding. Now, inspired by Gottfried Kube and his “Boards without Borders” project – he is planning to build a skate park in rural India and cooperate with we_school – we are in the middle of preparing auctions (online/offline) where we auction off “personalized” skate boards. 100% of the auction proceeds will end up in our skateboarding activities for girls in rural India.

What is a “personalized” skate board – you may ask.

We ask artists, photographers, designers and sometimes also children to “design” the deck of a skateboard and sign it. They either paint the decks, spray them or put a photograph on it and laminate it. All the decks become “art pieces” – they will never be used for skateboarding.

Joi Ito, in one of his lives a photographer, has chosen this picture for “his” deck:


Dagmar Woyde-Köhler, who is running the unusual Mindkiss Art Project, has chosen “POW”:


Vicky Roy, a young Indian photographer, has already designed his deck – He has chosen one image from his latest art exhibit Home.Street.Home. I haven’t seen it yet …

Other artists and supporters are:

Axel Pfennigschmidt, a photographer based in Berlin. He will use an image of his Marrakeck Edition for the deck. Bea Beste, founder of, is painting a “fun deck tollabox”. Bea Gschwend, our designer for we-magazine and we-school, is working on a we_school board. Raghava KK, a multi-talented Indian artist based in New York, has a board. Youssouf Amine Elalamy, a writer from Rabat, Morocco, will design a deck. Shilo, who did this years INKtalk stage, will do a deck. Bernd Kolb, one of the heroes of the German dotcom era in the 90ies and now working as a photographer all around the world will create another deck. And of course there will be the kids in Jodhpur, MEWAT, painting a deck during our first skateboard workshop.

And they all work for free!!! BIG, BIG thank you!

As you can see there will be a broad variety 😉
And there are many more to come … So stay tuned!
We started various activities to reach out to more artists in India, US, Morocco and Brazil.
And we count on you! If you know any one who might be interested in designing a deck – please let us know!
Just drop a line in the comment section or send an email.

The decks they are using are both, new and used. They are sponsored them from skate parks such as freemotionsk8 in New Delhi or Skate-Express in Heidelberg where I come from. Egon got a few boards in New York (I don’t know from where), in Morocco we are supported by Atlas Skateboard.

Our first auction is scheduled for December 13 in Berlin!
It will be a real event but you also have the chance to auction online!
So please join us and empower young girls in rural India!

Skateboarding in Rural India

A few weeks ago I’ve met Steve Weightman who is running Delhi’s first indoor skate park: freemotionsk8. He contributed two skateboard decks for our we-school auction. Gottfried Kube from Boards without Borders connected us. Lucky us;-)

Inside freemotionsk8

… after our meeting we agreed on a new we_school experiment: skateboarding for girls in rural India! Thank you Steve for your involvement!

This is what we are going to do on November 25-28.

We go back into Akbar Khan’s village in Mewat. We set up mobile skateboarding ramps in the village and train especially the girls in skateboarding. The skateboard lessons are paired with discussions on girls’ issues such as anti-trafficking awareness, gender imbalance, arts and and and … And we let the girls paint skateboards. All this supports the girls to build up self-confidence and lowers the barriers to address “difficult” topics. Our assumption is that the girls first of all will have lots of fun while skateboarding and painting the boards. They most likely will easily engage with each other in a very positive way. Secondly we believe that skateboarding is a valuable platform of expression, creativity and self-development for children of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds – I hope the experiment will proof it!

Maybe all this is the very first step towards Akbar’s girls education center. We’ll see what we learn from this experiment. From there we go …

The “we” in this case is actually a pretty big team: Besides Steves’s skateboarding team including an expert in anti-trafficking awareness, two friends of mine will join. Geeta, a French lady who is running an NGO in Khajuraho working with tribals and most like Durgha who was with us already in Patha when we conducted the workshop with the villagers. Both have experiences in rural areas.

Here are two more picts from freemotionsk8: