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Queer skaters unite! An interview with Jeffrey Cheung

The American visual artist and skateboarder is printing a book during a brief Berlin residency and will present it on Oct. 6

Oct. 4, 2017 – Jeffrey Cheung is an artist who has been queering up the skateboarding scene in Oakland, California. As with most sports, sk8 culture has a rather str8 reputation, but Cheung is changing the game with his visual output and the "Queer Skate Day" he regularly organizes there. Berlin-based screen-printing studio Palefroi has invited him here for a week-long residency, during which time he will design and print an original book of illustrations. He and Palefroi will publish and present it this Friday evening at Möbelhaus A-Z in Neukölln. We spoke to Cheung to check on his progress

You use the name "Unity" for your band, your zine label, and most recently a skateboard label and event series. What is it that unites the different Unity projects? Honestly, all of these started out separately and as individual projects. It first was a name for a band which I initially started with my partner Gabriel Ramirez. Then it was a name to publish our zines under, and eventually other artists as well. Now it is also a queer skateboarding project. I think the name Unity has taken on more meaning now. We want to support people in the queer and DIY communities and make things more accessible – especially for trans and POC.

How did this residency in Berlin come about? We were invited by Palefroi to participate in their Accumulation Primitive book series, and we thought October would be a good time to come here, since we would already be traveling at the end of September due to the New York Art Book Fair. Damien and Marion of Palefroi are both incredibly talented screen-printers and artists, and we are very excited and honored to work with them and contribute to this collection.

How is you book shaping up so far? It is going well! It is taking a little longer and I am working a little harder than on my past zines, but I am excited to spend more time on this one. I have never made a fully screen-printed book before, so I am excited to see how it will turn out.

Did you have a concept in mind before you arrived? Nope! It was very spontaneous, but also very similar to my previous work. The coloring was a little bit more complex than usual. The images celebrate sexuality and the body, sometimes in a funny way.

Have you been to Berlin before? Yes, we were here last year in June for the Miss Read Art Book Fair. We always love visiting!

Are you connecting with the local skate scene here? We met Sergej Vutuc, who is an artist and skater, and he is supportive of our project as a queer skate company. He has been helping us put our queer skate event on here in Berlin. 

What else are you planning to do while in Berlin? Nothing really planned besides working on the book and the queer skate event. Maybe eating, drinking, and being a tourist. We'd love to check out queer events – we welcome suggestions!

Interview: Joey Hansom

Jeffrey Cheung Book Release
Oct. 6, 19:00, Möbelhaus A-Z, Allerstr. 16




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