Skateboarding is a skill requiring focus, practice, persistence, and talent. Running this website gives me the chance to meet many local skaters, and I've consistently been impressed with their multi-faceted talents. In addition to growing their skating skills, skaters have developed skills in photography and social media, construction, brand building, and community organizing; all those skills to get to meet friends to skate with.
A skater who is taking the idea of multi-talented to an extreme is Ryan Crane. Ryan is an accomplished skater, an architectural visualization designer, a skatepark builder, community advocate and art show curator.
On the occasion of the Craig Johnson Bowl Jam at 4DWN, Ryan visited Dallas from his home in Bartlesville, Oklahoma, to compete in the Masters (40+) division. Ryan is well known among Dallas area skaters as a highly skilled skater and really nice guy, frequently joining for skateboard road trips to Houston or Colorado.
We interviewed Ryan while he was here to learn more about how he built a career around his passions.
SP4D: Can you tell us about your background growing up, when you learned to skate and maybe a story about what hooked you on skateboarding?
Ryan Crane: I was first introduced to skateboarding in the early 80’s at our local bike retailer. I went in looking for a BMX bike but left with a skateboard and the rest is history. Part of what hooked me to skateboarding was its rebellious nature at that time and not having to listen to a coach tell me what I could and could not do. I'm from a small community in Oklahoma where team sports were the dominant recreational activity, but that just did't appeal to me. Oklahoma did not have much of a skate scene at that time, but my parents were very supportive and would take me out of town to skate as often as possible. My father made his living as a contractor, and he eventually built me my first ramp.
SP4D: Can you tell us about your professional experience, working at an architecture firm, and also running a skatepark company?
During my junior and senior year of high school I went to a local vocational school for part of the day where I was introduced to computer aided drafting. Once I graduated high school I went on to study computer animation at the Art Institute of Dallas where I graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts in Media Arts and Animation. From there I joined a small architectural firm in my hometown where I have been a visualization designer and project manager ever since.
In the evening, I am a skatepark consultant for several companies such as Hunger Skateparks and Front Rock Concrete. I usually work closely with the local skaters getting their input before starting on the design, as well as studying the location for the park before I put anything down on paper. The budget also plays a huge role on the overall size of the park. From there I work on laying out a design. If the design is moving in the right direction and after meeting again with the local skaters, I put together a rendering for the park. Once I have final approval from the stakeholders (city officials, parks department, etc.) I put together construction drawings for bidding.
SP4D: You recently helped get a skatepark project approved as a bond project in Bartlesville, OK, and your company is doing the design of the park. Can you tell us how long you have been working on getting this park approved from the city, and how you went about that?
Persistence is the key. I was also fortunate enough to have an advocate at the city that saw the need and benefits of a new public skatepark within our community. Social media played an important role as well. I created the Bartlesville Skatepark Initiative to help inform and educate the general public on the benefits a quality skatepark would bring to the community. Attending city council meetings is also pivotal to getting your voice heard. Overall, it took close to 4 years to get the skatepark on the bond.
SP4D: You created the 7ply: The Art of Skateboarding show, how did that show come together, and what is your goal with the show?
I am lucky to have a boss who is the executive director of the Price Tower which is where we office out of and the gallery is located. I was approached about guest curating a show this summer and jumped at the opportunity. It was a no-brainer on what the subject of the show should be. This was the perfect venue to showcase the talents of skateboarders, as well as help inform the public on what we wanted to accomplish with the new skatepark.
SP4D: What have you learned through this community advocacy experience?
Overall, it’s been a very humbling experience due to the community support and the local skaters efforts to help raise awareness. It truly takes a committed team to make a vision become a reality. That and determination to never stop fighting for what you want.
Skateparks for Dallas is extremely grateful to Ryan Crane for his support of our community. Be sure to visit 7ply: The Art of Skateboarding at Price Tower in Bartlesville, OK before it ends August 26th.
We are inspired by Ryan's success in getting a skatepark project approved. Join our email list and find out how you can support Skateparks for Dallas.