Yes ladies, Mr. Sell is single and searching for love. Â Â Â Â Â Â p. Robbie Sell of Robbie Sell
With guns o’ plenty, a mean mustache and an apartment in Reno, Robbie Sell is nothing short of an American badass. After the tragic death of a once prominent snowboard career Robbie has recently shifted rolls from in front of, to behind, the lens. Robbie is the first pick photog’ for riders like Johnny Lazz, the inspiration behind a young Eric Messier’s mac-game and the owner of what Sean Tedore describes as the, “Best old school straight air.” With a blog to run, covers to capture, mountains to ride, sponsors to please and shit to shoot, Robbie Sell is as relevant as ever.
You’re the proud owner of some serious firepower, what’s in your arsenal these days?
I’m actually going to sell a couple. The novelty of the AK-47 has worn off, and I want to get a regular rifle, one with a scope to be accurate with. You know, really concentrate and try to hit the target; it’s very gratifying. And the big semi-auto pistol is gonna get changed to a little revolver. I’m keeping the shotgun though, it’s so much fun to shoot skeet.
How did you obtain an AK-47?
I randomly bought it in Oregon when a group of HCSC coaches were driving to the ocean for the weekend. There was a convenience store that sells firearms along the way; we stopped, the homeys got drinks, and I bought a Romanian assault riffle. It threw them off guard a little bit, maybe they didn’t know my redneck roots. They called me a hickster.
With ideas like this it’s amazing Nick Dirks isn’t crippled every year. Â Â p. Robbie Sell
Favorite thing to shoot at?
Have you ever checked out Jarad Hadi’s Hump Day? Â Â Â p. Robbie Sell
Where do hicksters come from?
I was raised in a split family, so Summers were in Redding, California and the rest was in Sacramento, ‘till I went to high school in Truckee. While in Sac’, Moms was dating a rocker guy in Reno. She wanted to be closer to him without leaving California, because of our welfare support. So, Truckee was the closet town. Yeah, we had food stamps growing up.
Your childhood wasn’t filled with orange slices between pipe runs and DVD’s in mom’s mini-van?
Nope, I used to work in the ski rental shop at Boreal so I could ride. I would hitchhike everyday after school to go night riding. I also worked at a lumber mill in the Summers to get enough cash for a Squaw Valley mid-week pass.
Grab a skittle colored Euro, add nature as a backdrop and BAM! Great photo. Â Â Â Â p. Robbie Sell
How did you guys meet Scotty Wittlake? What were your initial impressions?
He went to school at Squaw, and we rode there. He used to make his own baggy pants, and sell them to the kids at his school. He has never tried to impress anybody, and I appreciated that from him. He really kept me humble when ever I got a weird ego or something. Initial impression? Dirtbag. There ain’t nuthin’ wrong with it either.
Look at how Nick Visconti’s nail polish pops in that sepia tone. Â Â Â Â Â p. Robbie Sell
You used to be very vocal, why were you so quick to burn bridges?
Some people just need to be called out, and the public should know what’s up.
Great timing, great placement and a great grab by Eric Messier. Â Â Â Â p. Robbie Sell
How did your path to snowboard stardom unfold?
I tried to get sponsors, because I couldn’t afford new gear all the time.Â I used to do the USASA contests with my friends, which was a good time.Â I never really had a sponsor-me tape, but talked to people and tricked them to give me some stuff. I got hooked up by the Santa Cruz Nor-Cal rep for a few years, then got on the AM team. I started shooting for videos like 411, Technine, a couple other video magazines (pre YouTube) with Pierre (Minhondo), and also started getting published in the mags. Then after like six years of being AM, Quiksilver sponsored me. Probably because I was all edgy for the time, wearing jeans and hoodies. Quik took a chance and turned me pro, and then all my other sponsors decided to jump in and put me on their pro teams. (Thanks and Congrats Brian and Jess Craighill on their new baby) My answers are dumb.
Your best video part?
I thought they all sucked. Blacklight was kinda cool though.
“Robbie is my first pick, my second pick, he’s my only pick.” –Johnny Lazz p. Robbie Sell
Why were you so keen on wooden handrails?
The Lake Tahoe area doesn’t have spots like SLC does.We have a bunch of vacation rental homes with shitty wood handrails. So naturally, that’s what we went to jib on. There’s like five metal handrails in all of Tahoe And Scotty (Wittlake) wanted to be badass, and ride something more difficult than it needed to be, so we hit the shittiest stuff.
How were the living conditions in the NeoProto flophouse?
Well, nine of us in one house. One of the guys lived in the pantry. Dudes shared beds. (Shaun) McKay lived in the hallway. Gretchen Bleiler’s now husband used to share a bed with a blonde Finnish guy. Ahh, the good ole’ days. We also had a different house, were (Aaron) Keene lived in the closet, Pierre had a sex swing hanging from his ceiling, and Filippo (Kratter) lived in the dining room.
Neoproto met its maker and shortly after so did your spotlight, why?
Riders like Chris Grenier take eating shit to a whole new level. Â Â Â Â Â p. Robbie Sell
Why did all of your sponsors drop you at the same time?
My video part came out in People, and I had a lot of magazine coverage, but I wasn’t the flavor of the week anymore. I wasn’t doing big airs like my managers wanted from me. It was ironic, because I got twice to three times the exposure then some of my teammates were getting, but budgets were shrinking. My binding sponsor at the time, that situation still confuses me; among many others, even other employees at the brand. That’s all I’m going to say about that one.
Tight pants weren’t cool anymore, or did the look mutate to include tattoos and Harleys without you?
A lot of people who hated me/Corey (Smith) for our fashion trend, now look like us. Whatever though. I’m over it. My favorite quote used to be, “The haters are just jealous.”
You’re always selling your possessions on Craigslist, could you survive without your digital income?
I used to donate to thrift stores. Now that I don’t have a big income, Craigslist is invaluable. I’ve got a couple extra cameras, some retro furniture, and a bike if you’re interested.
California cowboy Johnny Miller tuckin’ up and flyin’ by. Â Â Â Â Â Â Â p. Robbie Sell
After a snowboard career how is your body holding up?
All those harsh landings are showing. I sometimes have ankle issues, a rib in my has been dislocating for eight years, back pains once in a while, but my neck has been a problem everyday. It doesn’t help that I lug around all the heavy camera gear and still ride a bunch. It’s just a part of daily life now. You deal with it, and get on.
Years ago your meniscus was down to 15% of its original size, how is it holding up now?
Yeah, I got over-pronation on my right knee. I don’t know if it’s just how my knee is, or if it was from riding that worsened it. My back/neck pain overpower that though, so it doesn’t bother me.
What’s up with this neck pain?
I went to a sports therapist for a couple years during the last bit of my filming days. My body was/is so tweaked. My spine is slightly rotated to the left, from being a regular footer. My neck has 3rd degree disk degeneration, or something like that. Just too many brutal landings, and the top three or four vertebrae began fusing together from it.
Drink of choice?
Bourbon, or Coors Light, or both.
Travis Kennedy is going to make Forum feel stupid once his T9 part drops. Â Â Â Â Â p. Robbie Sell
How did you transition into a life behind the lens?
I was always more concerned with magazine coverage than video parts, which makes sense about my current career. When I was making tens of thousands as a pro snowboarder, I bought camera equipment when I could. I was still filming for People, and after I would get my shot, I would hang with other awesome riders, and take pictures of them. It was the best interning you could get, because I was right there with guys like Andy Wright, Rob Mathis, Mark Welsh, Mark Kohlman, and others, who were the best inspiration ever. They never leaked their secrets, but I would pay attention a little.
When did photography become a serious gig?
When I got dropped by my sponsors. It was what I wanted to do, and a natural transition from my past. I already knew how film/photoshoots were run, I had a huge network of athletes who were already comfortable with me and trusted me, and the magazine editors already knew my name. It was just too perfect to do anything else. All I had to do, was learn how to take a professional picture. Reading books, experimenting, trial/error, workshops, and advice from mentors has gotten me to where I am today.
Have you taken any cover shots?
I’ve got a couple. Austin Smith on the last Future Snowboard Mag, and Robbie Walker on Snowboarder AUS.
Where is Eric Messier coming from and where the hell does he think he’s going? Â Â Â p. Robbie Sell
What camera do you shoot with?
Mainly, a vintage Canon digital. Vintage by 2010 standards. I shoot a little film still after I know I’ve gotten a keeper.
Is there a style to your photography? Is there something you want your photos to be known for or a theme to link them?
Yeah, awesome, pysche! Kevin Zacher has told me to find a certain style, and run with it so they are recognizable without the tag on it. But I don’t go out with a certain feel, except to make a scene/rider look the best they can, or mad artsy if the spot isn’t dangerous. I just remember seeing photos of myself, that I risked my life for, and the shots completely not showing how gnarly it was or what I went through, and I don’t want others to feel that same way. I’m a snowboarder more so than an artist.
If Bigfoot was a snowboarder this would be his wet dream. Â Â Â Â p. Robbie Sell
Do you see more meth or hookers now that you live in Reno?
I don’t meth around, but for entertainment we’ll drive down 4th street and play “spot the hooker”. It’s like slug-bug.
Do you think your snowboarding background helped to make you a better photographer?
Do you think there are worse photographers than you?
Watering hole of choice in Reno?
There’s too many to say just one. Lincoln Lounge, St James, Chapel, Imperial, Tonic, Broken Spoke, and that’s all in a couple block radius. Pie Face will be my choice in the future.
Aren’t you still sponsored?
I don’t know why, but a few brands have my back right now. It’s not like I was of legendary status or anything, but big thanks to Compatriot Snowboards, Comune Clothing, Sabre, Thirtytwo, Active. Oh, and of course Coal Headwear.