Who are you, by the way?
Hey, I am Mathieu Bonte (Mata7ik) and I am the proud cofounder of Chalk Custom Board Project. Somewhere in 2014, somewhere in Brussels, I opened my network and ask a couple of friends, people I know, friends of friends, people from the art world, from the skateboarding scene, if they would be interested in giving birth to a new era collective project. I love collaborating on projects. I don’t like solo shows for myself. Together we are so stronger ! A few calls later, we joined for an open discussion and Chalk Custom Board Project was born ! A fatty baby full of energy, aiming to grow and expand according to the people’s mindsets around it. I am 42 years old, coming from Lille, France. I am working in the marketing & communication world and I am also active as a coach. I am married (also with a French woman!) and have 2 lovely daughters (who now speak French and Flemish).
Why Chalk ? What’s behind this name?
Good question ! During one of the first meetings, my friend and successful photographer and video maker Micha Margo came up with this idea : we love starting projets from scratch. We like the freedom of creating new things, pushing borders and also the DIY spirit. Why not a « chalk » as « writing on a blackboard » and thus creating custom decks with this mindset ? We loved it. We shared it. We started it this way. Chalk Custom Board Project is the official name from our collective since the very beginning and we still love it. Only the logo has changed 3 times because we like to re-think of it every now and then, according to our evolving brand identity.
What is hiding behind the European Custom Board Show (ECBS)?
In 2017, Chalk was in a hyperactive mood, we we juggling with a lot of events, various kinds, various places. It was taking us hell a lot of energy and we decided to take a short break to think of our future. We could not keep on going from an event to another without a strategy, a more stable vision. This was the right time for us to set up our own event, with a European vibe. The ECBS was born ! The idea was to enlighten the incredible work of many European artists, considering that most of them did not have the chance to « exist » in international shows. We came up with the first edition in downtown Brussels, and we kept on organizing the ECBS on a regular basis, in Belgium (Les Halles Saint Géry, Brussels), in France (Darwin, Bordeaux), and this year in Lille (La Condition Publique, Roubaix).
What’s like to manage a collective of this kind?
I must admit it takes a lot of energy. You need to have faith in what you do, and find the right people to trust. A collective like Chalk Custom Board Project is not a business company. We don’t get paid for what we do. We do things with pure passion. That makes us evolve in a specific environment, because people can get highly interested in what we do, but just for one show ;-) And to survive on the long term, you really have to believe in what you do and you should stay aligned with your beliefs. It is also important to listen carefully to people who are taking part of the adventure and make them feel comfortable in what they undertake.
Can you tease us a little bit about the 2021 ECBS event?
Yes, but just a little ;-) We were invited at « La Condition Publique » in Roubaix, France. It is an incredible place and they have a great team who is taking part of the organisation. I can tell you that our 2021 event will be one of the most advanced show ever. Masterpieces, collective exhibition, skate conferences, live concerts, DIY workshops, skate contests…and much more. We already started to work (sadly via Visio conference because of what you know), but we do have the chance to have 2 people of our Chalk team living in Lille, acting as our ambassadors and connected people with La Condition Publique. The scenography will also be a major asset this year.
What is the most incredible ‘anecdote’ you have in mind, talking about the life of Chalk Custom Board Project?
Without thinking too much about it, I have two things in mind : our evening and nights at our very first event in Brugge, with big free parties with Faya Crew, the skate contest on the miniramp and also crazy people managing (managing is a big word!) the place ! But also when we slept at Darwin, Bordeaux, in some kind of Teletubbies houses from the 60’s without really knowing where we were sleeping. A one-of-a-kind experience, I would say.
What are your wishes for the collective in the near future?
Chalk Custom Board Project went trough a particular period in 2020, and some of our pillars left the adventure for private reasons. We are now building the foundations once again with fresh blood, fresh ambition and ‘goldened' values. I wish Chalk will find the stability and serenity for many years to come, becoming not only a reference in the custom board art world, but also a source of inspiration for the whole art and skateboarding scene. I also wish we remain as open minded and welcoming as we are this the beginning, this is engraved in our DNA !