What does it take to compete professionally in the highly competitive world of skateboarding? Adam Yee knows.
“I knew I wanted to be a professional skateboarder since I was nine,” says Adam, at home in Fort Collins, Colo. The 19-year-old art student got his first endorsements when he was 14 years old.
“I get a 50% discount on everyday merchandise and I'm in the flow for new shoes and other gear. In return I do a lot of demos, judge contests, sign autographs…but I'm a long way from making a living at it,” Adam says.
"If I win a contest, I'll get a bag of goodies."
For Adam, the next step is “more free stuff and a check. It depends on getting a board sponsor who's super-psyched on me,” Adam says. “If I win a contest, I'll get a bag of goodies.”
He's talking about big-ticket items and a lot of money; you have to be fully sponsored to get money. For now, Adam says, “I'm just on the flow team. As opposed to being in line for Lakai Shoes. Then I'd be in-house.”
The “flow team” gets the special shoes that, next to skateboards, are skateboarding's most marketable commodity. “The biggest money maker is designing a pro shoe or being in a video game. Some pros have eight to ten shoes that they've designed," says Adam.
There's a big crossover between skateboarding and graphics. This close relationship is one of the reasons Adam is studying art.
In the beginning it's all about being seen, says Adam. No problem. “I was there all the time anyway.”
Adam's advice to aspiring skateboard pros is simple. “Skateboarding can't be taught. You've got to go out and skate every day."
Simeon tells you how he balances work, school, and play with what he loves—Ultimate Frisbee!
The best way to attract attention is to participate in any and all skateboarding events. That's where the pros are, and the businesses that might sponsor you.
Being a skateboarder used to be looked down upon harshly. But things are changing. "With the advent of the X-Games," Adam says, "showing it on television has added a lot more kids, and a lot more money.”
Adam says that's "a good and a bad thing."The top skaters are millionaires based on licensed products and endorsements.
The vast majority of skateboard pros are not making a living with their boards. They're getting free equipment.
Those in the top tier are getting expenses paid to various events and demonstrations...