Nora Vasconcellos Interview: Endless Travels, New Projects, Hobbies + More
Nora talks skate trips, moving cross-country and how to properly spend time.
Nora approaches life in a completely refreshing way, so it makes sense her skateboarding (and artwork!) would follow suit. However, growing up on the East Coast had her feeling removed from the skate industry. While working at an ad agency sometime after high school, her epiphany hit and she packed her bags for California.
“Once I'd gotten out of high school and moved to California, I started really doodling with my own style.” –Nora Vasconcellos
Creative, funny and versatile on any terrain, Nora Vasconcellos has officially been voted onto the Nixon team. She’s a crucial member to add to our Team-Designed, Custom-Built program. Hyped to have Nora aboard, we hit her up to learn about her creative flow. Check out the full interview below.
What have you been up to lately? How was the East Coast trip?
It was good. I've been traveling quite a bit. I got back the night before last night. It was a whirlwind. It was good to be home [on the East Coast], really nice weather so that was cool. Got to go to Nantucket and go to a friend's wedding and really soak up some summer vibes. Now I'm back in California for a minute, which is so nice. Honestly, I haven't been somewhere for more than 10 days since March. I’m pretty fried. So, I'm excited to be posted up for a bit and get in the water, have a fridge full of food for a minute. That'll be really fun.
That's a lot of traveling. Did you also go out there for the Skate Dreams premier?
I initially went to Nantucket for the premiere of Skate Dreams, which is a documentary I'm a part of. It gives an initial history of women's skating, including its growth and how far it has come. It was so awesome. To get to go to Nantucket for that was amazing. It's a whole different world, the film festival vibe. Seeing how documentaries are produced and distributed is really cool. I'm really proud of it. It'll be cool when it gets out into the world.
That sounds really important to showcase. You went on the Adidas Midwest trip, too? What was that all about?
Yeah, it was great. Basically, we've been doing these trips—we did one in the fall—where we go to an area in the US. We started off in the Southeast for that one. We just did the Midwest too. So, we went everywhere from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Chicago, through Wisconsin and then we ended in Minneapolis, Minnesota. It was very grassroots. Go to the shop, build 15 skateboards, then give them out at demos. How skating used to be—showing up to parks, having demos and engaging with the community. So that was super fun. We were on that trip for about two weeks. Then from there, we went to New York City. By then I was pretty beat. I had a couple of days of nothing, but it was pretty solid. It was in the beginning of the summer, so everyone had that beginning of summer energy.
Nora Vasconcellos' Top Picks
Were you in the Northwest recently as well?
I just went to Hood for the first time and I fell in love with it. It's so sick, oh my god. I went to see Windell’s Camp. I've been looking at that park for however long it's been built, 10 or 15 years. It is my favorite park. If I could go skate somewhere tomorrow, or in an hour, I would pick that place every time. It's so flowy. Evergreen Skateparks, that's one of the first ones.
Did you hang out with Jill up there?
I was up there with Jill and some of our friends like Jess Kimura. They were throwing the It's Tits [snowboard event] session, so we're up there. It's boarding for breast cancer and a bunch of girls and crews come up to shred these really rad obstacles at this park that gets built. I personally had never snowboarded at Hood. It was such a playground for me, especially not being a super comfortable snowboarder. It was really fun to see everyone ripping. Then we'd go down and skate and hang out with the crew. It was a really good time.
“The trajectory of things could be so different. It's the butterfly effect. The smallest decision could have totally changed everything.”
What led to your decision to move to California? Did you have a job lined up or friends out here?
It was kind of crazy. I wanted to move here. I had graduated high school and didn't really have a plan. I stayed living at home and working. I worked for this multimedia, large-scale advertising company. A year of my life went by and I was like, "Holy shit. I need to do something." I knew I wanted to skate and work in the industry. I thought the best place to do that was California. So, I went to Woodward West for eight weeks and worked there for a full summer, then moved down to Orange County. It was wild. I knew a couple of friends. I knew Cara-Beth Burnside and Mimi Knoop, but not really. It was kind of wild to wing it. I was in Orange County for a few years. At the time, I started working for Welcome Skateboards. That was huge. It was such a big way to learn about the industry, work and create a base for what I was going to do. That was the beginning of how everything worked out. If I had moved to another area, never met Jason at Welcome and hadn’t worked there—the trajectory of things could be so different. It's the butterfly effect. The smallest decision could have totally changed everything.
You said you live in Encinitas now?
Yeah, I've been in Encinitas for a few years. I was in Hawaii and going back and forth between Hawaii and Encinitas. I love Encinitas. It's obviously far outside of Los Angeles, but I love flying out of San Diego, having a good airport that’s not too busy, having the beach close by. My brother lives in Encinitas now too. It's a really good homebase. I love the beach. I'm a beach baby, queen of the beach.
You surf a bit too?
Yeah, I love surfing. We're at that time of the year where summer swells start picking up and I'm like, "Ah, my shopaholic mind wants to go to the surf shop and buy new boards and set everything up.” I'm such a surfboard nerd. I'll use whatever. I'm not super picky. But I do love surfboards. A year or two ago, Alex Lopez made me a fish that I've been riding and it's been my go-to board, especially for small days or shitty days. It's really fast.
What was it like growing up and skating in Massachusetts?
Definitely growing up as a skater in Massachusetts, especially how that came about for me, was very different than my current life in Encinitas. But it was cool. I was really more into the transition scene and skating vert. I would go all the way up to New Hampshire and skate this park called Rye Airfield. I wasn't street skating very much, which is funny. Now at this point in my skating, I’m doing a lot of that, which I love. It was so different. I definitely had an image of what California was and the reason why I've settled in Encinitas is because it's the closest to that image. It's a really beach lifestyle. I live in a community with a lot of different friends from different backgrounds. I have a lot of friends who snowboard who live out here, a lot of surfer friends. It's just really nice. I do miss Massachusetts. Getting to go home and see it in peak summer vibe when everything is blooming and beautiful and the weather is flawless, I love it so much. I just have to remember the seven months when it's not like that.
Did you film out there much before you moved? Was the skate scene good?
The skate scene for sure is rad. It definitely exists more in Boston. There are some shops, like Orchard [Skateshop] is huge. There's that scene, but I was not a city kid. I didn't ever go into the city. I was kind of removed from that. I was just skating a lot of vert. So, I would go up to New Hampshire. I have an edit, but I don't know where it is. It used to be on Vimeo. I filmed a whole edit at the skatepark. That was kind of my first little part. It's funny. I moved out here, and still skate vert occasionally but not as much. It's so strange.
“I'm way more focused on filming my best stuff in the streets. Scaring myself. I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone.”
How did that transition into street skating?
Naturally being in a place, living in California, and starting to go on trips with sponsors. That's the biggest part. Then I signed with Adidas in 2016. So much of what we do is travel and go to super incredible locations with the most unique skate spots. It's a different challenge. Skateboarding is like anything else: you get motivated by different things. Sometimes I'm super inspired to go pad up and try something in a bowl or a vert ramp. Right now, I'm way more focused on filming my best stuff in the streets. Scaring myself. I'm trying to get out of my comfort zone. There's something about getting a clip at a spot that you're really stoked on. Or when you've imagined yourself doing something at a spot, then you go and there is the natural issue of, "Oh, this is gnarly.” You have to adapt to get something that would make you feel good or feel accomplished.
Do you enjoy traveling and filming? Is there some pressure or is it mostly fun to go to new spots?
I love it. As you travel, you get more comfortable. You learn your boundaries and the best way to approach traveling and taking care of yourself. If I'm filming something, which I'm filming a new part right now, I am so much more productive when I go on the road. When you're on a trip, you have purpose. I have so many things I want to skate around where I live and within California. Sometimes when I get home, I'm fried and need to disassociate from skating. Then it's nice when you get refreshed: "I'm gonna hit up my friend, and we're gonna go check out this spot."
When did you get into painting? How did that start?
I've painted forever. My dad is an illustrator. Both of my parents are very artistic. Growing up, we would paint all the time. He had a studio and we always had paints around the house. So, I always did it. It wasn't until the last 10 years, once I'd gotten out of high school and moved to California, I started really doodling with my own style. For a long time, I would paint something as realistic as I could. There was no story or style to it. I definitely like experimenting with griptape. That's a good way. That's where I started doing a lot of different painting and spray painting.
What kind of mediums do you dabble in?
I like to start with acrylic, sometimes spray paint. I really like oil pens. I've haven't gotten into full oils, but I use these oil pens and they're one of the most fun things ever. You can get such different textures. I'm an arts and crafts nerd. I'll be bored and I'll go drive down to Blick's in San Diego and drop $300 on some pens.
What animal represents you the best?
I would say, specifically, a black-footed cat. They are the cutest cats, but they are the smallest and most deadly cats. I'm not small, but I'm cute and deadly like a black-footed cat.
What do you have a planned for the future?
I have a pro shoe coming out in October, so I'm going to wrap up a video. It's actually coming out the beginning of 2023. Just trying to skate and have fun. I want to get surf clips for my part. So, trying to get clips.