cruising overboard with overbey: chicago youth creates own skate brand
Written by Alexa Rixon, Staff Writer
Skateboarding doesn’t just allow for convenience or a moment of relief – networks and communities can be made. Seeing many who may have gone down a darker path, Daniel Overbey believes that skate culture and the comradery between it has allowed them to use it as an alternative outlet.
“Skate culture is about looking for that feeling, it’s about losing yourself to the moment and being focused on the trick or being focused on the ride. And you’re not stressed out about anything,” said Overbey, senior product design major at Columbia College Chicago.
Noticing a void in the market for an urban cruiser that could also be used to do tricks ignited the birth of the Overboard.
Originally a personal project, Overbey’s first board was made during his sophomore year of college in 2015. The interest it garnered lead to the creation of skate-brand Overboard Cruisers. Overbey runs it with co-founder Mike Markes, a DePaul University creative writing major.
Overbey is unsure as to whether they’d call Overboard Cruisers a company, which have the connotation of being overly focused on profit. He opposes that idea, and believes being a brand lies more in trying to communicate a particular feeling or promote a certain lifestyle.
The lifestyle Overboard Cruisers tries to present is one of fluidity, freedom and relaxation. Overbey doesn’t want people to take the brand too seriously. Rather, he says it’s something enjoyable that should make people feel good.
Skating in Chicago there are many 90-degree corners to hit. The longboard, which is great for many environments, was tricky when it came to those turning points, according to Markes.
Riding a regular style deck was fun for Overbey, however getting around on those boards through the city proved frustrating. The wheels were harder, causing him to catch every crack and trip over every rock. A temporary solution was the penny board, which he found good at times.
Still, he found aspects of it uncomfortable. After fruitless searching, he decided to create his own.
“With the design we have now, it has a fluid, navigable feel to it. You have complete control over it. That was the issue with a lot of [boards]. There is a freedom to [the Overboard] and I think the freedom comes from the control over the environment,” said Markes.
All produced by hand, the Overboard decks are made at Columbia College’s Fabrication Facility. With versatility in mind, the Overboard is made to be appreciated as both a trick deck and a cruiser. Listening to jazz as he layers pieces of wood, like cruising, allows him to fall into a meditative state.
“I’ll lose myself to the experience and not feel or think about anything other than how free I am,” Overbey said. “That lack of concentration on anything but the cruise is the biggest reason I want Overboard to work – so other people can feel that too.”
He focuses purely on his breathing, measurements and the smooth texture of the wood. Nothing else.
Ian Valiente, now a recent Columbia College graduate, can attest to the Overboard’s convenience. After having met at a party, Overbey made Valiente an Overboard. Now when he’s cruising people stop and ask about it, which has been great for promoting the brand.
“It had definitely changed the way I skate to school, I can virtually go anywhere and it has cut my walking time in half and has saved me from being late to class multiple times,” he said.
The main difference he’s found is how the wheels and bearing are smoother, allowing him to bend side to side more effortlessly. This lets him actually cruise rather than pedal constantly.
For Valiente skating is a form of escape.
“When I would be a little stressed out I’d always want to take a breath of fresh air,” he said. “I get to explore all these really cool spots that aren’t popular enough for the L, so I get to a lot of places that not a lot of people know about.”
Being on a skateboard can open pathways of communication between skateboarders as there’s immediately something in common. People greet and acknowledge each other despite being strangers simply because of the common activity. Even just a short moment of eye contact can do volumes.
“I don’t know them but there’s an unspoken family aspect to skate culture,” Overbey said. “Everybody’s the same. Even if you don’t know any tricks, the fact that you’re on a board means that you know how it feels to skate.”
Overboard Cruisers recently donated an Overboard to Jammin’ With Jane, a silent auction charity event hosted by Columbia College’s Special Events and Promotions students. The skateboard was successfully auctioned off. Overbey has also been running a laser engraving and skateboard design class at the Evanston Art Center during the summer, and will be doing so again this year.
Rooted in Chicago right now, Overboard Cruisers would like to get more involved with supporting the city.
“Overboard is a very positive brand, and giving back to the community that sort of inspired the brand would be very ideal,” said Markes.
The sense of euphoria and feeling of unmatched freedom is what Overbey wants to share.
“I know a lot of people who would’ve turn to drugs or gone into more violent gangs but [instead] they join a skate gang or skate cruise,” Overbey said. “And they just hang out with their friends and skate. It’s productive, it’s healthy and it sounds cliché but skating saves a lot of lives.”
Overboards can be found on their website.
Find Daniel Overbey on Instagram @doverbey2.
Find Mike Markes on Instagram @mikemarkes.
Find Overboard on Instagram @overboardcruisers.
All photos courtesy of Mike Markes.
Contact Alexa by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.