photos by Jenni PietromonacoVenice, Italy-born NYC local Lodovico Pellegrin has been skateboarding and doing graffiti with his crew Birdgang for more than five years, and has a pretty unique global perspective on skating. I met with Lodovico on his roof in Tribeca on a sunny spring day to catch up and see what’s up with Birdgang.
What’s like to be a skateboarder in NYC and in Venice? How is skate culture different in these two cities?
Lodovico Pellegrin: There’s no skating in Venice. Like at all. You can’t even ride a board down the street in Venice because of the architecture of the city. Everything’s stone. But Milan is a good city to skate with a growing skate culture. New York has a shit-load of things to skate. You can skate mad casual, like down roads and streets, or mad hardcore, like on rails and stairs.
What’s your go-to skate spots in NYC and Italy?
LP: Milano Centrale Train Station in Italy and Washington Square Park in NYC.
Tell me about your skate crew Birdgang. How did you meet and when did you start filming together?
LP: Friends of mine I’ve met through skating or school. And friends of friends who also skate. We started filming around 2015—10th grade—and made our first video in late 2015. In skating it’s common to have small skate crews. We all started skating together, and sometimes we would film each other on our phones. Mal had a VX1000—a vintage camera commonly used in skate videos—so we were like, fuck it, let’s start making our own videos.
Where did the name come from?
LP: The name came from a meme of this little boy running around a racetrack flapping his arms like a bird and screaming, “birdgang.” That shit’s jokes.
In NYC, is it important to be part of a crew?
LP: Being in a crew doesn’t really mean anything—it’s all about being with your homies. Birdgang is just a squad that likes to chill, fuck around and skate together. You can skate alone, but it’s more fun when you skate with all of your friends.
Are there any specific skaters or crews that have a major influence on Birdgang?
LP: Not really, we all have our own favorite skaters, companies and crews that influence us individually. But a bunch of kids in NYC have their own crews and make videos. We were inspired by this.
Most skate crew films have a style that’s recognizable throughout their various projects. How would you describe yours to someone that’s never seen your work?
LP: Our films aren’t super technical or serious. They’re more about a group of friends having fun together. We emphasize hi-jinks, which are basically like videos of fuck-around shit and funny stuff. A lot of these clips have nothing to do with skating.
You have traveled with Birdgang throughout Europe. Do you have a favorite place or memory from a trip that you can share? What stands out to you about that trip?
LP: Last summer in Venice with Mal and Tyler. It’s my city and there’s not much to skate—so the spots we found were not really skated on and looked mad cool on video. I don’t think anyone else has ever tried to make a video in Venice. Real talk.
What plans do you have for Birdgang in the coming year?
LP: We plan on releasing a bunch of short videos and clips. We don’t plan on making another thirty minute video anytime soon. They take mad time to produce and no one has the mental capacity to make or watch a long video.
Your father, Maurizio Pellegrin, is a well-known contemporary artist in Venice and New York. How has he influenced your work as a graffiti artist and filmmaker?
LP: He hasn’t. At all.
Skateboarding is finally recognized by the Olympics. What are your thoughts on that?
LP: I’m not sure what I think of it. On one hand—it’s more skateboarding on television, which is great; and on the other hand—it dilutes the artistic meaning of skateboarding by turning it into a “nationalized sport” thing, when really, it’s more of a lifestyle.
If you could skate anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Who’s your go-to artist to listen to while skating?
LP: Depends on what I am in the mood for or what I have been listening to recently—anything from alternative rock to trap music.
Hot dogs and french fries or spaghetti carbonara?