Hidden in a pine forest in the village of Belye Stolby, 49 km south of Moscow, is a small house surrounded by wild strawberries. There, in a tiny homemade atelier, is Maxim Koposov, the 24-year-old behind Handmade Ma Longboards, an online shop selling, as the name suggests, handcrafted longboards. Koposov, an ardent skateboarder, made his first longboard in 2009. “Back at that time I had no job, and consequently no money for a longboard, which was rather expensive and also rare and hard to find in Russia,” he says. “I borrowed a few tools from my stepfather and began to learn about woodwork.”
After trying out a variety of different types of wood, Koposov settled on birch. Once crafted, he completes each board with artwork inspired by a variety of design styles ranging from graffiti art to khokhloma, a type of gold-and-red floral wood painting used on Russian handicrafts. Sometimes he asks other artists, often friends, to come up with designs for his longboards.
“You don’t feel the same dignity when you work with plastic. Wood has a unique colour and pattern. It is wise and wonderful”
Moscow’s longboarding community is small but it’s growing fairly rapidly. Since January 2013, the Longboard Club Moscow has been organising board rental, skating lessons, workshops and competitions across the capital, in sites such as Gorky Park.
For Koposkov, handcrafting longboards is about more than skateboarding: it’s a homage to nature. “I find it an honour to work with wood,” he says. “You don’t feel the same dignity when you work with plastic. Wood has a unique colour and pattern. It is wise and wonderful.”
When he’s not in the atelier, Koposov, a graduate of the prestigious Rodchenko Moscow School of Photography, works as a photo editor for Theory and Practice, an education platform that provides information on lectures. But despite the growing popularity of his business, Koposov is not out to make money: he only sells his boards to the most discerning customers. “The question of selling my longboards to someone I like is crucial,” he says. “I don’t have a ‘sell and be done with it’ attitude. Quite the contrary. I need to be sure that my clients are as interested and enlightened as I am.”