In 1991, Alien Workshop released Memory Screen, their debut full-length video that introduced a cut-and-paste, multimedia aesthetic to skateboarding that somehow felt as familiar as a fever dream; it made you want to ride a skateboard. At 16-years-old, Rob Dyrdek was part of Alien’s new sect of street skaters who were then still largely unknown and unestablished in the industry. Memory Screen’s artful irreverence, along with the brand’s mystique and visual direction, became a cult hit still referenced and lauded today.
In 2021, it's hard to think of Rob Dyrdek as niche or underground. For some, they hardly equate him with skateboarding and that’s partially by design. In the beginning of his Memory Screen part, Dyrdek is shown in grainy Super-8 film, juxtaposing wires into a console. It's a subtle if not accidental metaphor for an approach that made him a successful entrepreneur—connections, patterns, and a splash of hyper enthusiasm, albeit aided by sped up film.
That energy led to Dyrdek starting several businesses, having successful television franchises on MTV and eventually owning Alien Workshop before returning it to Mike Hill, one of its original founders. Rob Dyrdek is a skateboarder and if you question that, go back and review the tape. He also has the awareness to not only put himself out there but make moves other skaters would deem as “corny” without worrying about perception. Why?
As I learned in my interview with Rob Dyrdek, a skate career is part ambition and part illusion. Whether he realized that through intuition or experience, skateboarding’s taken him from a pro making less than four-figures a month to a franchise, expanding into the wellness market and determined to “grow rich not get rich.” You can also explore what he's up to with the Dyrdek Machine here.