If you’ve ever been part of a DIY build, you know it takes a lot of skill, passion, and countless motivational beers.
Curious to know how and why anyone would dedicate so much time to a project that, like many DIY spots, has a decent chance of being bulldozed, I reached out to them to see what they were thinking and why they might risk their time investing in this sketchy DIY spot.
Lev Mclean and Eve Arslett are the masterminds behind Dinero DIY, which they named after they built their first obstacle, a stack of Euro bills and coins. They first saw the spot, the site of a former lipstick factory that had been demolished into three separate concrete slabs, while driving by one day. After several torturous hours of sweeping and clearing away rocks, dirt, and animal bones, Lev, Eve, and their crew began building and fixing up the deserted rubble, which they thought were begging to be skated.
Once they cleared the debris, they set to bringing their hand painted ideas to life. “When we built our first obstacle—the money pile—we had some problems with the mix, but since then we have perfected our technique,” Lev said.
They start each piece by sketching the idea and figuring out how to create a mold for it. Considering the molds are unorthodox for skate obstacles, like a champagne bottle or motorized scooter, before pouring cement they have to skate proof the designs and make sure they won’t break apart when they’re bashed and grinded on.
Over time they created dozens of “high class” inspired skateable art pieces such as a Louis Vuitton suitcase ledge, a desert eagle wallie, and a Cadillac with a windshield that won’t break when you grind it.
As they built out the spot, they decided to give each of the three slabs they build on a separate vibe. The top level is home to expensive name brands like a Prada Plan B wedge, and ledges designed after Louis Vuitton luggage and Tiffany’s jewelry boxes.
The second level, which Lev dubbed the Art Gallery, is home to famous skartworks like the Mona Lisa kicker, Edvard Munch’s The Scream, and Van Gogh’s Starry Night, all with skate related details added in.
The lower level, with a large skateable roulette wheel, is inspired by Las Vegas luxury. Lev said the idea is, “Vaguely suggesting that if you make it to the third level, you can blow your cash in the casino.”
Despite their amazing work, everyone at Dinero DIY accepts that eventually their creations will likely be torn down to make way for another factory. But for now the surrounding neighborhood is excited to see the land used in an artistic and fulfilling way, and locals encourage Lev and Eve to build more. Police only bugged them once when they were on a late-night build, but they left when Lev and Eve told them it was an art project. “Keeping the emphasis on the art, for now, is probably a good strategy!” Lev said.
In true DIY spirit, Dinero is completely funded by the skateboarders who work on it, and they frequently look through the local dump for metal scraps and useful garbage, including half-empty paint cans. “We try to keep the cost down to the level of a hobby,” Lev said, “but sometimes it feels like we are giving up food for concrete [laughs].”
But even if Dinero slows down, Lev, Eve, and all their collaborators have already hit on an idea that could be fruitful for DIYers and skatepark designers everywhere. “We believe art can have a huge influence on skatepark design,” Lev said. “[Designers can] use inventiveness and imagination to look at skateparks in a different way.”
Rather than putting in another boring stair set or cookie cutter pyramid, wouldn’t it be sick to see art inspired obstacles at your city’s next park? “Get out the way! I’m gonna kickflip this Picasso!” OK, maybe not that, but a little artfulness could bring some flavor to your new robotic skatepark.