A few weeks ago I went to spend some time in Barcelona with my friends. It was a warm spring day when we went skating and a friend asked me if I knew about Dolores Magazine. I had heard about it vaguely because I was following some girls on IG which were part of the magazine.
My friend then told me we should go to ROOTS Skateshop, a new issue of Dolores was dropping. It was that day on the 29th of February around 6 pm I entered ROOTS and to be honest, I couldn’t believe how many girls were there. Inside they had a small bowl, but they also made some space for other obstacles where they ended up starting a little “Tricks 4 Stuff” session. When I approached the first table with the magazines, I met a nice person who welcomed me warmly. She introduced herself as Raisa Abal, the founder of Dolores, as I came close enough she pressed one of the magazines in my hands. I looked at the magazine, only girls and not too much text. I liked it!
Two weeks later I called Raisa and I talked to her about herself, her work with Dolores Magazine, and some other interesting gender-related topics.
Intro & Interview by Lea Isabell Uhle.
Portraits of Raisa by Miyu Fukada.
All other Photography by Raisa Abal.
Hey Raisa, nice to see you again!
Nice to see you too Lea.
I am really happy everything worked out and we can talk. So if I understand you right, you are located in Barcelona, are the founder of a female skateboarding magazine, a skater by yourself, and lastly also a photographer.
Yes, you got that right (laughs).
That’s so interesting. So how did you come to find skateboarding?
Back in the day, my high school friends were skating the shittiest skatepark all day. At this time they just did kickflips to fakie or front shove it on the mini ramp and to me, that was amazing (laughs). I mean I didn’t even understand those tricks, I was not skating at this time and they just did those tricks! I was 17 years old and my friends were much older than me and already skated for a long time. I was so stoked! A few years later together we started to organize small events. People who skated way better showed up and that was the moment I began to understand skateboarding.
One day, there was a girl at the park, she had a “small” longboard and did kickflips. At that moment I thought to myself, if she can do a fucking kickflip with her longboard, then I can also do a kickflip with a regular skateboard and I don’t mean it in a bad way! It pushed me to try it! So two friends of mine gave me a cruiser, you know, with the big wheels. So I started to do tricks with that one first. After a year I realized that it doesn’t make much sense to try street tricks with such a heavy board (laughs), so I changed the wheels and from then on skated a normal skateboard. I also changed the trucks. And that was so hard (laughs), pushing on a normal board was horrible!
How old were you when you started?
I was already 22 when I started, I’ve been skating now for nearly 7 years.
Do you think it’s more difficult to get into skateboarding when you’re already at that age?
To get into skateboarding could be more difficult, yes. Many people change their minds when they grow up because they have to organize their lives differently. For me, my whole life has been the same (laughs).
So you kind of went from school to school, right? What did you study?
I have a degree in Audiovisual Communication, then a Post Degree in Digital Photography and Digital Design, and then I did my Advertising, Art-direction Master. And I got my driver’s license (laughs).
You are laughing, but in some parts of the world, it’s pretty important to have a driver’s license (laughs). Where did you study?
In Galicia, Bordeaux and Madrid !
So, when did you move to Barcelona?
I moved here in October 2015, after I finished my master’s.
So you’ve been living in Barcelona for a while now. I noticed that all the pictures in the Dolores Magazine are personally taken by you. When did you start to take photos?
When I was a kid my grandpa gave me a small compact film camera, a few years later I went to an international surf contest with my parents in my hometown (Galicia) and took some photos. 9 years after that, we developed them, which happened somewhere around the early 2000s. My mom then bought me a digital compact Nikon with 2 megapixels (laughs) when I was 11 and I just started to take photos of everything. Looking back on it, that camera was awful but at that moment it was the best thing that could have happened to me.
I understand, when did you start to take Photos of Skateboarding? Was it before you started to skate or afterward?
It was at the same time I started to hang out with these friends from high school. It was some time before.
I would like to see some of your old photos as well. Do you think your work and photography stands in any relation to your education?
I think my education didn’t have a lot to do with it. But I think photography is something you learn by doing. The time you spend on it has a lot do to with it, but it’s interesting. A lot of people I’ve met asked me: where is your studio? Are you working in a co-working space? It seems professional to them, but actually, I am still working from my bedroom.
Regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, it might not that bad to have your office ready at home (laughs). So, important question, The Dolores Magazine! Where did the name come from?
I was sitting in a Bar with Marina Gasolina, so I just told her the idea of the project with Asiplanchaba, and we started thinking about different names: female names, Spanish ones, about skateboarding: and it just dropped into my mind: Dolores! Which is in fact also my mum’s name.
That’s amazing. I hope one day when I have kids, they also name something after me! I loved how creative you were with the name and I also like that it’s a female one at that. So you found a name, had the photos, and then in June 2019, you dropped your first Issue, right?
No, we dropped one before in February 2019. We did one without advertisements! The story behind the first Magazine was that one day I met Verónica Trillo, the Founder of Asiplanchaba, which is also a version of female skateboard media. She established that together with her friends about 10 years ago and it was successful! Asiplanchaba, for example, is a name that stems from that 80s song that talks about “a girl that was going to play but couldn’t play because she had to iron… ‘’ (and many other things like sweeping, scrubbing, etc.). The platform is focused on skateboarding, surfing, and snowboarding. Different topics than the everyday life of a housewife that the song was talking about. When I arrived on the scene in Barcelona (2015), we started to hang out and skate. At the same time, I shot some photos and so we decided to start some things together (laughs).
At that moment I was working in a big store here in Barcelona, so I only did photos for fun or because I wanted to. One year later in 2016, I ended up twisting my knee, my whole leg was in plaster (laughs) and I was not able to skate. That left me with even more time to take photos. I met Vero and some guys for a coffee and told her, that I wanted to use the pictures we collected the last months and start something together with them. We were hanging out with some friends some of which had high positions at other skateboarding brands and one of the guys just answered my idea with:,” a female skateboarding magazine? Such a 2000 thing.” That was in October 2017. In February 2019 I just looked at Vero and I said: ”Vero, you know what? I don’t give a fuck, I will pay for it myself!”. So we made a 350 piece run of the first issue (31 pages). We printed it at a print shop and it was amazing, I love printers man, they are my heroes! (laughs).
So you published your first issue of Dolores Magazine in February 2019, what happened after?
I had luck Lea, at this time the whole Lizzie Armanto hype started and there were a lot of Vans events around the world. The week after the release Vans called me and said they want to have some of my magazines. Other brands then followed.
How has that changed the magazine?
I work with the designers of the specific brands that support the magazine. I send them my layout and they send me the layouts for the pages they want to fill. The content depends on my capacity, who is down to take photos and who can do different tricks, who is around, who is fit to skate, and to shoot with. Some days didn’t work out as we expected and we ended up having super similar tricks at different spots… Or maybe on different spots but from the same person. I will not put every picture in the magazine. But I still use them, for Instagram or advertising or to collaborate with a brand or another magazine.
So, in the end, it is you deciding what each magazine looks like?
Yeah, it’s me and Vero. I work on the computer but Vero is always the voice in the back. But yeah, it’s funny. For me, I do not think I am especially creative. I just put things together, and if it fits, it fits! The most positive part for me is, I can put focus on things I want to show. If I do not want to have text, I do not have too.
Is there any specific reason why you don’t have a lot of text? And when you do have text, who is writing it and how do you decide what the topics should be?
There is no specific reason. Sometimes we write more and sometimes we write less. There are issues where we do interviews with the girls, or we propose them to interview each other. It just depends on the situation.
When I met you at the Magazine Release earlier this year, there was a Skateboardvideo of Asiplanchaba dropping concurrently to the Magazine. Can you underline the relationship between Asiplanchaba and Dolores Magazine?
Dolores Magazine is basically the printed expression of Asiplanchaba. A window for the female scene to the world. We always drop a video together with a magazine. Most of which was shot during the production of the magazine.
Do you think there are a lot of differences when it comes to male vs female magazines?
Yeah definitely. I mean it already starts at the part of getting the photos. For example, a man has an idea in his head and he wants to do a trick and shoot it, he will do it during the next week. In my experience, it is different with women. Maybe they are busy with work, they got their period, maybe they are having a relationship issue or whatever (laughs). It depends on their mood.
Do you think it’s always like that or does it depend on the person?
I think it depends on the day. When the day changes, we also change with it and our moods and personalities follow.
And when you go out with girls to shoot pictures, are they always your friends?
I mean, the female scene is super small, that’s why you connect so fast and even if you just want to see it as a shoot, you become friends after anyways (laughs). That is the cool thing about it! I guess it is different from the male skateboarding scene. There are so many more men skating, they do not have to stand together as much as we do.
That could be a point too. Are there any other big differences between the male and female skateboarding scene you have experienced in the last 7 years?
I think we -as females- just have fun. We do not expect anything to come from our skating, we are just doing it because it makes us happy, while many men expect something more. And of course, I don’t want to say that men all over the world don’t skate for fun, I am just talking out of my experience and here in Barcelona, I can see it a lot.
I don’t know If I am talking bullshit right now, but I think it depends on expectations. If a man is doing a trick, we expect that he performs it perfectly. But if a girl is doing a trick, we accept that she is doing it in a bad way. And when she does it perfect everyone flips out for sure!
That’s interesting Raisa, I never thought about it that way. Do you know where these differences in expectations could come from?
Maybe the differences in expectations come from a different level of tricks, or because skateboarding is currently something young men can do professionally. While it is more common for women to see it as a hobby. I don’t remember who said this to me: ‘’We do it for fun!” I mean I wish that any friend of ours can make a living off skating, but at the moment, we just do it because we feel we have to. And because it makes us happy. Especially people like me and you, we started to skate at an age, which is kind of old to get to that level of skateboarding and that’s why we can appreciate it even more. We already lived a life without a skateboard and we know how boring it is (laughs).
So you think people who started to skate at the age of 11 or 12 have a different relationship to skateboarding?
Yeah because when they started to skate, they were super young, it becomes something that is and was always there. You never had to find something that entertains you like skateboarding can.
I don’t know what I did all the years before (laughs), hanging out with friends maybe, drinking coffee? I am very satisfied that I am skating now. How are things in Barcelona? You’re locked in?
I have been locked inside for 13 days now.
What are you doing day to day?
I wake up, have breakfast, maybe watch a film, do my workout, work on Dolores or clean my cameras and Facetime all the time. Like with you right now (laughs). I clean the house. Cleaning is an antidote against boredom (laughs).
Next to being locked in your home for such a long time, does it affect you in your work, especially when it comes to Dolores?
Yes for sure and I am also a little bit scared because of possible changes. But we will roll with the changes and make the magazine thicker or smaller. We don’t know yet!
It’s so great, that you’re always that positive Raisa, I admire that. Something I also wanted your opinion on is: Girls-only projects? Do you think it integrates or separates female skateboarders from the rest of the skate scene?
One thing I learned from experience is that a magazine needs photos of great tricks with interesting people. So when you look at the level of skateboarding, there is a big difference between male and female skateboarding. Of course, some magazines would rather put male skateboarders in the mag. In my opinion, they just should chill (laughs). Also, the male scene moves much more money which binds both brands and content together. The important thing for me is to show the reality, we -as females- exist and we are here. Girls are skating every day, we appreciate it and we love it the same way men do. Maybe they don’t want to put you in the magazine, but I will! I mean I know there are already magazines who support girls, but why not craving for more?
Okay, maybe that’s a reason why girls-only-projects are popping up that much. When they don’t want to create with us, we create it on our own. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and telling us about your awesome Magazine!
Thank you too, Lea! And hopefully, see you soon 😊