If there’s anything that you need to know about the Art Stories is that we are super into skateboarding culture and everything that it entails. So when we had the opportunity to talk to the founder of Cactus Ramps, the only fingerboarding company in Greece, of course we jumped at it! We met Nicolas Veremis on a sunny Sunday morning at an almost empty coffeehouse in Patras. He was more than happy to tell us all about fingerboarding and how he created Cactus Ramps.
Our first question was what anyone would have wanted to know. When did he start fingerboarding? His first experience with a fingerboard was when he was around 12, he said. He instantly fell in love with the sport but all he had seen at the time was a plastic fingerboard. After a while, he wanted and upgrade. As a student who solely depended on his parents for his survival, he didn’t have enough money to buy his own fingerboard. So, he decided to “make it himself”. He bought the materials and the equipment and made his first deck from scratch. The only change: the deck was going to be wooden. It took him more than a year to manufacture that very first board. Even though his parents were growing “tired of his noise, they still supported him the whole time”. If you’ve ever seen a fingerboard, you know how small it is and how tricky producing one becomes, given its size. Let alone a handmade wooden fingerboard!
If you get your hands on one of these you’ll realize that after a certain amount of time, there’s so much you can do on a flat surface like your desk. You’ll start imagining rolling around a park and doing the tricks that you would normally do on a full sized skateboard. Nicolas did exactly what you’d expect him to do. He designed the ramp of his dreams. You’d think that a teenager’s entourage would be supportive hearing about his plan of building a ramp. Unfortunately, for him that wasn’t the case. When Nicolas showed his design to a family friend that happened to be an engineer, he was told that “it was trash”.
This reaction pissed the teenager off and gave him the motivation he needed to realize his ambitious plans. Six months later his ramp was ready for skating. Its stand-out feature was a cactus that he and his friends used “as an obstacle to do tricks over”. This is how the company’s name,Cactus Ramps, was born. Slowly but surely one thing led to another and Nicolas started manufacturing his own fingerboards that he gave to friends. One thing led to another and the first requests for fingerboarding decks came in. This was only the start of his passion project that has led to an actual business.
The Cactus Ramps decks and complete fingerboards have been travelling all over Greece ever since 2008. Nicolas’ ramp designs grew with him and he ended up building three fingerboarding parks in total. As Cactus Ramps grew, so did the fingerboarding fans. Veremis created a team of fingerboarders and Lamia became Greece’s fingerboarding hub. He remained the mastermind behind everything throughout high school and college, which he now attends. The team met up for the first Panhellenic Fingerboarding Championship in Lamia in 2010. The championship has been growing steadily these past few years and Cactus Ramps is now a regular at skate events organized by Fifty Fifty skate shop and North Skatepark both in Patras and Thessaloniki.
Cactus Ramps, also, has a clothing line with silk-printed t-shirts and super-soft sweatshirts that will keep you cozy all winter, even if you’re not a fingerboarding fan and would rather just own a cactus. What are Nicolas’ plans for Cactus Ramps? For the time being, he is waiting for the interview he gave for the Greek Parliament’s TV programme to air. Then, he will be going to Fast Fingers, the World Fingerboarding Championship held every year in Berlin. For the most part, he wants to grow Cactus Ramps and continue building the community that is alive and thriving.
Nearing the end of our conversation with Nicolas, we still had one pressing question. Why would someone stick to such an endeavour for so many years? It’s all about fingerboarding, Nicolas says. Not only does he love the sport in itself, but he also feels that he can contribute to making people’s das a bit brighter. After all, fingerboards are the perfect accessories for your desk, and they allow you to practice your tricks even when you can’t skateboard in the winter. Whether you love them for the former or the latter, a Cactus Ramps deck will never leave you dissatisfied.