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Skateboarder Daniel Pannemann Questions Everything.

A publisher, editor and agency owner based in Berlin, Daniel Pannemann wears another, additonal hat: Professional Skateboarder. His magazine & agency Place is the enfant terrible of the European skate-scene and known for breaking the rules, especially the ones dictated by their own subculture.

They are loud, non-conforming, borderline-obnoxious and have been rightfully winning awards for it. No wonder he’s a vegan.

Berlin, April 14, 2021

Words & Photos - Eric Mirbach

The beginning of this text is going to be personal and emotional, so brace yourselves. Daniel Pannemann is a skateboarder, publisher and agency lead based in Berlin. His magazine and creative agency Place is without a doubt the enfant terrible of the European skate-scene, questioning everything (loudly and borderline-obnoxiously) and has been winning awards for their very unorthodox approach to publishing a skate-magazine. About a year ago, Daniel adopted a vegan diet, which is the reason for us getting together for this interview. But to me, it’s more than that.

Where We Come From

See, about a decade ago, I myself was part of the scene Daniel is in the epicenter of. I was working as a photographer and editor at a well-established skate-mag and one of the first articles I ever created (photographed and wrote) was about a young skater from Northern Germany who was starting to make a name for himself. You guessed it, Daniel.

Since then, I’ve slowly but surely moved away from the culture that taught me photography, editorial work, but also a dress code, a different approach to language and my very own idea of what coolness and style mean. After investing 15 years of my young life in this way of assessing the world around me, I felt like it started to become narrowing. I had become a vegan in the meantime, and I had been developing interests that went further than what working in skateboarding could cover and offer (at least that was my truth at the time).

Creativity and a Sense of Style

Fast track to 2020 and we meet again. Word had reached me that Daniel, now the owner and publisher of a magazine very different from the one I used to work at back in the day, had recently adopted a vegan diet and it was one of those seldom but very happy moments when the good parts of an old life and new ideas about the world connect. If I had to coin a term for the feeling, I think I would call it ‘melancholic euphoria’ — winning something back I thought I’d lost, but on my own terms if that makes sense?

Well, that ‘something’ is Daniel, whose creativity and sense of style I always admired — on a skateboard for sure, but with his work as an editor and publisher just as much. This guy skates well, dresses well, and creates well. And, as you’re about to witness, thinks and talks well, too.

Daniel Pannemann – Publisher, Editor, Owner of Place Magazine and dedicated Vegan – Photo: Eric Mirbach for Antagonist
Daniel Pannemann – Publisher, Editor, Owner of Place Magazine and dedicated Vegan – Photo: Eric Mirbach for Antagonist

Daniel, what a pleasure. To get started, can you tell me who you are and what you do?

Well, there’s various parts to it. Jobwise, I would say that I’m heading a creative agency, though thanks to Corona, that isn’t going too well at the moment. But yes, I’m an agency owner, publisher and skateboarder. But honestly, my job description changes depending on who I talk to. At the end of the day, you know, just pick one.

Can you explain to me what Place is?

Place is a magazine and an agency, and we try our best to also integrate event management into the concept, as we want to be able to offer full concepts. An ideal case is us selling an issue of the magazine, an event and maybe even a product that goes with that to a potential client. But we’re flexible, of course, if you just want one of the three, you can get that, too.

Basically, what we want is to get away from the standard way of doing these things. If you work with us, we obviously listen and think about what you as a client need and want, but we also want the things we produce to mirror that world we created.

All in all, not a very commercial approach.

“We want the things we produce mirror our world. Not a very commercial approach.”

How did you get started in that field? I remember a time before you were in the lead. Place was a very different magazine back then.

I joined Place end of 2012, early 2013. I had already written some smaller texts and took a couple photos before that. We had something you could probably call a job interview and I was asked to think about what I thought was good about Place and what I thought wasn’t. I remember only writing down negatives. I didn’t want to give them a list of things I thought were good, I figured they already knew what worked. So instead, I thought why not try and find solutions for things that didn’t? They liked it, I did an internship for two weeks, after that I became an editor.

About two years later, I became Editor in Chief. We switched the magazine to English, opening the doors for an international market. We were interested in international content and didn’t really understand those artificial borders that were in place. Do we really have to just look at German skateboarding as a German magazine? I mean, we went to Spain, Finland and all these countries on skate tours, why would we need to stay inside this weird boundary of only covering German skaters? Sure, we could have just made another regular skate mag, but we just weren’t interested. Some of that was a on principle, but mostly it was just our personalities. The magazine was very personal, too, and we made everything ourselves, from the first to the last page.

Daniel Pannemann – Publisher, Editor, Owner of Place Magazine and dedicated Vegan – Photo: Eric Mirbach for Antagonist

Of course, there were a lot of people who didn’t get it. There were a lot of unspoken rules in place for what a magazine was ‘allowed’ to do. We were in trouble constantly and it took forever for this new approach to be somewhat accepted.

Then we were offered to buy the magazine by the former owner and we accepted. All of a sudden, not only were we steering the ship, we owned it! That meant no more borders, no more rules and things got even louder and wilder. Just a year later we won a respected award for Media of the Year.

With that experience under your belt, do you think skateboarding is as open-minded as it likes to present itself?

Skateboarding has become so big of a movement, I think it’s become like politics. There are different parties, everything and everyone has a place. 

“Of course people didn’t get it. We were in trouble constantly.”

There are the ones that are accepting, are approachable and interested. But there are also the ones, even young people, who hold up the ‘rules and standards’ of skateboarding, who cling to it and live it.

That’s what makes skateboarding interesting to me, though. Over the last years in particular, it got obvious it is all of these things, all at once, and that all approaches work. You can do your own thing, or you can follow the rulebook. It just grew so much; there’s so much room and you just have to find the right people to collaborate with. Parallel ideas about the same thing can co-exist.

And that’s why a project like Place works, and can exist, too. The only reason we’re so abnormal is that there is such a thing as ‘normality’ in skateboarding to begin with. For us, that’s great!

Daniel Pannemann – Publisher, Editor, Owner of Place Magazine and dedicated Vegan – Photo: Eric Mirbach for Antagonist
Daniel Pannemann – Publisher, Editor, Owner of Place Magazine and dedicated Vegan – Photo: Eric Mirbach for Antagonist

 How did that influence your own skateboarding over the years?

For me, skateboarding still is an outlet, a tool to escape the world. I approach it very instinctively, which is the opposite of what I’m doing with Place. That part of my life is planned and structured, skateboarding isn’t. I’m a total loner, if I don’t skate on my own, I go out with two people max. When I’m out skating with a crew of four or five, I’m already overwhelmed. And I love the spontaneity of it. I think it’s inspiring and provides this contrast, allowing me to lead the life I live. I’m in control and I have a lot of mind control, as well.

Which can be annoying, too, at times. There are times when I just can’t get a certain trick or spot out of my head. We were at this spot in Croatia one time, and I forced everybody to stay until I got the trick I wanted. I had broken my foot shortly before and it took the whole day to get it. I was hurt and beat but couldn’t let it go.

So you got the trick with a broken foot?

Yes. I couldn’t walk anymore, but in that moment, I could still skate. I was so relieved when it was over. That mindset is the reason why I really pick and choose what it is I want to do, so that I do not end up in situations like that too often. Then again, it’s good to face these moments, when what you got just isn’t enough and you have to dig deeper. It can be good to just jump in at the deep end.

“I forced everbody to stay until I got the trick I wanted — with a broken foot.”

Talking about jumping in at the deep end. When did you become a vegan?

About a year ago.

Most people have a good ‘awakening’-story. What’s yours?

It was more of a process for me. My broken foot had to do with it, for sure, because I realized how long it took me to recover. I was so annoyed and saw so many doctors, but nobody could help me recover faster. I thought about nutrition and stopped eating meat, but still ate a bit of fish and cheese and all of that. Then my girlfriend broke up with me and I had one of those key moments that just change things. I looked at different aspects of my life and how to optimize them. I wanted more structure, become more mindful with myself and reflect more about the things that happen around me in daily life. But I couldn’t yet muster the motivation to become a vegan.

That really happened when I got to know my now-girlfriend who had already been vegan for a year and a half back then. She didn’t talk me into it of course, but definitely showed me her approach and talked to me about the upsides. And it all made a lot of sense to me. Basically, I didn’t see a reason to not be vegan. So I tried it for three weeks and just never stopped. I went out to skate and was puzzled as to why I didn’t feel sore.

Daniel Pannemann – Publisher, Editor, Owner of Place Magazine and dedicated Vegan – Photo: Eric Mirbach for Antagonist
Daniel Pannemann – Publisher, Editor, Owner of Place Magazine and dedicated Vegan – Photo: Eric Mirbach for Antagonist

So, your gateway was athletic performance, better recovery times, better nutrition. Is that still what it is or did your thinking develop beyond that?

It developed further quite naturally. It just happened. Once I had taken the plunge, I saw all these additional reasons to be a vegan and be deliberate about it. I also busy myself a lot with the question why not everyone is a vegan and how you can persuade people without annoying them. That’s a problem, I don’t have the personality of someone wanting the limelight and holding speeches. So how can I explain the benefits of a vegan diet to people, but do it my way?

How do your friends and family see your new diet?

With my Berlin friends, I just told them how good I feel because of it and what the changes are I went through. This way, they can see I actually busied myself with it, and that tends to work well for me. But if it’s something that’s too far out to grasp for someone, then that’s probably because it really is in that case. It’s such a black and white style of thinking with some people. It’s too radical for most people, even though it doesn’t have to be.

How strong is veganism in skateboarding from your perspective?

I think it’s still flying under the radar pretty much. As a professional skateboarder, you’re on the road constantly, traveling all over the world. I know a couple vegan skaters, but generally speaking, as a skateboarder, you’re pretty preoccupied with yourself. Sure, it would make a lot of sense dabbling in that, but I think in most cases that’s just not occurring to you. One day you’re in Madrid, then Barcelona on the next and in between all of that you got to eat something — anything — and what that something is doesn’t have a big priority.

Daniel Pannemann – Publisher, Editor, Owner of Place Magazine and dedicated Vegan – Photo: Eric Mirbach for Antagonist
Daniel Pannemann – Publisher, Editor, Owner of Place Magazine and dedicated Vegan – Photo: Eric Mirbach for Antagonist

Do you think about your “tools”, too in that regard? Your shoes, the glue used in the boards?

I sure think about it, but I’m not fully there yet, which to be honest is mainly because the market isn’t, either. That’s another thing; It’s just not cool to be a vegan. In skateboarding, everything revolves around coolness and that’s why a lot of brands have problems selling something like that, I think. It’s hard to drop a shoe that on the one hand is a collaboration with streetwear brand XYZ and vegan on the other.

“In skateboarding, everything revolves around coolness, but veganism isn’t perceived that way.”

Is that a general problem of veganism you think? Or is that emphasized by the way the skate scene works?

I wish I knew more about it, but I can’t tell you why veganism isn’t perceived as cool.

You would think that a subculture that’s basically been built on the idea of being different, ignore or break the rules of general society, would offer the right circumstances and the space for an outlier-attitude like veganism.

You’re right about that and I think about that often. Skateboarding is actually super punk and you would think that vegans would feel at home here. But for some reason, it just doesn’t work that way. I find that very interesting and I wish I knew more about it, but I just don’t know why veganism generally isn’t perceived as cool. It should be! We’re still in the stone age there. It’s super interesting to witness this and see it develop, because it will evolve towards veganism. It’s like life before the computer was invented. Computers are coming, that’s what this is. Veganism is coming. Eventually.

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