So is it Dean or Blotto?
“As kids we always used to do what we saw the pros are doing in the magazines. Mark Gonzales was this legendary skateboarder and he was putting artwork on his grip tape – so we’d do the same thing because we thought that was rad. We were just writing some random stuff on the board and I put Blotto on there for some reason. My best friend later just started shouting, ‘Blotto, Blotto!’ It stuck since then. In old school lingo it means drinking a lot of beer, which I don’t actually do, but I like it as a name.”
Since the contest what have you been up to?
“We’ve been doing these ‘Burton presents’ videos. That completely occupies my time. I work with the filmmakers on the slopes, create set design and do assistant filming. Then I still have the whole photography gig I have to take care of. I’ve been really busy with that.”
Was Red Bull Illume a big thing for you?
“It was a huge deal for me! Outside of snowboarding I’ve been contacted by a number of publications wanting to know what Red Bull Illume was like, the experience. They want to know about my photography. It opened up a world outside snowboarding. Red Bull has such a strong name and Red Bull Illume is definitely viewed as the premier photography contest in the world. And I believe that myself as well. I would hate to be a judge – that would be a difficult job.”
How’s it feel for your image to go on tour?
“I was very thrilled that the images tour on big light boxes – that’s just incredible presentation. I was unable to see the one that started in my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona but my family was able to go and it was really special for them to see my work.”
You were at the Hong Kong tour stop right?
“Yeah… that was really cool – the dinners, tours and all the workshops. What was inspiring was to meet the photographers you always looked up to for many years. I was especially thrilled to meet Chris Burkard. That guy has such a wide reach these days. Also Scott Serfas, who’s one of my homies. He’s a blast to be around as well.”
Did you walk away with any fresh ideas?
“I like to be inspired by photography but not influenced by it. It just gets you thinking about how you’d approach the next Red Bull Illume and what you’d do specifically for it.”
“I’ve got a few in the back of mind I’m going to enter. Mostly likely about 70% snowboarding and 30% skateboarding.”
View some of Blotto’s images in the gallery and find out more about his work on his website or Facebook page.
The world's greatest action and adventure sports photography contest is back and better than before with the addition of a new mobile category. Find all information here and mark Dec 1, 2015 on your calendars! That's when submissions open.
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The Illume Effect: Dean 'Blotto' Gray
Continuing our series looking back on past winners, we catch up with Dean ‘Blotto’ Gray – a 2013 sequence category finalist – to hear how Red Bull Illume impacted his career and how he got that name.
So is it Dean or Blotto?