Nigel Sylvester takes BMX around the world in his new book ‘GO’
The pro BMX rider captures the unique perspective from his globetrotting video series in a new art book with Rizzoli
Friday 21 October 2022 By Kirsten Chen
Known for his fast-paced, fun-loving video series, GO, pro BMX rider and all-around creative Nigel Sylvester is constantly expanding his vision into different mediums. In a new book with Rizzoli, Nigel Sylvester: GO, he revisits seven years of trips to Tokyo, London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Dubai, Las Vegas and Miami through previously unseen photography.
Working with director, cinematographer and graphic designer, Harrison Boyce, the veteran rider has built a large audience for his series. Filmed from a first-person perspective, each video is like a stylish bike tour: Sylvester plans his routes against a city’s architecture, quickly flashes his Jordan 1s while pedalling, and swiftly manoeuvres from scene to scene. Much like timing a trick, creating GO the book felt like a natural next step for Sylvester, who has an intricate mix of creative, business, and athletic skills.
The book serves as a record of Sylvester’s growth while travelling and sharing his experiences online. After celebrating its release in New York, he speaks to Soho House about capturing his perspective and the changes that come with a new medium.
From your video series to your new book, you’ve kept the same logo – tell us about how you created it.
‘The logo was a combination of my boy Justice and my director Harrison. There were different iterations of it. When you look at the logo, the “G” is an arrow and the “O” was kind of symbolising the world. So, it’s like going around the world and that movement you see within the logo.’
How did you decide what to include in your book? Is it like editing down hours of footage?
‘That’s one of the hardest things, because we have content that dates back to 2015. It was a process of seeing what people love and how we can expand on that, and also asking what were the things that people never got to see? When you look at the GO series, it’s fast movement, high energy, and so much coming at you. The book is where people can sit with the ideas and take them in. The sumo wrestling scene in the “GO – Tokyo” video pops up so fast and it’s gone; this photo of the sumo wrestler and myself in the dojo, you can take that in.’
The GO videos were first released seven years ago, why is now the time to release your book? ‘We’ve been working on GO for so long, and up to this point in time everything existed online. I wanted to give people something tangible, an extension of the film series. We’ve done collaborations with Levi’s and other merch – people love the product. My thought was, “how do we create something that lives in people’s homes?“ and it felt like a great time.’
Since you started sharing videos online, have you noticed any changes in the internet?
‘It’s continuously evolving. I was already a pro rider when Instagram started, so I’ve watched how that platform has changed the world, how we consume content or share content. It’s an extremely powerful tool. The internet changed my life. At the same time, I have an appreciation for books and physical items.’
After years of hard work and enduring the physical effects of BMX, what makes everything worth it to you?
‘I find joy, fulfillment and purpose in what I’m doing. Throughout my life, I’ve tried a lot of things – there’s nothing else that even comes close to what BMX does to me.
‘I like having an idea and the process of figuring it out, bringing it to life and making it a reality. That’s the best feeling in the world for me. Especially getting the final copy [of Nigel Sylvester: GO] and reminiscing on moments we had while filming GO, the setbacks and things that happened during filming. We call it magic because they shouldn’t have happened, and it made for a great scene.’
It’s interesting to know that you’re truly a bike nerd who edits videos for YouTube and knows all the details. When did your love for it begin?
‘It goes back to growing up – I was that kid. Mom got me a video camera with a tripod for Christmas when I was like 10 years old; I was so hyped to use it. I set up the tripod in the driveway and used the Christmas lights on the outside of the house to light up the frame. I just wanted to ride and film. From that moment onwards, I became obsessed with riding. I always had a vision of how I wanted things to look and feel. Those things are at the foundation of my brand.
‘What people see now is the ripple effect of years and years of work and natural progression. It didn’t just happen – we work super hard and I want people to understand that, especially kids. I’ve been a professional for 17 years, but think about all those years prior to being pro. People only see the last five to eight years of my life, but I’ve put a lot of effort in to get to this point.’
Did you ever imagine that your BMX bike would allow you to travel around the world?
‘It was definitely a dream of mine. When I decided I wanted to go pro, it was like, “I want to ride my bike for a living and I want to travel the world.” Those were the two things. I started to see that become a reality, then my mind began to open up and say, “Oh, I can take this so much further than I would ever imagine as a kid.” The world is so massive, and the opportunities and possibilities are endless.’