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Whyelfiles: Carolinas’ Urban Arts Creative Class

by Kia O. Moore

Whyelfiles: Carolinas’ Urban Arts Creative Class

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Picture by Robbin Martin Photogrpahy

March 18, 2013

For many in Charlotte the lot where the once popular Uptons department store stood is an eyesore that needs to be removed from the Albemarle Road cityscape. For a small subset of Charlotte’s emerging urban artists, the beautiful blank concrete canvass is perfectly suited for an unintended, yet immensely creative pursuit. There, up and coming artists are using polyurethane skateboard wheels to “paint” the contours of the concrete with long artistic strokes that rumble over concrete fishers and glide atop homemade skateboard ramps.

Seeing skateboarders in action at the skate spot known as the Albemarle Foundation is like watching master painters create abstract pieces of art work full of color and depth. They move so fluidly and with such confidence on their skateboards that one cannot help but be mesmerized by their form of art—their urban art.

Documenting and promoting this popup urban arts movement is one of their own. is there to make sure what goes on here gets showcased through photography, cinematography, concerts, blogs, and skater related events. The new-wave urban artists stand by to record as the skateboarders perfect their kick flips and stick their landing from high flying jumps. Their record is uploaded to their site, a central online hub that showcases the artistic culture surrounding the skateboarding scene.

Zack Whyel, founder of, felt that Charlotte needed a place that allowed a different type of creative individuals the chance to showcase their work. Whyel says his main focus is to promote independent artists from all facets of the creative spectrum from Charlotte to Los Angeles and everywhere in between.

The catalyst to the movement came from a misfortunate accident that almost ended Whyel’s career as a professional skateboarder.

The 22-year-old moved out to Los Angeles to pursue his passions to become a sponsored skateboarder. While out in the City of Angels he tore a ligament in his knee while attempting a skateboarding trick. Whyel casts his eyes off to the side as he reminisces, “I tore my ACL and I had to come back to Charlotte. It was definitely a troubling time in my life. But, it was definitely apparent that I needed to come back [to Charlotte] to get this idea for Whyelfiles going. So, the injury was really a blessing in disguise.”

Once back in Charlotte Whyel became very focused on transitioning from abstract idea to concrete reality. Once Whyel teamed up with Curt Braden, a 24-year-old UNC Charlotte economics student and skateboarder, and Ben Henry, a 27-year-old Art Institute of Charlotte alum, Whyelfiles began to move from idea to urban arts creative class movement.

More than just an online information hub, the site is acting as a seed to one of Charlotte’s creative culture movements. Henry says that the website serves as the base, and ideas are built from this base. Parties, videos, concerts, art house showings, skateboarding events, and so on spring from post put up on the website. The site is open sourced, creative people submit content to which acts as inspiration for the team..

 “Whyelfiles wants to be known for never closing its doors to anyone and just letting people know they are all special in their own way. Our main focus is letting people know that they are able to promote what they love to do through us,” says Braden.

When people join the Whyelfiles community they find several creative sub-communities available for self-expression: the skateboarding community, the music community, the visual arts community, and the creative writing community.

Whyelfiles Skateboarding Community: Whyelfiles showcases skate culture around the Carolinas and beyond through skateboarding films, skateboarding contest, sponsored skaters, and skateboarding events. Whyelfiles also has an informal skate shop network they have been building over the years throughout the Charlotte Metro and surrounding areas.

Whyelfiles Music Community:For Whyelfiles the music scene is just as important as building up the skating scene. Whyel explains, “Music is the most universal thing for everybody, and everybody can relate to it no matter what it is they do.” Whyelfiles currently sponsors musical acts from various genres including Luca Brazi, Stereoloud, and Onward to Olympas.

Whyelfiles Visual Arts Community:Whyelfiles is becoming well known for its visual arts community influence. A wide spectrum of people are familiar with Whyelfiles’ art designs. From the skater kids hanging around the skate shops to nationally known Carolina Panthers, they are all familiar with the designs of Whyelfiles sponsored artist.

Whyelfiles focuses on the urban arts perspective of wearable art (i.e. Graphic T-shirt designs) to street art. Henry says that all their designs are created with the goal to send out a positive message while relating back to the art, music, and skate culture of a city.

Beyond the t-shirt designs, Whyelfiles sponsors artists that are skilled painters, photographers, and filmmakers. They do this by showcasing their work through web video vignettes, photo galleries, and webpage profiles on

Whyelfiles Creative Writing Community: Whyelfiles is now moving into the creative writing aspect of the creative class. They showcase bloggers from everywhere that focus on various subjects. From fashion, to surfing, to music, to photography, and more, it can all be found on

Whyel notes, “Our tagline is ‘love your art, live your craft.’ We just want to embody that and be known for what we represent individually and as a team.”

To explore the works of the Carolinas’ urban arts creative class visit

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Tags: Kia Moore, Skateboard culture, Whylfiles

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