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Eli Morgan Gesner

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Eli Morgan Gesner is an American entrepreneur, artist, and filmmaker.

Eli Morgan Gesner
Eli Morgan Gesner in New York City, 2020.jpg Eli_Morgan_Gesner_in_New_York_City%2C_2020.jpg
BornNew York City, New York
🏳️ Nationality
🏫 EducationThe Forman School School of Visual Arts
💼 Occupation
Entrepreneur, Artist, Filmmaker
🌐 Websiteocularge.com

Early Life[edit]

Eli Gesner was born into a family of artists in New York City; his mother an Art Director, his father a Fulbright scholar at Yale University who went on to be the dean of Kinetic Arts at School of Visual Arts in New York City, and his uncle the renowned playwright Clark Gesner.

Growing up writing graffiti and skateboarding through the streets of the city, he developed his style for finer art and went on the become to become a sponsored skateboarder at the age of 17.[1] This took him around the United States, getting photos of himself printing in skateboard publications including in Thrasher and Transworld Skateboarding magazines.[2]

With skateboarding's mainstream popularity still on the rise by the end of the 1980's, Gesner embraced his wider community to become head promoter of the now-legendary New York City nightclub MARS[3], where he created the hip hop party "Trip" that featured his artwork as the interior design. Later, New York City nightlife saw the scene's first skateboard miniramp built by Eli at the newly re-opened Tunnel nightclub 1993.[4]



Together with Alyasha Owerka-Moore and Paul Mittleman, Gesner was the co-founding designer for Russell Simmons' clothing company Phat Farm launched in 1992. The following year, together with Adam Schatz and Rodney Smith, saw the launch of the Zoo York skateboard and apparel company that was sold to Iconix Brand Group in 2011.[5] The three partners then re-launched the SHUT Skateboards brand in 2006[6] — the 20th anniversary of the brand's inception.


Combining his passions of skateboarding and artistry, Gesner's first official graphic design gig was in 1985 when he made the first T-shirt for New York City's Soho Skates skateboard shop. He then designed the "Shut Crest" logo for the launch of New York City's first skateboard company SHUT Skates the following year, followed by their first professional skateboard graphic Assault Vehicle.[7]

With the aim of breaking into skateboarding, in 2002 Nike rereleased their Dunk model in collaboration with Zoo York and designed by Eli. The result was the Nike Dunk Low Pro SB Zoo York, which spawned the success of Nike SB.[8]

While a creative consultant on HBO's How To Make It In America in 2010, Gesner designed all clothing and graphics for the fictional clothing companies Crisp and Neanderthal that appeared on the show. The T-shirt NYC Eats Its Young went on to be physically sold at Urban Outfitters for two years running.

For the 2013 New York City residency show Better Out Than In Banksy, Gesner was engaged to orchestrate the official social media component, working with the artist and his team to create a daily updates on what new pieces were put up the night before.[citation needed]

In 2017, Gesner became the Founding Style Editor for UpRoxx where he stared in the show The Masters interviewing Keith Hufnagel, Chad Muska and Futura.[9]


Gesner's film career began with an uncredited Associate Producer role for the Larry Clark movie Kids, for which he also designed the opening and closing credits.

Zoo York forms Zoo York Media Group through which he produced the music videos for Rawkus Records, including End To End Burners by Company Flow (1997), Respiration by Black Star (1998), and Body Rock by Sound Bombing (1998).

In partnership with skateboard filmer R.B. Umali, Gesner directed the skateboard movie Mix Tape for Zoo York released in 1997.[10] Along with it's progressive skateboarding by company's list of sponsored athletes, Mix Tape featured Gesner's archived freestyle rap footage from the Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show, including performances from Busta Rhymes, Method Man, and Ghostface Killer amongst others. Following Mix Tape, Eli produces both Peep This and Heads skateboard videos for Zoo York for which he scored both original soundtracks, and follows with a sequel in 2001 with Mix Tape 2 featuring original music by DJ Craze, A Trak, Jeru The Damaja, Lil Dap, Tragedy Khadafi and others.

In 2005, Gesner was approached to create and direct a series of "viral" commercials for Mazda featuring seemingly organic footage of unexpected car accidents. Rightfully concerned, Mazda legal department shelved the videos, although they unexpectedly emerged in 2017.

After directing the documentary Concrete Jungle (2009) for Quincy Jones III, Gesner then went on to write and directed his debut movie Condemned staring Dylan Penn for Caliber Media and distributed by RLJE Films.

In 2018, Gesner directed the Fool's Gold Records music video Ride For Me by A Trak that featured his previously unreleased archival footage of New York City's skateboard scene from the 90's, including unseen footage of deceased skateboarder-come-actor Justin Pierce and skateboard frontman Harold Hunter.[11]

Eli was chosen to narrate the documentary film All the Streets Are Silent: The Convergence of Hip Hop and Skateboarding (1987–1997). It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and was picked up for theatrical release by Greenwich Entertainment.[12]


Year Title Director Producer Writer Actor Role Notes
1995 Kids Yes Uncredited
1996 Mix Tape Yes Yes
1997 Peep This Yes Yes Original Soundtrack
1999 Heads Yes Yes Original Soundtrack
2001 Mix Tape 2 Yes Yes
2009 Concrete Jungle Yes
2015 Condemned Yes Yes Yes Junior CDC Agent
2018 Ride For Me Yes
2021 All The Streets Are Silent Narrator


  1. "Eli Morgan Gesner Interview". Slam City Skates Blog. 2020-03-05. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  2. Kaufman, Michael T. (1993-04-10). "ABOUT NEW YORK; Putting Aside Skateboard Dreams of Hanging 10 Over Asphalt". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  3. "8 Forgotten NYC Clubs We Wish Were Still Open". PAPER. 2015-04-29. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  4. "True Stories from an Unseen Archive of 90s NYC Skateboarding". www.vice.com. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  5. "WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO ZOO YORK?". Jenkem Magazine. 2018-10-01. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  6. "SHUT SKATEBOARDS -- with Eli Gesner". The Berrics. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  7. "The 25 Best Skateboard Decks From the '80s". Complex. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  8. "Zoo York". www.nikesb.com. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  9. "The Masters With Eli Gesner". UPROXX. 2019-06-01. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  10. "Big Shot On The East Coast: The History of the Zoo York Mixtape". daily.redbullmusicacademy.com. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  11. "Exclusive Interview: Eli Morgan Gesner on Making Young Thug's New Music Video (2018)". NYSkateboarding.com. 2018-02-27. Retrieved 2021-07-29.
  12. "The Most Anticipated Movies of Summer 2021". Time. Retrieved 2021-07-29.

External links[edit]

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