Skate And Create
Set to be an Olympic Sport in Japan 2020, Skateboarding has come a long way since the days of the “Sidewalk Surfers” of California in the 1950’s.
Once primarily used as an alternative for when the waves didn’t allow any surfing. It would soon much more attention than anyone would ever expect, and a new subculture was born.
And it wouldn’t be long before the board itself became a canvas for painters, street artists, graphic designers, cartoonists and many more.
The concept of a skateboard graphic is quite an odd one. When you consider the way the skateboard is most commonly used, a graphic doesn’t really make sense.
It’s on the bottom of the board and you bolt a pair of trucks and wheels over it. Subsequently you proceed to slide it along lips and rails. Don’t forget that every time you do this, the full weight of a human being lands on it from varying heights, leading to more broken boards than any skater dare admit.
But perhaps that also exactly where it’s roots in street art really start to show.
Graffiti artists will often choose skateboards as their preferred method of transportation, because it gives a flexibility lacking with bicycles and the like. As such, you’re also not likely to find any public skatepark that isn’t covered in graffiti.
Another group of artists often affiliated with skateboarding are tattoo artists.
After all, skateboarding will often lead to a bunch of cuts and scrapes.
This means your tattoo’s will require frequent touch-ups, and coming into the same shop often quickly built a relationship between the two. Trends started to form, especially since many shops still worked with so-called flashes (pre-designed work) as opposed to customs, and the logos and graphics of their boards served as inspiration and a source of identity.
Iconic images like Jim Phillip’s Screaming Hand for Santa Cruz, the skull variations by Vernon Courtland Johnson for The Bones Brigade and the Thrasher logo and slogan “Skate and Destroy” were very popular at the time.
In subsequent years the board shape became more uniform, and companies were finding different ways to attract potential buyers in a rack filled with similar boards. At the same time talented artists who grew up skateboarding found themselves in a position to combine their love for art with skateboarding.
A great example is Ed Templeton, who became a pro skater in 1992, and started his own company Toy Machine in 1994. As of 2016, he remains sole owner and does all the artwork for the company.
You also have skaters like original Bones Brigade member Steve Caballero combining their love for skateboarding and art. Mostly known for his very smooth style when skating, he has been steadily honing his skills and translated that style to his artwork.
Slowly the skateboard, once seen as a simple toy and a fad that would last a single summer at most, has found it’s way into the art world.
Increasingly artists are feeling inspired by the skateboard deck as a canvas, so don’t be surprised to see a deck or two the next time you visit a gallery.