Skateboards are not only prized for their smooth rides, the heights they soar, and the velocity they move at. Another important key selling feature of a skateboard is skateboard art. The bounce and flex of the board will influence how you do in spins and flips. Creative art techniques provide inspiration for awesome skateboard art.
Skateboards are very closely associated with the skateboarders that support them. Often, the artwork has a stronger brand identity than the sponsor’s name. Different from other brands where the brand’s logo represents the athlete, skateboard art has a stronger brand identity, and is often strongly associated with the artist. That is why skateboard art by artists who are also skateboard pros is popular.
Skateboard art can be inspirational, aesthetically pleasing and a good investment. Decks from famous skateboard artists sell for thousands of dollars on eBay. After Tony Hawk landed his famous 900 jump, his skateboard went to the Smithsonian Institute. If a skateboard is signed by a big name skate athlete then it will be worth even more.
If you see skateboard art by these artists, your skateboard may be more than an investment in a sports activity.
The Top Names in Skateboard Art
Baldessari has been sharing his images with the contemporary landscape since the mid-1960s. This artist believes the image should tell the story. He became known for a genre of artwork that combines photographs with other forms of artwork. The American conceptual artist is still sought after in the skate world. He has recently designed a line of skateboards for Supreme incorporating his famous photo montages. A set of his Supreme skateboard decks is selling on eBay for $1500.
The UK’s Bansky, one of the most enigmatic artists of our time, is also a skateboard artist. Bansky’s thought-provoking street art is popular with skateboarders who are themselves part of the urban landscape. His work often has an anti-establishment, anti-consumerism message. His Kissing Cops board is among the favorites of Skateboarders.
Todd Bratrud is an art director of Consolidated Skateboard and illustrator for Skateboard Mag whose work has been sought after by Nike, Volcom and many other brands. The High 5 is his own company skateboard company. His cartoonish drawings add a touch of humor to decks. And of course, he draws lots of women – a popular theme among the young male skateboard crowd. Bratrud designs a series of Nike Dunk shoes for skateboarders that are still among the most popular skate shoes.
Steve Caballero turned pro at the age of 14. Next, he nailed skateboard graphics. His iconic dragon graphics have been named among the top skateboard graphics of all time. His famous graphics have also been used on skateboard shoes. His Half Cab shoes developed in 1992 are still popular.
Who is Larry Clark and why does one Larry Clark skateboard command $3,500 on eBay? Clark is a photographer and filmmaker who has been on the skateboard scene for many decades. His skateboard designs featuring his images are exhibited worldwide alongside his photography. Larry Clark’s art spans from skateboards and t-shirts to films on the big screen, for which he has won prestigious awards.
George Condo has gone from Warhol to skateboarders to rock stars. Recent works include Kanye West album covers. Today his work is displayed in museums around the world. His decks sell for over $1000. Even with a diverse and successful art portfolio, he remains very committed to the skate world. Skateistan is his non-profit NGO that promotes skateboarding and other activities to youth around the world.
A skateboard with his name emblazoned across the middle – Haroshi – is among the iconic skateboard art. Today, Haroshi is again making a name for himself – this time recycling old skateboards into new art.
Andy Jenkins is the Andy Warhol of skateboarding art. He has been artist in residence for the Girl Skateboards brand, and made its iconic logo – the same logo used on restroom doors. Jenkins has been associated with a number of skateboarding brands and magazines, and numerous skateboarding icons. His comics featuring a skateboarding character had a huge following in the skate world. In the Art Dump studio, Andy designed skateboard art with a team of now famous skateboard artists. His signature work, still popular, has recently appeared on t-shirts for The Hundreds.
Jose Parla is a Cuban-American artist whose graffiti style is rad with the urban culture of skateboarders. His artwork can also be found on walls, purses and other fashion items, iPhone covers and many other places. Like Bansky, he often appears in urban landscapes.
Don Pendleton’s art is everywhere. He has designed skateboards for leading skateboard makers, including Alien Workshop and Element. He has even designed Pearl Jam album covers. In addition to continuing his work as a busy commercial artist, he teaches skateboard graphics. Pendleton is in a beloved class of skateboarder artists who is also a skateboarder.
Andy Warhol may have missed the skateboarding craze but today his designs are featured on the top selling skateboards on eBay. A set of six Warhols can be bought for $3000. One can definitely see a Warholian influence on earlier skateboard art. Andy Jenkins worked in Warhol’s studio and his pop culture influence can clearly be seen in his work.
Skateboard Art Themes
There are too many skateboard artists to mention. It is worth profiling a few popular skate themes and some of the artists who represent them.
Dungeons and Dragons
Skateboarders love the dark side of Harry Potter. Dragons and other gothic creatures are always popular with the skate crowd. Dennis McNutt’s animals, from cats to bats, all look like they cavort with witches and warlords. A number of skate makers use his work.UK artist French started Witchcraft Skateboards. Ghostly satanic creatures grace his boards. Todd Bratrud (above) has some green dragon humanoid figures that would fall into this category.
All kinds of funny creatures hang around the skateboard world, most of them painted on the decks of skateboards. Artist and photographer Ed Templeton puts his frog-like and humanoid creatures on a number of big brand decks. One wonders where Michael Siebel gets his inspiration for his odd characters but Roger, Volcom, Thrasher and others like them. Matt Hensley’s whimsical skateboarding characters were popular on the H Street line. His more iconic work appeared on Black Label and Plan B.
The Artist as Brand
Skateboarders are closely associated with artwork for which they are the muse. Birdhouse designs, for example, are associated with some of the biggest names in skateboarding. Tony Hawk is the owner and a popular brand. Tony Hawk’s skull and bones or hawk themes stand out in the Birdhouse product line. The art team of Powell-Peralta makes his famous skull-hawk skateboard. Birdhouse is also known for its cute comic characters. The skateboarder Jaws is strongly identified with cartoon characters with jaws on his skateboards. Filipino-American skateboarder Santos is known for his passionate red decks. Shaun White the pro snowboarder and skateboarder, part of the Birdhouse team, sells a skateboard line at Target.
The career of a skateboarder is not over when he can no longer turn 360s. Many pros learn to teach skateboarding. Others turn to skateboard art and even start their own skateboard lines. As the careers of the above skateboard artists demonstrate, many have careers as artists that go far beyond the muse of the skateboard.
If you want to do skateboard art, a good place to start is learning how to draw caricatures. Or discover how to draw and paint comics. Many skateboard artists have become famous through the iconic characters they have created. Female characters are popular among this testosterone-driven crowd. Learn to draw a mixed media girl and become the next Todd Bratrud.