Since the first time someone nailed roller-skate wheels to a plank of wood and decided that it was an acceptable vehicle for transport, skateboards themselves have been innovative works of art. Ever since skateboards began to be mass-produced and sold in stores, creative users have been looking to individualize their planks and wheels to satisfy personal aesthetics as well as make a lasting impression.
Since Wes Humpston designed the decks for the original Z-Boys of DogTown, setting the standard for keeping your deck as flashy as your moves, many skaters have made a name for themselves, as much with their mind-blowing deck designs as with their ability to carve air with these boards. Wes Humpston recently released Concrete Wave, a book which chronicles the history and evolution of skateboard art.
Many skaters value skills with graphics on par with vert trick skills, and most skateboard circles count talented artists among their numbers. Skating and art go hand-in-hand, as the same types seem to enjoy both activities.
In crowds which like to match wits and skills, sketch and cartoon drawing numbers among the favorite topics of competition. Taggers often bring boards along, useful in case of a quick getaway, when venturing out on nighttime excursions to the rail yard or to conquer that overpass bridge, and reuse tagging tools to decorate blank skateboard decks with spray paint and oil-paint markers.
Most skate companies feature unique proprietary decks and wheels, showcasing their social or political values, sometimes more decorative abstract art, or simply the company logo. Some of these companies have evolved their own fully-functional art departments which branch out into other styles of art as well.
PUSH Skateboards in Ashville, North Carolina, support their own, in-house, art gallery which goes beyond decorative decks and clothes into all sort of skateboard-inspired designs in various mediums.
Girl Skateboards supports an entire art department, called the Art Dump, whose members can be spotted driving around Torrance, California, in their mobile design unit, a decorated fork lift equipped with a laptop computer and digital camera which they use to chronicle skateboard art that they can capture flying by, both on skaters’ bodies and beneath their feet, as well as any wall murals or graffiti that they can catch before the city paints over them.
Some prominent skaters in the industry, including Chris Moore, Steve Caballero, and Alfonzo Rawls, just to name a few, have turned their skills from the launch pad to the sketch pad and have their own series of decks displaying their unique skateboard art.
If you are particularly passionate about the art that you produce for your decks, there are a number of skateboard artist competitions that you can enter for a chance to see your art featured for a limited edition skateboard deck series, and usually there is some sort of cash prize involved.
Whether you are a rising talent or just like pretty, shiny things on your skateboard, it is certain that skateboard art takes up a huge part of your viewscreen most of the time.