The greatest achievement and goal of many a young aspiring skateboarder was to be good enough to be able to join the elite club that are the “pro skateboarders” and be a sponsored rider for a skateboard company. The greatest achievement on top of this was to get your own pro model skateboard emblazoned with your own graphics and (hopefully) your name. To accomplish such a thing meant you had made it.
For “ART PROS”, a collection of skateboard sculptures created specifically for the “Grommets, Grinds and Gnarly Dudes” exhibition at the Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre, I have decided to follow in this tradition of pro model skateboard graphic design by creating pro model skateboards for some of the more well-known artists who have not only left their mark on popular culture forever but also played an important part in the history of skateboard graphics over the past 30 years or so – Vincent Van Gogh, Salvador Dali, Francis Bacon and Roy Lichtenstein.
Their influence on skateboard graphics designers as well as the skaters themselves (who were quite often allowed to choose their own graphics) ranges from subtle influences on style and subject matter to blatant recognizable imagery.
There are many references to Lichtenstein in the history of skateboard graphics as his comic book style and iconography is perfect for screen print reproduction. Dali and Surrealism in general also played a huge part in the imagery used. The pro skater Claus Grabke for example, had a number of very popular pro model decks throughout his skating career that all featured clocks in some form another all referring to Claus’s love for Salvador Dali. Van Gogh’s bright colour palette and use of line to create movement and form also lent itself well to the screen printing techniques used to produce skateboard artwork. Bacon’s influence is a little more subtle but definitely apparent, especially in the later years (90’s onwards) when the skateboard graphics technology changed and the reliance on screen printing was no longer necessary. Darker subject matter executed in more painterly styles started to appear as photo realistic images were now possible due to the new heat transfer techniques that were used to create skateboard graphics.
– Jud Wimhurst