The skateboard design collaboration has become a mainstay in the portfolios of many artists, musicians, film stars and well-loved famous characters. Art and skateboarding have a longstanding relationship harking all the way back to the origins of skating in the 1970s, showcasing the deeply creative nature of many involved with the sport. You can get just about any design on a skateboard these days, with companies like Supreme, HUF and Emerica also providing skatewear in cutting edge designs. Individuality, creativity and personal freedom are all strong themes in the skateboarding culture, so it is understandable why there are so many innovative and original designs available. Everybody wants a piece of the action!
One of the most recent high profile yet overwhelmingly adorable collaborations has been between Happy Hour Skateboards and everybody’s favourite Finnish fictional creatures, The Moomins. Happy Hour have been around since 2002 and are a Finnish skate company who specialise in championing classic characters and design from Finland. One of their previous launches featured Tom of Finland, but their first collection with The Moomins launched last year in 2018. They provided us with the first Moomin skate deck in the world, incorporating all the best-loved features of creator Tove Jansson’s illustrations. The newest collection, from May 2019, sees the brand incorporate their favourite designs into tees, hoodies and crewnecks as well as those collectable decks.
Tove Jansson’s illustrations may be instantly recognisable to us through her characters, the Moomins, but there are plenty of modern artists also getting in on the skateboarding scene – and finding it to be a whole new arena of inspiration. Artists as diverse as KAWS, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama, Peter Saville and Damien Hirst have all designed decks for skate company Supreme, based in the USA. Ranging from the bold single line designs of Saville’s work used on Joy Divison’s Unknown Pleasures right through to the colourful tie-dye explosions of Hirst, these boards showcase the hottest talent on the 21st century art scene. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to have a piece of art history fall at your feet.
The World of Casinos
The glitz and glamour of casinos á la James Bond might not seem to fit with the cool, casual, laidback attitude typically associated with skateboarding. However, skaters have other hobbies and interests too, and where better to show your appreciation for these extracurricular activities than on your favourite deck? Whether you prefer the roll of the dice, the spin of the wheel or the mystery and magic of the cards, you can immortalise your game of choice in the artwork on your board. There is a significant crossover between the stylistic artwork of playing cards and fruit machines, and the cartoon style of many skate artists; it’s no wonder that the one might inspire the other.
A legendary collab between Santa Cruz, the oldest skateboarding company in the world, and Star Wars resulted in a set of decks that even Skywalker himself would be proud to own. With a nod to the collectability of the original films’ toys, each design comes in either a bubble-packed ‘Collector’s Edition’ or a ‘Shred Ready’ model that’s ready to ride. This isn’t the first film franchise to inspire skateboard artists though; unsurprisingly, you can buy a replica of Marty McFly’s ‘Hover Board’ from 80s classic Back to the Future or a deck inspired by Larry Clark’s Kids designed by the director himself. Now all you need is a great soundtrack to go with it!
As well as art, music is another big part of the skating subculture. Popstars like Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus and Pink might desperately reach for a bit of street cred by being pictured on a board, but there are plenty of skateboarders who’ve made the opposite journey into music too. As far as design goes, the Pink Floyd collection by Habitat might look fantastic but doesn’t fit with the classic skate aesthetic; better to go for something like TANK’s Dinosaur Jr design or Zorlac’s homage to rock band Metallica. The most popular music genres on the skate scene tend to be punk and hip hop, depending on which era of the sport you’re most into, so it’s no surprise that greats like Tony Alva and Mike Vallely have ended up in punk bands.
Skating is a fully functioning subculture, commanding taste in music, film, fashion and lifestyle for those who follow it. It isn’t any wonder that art is a big part of the movement and that many people involved with skating are also full time creatives. Self expression and counterculture are a strong part of skate society and there is no better way to pursue these ideals than through the medium of art. The skateboard deck simply provides the perfect canvas.